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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Finding Our Way

~Tuesday, July 6, 2021~

Day 387

Another not so smooth day, but you just have to roll with the punches. It was just one of those days where you had to go through the motions of doing something wrong, to learn how to do it right. Does that make sense? So I won’t bore you with the details of what went wrong, but how we made the best of it. I need to give ourselves a little credit though. We had a bad map (one the RV park gave us). I hate to blame the map, but if we’d had a good one, it would have made all the difference.

We left around noon for a bike ride on the TART Bike Trail (Traverse Area Recreation Trail). The drive was about 30 minutes from our RV park, with our goal of starting at the Cherry Bend Trailhead in Greilickville to get to Traverse City. The parking lot was full (all 10 cars worth), so we had to drive a mile down the road to overflow. It appears the ride from the Cherry Bend trailhead can take you 14.2 miles to Suttons Bay (north) or 3.2 miles (south) to Traverse City-both trails in either direction are called the Leelanau Trail. Getting to Traverse City was not a problem, as the trail is well marked and starts out under a beautiful canopy of trees, then leads you to the lakeshore which is just lovely,

until you see what just wasn’t a marina. It was a marina with a festival. THE National Cherry Festival.🍒

We had heard about this festival from one of the camphosts, but thought it was over after the 4th of July weekend. The festival lasts for 7 days and even with it being a Tuesday, it was surprisingly packed. I can't imagine what the crowds were like this past weekend. The festival includes such things as an air-show, parades, farmer’s markets, live music, amusement park rides, loads of vendors and souvenir shops, and of course pie throwing contests. Last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID, so this year was in ultra-full swing. But the funny thing was, here we were at a Cherry Festival, and we didn’t even buy cherries. We bought kettle corn instead. Go figure. I’m still beating myself up that I didn’t buy the cherries! Anyway, Jeff and I had a great time walking around the marina gawking at the million dollar yachts, and watching all of the water activity, including a mama duck bossing around her 2 babies.

As we exited the festival, that’s where things got a little wonky with our bike route. We just couldn’t find the connection to continue further along the trail. At times, we thought we were on it, but then realized we weren’t, until we finally saw a trail sign. Part of the problem in staying on the trail was at times you’re riding through city streets, or even neighborhoods. It’s not always a distinct paved bike trail. After about 4 miles of riding after being in Traverse City, we could have kept going another 6 miles to the end or stop and have a beer. What would you do?

We’ve learned quite a few things about this lower peninsula of Lake Michigan…’s an up and coming wine region, they’re the Cherry Capital of the World, and the Craft Beer scene is booming. In fact, there is the Traverse City Ale Trail where you can pick up an Ale Trail Passport and fill it to your heart's content. There are 9 Northern Michigan Breweries to choose from. We stopped at one of them….Right Brain Brewery and before that, Silver Spruce Brewing.

Since we’ll go with Jeff’s more expert beer palate, he gave them a 7 out of 10. My Pilsner style was delicious. As we pedaled to Right Brain, the weather was really changing quickly. We heard there was a front coming in later in the afternoon, but it appeared earlier than we expected and we had a lot of riding to do still, to get back to the car. I’ve never seen Jeff drink a beer that fast.

We had a few light sprinkles on the way back, and this time decided to ride through downtown Traverse City instead of at the marina. This town of 16,000 is noted as being one of the best places to live in Michigan with its restaurants, parks and beautiful neighborhoods. The public schools are also highly rated.

We made great time getting back to the car before the rains came. Funny what a weather forecast will do to get you to pedal faster.

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