Have you ever tried to cram all your favorite experiences of a certain area into one glorious outing to share with loved ones? Despite our best efforts at persuasion, Joel put his foot down and resolutely refused to let us spend this past weekend attending his graduation festivities. On the other hand, he was quite enthusiastic about exploring Leelanau Peninsula, so we opted for a family adventure rather than honoring him with all the due pomp and circumstance that he deserved. We escaped the summer heat of GR at the first moment we could spring everybody on Friday, but we had a short leash because we needed to be back Saturday night in time for Stephen to serve as worship leader at his church Sunday morning. My goal was to share all of the “best of the best” experiences in the Leelanau area that Alan and I had enjoyed over the years into one compact 30-hour mini vacation! (This map’s in the wrong language, but it shows just where we visited.) Tough assignment, and I ultimately failed, but that’s only because there are just too many wonderful places to see…and definitely too many yummy places to eat! But, this is what we did: We spent the night in the Victorian Suite at the Stone Waters Inn, a charming hotel along the Grass River in Bellaire, which is a tiny resort community you’ve probably never heard of, but it’s next door to Torch Lake, which you may have heard of, being Michigan’s longest inland lake, Michigan’s second-largest lake, and once described by the National Geographic as the world’s third-most beautiful lake! We stopped for dinner at The Dockside, on the shores of Torch Lake, and then drove up to the tiny village of Alden, on the east side of Torch Lake, for some of the north country’s best ice cream. For instance, I had a “single,” which was one scoop of “Traverse City Cherry Chocolate” topped with a scoop of “Sleeping Bear Dune Hugs” ice cream in a waffle cone dipped with chocolate and Butterfingers crunch. What? That’s a “single?” Does anybody ever order a double? The next morning we stopped by “Mrs. Pete’s,” where they’ve been serving up first-rate home-cooked breakfasts and lunches for nearly 40 years! Thus fortified, we made a bee line to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and summarily raced (the kids) or huffed and puffed (the aging parents) to the top for some glorious views of northern Michigan’s restful lake country. I didn’t time us, but going up was in minutes & going down seemed just seconds!From there, our plan had been to head straight to Glen Arbor’s Cherry Republic for some amazing Traverse City cherry pie and ice cream as our Elevensies treat, but we were still full from our killer-good cherry-pecan pancake (etc.) breakfast, so we had to content ourselves by just admiring all things cherry and delicious! Oh, but there was more to do. So much more! After a short break, we drove to Leland (built by the Ottawa Indians along the Leland River), where we stopped at “Rick’s (American) Cafe” for a fabulous lunch of fresh, fresh fish! After lunch, we made it to Leelanau State Park at the tip of Leelanau Peninsula. We took a short hike along the rocky shoreline of Lake Michigan, explored the area around the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, and toured their little museum. (They even have a fog horn you can blow!) On our way home, we stopped in Northport to take in the quiet beauty of Grand Traverse Bay, with its soothing blues and crystal, turquoise waters. (This is looking into about 12 feet of water.) We’d planned to stop at Boone’s Long Lake Inn at Sutton’s Bay for dinner, but nobody was hungry yet, so we high-tailed it downstate as far as Cadillac, where we stopped at Hermann’s European Cafe. (This is Hermann from Vienna.)Hermann has an international reputation and makes incredibly gourmet dishes, including some of the best German food we’ve ever tasted outside Germany! Now the point of my tale (besides giving you a lovely overview of Leelanau), is to point out difference in taste and sensibilities. When I’m trying to honor someone I love, it’s so easy to think of what I’d like…which might be totally different from what that person would actually like. May I (we) learn to love others in the ways that seem most meaningful to them! And frankly, after all was said and done, I think we all had a whole lot more fun doing it “Joel’s way.”
“Love…does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5).