Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Going Up North

Michiganders have this thing about going "up north" to their cottages or campsites. North is essentially north of Clare, Michigan (just a little past the geographical center of the state). If you stop to get gas north of Clare, you can buy a sweatshirt or a coffee mug that says "Up North". I'm not sure it's so much a destination as a state of mind. I've been up north three times this month, and each trip has been very fun and very beautiful. But I have to admit - I don't get the always going up north thing. Not that it's not incredibly gorgeous and there's lots to do, but I can't imagine spending every weekend driving three hours to get someplace else. The same place, every time. 

I realize this post will make me unpopular. Let me say again that I think it's lovely in northern Michigan. If I lived there, I'd be all about it. There are just way too many places I want to travel to that keep me from spending every weekend in the same place that's not exactly close to home.

In June I've been north of Clare three times - to Munising (I guess not really "up north" because the Upper Peninsula is its own entity), to Traverse City and this past week to Boyne Highlands for a meeting.  Boyne Highlands is a ski resort near the cities of Harbor Springs and Petoskey, both lovely northern Michigan towns. I had to run while we were there because I am still working through my 38 day summer run streak (this morning's run was 30 days in a row of running at least one mile). 

Boyne Highlands main lodge
My friend and I decided we'd run to the top of one of the ski hills. It wasn't that far - maybe a mile, but it was exhausting. It was unequivocally one of the hardest runs I've ever done. Totally worth it, but we decided to take the ski lift back down.
 
We ran up the dirt path on the left. Ouch.
It didn't look quite this steep on the way up.
Boyne Highlands has lots of activities in the summer - swimming, horseback riding, and one of my favorite summer activities -drinking gin and tonics. The bartenders at the lodge graciously added cucumbers as my garnish. It's my new favorite summer cocktail. The resort also has a zip line which was very fun. I'd never been zip lining before and it was awesome. I went down the hill upside down the second time - so exciting.


Getting suited up for zip lining.
We did have an opportunity one afternoon to spend a little time in downtown Harbor Springs, a town just a few miles from Boyne Highlands. It is a lovely downtown on the water with lots of shops and restaurants. It's walkable and has beautiful water views. I had been to Harbor Springs once in the fall on a blustery day with nearly sideways rain, so this helped rehabilitate my cold weather image of the town. We walked around a bit, looked in some shops, and enjoyed some ice cream as we sat by the water.

Some shots from downtown Harbor Springs





This is probably the last trip I'll take up north this summer - I think three trips in one month was a bit exhausting. Each trip was enjoyable, and each town I visited had its own unique appeal that encourages Michiganders to brave the traffic on US-127 and I-75 north every weekend. I think the rest of the summer we'll head south or east. Changing directions always keeps things interesting.  

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