A Traverse City Celebration: Part Two

4:06 PM

We got bugs on the windshield and our sunglasses on.

So, if you missed part one of last weekend's Traverse City adventures, stop right here. Just turn around . . . there's no way you can read part two without a part one.

Just kidding. But if you do want to start at the beginning of the trip, you can catch up right here. :)

So, last Sunday was what I like to call a "pre-Memorial Day." That probably came with the fact that Brad and I were vacationing in a popular summer tourist destination, but . . . whatever. What I do know is that the sun had taken over Traverse City, boats were on the water, and we were going to a cookout. Oh, sorry--a barbecue. But more on that in a sec.

Brad and I found out about Northwestern Michigan College's barbecue from a plethora of signs that were posted all over downtown Traverse City. The annual fundraiser features music, family activities, a raffle for two free years of tuition (cool, right?!), and of course--food. We're from Virginia, we like barbecue . . . it wasn't a hard sell. Sounded like the perfect place to eat lunch.

We totally forgot that up north, "barbecue" doesn't just refer to pulled pork and barbecue sauce. Rather, this was what we southerners refer to as a "cookout": hamburgers and hot dogs, just like any other summer picnic. Don't get me wrong--we weren't disappointed. Just a little surprised when we got to the front of the line and didn't see pulled pig covered in KC Masterpiece.

57th Annual Northwestern Michigan College Barbecue

We ate under a shade of beautiful trees then wandered around for a bit to look at some of the activities. It was a great setup--but definitely oriented more towards families with kids. So, we moseyed off campus and went in search for a place to shop.


What we found was The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a beautiful and HUMONGOUS building filled with shops, food, and art. It was a little quiet on that Sunday afternoon, and given its history as an asylum and later, a hospital--I'll admit it was just a little creepy to walk through. There was no denying how lovely the structure and original hallways were, though . . . and we admired them as we took our time walking through.

Hand-crafted stained glass windows and art line the downstairs walls of the commons.
 TC24      TC25 

The afternoon quickly rolled on, so we jumped into the Camaro and headed to the place Brad had been talking about all weekend--the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The dunes, which are basically miles of sand mountains, go for miles and butt up against the edge of Lake Michigan. Some people choose to hike across the dunes to get to the beach, but we weren't that adventurous. Truth be told, it was difficult hiking up the first hill. And that's exactly where we settled.

I'm like Rocky running up that hill.
Except for the fact that this photo doesn't accurately portray the frown that I had during most of the climb.

Climbing a mound of sand is definitely a lot more difficult than many people would expect, but the view at the top was completely worth it.

Kind of reminds me of the view from Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills.
Collapsed at the top of the hill. Like the freaking desert out there.
Brad, dumping sand out of his shoes before getting back into the Camaro.

Fun time, but apparently not what Brad had in mind. In my state of confusion and crankiness from the sun's heat, I had completely forgotten that Brad was searching for some particular view . . . and thus, we began an afternoon quest for what I'd like to call "The Unknown."

We drove to every scenic inlet around: rocky beaches, wooded drives, beautiful views of water and hills. Each was beautiful in a different way, but I was starting to get annoyed because the phrase, "one more stop," obviously meant, "we're going to explore the entire countryside until we pass out."
A beautiful, rocky beach surrounded by water in three or four shades of blue-green.
Brad, skipping rocks. Meanwhile, I was hoarding all the rocks he didn't throw as souvenirs.
Kind of reminds me of a shallow, well-watered Grand Canyon. Very shallow and very well-watered.

Finally, we only had one more place left on our park map. We got out of the car, climbed up one more hill, then "one more stop" turned into this:

The photo doesn't do it justice, but take a look at that. The tiny strip by the water is the beach.

Water as far as the eye could see. We'd finally made it to the other side of Sleeping Bear, where the dunes meet the water. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Crazies trying to climb the dune. The first girl made it to the top, but the second person gave up and went back down.

One thing I should mention? The wind on top of the dunes was horrid. And what do you get when you mix the Tasmanian Devil of winds with sand? The answer, my friends, is a big, stinging slap of pain as the earth throws its contents at your face and entire body. You can't really tell from the pictures, but everyone's clothes were flying up over their stomachs and there was a dusty, granular layer swirling around the observation decks. Once the photos were taken, I high-tailed it outta that joint, tugging at the ends of my shirt the whole way.


Brad lagged back for a couple of minutes to take a few more pictures, then it was time to say goodbye to northern Michigan. One last dinner downtown and a semi-successful search for cherry pie later (that's another story), and we were on our way back to metro Detroit. I can't, however, keep from mentally planning our next trip already. It may not be this summer, but I definitely see a cherry festival in my future.

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