Slow down summertime… slow down, please!

Whew…  sometimes I have the hardest time coming up with a good blog subject.  But this week it dawned on me, as I slipped away from my desk at the end of the day, that we only have 10 more days left of August!  This summer is going by so fast, and soon I’ll be back to finding ways to survive the snow, and cold, with plenty of travel to new and interesting places.  But in the meantime, I’m going to look back and remember what is making this summer one of the best ever.

Glamping!  I’ve had my camper set out at Torch Grove Campground this summer (by Torch Lake, of course).  There’s such a fun group of people that spend the weekends here.  The new friends I’ve made are priceless and fun… Cheers to another month and a half of Glamping fun, campfires, and lake fun!  Oh… and I love the term “Glamping”  (Glamour Camping)…  It’s so much better than sleeping on the ground!  My dog agrees too!38693313_10157318141542069_1771094609921835008_o

Boating… Boating… and more boating… and lots of sand bar time on Torch Lake…  with a bit of swimmers itch thrown in.

 

The crew at the Torch River Marine has been a great one once again this year.  It’s almost mesmerizing to watch the boats come and go in and out of rack storage.  (Cheers to my favorites, Sabrina, Marlon, Shelby,  Phillip and Taylor, and of course Rebecca, John, Jason, Sarah, Jim, Rachel, Becky and a whole host of others that make the place hustle.)   I may be prejudice (My brother, John, and his friends, Jim Brewer and Jim Ennis make the place rock), but when I stand back and take a good look, they offer five star service, even under pressure of the busiest season of the year.

 

…  and lets not forget the small town fun, festivals and great friends!  The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City rocked, as usual.  Elk Rapids hosted a great 35th Class Reunion for my fellow alumni, and the Annual Torch Lake fireworks display was amazing, with a fantastic sunset and good fun!

 

All  that, and somehow, I missed my favorite festival of the year, Elk Rapids Harbor Days…  but I had fun with my visiting long lost sand bar siblings from way back in the 1970’s that week anyway…  I love these guys!

 

Ohhhhh… and summer’s not over yet.  I can’t give up on it.  There’s more to come for sure!  But I must admit, I’m looking forward to some fall adventures that I have planned.  Just a few places I have scheduled to travel for work and play…  Elmira, NY, Tunkannock, PA, Tinley Park, IL, Lexington, KY, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Havana, Cuba… and that’s just for fall.  Who knows what winter holds… but I don’t even want to think about snow!

That’s all for now… keep enjoying those summer days as long as we can!!38422392_10157308032517069_878782731469717504_n

 

Lunchtime blog: Summertime… Sandbar… Sunshine… Swimmers Itch???

Summertime in Northern Michigan means spending time on some of the clearest, most beautiful waters in the world.  (No… I’m not exaggerating… it’s so blue, it’s almost like you are in the Caribbean!)

A lot of my weekend time is spent out on my pontoon on my favorite sand bar on Torch Lake, which borders both Antrim County, and Kalkaska County.  When you look in the water, it’s so clear you cannot imagine anything lurking in the waters.  But as the warmth of the summer months draw in the ducks and geese…  it brings this nasty parasite (carried by the birds).  It’s the dreaded SWIMMER’S ITCH!  It might not hit for a day; it might hit right away…  It might even bypass the occasional person who is completely immune to it!

Its itchy, nasty, and can ruin a good time for a few days.  But somehow it never seems to slow us down from enjoying the summer.  We cope… We slather down with hydrocortisone cream,  and we move up the lake to deeper, cooler waters where the parasite doesn’t seem to thrive.

13438872_10154860889742069_1578895264950096278_n

The skin condition doesn’t last long… but it’s still an inconvenience.  So, don’t let it kill your good time!  Lotion up your skin before you get into the water (with SPF 15 at least, of course).  Dry off as soon as you get out of the water.  Keep a bar of Lava Soap on hand too, because it seems to scrub those little buggers away very well once you hit land.38422392_10157308032517069_878782731469717504_n

In the meantime… I’m spending today itching just a bit… Next weekend I think I’ll park North of the Sand Bar in the deeper water so this doesn’t happen for awhile again!

Until next time…  Float on!

Enjoy!

Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July has always been a favorite of mine…  Wonderful fireworks all around Northern Michigan!  But there’s more reasons that its a favorite.

Happy Boat Dogs

img_6635My favorite wine and a sunset on the water!img_6637Boat time with friends and familyimg_6644Dinner served boatside

img_6656Beautiful sunsetimg_6659My happy place… the captains chair on my pontooon!img_6662Patriotic Boaters

Beautiful skylines and warm nights!

img_6673Beautiful clean clear watersimg_6674Splashing through THE Sandbar… yes…  It’s the world famous Torch Lake Sand Bar.  This is where I grew up… and where I celebrate the freedom of our country every year.   img_6676

Enjoy every minute, and appreciate whats around!  Never take these things for granted.  It’s all great!

Happy Birthday America!

Another good dining establishment! Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, Alden, MI

Last week, Alden got an addition to its already wonderful cast of businesses.  The Blue Water Bistro and Pizzeria, (formerly Poma’s Pizza, and way back Sonny’s Pizza) opened last Friday night with  good reviews from the locals.

So, OF COURSE, Saturday night we had to venture over for a taste.  The new restaurant has a few bugs they are actively working out, but overall, I think its going to be a hit!

First off, they have a full bar with a nice selection of wine and beers, including some great local craft beers.  Of course, my refreshing favorite choice:  Tito’s and Soda with Orange slices served tall in a jar mug.  img_6562

My favorite part of the evening, was the small plates that were served.  There were five of us at the table, so we ordered a little of everything to sample.

  • Flaming Cheese and Bread…  This is a must have!!!  Tequila lime flamed at tableside… this is a gooey fantastic treat to start with.  I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s on the menu as “Blue Water Cheese Bread”… Don’t miss out!
  • Hot Wings…  These were nicely done as well.   They were just spicy enough to be perfectly flavorful.
  • Bruschetta…  Always one of my favorites where ever I go.  This place does it up very nicely!  Very fresh and flavorable… those are the words I choose to describe this selection.
  • Drunken Mushrooms…  Marinated in a wine/garlic sauce.  Good on its own… great if you add a little of the flaming cheese on top! (Just our tables experimentation… )
  • Shrimp Scampi Fritta…  OK, so I cant review this one, because of my severe seafood allergy.  But it certainly looked good.

img_6559

Oh… and did I mention the amazing bread plate that showed up before dinner?  No words needed… just enjoy the picture.  #honeybutter #yumyum

img_6553

Then dinner was served…

  • Three of us ordered the Blue Water Trio, which included an Olive Garden type combination of Lasagna, Fettucine Alfredo, and Chicken Parmesan.  The Lasagna was good… the Chicken Parmesan was OK (but it’s not always a favorite of mine anyway)…  The alfredo sauce on the fettuccine was delicious, but I wish there would have been more sauce.  The fettucine was sadly lacking moisture.  Overall, it’s an OK choice, but next time I’d try something different.
  • Another diner ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese…  I heard a few yummy noises being made across the table over this one, so I’d say it was a hit.
  • The almond crusted scallops on a bed of linguine with white wine sauce was another choice at our table.  It looked tasty to me, and I didn’t hear any complaints, so I’d say it’s a keeper on this menu

Next time, I’d love to try the Steak Gorgonzola…  Yes, there will be a next time.

Oh… I cannot forget to mention the wonderful Creme’ Brule’ for dessert… Simply delish!  It was a perfect finish to our meal…  And we all left with full happy bellies.

One last note on the atmosphere of the place… I love the garage doors on the front of the building for outside dining and cocktailing in the summer months.  The place was packed Saturday night, so the tables inside seemed a bit crowded together.  The high top tables were super cool looking, but seemed a bit over tall for a few shorter people in our group.

Of course, keeping in mind that the restaurant just opened, they do have a few service and kitchen issues to work out over time.  But I really have confidence that this place is going to be a big hit in the Torch Lake area.  I will definitely go back!

Check out the rest of their wonderful menu at www.torchlakepizza.com!

 

 

5 Reasons to visit Alden, Michigan this summer!

This little gem of a town in Northern Michigan often goes unnoticed… What people don’t realize is just how adorable Alden, Michigan really is!  Why?  Well, here are just a few of my simple reasons:

  1. Torch Lake!  Yes… this town is located on the east side of Torch Lake.  Beautiful views can be enjoyed from the docks at the boat launch.  You can visit by boat, or by car.  A quick 30 minute drive from Traverse City is all it takes.img_6524
  2. Alden’s Mill house…  This is a must stop for my favorite spice blends and fun kitchen gadgets.  It’s a quaint unique shop with something for the awesome chef in everyone!  Check it out at their website…  https://aldenmillhouse.com/  They ship anywhere as well, so treat your favorite chef to some Miracle Blend, or Big Dave’s Burger and Steak Blend.  No kitchen is complete without it!
  3.  The Alden Bar & Grill.  Burgers, Ice Cold Beer, and friendly locals gather here.  My personal favorite is the Alden Bar Burger.  They even have an outdoor patio for those warm summer evenings.  You just can’t go wrong.
  4. The Alden Depot Park and Museum.  Stop in for a visit and learn about the history of this beautiful little town, relax in the park overlooking Torch Lake, or play a quick game of volleyball in the sand courts. It’s the epitome of “Pure Michigan”.  You can check out all it has to offer at https://www.michigan.org/property/alden-depot-park-museum
  5. The Stroll!  Every Thursday in the summer it’s all about Alden…  Meet up with friends, Stroll the streets, listen to live music, and check out all of the shops.  Alden has so much to offer.

For more details on this great town, check out VisitAlden.com.  Enjoy  your visit… You will want to return for years to come!

Summer is here… and Torch Lake is back in full swing!

Yes…  It’s memorial weekend.  The weather is amazing here in Northern Michigan, at last!  The boats, yes…  the boats are ready to be in the water zipping around the lake and loafing on the sand bar at the south end.  It’s good to be a Michigander this weekend, especially if you own a boat!

7583841840_img_0308The water is a bit cold, but it sure doesn’t stop anyone from dipping their toes in to see if they can handle the ice cream headache that may result!  (Sparty on friends, Sparty on!)

img_6461

I personally just love days like these!  The water is so clear and clean… and did I mention COLD????  The air temperature was a solid 85 degrees. They tell me the water is 60 degrees, but my feet completely disagree!  Still… This place is the best place to be.

7583841840_img_0319

A cruise up the river was a nice break from the crowd.  Happily, this natural piece of artwork on Torch River has survived yet another winter!  It’s a favorite of mine.

7583841840_img_0317

Swanny even tried to pay us a visit to see if we had extra crackers on board.  Sorry buddy, no crackers for you!

7583841840_img_0321

Days like today, it gets so hot cruising the river, you just have to stop off for a dip before you head on under the bridge.

… and we get an additional day of this!

Happy Memorial Weekend to all…  Take time to remember all the veterans who gave their lives so that we can enjoy weekends like this.

 

This place called “Up North”…

In Michigan, we have distinct area’s that have their own character… Me, I live in the Northwestern Lower Peninsula of the Mitten.  I can point right at the spot I live on  my hand, as everyone who is from Michigan can.

When I was a kid,  we lived “downstate” in Horton, Michigan, which is just south of Jackson.   My family would load up the car on weekends and head north for “Up North”.   Everything north of Clare is what we considered “Up North” until  you hit the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Bridge.  Then it turned into The UP, which is a whole new fantastically wonderful place that I will blog about someday.

Once we got here on the weekends it was time for fun and relaxation.  Up North is a destination where snowmobiles and boats become a major source of transportation, depending on the season.  Of course, my favorite of the seasons is summer!

When I was 5 years old my family moved “Up North” to a beautiful place called Torch Lake.  I’m pretty sure this is the place Kid Rock sings about in his “Summertime in Northern Michigan”.  I grew up “splashing through the sand bar” at the south end of the lake.  It’s hard to find amazing places like this, so when you do, you can’t help but share!

20767875_10156216305027069_2409883372502036744_n

Now that I’m an adult (OK… so I’ve been an adult for awhile now), I still get that giddy anxiety that comes with arriving at the Torch River Marine every weekend that I get a chance.  I just know that my pontoon is waiting for me to load up an head on up the water for a day of fun, friends, and relaxation.  There really is no better place to be on a super hot summer day, than anchored off with friends, hanging out on floaties all day!

19748762_10156073598262069_1183057436765190202_n

This is what keeps all of us locals here…  The water is clear, clean, and a bit cool… Salt Free, and Shark Free.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.  When the winter’s hit, we break out our winter fun activities, and fly off to tropical locations on occasion to break up the bitter cold.  But every spring, the anticipation of going back to the lake brings happiness and hope.

This is “Up North”… and this is where I live!

 

 

Hints of Summertime!

Like I said before… Winter’s in Northern Michigan can be gloomy, long, and gray.  But When spring hits, it’s like a ray of hope shoots across the sky!  What is that beautiful blue sky and bright shiny sun?  Ahhhhh… it’s simply wonderful.  This weekend was the perfect occasion to tour around the Torch Lake area to catch a little positive energy!

First Stop… Torch River Marine at the South End of Torch Lake.  Yes, this place is simply buggin’ to come alive!  Boats are already coming out of storage, and the place is hopping!

18109445_10155827168837069_1236927958_n

That’s my pontoon right there in the middle waiting to be uncovered for the season.  It will be ready for me in May!

After meandering around the lake through Alden and up to Bellaire, we found a perfect opportunity to stop at Short’s Brew Pub for some delicious brews and a quick snack.  Oh so good… there’s a beer or cider flavor for every pallette here!

18136459_10155827168882069_356614229_n

A highly recommended stop…  my personal favorites here:  Bellaire Brown, Soft Parade, and Local’s Light.

Overall, a good day around Torch Lake, ending up at home for a good movie and some rest… and of course, some couch time with the Daisy!

18136955_10155827168812069_1224365527_n

No one can resist the perfect sunbeam!