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!

Weekend fun… transitions from winter to spring in Traverse City!

A lovely glass of Pinot Blanc with Lunch at McGee’s 72…

Check out the views and enjoy a glass at Marivinyards on Old Mission Peninsula.

Pose for a selfie at Peninsula Cellars, and have another glass of wine…

Visit The Oosterhouse’s Bonobo Winery and soak in the views…

And watch the icebergs float by on East Bay…

The Rise and Fall of the Shopping Mall?

In the late 1960’s, shopping malls popped up all around the country. I remember, because I was a kid way back then, and one of my favorite pastimes was loading up into the car with my mom, Grammy, and aunties to hit the Paka Plaza in Jackson, Michigan. It was a joy to wonder through the toy department at Sears Roebuck to pick out the favorite teddy bear. If I remember correctly, I picked a somewhat girly bear. My cousin, Erin (yes, thats you dear!) picked the cuddly brown bear with the boy clothes. She was much more of a tomboy than I was back then. (Strange how my memory works!) While my mom and my Aunt giggled about sizes marked with TT… They said it meant “teeny tiny” size!

Then we moved UpNorth.. Rapid City, Michigan… Torch Lake… Aka 3rd most beautiful lake in the world! No malls.. But we took many long drives back to Jackson to hit our favorite spots, along with many relatives and in 1972 they got a wondrous new indoor mall.. Westwood Mall… This quickly became a new favorite, with its extra expansive JC Penney, and Hudsons!

UpNorth shopping was mainly downtown. Traverse City, with its famous Milliken’s Tea Room, among quaint boutiques with unique clothing items. In 1978, the community scored big with the opening of the Cherryland Mall. The community had come of age with its flagship department store, Prange’s, along with Sears Roebuck and Kmart, not to mention Main Street Sports (Kudos to the Gallagher family!). The place was usually packed with happy shoppers, until around 1991, when the community was introduced to the Grand Traverse Mall. Oh the joy of shopping became larger!

Flash forward to today… Milliken’s is gone from downtown. Westwood Mall is still surviving. Cherryland Mall is now the Cherryland Center, struggling to fill vacant spaces. Multiple stores in the Grand Traverse Mall are slated to close, leaving it’s development company in search of new tenant’s. Who is to blame? Some say Amazon.com.

Well.. Amazon is convenient, but… in my recent travels to Raleigh, NC (Crabtree Valley Mall) and Estero, FL, (Coconut Point Mall) I was pleased to find good busy bustling malls with amazing shopping, and very few vacant spaces! My anxiety about the death of my favorite sport is eased! Now… What are these communities doing that our struggling malls can learn from?

Perhaps its quality over quantity? Maybe it’s the economy setting of the communities? What if it’s simply a matter of making time to spend a family shopping day on occasion, instead of blindly ordering something to be delivered to your door?

This is simply one of the things that randomly runs through my brain from time to time

In the meantime… Get out there and hit those local malls… Make memories! Happy shopping, all!

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!

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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!

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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!