Life, Liberty, Beaches, and Pie

I’m typing this post from our hotel room in St. Louis, Missouri which means that only one more day of driving is between us and home. There is so much on the horizon that I can’t wait to write about but for now, let’s talk Michigan.  I’ve already wrote a little bit about our trip (here and here) but this mega-post will showcase our time in the Great Lakes state and then I promise I’ll put a lid on it. So if you’re not a fan of vacation recaps or you find the home of Henry Ford absolutely dreadful, it is probably best that you go ahead and leave this blog to check out Awesome People Hanging Out Together or Full House Reviewed. You’re welcome.

Picture this (a’la Sophia Petrillo) – three siblings and their spouses/children (the fourth sibling and her fiance were unable to attend) and two parents live in a rented house on Glen Lake for a week. A house with no air conditioning. During the hottest heat wave on record for northern Michigan. It was hot. It was fun. And we can’t wait to do it again.

The house was located in the township of Glen Arbor, which is on the small strip of land between Glen Lake and Lake Michigan in an area known as the Leelanau peninsula. Some call this area America’s Third Coast or the North Coast and it is easy to see why.

The vast sandy beaches, crystal blue/turquoise water (due to the zebra mussels), and incredible scenery rival any beach in the United States. There is virtually no commercialization – just quaint towns, and the acres upon acres of farm land (too many cherry farms to count) that surround the area only add to the charm.

View from the deck of the rental house.

The house was on a hill so there were multiple steps of stairs down to the dock on the lake – 93 to be exact. We were able to swim right off the deck and took advantage of Weston’s nap time by laying on some inner-tubes while enjoying refreshing beverages. That doesn’t sound too redneck, does it?

So as mentioned in previous posts, some members of our extended family were in town for the first weekend we were in Glen Arbor. Therefore, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ride on my Uncle Mike’s Harley.  So I donned Clay’s jeans (I totally didn’t pack a pair…by the way, why are they called a pair of jeans?), put on a helmet, and hopped on the back. It was my first time on a motorcycle (a somewhat embarrassing fact for my 29-year-old-self) and I enjoyed every single second of having the wind in my face and watching the gorgeous scenery that surrounds Lake Michigan go by at 60 miles per hour. Talk about exhilarating!

My dad had arranged a chartered fishing trip for the four guys (plus the salty captain) on the morning of July 4th so the men were able to catch the sunrise from the deep waters of Lake Michigan while the women (and children) were still asleep at the house – it felt so 19th century.

Clay reports that the trip was a blast. He caught a salmon and a lake trout (pictured).

And all the guys caught at least one fish. Mike (right) had the largest catch of the day with a 15 pound salmon.

And our dinner on the 4th included the salmon and white fish caught that morning.

After dinner, we walked down to the dock and watched fireworks on the water.

It was a fabulous Fourth of July.

The Cherry Republic is one of my favorite places in Glen Arbor (the store motto is Life, Liberty, Beaches, and Pie). Where else can you eat dried cherries, drink over eight types of cherry soda on tap, and enjoy a tasting of multiple cherry wines? If you’re like me and love cherries, northern Michigan is a little slice of heaven – or at least a slice of cherry pie. If you hate cherries – well, I’m not sure if I can even relate to you.

One thing that Clay and I were most looking forward to about this vacation was the opportunity to kayak on some lakes and the Crystal River. Our kayaks are still being stored at Clay’s parents house outside of Wilmington, NC so these suckers were rented.

We went on the kayaking trip with Scott and Kelly. We started out on Glen Lake, went to Fisher Lake, and ended with a 14-mile paddle down the Crystal River. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to kayak and can’t wait for the day when Weston will be able to join us. Judging by his temperamental state as of late, it won’t be for a while.

Did you know that Michigan is the 4th largest wine-producing state? I didn’t either until we visited some wineries on the Leelanau County Wine Trail. Mom and Dad watched Weston and Mikey while we ventured to Good Harbor Vineyards, 45 North Vineyard (our favorite), and  Circa Estate Winery.

Circa Estate Winery was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

After our tasting, we enjoyed glasses of wine and played bocce while a singer/guitarist performed on the outdoor porch – talk about a perfect afternoon.We joked that there was no need to visit Italy after experiencing the atmosphere at Circa.

Our last night in Glen Arbor included dinner, drinks, and live music at Boondocks.

And then it was time to leave.

But before we left Michigan, we drove down to outside of Detroit to meet up with my mom’s side of the family for a reunion at my grandmother’s house. With all of us living across the United States, this was the best we could do. Almost everybody was there – only my sister, her fiance, and my aunt’s significant other were missing from the family portrait.

I think this picture of Lucy best describes our current state…

Extremely happy. But extremely tired.

Back to Oklahoma. For now.

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13 thoughts on “Life, Liberty, Beaches, and Pie

  1. Oh my gosh, re: cherries, my husband doesn’t like them because he bit into one as a child not knowing it had a pit, and (understandably) hurt his tooth. Worst reason for not liking something ever! But it means more cherries for me do whatever. Looks like such an awesome trip! Minus the no a/c in the middle of a heat wave, that is.

  2. Can’t even tell you how great it was to see all you guys!!! Ian and Caeleb are still talking about Weston and Mikey and the dogs! Our ride back to our boat was so nice – we stopped for breakfast in Empire and stopped to win (again) at the casino, before stopping for lunch at the Dog N Suds in Whitehall. The last hour was so hot!!!! But riding up on the peninsula was so nice!!!!The rest of our vacation we spent going down to the boys baseball games a couple different days, taking our big boat out for swimming and lunch a couple times, going out to eat dinner with friends, and fishing on our little boat (I caught 2 big Sheepshead on 6# line) Thankfully, we have A/C on our boat!!! Keep us posted on the plans!
    Aunt Sue

  3. Karen,
    Excellent video and narrative capturing of a perfect vacation that your Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice for your Mom and I to share a special place that we both have attachements to in our pre-married life as well as vacations withyou kids when you were younger. We will be looking forward to other destination vacations for our entire extended family in the years to come. THis was a trial run for our family that worked out splendedly!
    Dad

    1. Thanks Dad! We had a great time and we can’t wait to do it again. May I recommend renting a place with air conditioning next time? Haha. 🙂

  4. I’m so glad you and your family had a good time while visiting our great state. Sorry for the weather, it really is never this hot. Glad you had experiences that I describe as “pure michigan” moment.” (Taken from our tourism commercials) Jennifer

  5. Karen, I’m a “Michigander” who absolutely knows what it feels like to be “Up North” for the 4th of July and to visit Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which we refer to as ‘The Best Place Any Place!” It’s our home state, and our favorite vacation spot ever. We’ve spent several vacations there and have done all of the things you blogged about, loving it every time. Even in the hottest, most humid conditions, northern Michigan is God’s country! If you think summer is grand, you should see it in the fall…breathtaking! Thanks for giving our favorite place on the planet such great press!

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