Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The wrath of wrens

Josh and his girls came to visit Sunday

Couldn't get this one to smile
my niece's photo of a Polynesian structure in Taiwan
Miss Hannah looks a lot like me at the same age

Even worse than the squirrels, are the chipmunks. The squirrels have a long ways to travel across hawk territory to get to my feeders which in some cases squirrel proof but chipmunk proof feeders do not exist. As soon as I fill the feeders and disappear, the chipmunks scramble to stuff their cheek pouches, run as fast as they can to unload and then refill and scramble. They take much more than they can possibly eat. I was surprised to find one feeder that they can easily access still full of seeds. What gives?


I have 3 gourds in 3 trees. All full of wrens. They are small, homely, brown birds but they sing sweetly in the morning and evening and pick off insect pests. One of my feeders hangs on a branch adjacent to the gourd. Steve watched as the wrens pecked at the chipmunk trying to get too close. The chipmunk gave up.

Sometimes when I am under one of their trees, they will make a hissing sound but otherwise tolerate me. I should get more gourds for more insect patrol and chipmunk attacks. The swallows did not nest this year at my house. I don't think I've seen them since I left.

I am gradually returning to my routine. Back to  2 exercise sessions a day. I lost the weight already that I gained on the trip. I've seen all the grandbabies. I spent a lot of time weeding. Somethings died due to lack of care while I was gone. Too much water in some cases; not enough in others.

It is cool and dry today. So nice.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cherryland extras

Stormclouds the first night
Beulah is Beaulahful
on top of the dune climb looking at Glen Lake
filled in well at the Cat Head Bay lighthouse
Leland Dam
Tandem Cidery
Sutton Bay glass
more glass

Our soiree setting in TC
the golden hour
cute farm building
Leland blue though mine is more green  From iron ore slag

Rocks one could find on the beach. I sat in shallow water sifting through

Sunday, July 23, 2017

To and from Traverse City

After we finished in Frankfort
me crossing the finish line. Pitbull cheering everyone on has done this for 25 years. Alas he is moving on
we had a rest stop near Lake Ann at this pretty organic farm
chickens at the farm
sweet peas and the East arm of Grand Traverse Bay
my friend in the clear waters off the Elk Rapids beach

bicycle mobile in Sutton Bay

Tandem Cidery on our way to TC. I could have tasted their many ciders with alcohol but not wise with biking. Instead I tried their artisanal sodas: ginger beer though I liked the Cherry Republic's better and a strange one that had vinegar in it

I know many of these photos are out of order but I am too lazy to make things right. We crossed huge hills out of Leland to get to the other side of the Peninsula though of course, it was mostly downhill once we got close to Sutton Bay. The weather forecasters were wrong most of the week. The night before we were told that a storm would move in right when we would be packing up and leaving, not good. But the storm turned south and we were told we'd have another day of clear skies. Once we were in Sutton Bay though with 20 miles left to TC, the sky turned black. We were on the paved Leelanau Trail by then, I biked as fast as I could but then the sky turned blue again.

Of the towns we stayed in, I liked Traverse City the least. It is busy, busy, busy. We camped next to a big noisy road, M-31, that never grew quiet. The few 'good' toilets were far away meaning portapotties and the shower truck. We ate in an ice arena that was very toasty. There was a nice beach 10 minutes away walking though the second day, we rode our bikes downtown for the biggest beach. I did not go to the downtown area this time, a 2 mile walk, less time but lots of traffic biking. I just chilled out while my friends went.

We had signed up for a fundraiser about a mile away on the Bay at a college. Sort of pricy but the wines were unlimited and tasty. There were lots of appetizers too. It was a very pleasant night sitting on the bay as the sun went down. Nice music in the background. Yeah I drank way too much and it was a long walk back. 

The next day would be our warmest so we had an early start to head north to Elk Rapids. I had gone there with Steve 2 months ago to take photos of cherry blossoms. Well they all are ripe now. Lots of cherry trucks on our road that we took both there and back. I did not like that part. Plus we had bicyclists going both ways enraging the locals who would drive too close to us. I did like biking the TART trail along the water until we had to head up (UP!!!!) the hill to get to the road to hell. Elk Rapids has a very nice beach and crystal clear water. The town is very cute too but I couldn't convince anyone to stay to walk around it. I had just 2 months ago. So back to Traverse City . Lunch at a Thai restaurant across the street (hadn't had Thai since I started The Big Diet) and then on to the big city beach. I fell asleep in the shade after being in the cool water for a while. We stopped for ice cream, Mackinac Island Fudge, another forbidden substance on The Plan. After our dinner (food was supplied by the same caterer all week and they were quite good; chicken piccata and roasted vegetables,  we went  to a Mexican Cantina and had great Perrin's Cherry IPA ad the best salsa while various Latin music played in the background. I will remember to go back there if they send us to TC again (we seem to go there a lot on these trips). Another big rain was forecasted. Yuck. But it only drizzled a bit in the middle of the night. Unfortunately it started up again after my friend took off the rain fly and I hadn't packed yet. so thanks, my stuff is all wet and I was left to pack up my stuff and our communal stuff by myself.

What I hate most about camping is getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Sometimes I didn't have to but one night, the last, I got up twice to the horrendous portapotty. My new tent in the dark is not distinctive looking (some put solar lights outside of theirs) After one trip, I crawled into what I believed to be my tent to find someone on my side (the new tent has a door on each side to get out of) Why is my friend on my side? Why is she suddenly bigger? Why is she a man? Ooops. Sorry . Wrong tent. In Leland, they had plenty of nice toilets but not much space to camp so one had to negotiate a bunch of tent stakes and ties to get to them. Not pleasant to run into. While we were setting up camp, a woman told us that we shouldn't camp there because it was close to the hose people wash their bikes with and our tent would get flooded. Fine. We moved way far away (long walk to toilets). Later I noticed she took our spot. Bitch and disliked her strongly for the next few days. Towards the end, I noticed her breast cancer scars. Yep she is a survivor too. another woman piped in she was too. So, so common. so I cut her some slack and we became at least friendly acquaintances.

Most people were very nice. We at least had in common the ability to ride all day looking at pretty scenery. We shared our mutual travails and joys. This is the second year we 've had this ride director and she has vastly improved over last year. Most everyone was happy with her changes. Better markings, more food at the rest stops, better food. 400 people were on the ride of all ages. 

The ride back to Frankfort was the second longest day. We started in the rain but it went away before we were out of TC. It is impossible to leave TC without going over some huge hill which we did. Again I did not walk. Before I became fat, I never walked except for the climb out of Marquette Michigan (3 miles straight up and I had a road bike without low gears). I biked a lot in California with bigger hills (mountains!!) but I did have a lower set of gears and I was much younger. I am in my sixties as I keep forgetting. 

Anyway, we did cover some new ground crossing the base of the peninsula though I know I did some of that once by myself years ago. Pretty lakes and farms. We did the trail for the umpteenth time along Crystal Lake between Beulah and Frankfort but it is pretty.

Finished. 275 miles, 15 miles less than last year. In the early days, all rides were well over 300 miles with much rougher trails. I had energy to spare no thanks to minimal head winds and smaller body. We showered, tried to eat at Stormclouds but that was impossible as there was a nearby Art Fair and Saturday. We went to an Asian Fusion place on the water that was the only place open a few years back when Steve and I came in the spring. It was tasty. We made an unlikely stop for very good coffee in Mesick and gas in Cadillac  and 4 hours later, home with no traffic unlike the stupid route I took up on 1-75.

Need to find something else to amuse myself.

Friday, July 21, 2017

To the Lighthouse

after our trip to the tip of the Leelanau, we went into the very hilly interior full of cherry trees

At the top of a hill Lake Leelanau to the left, Lake Michigan to the right
the biking ladies
the light house  

carvings in Northport
Northport Harbor
there was a country club and golf course next to our camping spot. We had drinks on the terrace one night overlooking pretty gardens as the sun set
our drinking posse returning to camp while the sun set
glass pretties in Sutton Bay as we rode to Traverse City
in the middle of the Leelanau trail was this snapping turtle
two toned hydrangeas
we went to a wine and beer tasting fundraising on Great Traverse Bay one night
the bay
the school we had the event in had two majors; a maritime academy and a culinary school. The students made our appetizers

We woke up after our first night in Leland to dense fog. I had bought two headlamps at 
Costco thinking I could put one on my helmet but I found that impossible I put one on 
my seatpost with a blinking red light and another in front with a blinking white light.
But I could barely see as my glasses kept fogging up. I looked over the tops until we
got to Northport, another  cute town. We then went to the very tip of the peninsula to
the State Park. I had stayed there years ago with a campsite right on the bay. We
caught a ferry very early in the morning out of Leland to go to South Manitou
Island, which is completely non-inhabited. We had to backpack everything in
for a mile.

We experienced our first giant hills going back through the interior. Last year
I would have had to walk but I muscled up. Miles of orchards and views of
various lakes. Very pretty. Fortunately most of the downhills were straight on smooth
roads so I was flying.

I had white fish tacos along the river back in Leland and then off to the beach
to swim (warmer than Frankfort even though we were north) and look for the
lake stones. After dinner, our friend treated us to drinks on a patio overlooking
wonderful gardens as the sun set. A good day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Adventures in Fishtown

Northport Harbor  On our way to the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula at Cat Head Bay Needed flashing lights on as we travelled in dense fog for the first 12 miles
watching the storm come in Leland
favorite place to get beer
my rock collection from Van's Beach in Leland. I sat in the shallow water and picked up handfuls of rocks. Have jasper, agates. Leland blues and coralite. Also a small piece of Petoskey stone
close-up of coralite
I'm half way up the dune climb. I did it barefoot. The sand felt good on my feet
lunch stop in Glen Haven at The Cherry Republic with plenty of things to taste, all things cherry. Tried cherry ginger beer. Friends are locking their bikes adjacent to the cherry pit spitting field. I liked this bike rack
new friend Jane on right. One of the Chosen Sisters next to her
Little Traverse lake. Steve and I stayed on the opposite shore twice many years ago in a cute b&b when I was able to convince him to bike with me.
Fishtown is the fishing shack area of Leland where there are lots of cutesy shops. Aside from the lake fish, Leland is known as a good hunting ground for Petoskey stones and Leland Blues (see left jewelry) These are Petoskey shoes
lots of flowers everywhere They get more rain and less heat resulting in bigger blooms

In 2014, we travelled from Frankfort to Leland in a horrible storm. I was so cold.
All I could think of is putting on my furry pants after a hot shower. We would find
places to get out of the rain but the air conditioning would make us colder. Plus the
main road was very bumpy and traffic infested. No stopping in Sleeping Bear. But
Tuesday it was beautiful with a wind from the south (we were headed north) plus
the road was all fixed up and the trail extended so less time was on the horrible
road. Our mileage was the longest this day but tail winds and me being in much
better shape made the ride easy. Downside, I wasn't as diligent re-applying
sunscreen so I got most of my burns on that day. We stopped at several beach
areas and of course the dune climb . Then an extended lunch in the arty community
of Glen Arbor (or Haven, they are right next to each other).

Of all the cities we stopped in, I liked Leland the best, We had drinks overlooking the
waterfall that drops into Lake Michigan under a palapala. .Our friend Craig treated
us to fish sausage, which sounded gross but was quite tasty. A mixture of spices,
smoked whitefish and trout. Dinner then more drinks at the same place. They
have a public belvedere overlooking the harbor with Adirondack chairs. We could see
dark clouds quickly approaching from across the lake. We arrived at our tent in time
to batten down the hatches. Very strong winds and it poured. Everyone was excited.
But all our stuff survived and I fell asleep to the rain. 


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