Thursday, August 14, 2014

Petoskey and Charlevoix, MI

Friday morning was a glorious day--lots of sunshine, not terribly hot, and a perfect day for a bike ride.  We were in an RV park just north of Petoskey, so we drove into downtown to a park, right beside the Little Traverse Wheelway, where we had ridden last year.  Then we rode from Petoskey north to Harbor Springs, so this day we decided to go the other way and rode south to Charlevoix.  It's a little over 14 miles to Charlevoix from the park where we started, and most of the way you are riding right along the banks of Little Traverse Bay.  This is just a fabulous bike trail, completely paved, and of course off the vehicular roadway.  These are the kinds of trails we love and we're always so excited when we find one.  It was fun to go the other way on this trail this year, and we ended up going much farther than we had initially thought we would.  The Wheelway actually ends just on the north side of Charlevoix, but we continued on the Charlevoix Township Bike Route, through some lovely neighborhoods and into downtown.  It was just a fantastic ride, lots of wildflowers along the path, lots of views of the bay and waterfowl, and just tons and tons of beautiful flowers in the downtown area of both Petoskey and Charlevoix.  This is what's just so incredible to us--all along both sides of the main thoroughfare of both towns there are just thickly planted rows of petunias in riotous colors--and these are all maintained by volunteers from the towns!  We talked to a city worker in Charlevoix and he said the City Council appropriated the funds to get the plants, but from there on it's all volunteers; they come out one Saturday each month to weed the plants, and then pull them up at the end of the season, only to come back out the next spring and plant a whole new batch.  It must cost a lot of money just to buy the plants, but it adds so much to the town.  We were just blown away by this last year and were so excited to see it all once again.

But probably the most exciting thing to me was how well Trisha did on the ride.  The 30 mile ride we did in Grand Teton National Park was the longest ride she'd ever done before, so I figured we'd probably do just about that, knowing that it was about 14 miles each way.  But when we got to the end of the Wheelway on the outskirts of Charlevoix, she was ready to keep on going, so we did.  And, by the time we got back to the car in Petoskey, we had done 35 miles!!  The last few miles were a little tough, as we were getting tired by then, but she did super, and I was so proud of her!  One big motivation was that we knew we were going to eat lunch at the Grain Train, one of our favorite places we discovered last year.  It's an organic grocery with a cafe and, while they do offer a few meat items, they also have a wonderful selection of completely vegan choices and we had a delicious meal.  It was worth the effort!  After lunch we visited a knitting store we had read about and found some absolutely fabulous yarn that eventually will be turned into yet another of Trisha's Knitting Wonders--can't wait!  But what was really cool was when Trisha got into conversation with the owner, she mentioned that we were heading to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The owner knew several wonderful yarn shops there, as well as some individual shop owners who we're really looking forward to meeting when we're up there shortly.  A really great find!!

Came back to the RV for a nap and some relaxation, and just took it easy the rest of the day.  We learned that there is another rails to trails paved bikeway that we could access just outside the place we were staying, so Saturday morning we rode to that trail, the Northwestern State Trail, and rode north to a little town called Alanson.  When we got there they were having what was billed as an antique and craft fair along the main drag, but it was a bit more like flea market type things for sale.  But it was fun to walk through the booths and see lots of folks out having fun on a Saturday morning.  We noticed a couple walking toward us, and the man had on a Savannah, GA Tshirt, so we asked if he were from GA.  Turned out that they had just visited Savannah and he got the shirt.  They were from Michigan, and have been coming to this area for summer vacation for years, and we had a nice visit with them, giving them tips on other places to go and see when they return to Ga.  It was good to do another ride, but we just did 15 on this one.  Just about at the end of the return trip, we passed the Petoskey Brewery, a beautiful old building that indeed housed a brewery many years ago, it closed and the building was used for other things until recently, when some folks bought it and once again put it to its original use.  Figured we deserved a cold refreshment after our ride, so we stopped in, and sat outside at a table overlooking Mud Lake, from which the original brewing company cut ice blocks to chill the beer, way back when.  Trisha enjoyed a good local pale ale, and I had what the waitress told us was a Michigan classic--a Faygo Rock and Rye, a soft drink that's a combination of cream soda, er "pop" in the local parlance, red pop, and several other flavors.  She told us Faygo comes out of Detroit and they have it on the menu because so many people drank it as kids and it brings back memories for them.  When she was describing the mix of flavors in the drink, my first thought was this was what our kids used to do when we went to a restaurant with fountain drinks and they could mix all the flavors, but when she told us about how it brought up memories for natives I decided I'd try it.  Much to my surprise, it was really good!  Trisha thought so too.  So I took a picture of the bottle and sent it to our dear friend, Joyce, who grew up in Detroit and she confirmed that this was very much a part of her growing up in Michigan--pretty cool!

That afternoon we drove down to Charlevoix, and visited the Bier Gallery, a place we had discovered the year before.  It's a wonderful gallery in this 1850's vintage red schoolhouse building, run by Ray and Tammy Bier, both of whom are potters.  Their son is now also a potter and last year we just went wild in the store.  They have art of all different types of media, not only their own, but works from 40 or 50 artists from all over the area and some from far away.  Turns out they were having a big event, showcasing the work of several artists who were working there in the studio, and it was great to see them again and renew acquaintances with them.  They have opened a new building since last year and we met the two artists whose work is featured in this building.  They both were so taken by a necklace Trisha was wearing, made by her friend, Deanna Fleenor from Atlanta.  It's long been a favorite of hers, but it was pretty cool to see a couple of artists go on and on about it.  On the way back through Charlevoix, we drove by this collection of houses built by architect Earl Young in the late 1930's to the early 1950's.  The houses look like they are right out a book of fairy tales, with cedar shake roofs that are whimsical, wavy, not at all symmetrical and, in some cases, almost touch the ground.  As Young described his style once "I build the roof first and just shove the house up under it!"  Last year we  had driven by a restaurant he designed in downtown Charlevoix and were  fascinated by it; we were glad we were able to find these unique houses on our visit this year.

When we got back to the RV it was getting a bit late for dinner, but we called the Grain Train and found that they were still open, so we had one last delicious meal there--yum!!  Sunday morning I got up early, as Sophie usually wakes me up to go out around 5:30 or so.  I decided to do one last bike ride before we left later that morning, so I had a wonderful ride up and down parts of both trails.  It was great to be out just at sunrise, nice and brisk, no one on the trail, except for lots of little rabbits scurrying across!  A great ride and a great time in this beautiful part of Michigan!

Some shots on our drive from Copper Harbor to Petoskey--these first ones were just as we were leaving Copper Harbor

 It's a little hard to make out here, but the reason Trisha took this shot is to show how they protect their mailboxes and newspaper boxes from heavy snow drifts--all along the road there are these board structures along the side of the road the mail and paper delivery folks come, with the boards being higher than the mailboxes.  That way, the board keeps the snow from covering up the mailbox so the delivery folks can get to them.  Pretty cool!
 Coming through Christmas, MI, the big Christmas store where we stopped last year
 Lighthouses coming into Munising

 The Mackinac Bridge

 Beginning our bike ride to Charlevoix; this is a little chapel in downtown Petoskey
 What a beautiful day and beautiful views!!

 We're having fun!!
 hard to see so well, but the wildflowers were just beautiful.
 Beautiful old hotel in Bay Harbor
 Approaching a tunnel--Trisha always loves doors and openings!

 Pretty church we passed
 These pictures actually should have been in reverse order--this seagull sitting out on a rock, and then I took the closeup

 The beautiful flowers planted along the streets of Charlevoix

 Very colorful window box
 Cute little A frame house in Charlevoix
 An interesting design of this house, to situate it on a small lot to gain maximum width, they had to make it pretty narrow
 Alas, we didn't see any fawns crossing!!
 Pretty farm house on the outskirts of Charlevoix . . .
 . . . and the old stone and wood barn beside it
 Unfortunately these shots don't really show the colors of the wildflowers well from a distance, but lots of pinks, purples and yellows

 this boardwalk is 2/3 of a mile, across some wetlands

These are shots along the Northwestern State Trail, en route to Alanson, on Saturday morning

 Downtown Alanson
 The booths at the fair
 Come cute little doll and children's furniture; we have a little doll buggy similar to this that was my mother's when she was a child.  When our daughter was little she not only used it for her dolls, but would dress up our pet guinea pig and put her in it and push her around the house in the buggy!

 Homemade hydroplanes, built in the late '60's from plans in Mechanics Illustrated

 Just love these beautiful flowers!!

 Couldn't get the best shot, but these are a pair of swans, off in the distance as we passed by on the bike trail.

 The Petoskey Brewery

 View of Mud Lake from our table on the back patio of the Brewery
 A tree is already beginning to turn colors
 For anyone who grew up in Michigan, this Faygo Rock & Rye's for you!

 Some of Earl Young's creations--this one is called the "Mushroom House," said to be the most photographed house in Charlevoix

 Some more traditional houses, but we just can't get enough of these beautiful flowers!

 Gorgeous churches

 The Earl Young designed restaurant in downtown Charlevoix
 All over this area are these roadside stands for local sweet cherries so we had to stop and get some--man were they delicious!!  Interestingly, most of the signs advertise not just "sweet cherries," but "washed sweet cherries."

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