First Stop: Grass Lake Nature Preserve
I took my family to the other side of Grand Traverse Bay — to Torch Lake, Bellaire and the farms, trails, woods and wetlands of Antrim County. It took some time to persuade the boys that this switch in Leaf Day activities would be worth it.
“Usually, we go exploring nature in Sleeping Bear Dunes Park for the whole day,” reasoned Colebrook. “There’s no time wasted sitting in a car.” “It is a change,” I agreed. “You don’t have to go — you can stay in school.” “No, no, no, we will go!” exclaimed Hawthorn.
We awoke Leaf Day morning to some heavy rain. It was breaking up as we drove the hour to the Grass Lake Nature Preserve, which was going to be our first stop. “I see a rainbow!” yelled Colebrook from the back of the minivan as we headed around Big Glen Lake.
We met Todd Gyulveszi, one of Cherry Republic’s finest, at the parking lot of the nature center. Todd was on their board and lives close by. He took us into a building full of every animal found in Michigan (though stuffed). We met the Executive Director, Haley Breniser, who spent the next hour showing us around this beautiful center and thousand acre preserve. Here are some photos of the boardwalks, overlooks and trails.
Up Next: Shorts Brewery and Mountain Biking
After this visit, we went to Short’s Brewery for lunch. We have been working with Shorts for several years in creating a line of beers — many cherry, of course, for summer 2018 in Glen Arbor. Then we were off to mountain bike at one of northern Michigan’s best single track trails — Glacial Hills. We spent two and a half hours biking, and had a great time, but unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the Steph, Todd and the boys racing through the leafy woods.
I made up by taking an abundance of photos at Providence Farm, our final stop of Leaf Day. Providence is owned by Ryan and Andrea Romeyn and is one of the largest organic farms in northern Michigan. Ryan and Andrea worked at Cherry Republic 15 years ago, so it was extra special to see all the success they’ve had growing a farm.
Cherry Republic supports so many farmers across northern Michigan, but honestly, we spend so little time in the orchards, pastures and fertile fields. Steph and I reconnected with old friends, and Colebrook and Hawthorn have a new best friend named Jacob. After dinner, we made the long drive home. We had to wake Hawthorn up to help unpack the car.
Here is a photo collection of our time with the Romeyns: