Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Up north

Going "up north" is the Michigander's summer tradition. The term generally refers to anywhere in the state that's north of Mount Pleasant and near to some body of water, whether it be a Great Lake or one of the smaller, but equally as pleasant lakes sprinkled throughout the area.  For my family, going up north meant renting a one room beach-front cabin in any of the little towns surrounding Lake Michigan.  My parents never seemed to have a plan when we set out; they just sort of packed up the car and started driving north on I-75.  Once we reached Glen Arbor, on the Leelaunau Peninsula, my father would make a beeline for Art's Tavern, a no frills bar & grill.  After feasting on fresh whitefish sandwiches, Dad would navigate our car up and down the green, hilly peninsula - uncommon terrain for most of Michigan - looking for a spot to rent.  We always found something.  One thing about going up north is that not many people from outside Michigan do it.  They have no idea what they're missing, and to be honest - we kind of like it that way.

Up north was an exotic place to me as a kid.  The sugar fine sand dunes and rough lake waves starkly contrasted to the farmland, factories and urban sprawl that made up my part of the state.  You know how you can spend a whole day swimming when you're a kid, literally in the water from sun up to sun down?  I remember pitching my body over the waves in Lake Michigan and exhilarating in the piercing cold drench.  "We're polar bears," my father would yell.  "Only polar bears can swim in this lake!"

Now, as an adult, I find myself attempting to recreate those childhood trips whenever I visit.  No return trip is complete until I've hiked the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and counted the number of cars in the parking lot; canoed up to where the Platte River meets Lake Michigan and jumped from the warm river water to the icy lake; and of course, had a whitefish sandwich at Art's. 

We said goodbye to summer this year with a mid-August trip up north to Beulah.  Along with some friends, we rented a rustic cabin overlooking Crystal Lake for a blissed out week of doing nothing but eating, drinking, swimming and sunning.  We visited many of my childhood favorites, but also found some new places to explore.  Here's a few shots from our trip.

Pit stop: Beers at Saugatauk Brewery
Arrival at Hume's Cabin in Beulah.  A gorgeous Michigan sunset and our bonfire pit.

Camp cooked breakfast sandwiches
Swimmin' in Crystal Lake after breakfast.  I liked jumping off this raft (below).
Bedroom view at Hume's.  I've always liked the idea of a clothesline. 
Backwards B.  Canoeing down the Platte River.
The river leads right into this beach on Lake Michigan. 
HUGE lake waves!

Wine tasting at Black Star Farms

Champagne tasting at Mawby Vineyards
Crystal Lake sunset
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

1 comment:

  1. Every summer for the past 5 I have spent a few nights on Crystal Lake in Beulah. I love it up there. We always have an early morning kayak on the Platte River, the same route that you took on your canoe ride. Maybe next year we will be there at the same time, and can enjoy a bagel sandwich together at L'Chayim Delicatessen- love that place!