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Carpe Aestas – Where I’ve Been

Carpe Aestas!

That’s my motto for this season. It means seize the summer, because it doesn’t last nearly long enough around here. We’ve been on the run since school let out trying to do just that, and that’s why it’s been a little quiet around here on the blog.

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Memorial Day weekend, we kicked off the camping season with a quick trip to Muskegon and Lake Michigan. Right after school was over, we headed to Ohio and Cedar Point. Just last week, we camped Up North, near Traverse City. It’s one of my favorite areas of Michigan.

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There are miles of Lake Michigan white sand beaches near Traverse City. There are also sand dunes. Huge, enormous ones called Sleeping Bear Dunes. And we climbed them. And climbed them and climbed them. It’s a bit of an optical illusion, because what looks like it’s the top when you’re standing at the bottom, isn’t the top.SleepingBearDunesDavid-(1-of-1)

And you just keep going until you finally see the Big Lake or you collapse. Whichever comes first. If you’ve ever tried to climb up sand, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a workout for your calf muscles, that’s for sure! As you can see we were still standing.

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But even the youngsters had to sit down and rest awhile after reaching the summit.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes is part of a the National Park system, and it’s also located on the Leelanau Peninsula. Let me explain this for you all who are not fortunate enough to be familiar with the incredible geography of Michigan. We’re made up of two big peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan on the west and Lake Huron and Lake Erie on the east. The Upper Peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan, Huron and Superior. That’s a whole lotta water and sand y’all! Twenty-one percent of the world’s fresh surface water!

There is so much water that our big peninsulas have little baby peninsulas, and the Leelanau is one of those. You know how when you ask someone from lower Michigan where they live, and they hold up their hand and use it as map, because Michigan’s L.P. is shaped like a mitten? (Just one more thing that is awesome about this place. America’s high-five! Yes, I know people not from Michigan just think that’s annoying.) Well, the Leelanau is Michigan’s pinky finger.

The Leelanau is also one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  You’re never far from a view of Lake Michigan and its beaches. There are also beautiful inland lakes, rivers and streams and hiking trails. Little beach towns line the Peninsula, and they’re filled with all sort of galleries and unique shops. This is Fishtown in Leland.

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There are also lighthouses everywhere! This is Grand Traverse Lighthouse near Northport.

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If it isn’t covered in sand or water, the land is green and lush with thick forest, so much so that you can smell the pine trees inside your car with the windows up! And you can see all of it by driving along M-22, which makes a loop around the entire peninsula, and I am sure it’s one of the most beautiful drives in our entire country.

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Actually the whole area around Traverse City is like that, which is why you really should put this place on your bucket list of travel destinations. With all the outdoor activities, this is a perfect place for families with kids and anyone who’s an outdoor enthusiast. Also, it’s pretty much a summer paradise.

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Fishing at Arbutus Lake No. 5. Yes, there are Arbutus Lakes 1- 4 also!

Oh, and if you like cities, you’ll love Traverse City, because it has great shopping for fashionistas and eating for foodies. It sits right on Grand Traverse Bay, just one more sparkly blue jewel in Michigan’s crown.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all there is in the Traverse City area. I could go on and on about it. It’s also a great place in the fall, as we discovered last year.

So, is it really any wonder that The Thrillist just this week ranked all the states, and Michigan came out as number one? Nope, I don’t think so.

Now get to planning your own trip to The Mitten State.

*Not a sponsored post. I just really love Michigan and think you will too!

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Old Mission Lighthouse on Old Mission Peninsula. Yes, another peninsula.
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Wooden boat museum at Glen Haven Beach.
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Blacksmith shop at historic village of Glen Haven.
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Glen Haven Beach over looking South Manitou Island. Yep, we have islands too.
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Sleeping Bear Dunes.
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Sleeping Bear Dunes.

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2 Responses to Carpe Aestas – Where I’ve Been

  1. Nice pictures. Yay, Michigan! We have booked a cottage for 1 week in August in–you guessed it–Traverse City. I’ve lived in MI since ’99 but have never been to Traverse City. I hope it lives up to hearing all these wonderful things about it for so many years.

    Oh, and the Thrillist ranking? I’m betting that falls squarely on Tim Allen’s sultry Pure Michigan ads!

    • You will love Traverse City! Make sure you do the drive along M-22 and stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes and Fishtown in Leland. The Cherry Republic Store in Glen is also another great stop. They have a restaurant with everything you can think of to make out of cherries. They also make their own soda, beer and wine. Downtown TC is nice too, with lots of shops and really good restaurants. It reminds me of a little Chicago. I just hope the lake is warm by then. It was still freezing last week!

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