Summer means being up north. My family lived in Traverse City when I was three years old (1965) and until I was six years old (1968). For many years after we moved down to Schoolcraft (for one year) and eventually Richland, we would take a week or two of vacation on Long Lake in Traverse City and stay in the same house in which we lived when I was little.
Summer trips to Traverse City were filled with snorkeling, looking for Petosky stones, dives off the point sand bar and the 20 foot drop, stamp collecting, comic books, trips to the Magic Rabbit magic shoppe, runs along the beach filmed by my father (one each year with my sister to later be edited and show us growing up), baseball cards, new books from Thompson's News, fudge, donut holes from Potter's, dinners with the moose, and day trips to Mackinaw Island.
For years, my dad would cart up there an old outboard motor from the 1940s that had belonged to his dad. We'd attach it to a row boat and zip around the cove formed by a peninsula and protected from the more choppy and robust waters of Long Lake proper.
We would grill most nights, though trips to Long Lake's Boone's or the Cherry Bucket in Acme were not out of the question. We might take a drive to Empire for the Drive In movie theatre or play miniature golf at the Pirate's Cove along the Miracle Mile on the bay in Traverse City. My mother liked to visit the small shoppes in Sutton's Bay or the boutiques in Fish Town in Leland. But most of all, we had no schedule. We just took each day as they would come and had FUN.
Eventually, the Knorrs sold the resort where we had lived and the cottage could no longer be rented. Still, we continued to take trips up north. Sometimes we would stay in hotels. For a couple of years, a friend of my dad's lent us a house in Harbor Springs. Many years of architectural conventions meant staying for a week or more on Mackinaw Island, which is still one of my favorite places on earth. I continued to do these things with my parents until late into my 20s.
Last year, when Liesel and I went up to Traverse City for a weekend, I drove out to Long Lake, where I used to live and vacation, going completely by instinct. These roads, the turns, the trees, the sites, the mailboxes are all imprinted on my consciousness like ink stamps on old paper. I remembered the way to our old house by feel. It was as if I had my eyes closed, gliding down the Long Lake road, passing familiar landmarks that I saw more in my mind than in reality until I spotted the unmistakable driveway, the spot, home.
The house is still there. Painted a weird brown rather than grey and moved back from its original spot closest to the water, my childhood home still stands and appears to be for rent for summer vacations once again.
Starting in 1993, I found a new vacation spot, which is where I took Liesel for a visit last year (2012): the Neahtawanta Inn on the Old Mission Peninsula. Run by Sally Van Vleck and Bob Russell, the Neahtawanta is my special summer home away from home and the most peaceful, serene, and wonderful place I have ever found. Over fifteen consecutive years of vacationing there, I spent at least 150 days and nights at the inn. I shared it with Liesel last year, finally, as we take so little time away for vacation, and neither Bob nor Sally were able to come to our wedding.
I will surely blog about my time up north, Long Lake, the Neahtawanta Inn, and Traverse City more throughout the summer as I own several shirts for the north, including one for the inn itself.
Today, I leave off with the view from the dock at the Neahtawanta and the perfect waters of Bowers Harbor, a calm and gorgeous cove along the western shore of the Old Mission Peninsula and West Bay.
This photo looks east because of the way the Neahtawanta Point bends back toward the main peninsula. The sun comes up over the water and hangs high in the sky most days. Traverse City is to the right (south) in this photo, which may seem counter intuitive and has always messed me up when I am there on the inn's beach.
- chris tower - 1306.14 - 11:14