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Lake Blog

Cherry Festival

cherryfestHi Folks: We just left Traverse City and are headed for the Straits. It has rained a lot of the time yesterday and today, but as the kids say “We are having a ball”. July 10, 1956

With the annual National Cherry Festival about to begin in Traverse City, I thought it would be fitting to feature a postcard picturing the cherry orchards in blossom. Since the festival began in 1926, it is very possible that the Cherry Festival was one of the reasons this postcard writer was “Having a ball”.

This year the festival runs July 4 – July 10 with something for everyone. There is an air show, 5K or 15K race, wine tasting, and of course, lots of good cherry eats. And all of you aspiring singers, be sure to check out the “Cherry Idol” competition. You just may be discovered!

Just hearing about the good things to eat makes me hungry for one of my favorite treats, cherry salsa. M-m-m good!

I checked the 10 day forecast for Traverse City and the weather looks perfect. So, bring your family, your sunscreen and your appetite and head to Traverse City.

And when your feet are tired and you want a break from the crowds, be sure to check out a Michigan lake!

Written by Dave.

Sunrise Over the Bay

grandtraversesunriseMy wife and I recently traveled to Traverse City on a chilly, cloudy Saturday. It would not have been our first choice of days to go weather-wise, but we had an appointment there that day so really did not have much of a choice. As always, I threw the camera in the car “just in case”.

As we turned the corner and saw the bay,  the sun suddenly appeared between the clouds over the bay. It was a spectacular site, so I quickly turned the car around and looked for a place to park and snap some pictures. As is often the case, in the few minutes it took to find a spot to park and get out and walk around,  the clouds changed and the colors became a little more subdued.  But, despite that, it was a beautiful site and we had fun taking pictures.

Two things that never cease to amaze me with their beauty are Michigan sunrises and sunsets over water.  Many times I have thought there would be too many clouds for a sunset or sunrise, only to find the sun poking through the clouds and providing a spectacular light display. The beauty of a sunrise or sunset over water is you get double the display, as all of  the pinks, purples and golds are  reflected in the water.

There still is plenty of time to enjoy a sunrise or sunset over a Michigan lake!

Written by Dave.

Table Top Art

CafeI have written about the Green House Café before, but whenever we visit Traverse City we make it a point to stop there for breakfast and our recent visit to Traverse City was no exception.

This is probably the first time we have been there so late in the season and I was very surprised at how busy the place was. We arrived shortly after they opened and it wasn’t long before nearly every booth and table was filled. I guess when I was there in the summer I assumed most of the diners were vacationers, but that does not seem to be the case. That says a lot about a restaurant in resort town.

As usual the food and service was great, but I noticed something fun that I had not paid much attention to on previous visits. The tables are covered with brown paper and each table has a box of crayons. The entry area of the restaurant is covered with the artistic (or not so artistic!) renderings of the restaurants diners. What a fun way to keep clients busy while waiting for their meal, and to get them to come back to see if their work is posted.  It just gives the place a nice, homey, personal feel.

Hmm…maybe instead of covering our Thanksgiving table with the traditional tablecloth we will cover it with brown paper and let our guests decorate it!  It will keep them busy if the turkey is not quite done when they arrive.

Written by Dave.

The Train

You never know what you are going to see while traveling around the state of Michigan. Recently I came across what appears to be an abandoned train near Traverse City, on 31 where it separates from M37.

I don’t know the story connected to this train, but I know that there is one. All of the cars are the same, silver color. The cars stand on the tracks, grass and weeds growing around them.

The train stands right in front of  the Cherry Growers,  Inc. building.

If anyone knows the story of this train, let me know. I would be interested to hear.


Written by Dave.


Hello Old Man, How are you getting along? Are you ever going to write to me? It seems pretty cold here. We are all well. George is going to strike out to hunt a job before long. Charley and Sade started to Penn. the next day after I got here. I was up to Sidney’s Friday. Would be glad to hear from you. E.N.W”.  Post marked Dec. 5, 1911

I wonder if George found work as a logger? Lumbering was big business in Michigan in the early 1900s, so he probably could have found work as a logger quite easily.

I was a little surprised when I saw this postcard. I’d read before that because logs were big and heavy and difficult to move, loggers would pile them up on a sled and wait until winter to move them, but never knew that they piled them that high. I guess you couldn’t be afraid of heights if you were a logger!

Even though logging is not big business in Michigan today, we still enjoy the beauty of our many, Michigan trees and October is a great time for a color tour. Enjoy Michigan now!


Written by Dave.

onionsWell, a recent visit to the Farmer’s Market certainly brought home the fact the summer is gone and fall is here.  No more strawberries, blueberries, sweet corn or peaches.  Now it’s pumpkins, mums, apples and cider.  The vendors are bundled up against the cold, and probably finding it’s pretty hard making change while wearing mittens!

But, it is a beautiful sight to see rows and rows of baskets of apples, the big orange pumpkins, onions, and mums of every color.

As I was walking around the Traverse City Farmer’s Market this fall, I was amazed at the variety of apples gown right here in Michigan. Most vendors had listed what each variety was good for, eating, applesauce, baking etc. Many offered samples to help you make your selection.

It worked for me. I left with a big bag of crunchy apples and, of course, a gallon of apple cider.

Many Farmer’s Markets close the end of October, so make it a point to get to one soon!

Written by Dave.

A Great Sign

This sign has always been one of my favorites. It is found at the Airport Sand and Gravel Company on State Rd, just outside of Hastings Michigan in Barry County.

I like it so much that I am thinking of having our FOR SALE signs redesigned. I need something a little larger than what I have now and this just may work. I only wonder what the various townships would say.


Written by Dave.

Yankee Springs Recreation Area

Yankee Springs Recreation Area is a Michigan wonderland consisting of 5,000 acres of land with lakefront on nine Michigan lakes. All located in Barry County, nine miles east of Hastings.

The area is mainly rolling wooded land filled with marshes, bogs, wetlands and numerous streams, providing home for Michigan wildlife and a variety of plant life.

Yankee Springs Recreation Area has frontage on several Michigan lakes, providing something for everyone. The lakes include some well known Michigan lakes, as well as some you may not have heard of before. Gun Lake (2,680 acres), Long Lake (145 acres), Payne Lake (118 acres), Chief Noonday Lake, Hall Lake, Deep Lake (32 acres), Duck Lake, Baker Lake (67 acres), Williams Lake and McDonald Lake (16 acres) all provide hours of enjoyment for those visiting Yankee Springs Recreation Area.

Camping is available with some 345 campsites available. A modern campground is available on the lakefront of Gun Lake. One will find modern toilets and shower buildings located on the campgrounds. The more rustic camping is available on Deep Lake. There are also rustic cabins available for individuals or groups.

If you are looking for trails, there are some fifteen for hiking, twelve for mountain bikes and even ten miles for equestrian use. You will even connect to the North Country Trail.

A brochure available at the area describes seven of the trails:

Hall Lake Trail – 2 Miles The trail starts across from the entrance of the Long lake Outdoor Center, winds through the pines, follows the shoreline of Hall Lake, and continues to Graves Hill. The return trail ‘back tracks’ to the intersection just below the crest of Graves Hill and then winds down the hill back to the starting point.

Chief Noonday Trail – 4 Miles Round Trip This trail was named after a famous Ottawa Indian Chief who resided in the area. The trail begins just off Chief Noonday Road and travels to the Devil’s Soupbowl and returns. McDonald Lake Overlook gives a panoramic view of the area along the way.

Deep Lake Trail – 4 Miles The trail starts across from the campground office. The trail winds around the bog area at the south end of Deep Lake, proceeds across open fields and old farm homesteads, and leads to the Devil’s Soupbowl where it winds around the Little Soupbowl and returns by the trail north of Deep Lake. Portions of this trail are shared with the Mountain Bike Trail.

Long Lake Trail – 5 Miles Round Trip This trail adjoins the Sassafras Nature Trail and has a starting point from Briggs Road just north of the area headquarters. The trail enters a boardwalk crossing a beautiful bog area, continues down an old wagon road and leads to Grave Hill. From this point, the trail leads to the Devil’s Soupbowl where it connects with the Chief Noonday Trail. The Noonday Trail leads to signs and markers for a return to the Long Lake Trail.

Sassafras Nature Trail – 1 Mile The entrance location is by the Gun Lake Campground office. This is a flat wooded trail that loops back to the starting point or allows hikers to connect with the Long Lake Trail.

Mountain Bike Trail – 12 Miles The trail makers are bicycle silhouettes. This trail starts out flat for a warm-up and then leads you through the most rugged hills in the area; returning through some though sand pockets and a creek crossing. Bike helmets are recommended. Detail maps are available upon request.

Gun Lake Trail – ½ Mile This non-motorized, barrier free trail connects the Gun Lake Campground with the Day Use area. Starting at the campground, the trail enters a boardwalk crossing a bog area and then continues on a slag path and another boardwalk parallel with the Day Use entrance road leading to the fishing pier on Gun Lake.




Written by Dave.

Out To Lunch

gunlakedinerThe other day, after spending the better part of the morning investigating  south west Michigan, our stomachs told us it was well past lunch time. We wanted something other than the typical, fast food restaurants, so we stopped at the Gun Lake Diner on M179, just north of Gun Lake, Barry County.

The food was typical of a diner, nothing fancy, but plenty of choices. The blueberry pancakes were good. Light, fluffy. and just the right amount of blueberries. The special of the day was country fried steak with eggs, potatoes and toast for $5.99. The bill came to just over eleven dollars, a small amount for the generous portions.

They seem to promote their Friday night fish fry. Sounds interesting, but it wasn’t Friday night so we can’t comment on that. We may have to check that out later.

One additional note of interest, Gun Lake has an evening trolley that’s free. It leaves the State Park Campground at 5:00, 6:20, 7:40 and 8:52. It makes stops at over ten different restaurants, so you can get some dinner, ice cream or whatever sounds good to you that evening. You don’t have to drive, so you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.

I like that idea. I think I will head out there some night this summer and try it out.

Written by Dave.

Minnie Sophronas

minniasWhat’s that? I know I had never heard of it, but recently on a cold, rainy morning while we were searching for a warm, dry breakfast place, we stumbled on “Minnie Sophronas Restaurant and Bake Shop” . And we were glad we did!

Located at the corner of Trowbridge and Locust Avenue in Allegan Michigan, this restaurant is housed in an interesting triangular shaped Victorian brick building with a turret. Built in 1903, it still proudly displays the name of “M DeWright Block”. I don’t have a clue what the building was originally, but it definitely was one of prominence and it still is today.

Inside, one will find tall tin ceilings, oak trim and a certain amount of nostalgia on the wall. This family restaurant is worthy of mention. From the friendly service of Yvonne our waitress, to the interesting daily specials, this place is certainly worth a visit.

Bypassing the specials for the day, I went for the farmer’s omelet and my wife ordered the French toast. Both were served quickly and exceeded our expectations. The place was filled with friendly, chattering people, making for a warm and homey feeling. We left satisfied and happy!

And, another plus, the bill came only to eleven dollars and some change!

We certainly would recommend Minnie Sophronas to our friends. So, when you are in the Allegan area, be sure to pay them a visit.

Written by Dave.

For some reason, a few weeks ago I began thinking about those famous Fricano’s pizzas and I knew I had to have one. It had been many, many years since I had indulged in one, so one beautiful summer evening, my wife and I traveled to Grand Haven to enjoy the sunset and a Fricano’s pizza. And we were not disappointed  by either one.

Fricano’s has been a Grand Haven landmark for decades and for good reason, the pizza can’t be beat. It’s thin crust and tasty toppings make for an economical and satisfying meal that makes you want to come back for more. The topping choices are limited, but with this pizza, you just don’t need a lot of choices. The simpler the better is the key here.  I know of nothing in West Michigan that can compare to this pizza.

The restaurant has a very large and loyal following, which is evident by the lines of people waiting   by both the front and back entrances. The line moves very quickly though, thanks to the efficient kitchen staff.

The atmosphere at the Grand Haven Fricano’s is also something that makes you want to come back. The building probably has changed very little since opened in 1949 and has a down home, mother’s kitchen feeling. The wait staff are friendly and many have been working there for years.

Along with the original Grand Haven Fricano’s now serves its famous pizza in Comstock Park, Kalamazoo, Holland and Muskegon.


Written by Dave.