It’s officially happened: the first snow storm of the year. Though I know the snow upsets a lot of people, it’s a reality of living up north (and along the water), and it’s something I’ve learned to accept with open arms after how much cross-country skiing we did last winter. It’s hard to know if this snow will last, since it’s still pretty early for snow to stick, but we’ve been without a white–like, a really white–Christmas in longer than I care to remember. I am really hoping for a lot of snow this year (I may revoke that wish in April, but I feel it now).
Up north, we have an abundance of fall color on the trees and (seemingly) few truly beautiful days to enjoy it. With the time change, it’s already dark when I get home from work so that means more morning runs to get some daylight and enjoying the outdoors on the weekends as much as possible. This past weekend was, as far as I can tell, the peak of color season on the Old Mission Peninsula where Sam and I live. The entire 18 miles out to the end of the peninsula were brimming with gorgeous colors and the weather was a crisp 40-50 degrees outside, making it absolutely ideal for some hiking adventures at the historic Old Mission Lighthouse. Plus, our friends Mark and Rachelle (and their little Yorkie, Tanner) were visiting, so we had every excuse to take them out into the wilderness.
While there are lots of trails to hike on out at the lighthouse, few people know about the two-track dirt roads you can take straight out to the edge of East Bay. I was told these are called the “Fire Roads,” since back in the day they provided easy access to East Bay in case there was a fire in the area. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but it makes a good story. Plus, I am a sucker for off-road driving so I really look for any excuse to ride on them.
My favorite time of the year.
I know most people love summer for its endless sunshine, warm weather, and beach days (trust me, I get it…it’s a beautiful thing, especially up here). But for me, nothing beats fall. I love wearing wool socks, lots of layers of clothes, and cuddling up on a couch when the temperature drops. One of my absolute favorite things about fall, though, is the almost-overnight drop in traffic as soon as Labor Day hits. The city clears out, and commuting to work on my bike is even easier with fewer cars to dodge. Of course, people will visit on the weekends for the colorful trees (I get that, too…it’s breathtaking!), but for the most part it’s a much slower pace, and that’s what I love.
The slower pace applies to all aspects of town except for one: the Sara Harding Farmer’s Market. Sure, there are fewer people roaming the market, but the in-season produce this time of year is bustin’ at the seams. The autumn harvest is my favorite thing about fall.
When it’s 75 degrees in late September up here in Traverse City, people are OUT. I mean, like, really out. Sam and I don’t dine out very often: as a vegetarian I tire easily of the selections available in town, plus we enjoy the frugality and recipe flexibility of cooking our meals probably five or six days a week. But when Sam works a 12.5 hour day at the hospital and it’s this gorgeous outside, we deserve to treat ourselves.
Our instinct when it’s warm and sunny outside is to go to The Little Fleet. This business venture is already a gold mine in a place like TC (shorthand for Traverse City), but the entire venture is so tastefully and beautifully done (I know your work went into it, Megan Gilger). The atmosphere is serene yet social, quirky but comfortable. It is easily one of our favorite places to go in town, and we make an event of it because it’s so nice to just sit down and relax.
The bar serves up drinks and the parking lot is open for food trucks of all kinds to pull up, park, and serve up deliciousness. Already it is one of the most popular places in town, and for very good reasons. It is hard to describe it as anything other than just totally awesome.
Both inside and outside boast a warm and welcoming ambiance. We were lucky enough to visit on vinyl night (BYOV and they’ll spin it while you drink and dine!), so the tunes were as good as the food.
As much as I hate to admit it, summer is winding down. It’s harder to gauge these kinds of things happening since my biological clock is no longer aligned with a regimented school year, even though I’m living in a four-season environment. August always coasts in nice and easy, and this August is no different: the lake is warm, the air is hot, and it feels like the beauty will last forever…until about this time, when I recognize that it’s Labor Day weekend already and September is on its way. Fingers crossed the weather stays this fantastic to see us into October!
The saddest thing to me about summer ending is realizing that my daily bike commutes to work and around town are about to get a lot more cold, a lot more wet, and unfortunately a lot less frequent. When we lived in town, I would try to ride my mountain bike on the streets in the snow, but without studded tires it was basically a mess and took me twice as long–if not more–to get to work. (A common misconception about winter bike commuting: it’s not the snow that’s bad, it’s that light brown-ish snow where the snow has mixed with the sand and salt to create some super slick substance that is absolutely deadly to try and navigate on a bike. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wiped out on that stuff. Ick!)