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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


  The Grove guy with Gerald Ford, the President from Michigan known for his large, golden head.

      Most folks don't have air conditioners in Michigan.  Here, near the end of June, we can still see our breath some mornings ( we woke up to 58 degrees yesterday).  After passing through Hell (last blog) we set our sights for Charlevoix, a tourists town on Lake Michigan.  Friends were vacationing there and invited us to visit. 
  "Belvedere" is a gated community with no gate.   It's obvious whether you belong or not. Only white clothes (and white people) are allowed on the tennis courts.  They haven't allowed dogs since 1879.  We tried disguising Pi as a young Persian girl.  Unfortunately, Persians haven't been allowed since 1879 either.   
      They do allow televisions and we watched the Heat win the Big Game a few days ago. 
"Princess Room" , Charlevoix

  Outside I saw this '66 GTO.   It was just like the one I had borrowed from the friend I was visiting when I was eighteen.  The stick shift befuddled me so much I collided with a limousine.  What seemed like a nightmare then seems almost funny today. 

The next morning we looped over to  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park on the Leelanau Peninsula. 

   With its 400-foot piles of sand fronting multiple, beautiful beaches, many consider it one of the prettiest places in the country.
Folks from the mid-west flock here in the summer like southerners do to the Smokies. 
     As you can see above, the Lake Michigan beaches look a lot like Miami's.  Waves lap up on to sugar-sand but the pristine water is fresh.  Tourist t-shirts brag about how it contains no salt or sharks. The down side is the darn stuff is cold, almost arctic, much too frigid to swim in.  Up to the ankles for five seconds was enough for us.  

In a village within the national park, Nephew Matt set us up to canoe the Crystal River.  He and his wife, Katie, have three businesses in Glen Arbor.  They can put you in a kayak, on a bike, or sell you a case of local wine.  Business is booming. Three blocks away, the Cherry Republic store will sell you every cherry-related product imaginable. We opted for hot pie a-la-mode. Twice a week they sponsor pit-spitting competitions.

 Besides cherries, Michigan is famous for its blueberries, apples, and apricots.  In Leland, we bought smoked whitefish in the historic "Fishtown" district.   


A farmer sold us these delicious eggs.  

Each color represents a different type of chicken.

We could stay at Sleeping Bear for a long time.  Campsites are just $12. Follow the woodsy bike path north to get a $2 ice cream cone. 
 Go south and you come upon the Glen Haven ghost town. There are no residents in this former lakeside community.  Park employees come in to run the general store, boat museum, and blacksmith shop.
    I could have spend all day watching retired teacher, Phillip Hike, turning metal rods into useful s
hapes.   Mixing iron and fire he made us a beautiful wall hook.  Afterwards he rubbed it with beeswax to keep it from rusting.

    Inside the Glen Haven Maritime Museum

 Three miles south is the village of Empire.  I have gone there for Friendly Burgers (Joe's Friendly Tavern) for thirty years.  Joe's son, Tom Wiesen, served us lunch. When he's not tending bar he's growing apples nearby.

       They say Lower Michigan is like a fat hand with Detroit at the base of the thumb.  Now Francesca and I will leave the tip of the pinky, step off the middle finger, and venture into the U.P. (upper peninsula).  They say it is cooler and wilder, just right for two born-to-be-wild wanderers.


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