Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Favorite Place

Every summer we head to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, Michigan, for four days of pure summer bliss. Imagine a place with no traffic lights, chain stores, or fast food restaurants. Imagine a place with crystal blue lakes, inland seas, and towering sand dunes; fossilized rocks, sandy creek beds, and cherry orchards; vineyards, harbors, and historic lighthouses; a place where the vacationer's only recreation comes from embracing sand, surf, dunes, and cherries. That place is Leelanau County.

I feel bereft because we just got back from our vacation, and I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to go there again. Usually we go later in the summer, but other obligations forced us to take our trip earlier this year. It doesn't seem right to have it behind us already rather than to still be happily anticipating the get away.

I can't be truly melancholy, though, when we had such a wonderful time. The weather cooperated beautifully!
My son spends his days at the beach constructing elaborate sand cities.

My husband likes to help. My daughter has a keen interest in hunting for rocks. (This is worthy of its own post, so more on that later.)

We all enjoy going on hikes to explore scenic land and waterscapes, although this year the mosquitoes were so horrible we went on only one hike. Fortunately I had bug spray in my backpack, so we saved ourselves from the onslaught, but after that we were afraid to try kayaking or tubing or anything else in the woods.

Watch out for mirages in the dunes! All that shifting sand, rolling terrain, and bright sunlight make things appear not as they are.
One of our traditions is a stop (or two, or three) at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. They are serious about cherries at Cherry Republic. Everything in the restaurant and gift shop includes cherries somehow. Cherry ketchup, cherry hot dogs, cherry mustard, cherry bread, cherry jam, cherry cookies, cherry pie, cherry chicken salad, cherry chicken chili, cherry salsa, cherry lemonade, even spoons and bowls made of cherry wood. We eat at least one meal at Cherry Republic, go back again another day for pie and ice cream (12 flavors of ice cream, each with cherry as an ingredient), and then make another stop to pick up food items to bring home.
Here is this year's haul, all of it just for us! I know I can always mail order from them online (or sometimes I can even find some of their products in gift shops far, far from Glen Arbor), but it's not the same as buying it at Cherry Republic headquarters.
This year we arrived on the 4th of July. There were no official fireworks scheduled, but individuals put on their own impressive displays over Sleeping Bear Bay.
We were also treated to a bright crescent moon hanging over a sherbet sunset.

Did you know you can reach out and hold the sun at sunset on the beach?
I can't wait to go back again.
Visit my Flickr page for more vacation photos.


Leila said...

I haven't even read your whole post, but I'm already drooling.

Every year you post about your trip to Big Bear and every year I resolve to get there. Somehow your descriptions really really really make me want to visit... and I'm more a mountain kinda person than a shore one! :-)

Anyhow, off to read. I'm already jealous!

Leila said...

OK. Sounds a wonderful time, and the photos were spectacular.

So... what's the deal with the "Declare all bananas" sign?

besomom said...

Leila, cherries are a huge crop in northern Michigan, and Cherry Republic is North America's 4th largest country. No other fruits are allowed on the premises. Obviously the founder/owner is very tongue-in-cheek. He is from Leelanau County and always had an entrepeneurial spirit. He started his business (ahem, country) when he realized cherry farmers in his home county were going out of business and selling their orchards to developers. He wanted to create a bigger need for cherries, so he founded Cherry Republic, named himself emperor, and outlawed other fruits. I was trying to find a good link where you could read the whole history, but I came up dry. All the tongue-in-cheek humor is part of the charm of CR.

Leila said...

Aha. I knew about northern Michigan and cherries (because Washington is also big on cherries -and apples- and I've been present at some minor skirmishes between former Michiganders and current Washingtonians on the issue. Hee). Very cool story, though, and you should blog it and allow to be indexed, since the story isn't "out there" at all, and really should be.

Margot said...

Would this be a feasible spot for a F2F?

Leila said...

Bring it up onlist, Margot.

I'd so be there! :-)