X is for Xing

Because the ABC game is part Scavenger Hunt, we make up our own rules as we go along.  On our ABC Adventure to Grayling, Gaylord and Petoskey, we were nearing the completion of our alphabet.  As usual, we didn’t have an X.  We racked our brains for the X words we knew.  Often we resort to using the X in words like eXcite or eXcellent.  Today, in the pouring rain, we saw a sign, which matched our letter.

An ABC Adventure doesn’t have to be difficult, our only rules (for ourselves) are to have fun, to discover and to explore the world purposefully.

As I watched my husband get drenched to get this photo, I was having fun.  It makes me laugh to think of the antics we get up to.

I “discovered” we were under surveillance because there was a security camera on the caboose parked alongside this railroad crossing.  I wonder if it left them scratching their heads to observe us.

I had found the caboose, now turned restaurant, in my online study of the area. We were trying to purposefully explore, but sadly the restaurant had been closed.

All was not lost though, we decided to eXclaim that we were declaring this our “X”.  Thus Xing it off our list!

“Q” is for Quirky-Our ABC Adventure-Charlevoix

Have you ever dreamed of walking through Hobbiton featured in the Lord of the Rings?

Believe it or not, you don’t need to travel to New Zealand to find Hobbit houses, the USA has our own charming town which attracts tourists from around the world.

Charlevoix is a tiny Northern Michigan town located just 4 hours north of Detroit.

Self taught builder, Earl Young built the eleven homes during the depression era, these buildings are creatively known as Gnome Homes, Mushroom Houses, or Hobbit Houses and they stand ready to transport you to middle earth.

Earl Young’s houses feature his signature designs which include wide, wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails; cedar-shake roofs; and a horizontal emphasis in design.

As an architect, Young fashioned his structures, using indigenous materials. His works are made mostly of stone, using limestone, fieldstone, and boulders that he found throughout Northern Michigan.

In all, Earl Young designed 30 unique homes over a 54 year period, 28 buildings are still standing in Charlevoix and in recent years, visitors have been drawn to the area to take a tour of the unique structures.

The self guided tour allows for easy viewing of the homes and parking is readily available on the street.

It was in this way that we set off on our own Hobbit inspired adventure.

One of the first “mushroom houses” we came upon is called the Thatch House – Formerly called Sunset Villa (pictured above).  With its distinctive oversized thatched roof and lovely stonework, you can’t miss the impressive structure, located at 304 Park Avenue.

Thatched cottages are not common in the USA but with our roots in England, they are very familiar to us.  There is a certain comfort which comes with seeing this particular home, which reminds me so much of the English cottages, on a grander scale.

The home was significantly remodeled in 2015, to reflect a more “mushroom” like character but it was originally built by Mr. Young in 1918.  The new rendering was first drawn on a napkin.  When a passerby exclaimed, “wow that looks like a mushroom”, the new owner realized the mission had been achieved. The massive home now boasts 6 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths as well as a media room. It is used as a vacation rental and is often the setting for weddings.

Located next to the the Thatch House is the Half House.

Half House-Charlevoix, Michigan

This lovely little home appears to have been cut in half. It is said that this home was built by the imaginative Earl Young as a wedding gift for his daughter. Can you imagine receiving such a charming gift?  Built in 1947, the half house remains the same as it was in its original design.


Earl Young’s Original Home

Although this house isn’t as impressive as the remodeled mushroom, it is a very large home.  Viewing the house from the back reveals terraced steps which lead down from the hill above.  The layers of stone have been carefully set to blend seamlessly with the landscape.  This house is located at 306 Park Avenue.

The eleven mushroom houses can be found along a triangular block in the Park Avenue area consisting of Grant Street, Clinton Street and Park Avenue.  This is a self guided walking tour.  Parking is available along any street.  The homes are now private residences, so care should be taken to respect the privacy of the owners but it is a great way to pass an hour or so.

I will leave the remaining homes for you to discover, but I’m guessing it will be easy to see why we chose “Q” as our letter to represent these “Quirky” homes.

Walking tour of the Mushroom Houses


“O” is for Opportunities at Ostego Lake

On an ABC Adventure, it can be hard to represent each letter.  Such was the case with our letter “O”.

As we traveled through Northern Michigan,  on our 2 day adventure, we realized that we were passing through the county of Ostego.  Like with many of our challenging letter, we had left the “opportunity” to discover something new “open”.   It meant we just needed to be “observant” as we traveled, always looking for words which we could add to our list.

This is how we came upon the county of Ostego, which is where the town of Gaylord lies.  Gaylord had been one of our destinations.   With much Native American influence in this area, I researched the word Ostego.  There are actually a great many interpretations of origin.  One shows it meaning a “place of the rock”another means, “clear waters”.  The county is nestled in a glacial valley, filled with over 300 lakes, making both descriptions seem accurate.

Either way, we knew it would be worth a moment of our time as we  pulled into the Otsego State Park and just enjoyed a few minutes of exploration around the pristine beach along Ostego Lake.  It was the perfect excuse to get “outside” and breath.  It had been another “outstanding” moment along our path of discovery.

“N” is for a Nourishing Nature Preserve

Never mind that nature and north both begin with the letter N, it seems our brains were not allowing us to play with words on our Northern Michigan road trip.  Except for the letter N, we had completed the entire alphabet as we had traveled along on our two day adventure.  There was a sense of pressure to find our final letter before arriving home.  I can’t imagine how many opportunities we had already missed.

Then we saw it!  The “nature” preserve was tucked off to the side.  It was pouring with rain.  We could have easily talked ourselves into bypassing the opportunity.  Instead we turned down a miles long, dead straight dirt road.  The tunnel of trees created a canopy over the car as we ventured toward our unknown destination.  Along the way the magic of Michigan was present everywhere.

The greens  of the forest were almost ethereal from the rain. A magical mist floated among the branches.  As the woods wrapped us in their embrace, this peaceful location seemed untouched and unspoiled by man. Deer quietly stepped in front of the car, unafraid as if they had never known the fear of encroachment.  We continued driving. The deeper we went, the more isolated it became. Suddenly the road ended and we were left to explore the most amazing beach, free of everything except beauty.  We had been nourished.

“L” is for Logging Camp and Lumber-Grayling, Michigan

While on a whirlwind tour of Northern Michigan, we stopped at the Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, Michigan.  The White Pines, which once covered all of the state, have been protected within the 49 acres of the park.  It is one of the last stands of old growth trees in the USA.  Walking along the 1.5 miles of paths which meander among the towering trees it is easy to understand how logging became such an important part of Michigan history.

Nestled in the center of the forest is a replicated logging camp, now turned museum.  Built in the 1930’s the replicated logging camp represents life from the 1890’s. Here we were able to view  the equipment, tools, a  bunkhouse, food preparation area and an old sawmill.


The State Park is open year round.  The logging museum is open

  • April 30 – May 27: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • May 28 – September 4: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • September 5 – October 30: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hartwick Pines State Park       4175 Hartwick Road    Grayling, MI 49738

“K” is for Kalkaska-Exploring Northern Michigan

It was pouring with rain the day we traveled through Kalkaska.  I needed a K for our alphabet tour as we made our way through several Northern Michigan towns, on a two day adventure.  As soon as I saw the giant 17 foot long fish, located near the old railroad depot now turned Nature Museum, I knew that I needed  this picture.  Truth be told, unless you count the gas station and convenience stores there weren’t many other options for exciting photos of this tiny town.

Taking this picture made me smile as imagined what people were thinking as they saw me standing in the pouring rain, holding a letter for no apparent reason.  It was likely the most entertainment in the town in a while. Curiosity generally gets people talking.  It is often the way we often start discussions about our ABC adventures. Although Kalkaska attracts many visitors, most people were smarter than us on this day and didn’t get out of their cars.

With a population of just over 2,000, Kalkaska is the kind of small town most people just drive through unless you know someone or are coming to explore the great natural beauty which surrounds the town.   Still, rain or shine, Alan and I don’t miss opportunities and now I have a picture with a giant fish to prove it!

These kinds of oversized oddeties exist all across the USA, there quirkiness is worth capturing as part of the fabric of our country.  Even though they seem out of place, there is often more than meets the eye and such was true for the giant fish which was dedicated in 1966.  It has become an icon to welcome people to the area.

The Kalkaska County website boasts that there are “561 square miles with 80 inland lakes and 275 miles of streams and rivers.  Kalkaska is well known for its wide open spaces and of course for its trout fishing.  It is so celebrated there is a festival which honors the Brook Trout, which also happens to be the state fish of Michigan.  The National Trout Festival is held the last week of April annually.  Earnest Hemmingway also frequented the area and I would have never realized that unless I had stopped to read the historical information located near the the giant fish.

Summer and fall are not the only time people come to play. With an annual average of 126 inches of snow per year, winter is also popular giving way to activities such as skiing, sled dog racing and snowmobiling.   It is no wonder that this area is described as natures playground.

Like the stories still to be told of the area, I hope the giant fish, which catches travelers and reels them in, holding them spellbound to enjoy the unspoilt beauty will be here for many generations.  If you find yourself wanting to slow down and take in a little more of the area, try Trout Town Tavern for fish and chips or smoked trout pate’ and be sure to grab a picture, you may only pass this way once!


J is for Java-Playing With Words

When we are on an ABC adventure, there are certain letters which always give us challenge. J is one of those letters.  Coffee is often a part of many of our adventures but we are always challenging ourselves to find new ways to describe it.  Java and Joe are both J themed words we can substitute and on this adventure it was our excuse to check out a great little drive through called Cuppa “Joe”.

Thank goodness for the Ethiopian goat herder,  who  realized how energized his goats became after eating the berries from a certain tree.  He noted that the goats wouldn’t sleep at night after consuming the berries. The story goes that the goat herder took the berries to the monks, who steeped them in water, noting that drinking the elixir allowed them to remain awake during evening prayers. News of the magic potion spread around the world.

Thomas Jefferson once said “Coffee-the favorite drink of the civilized world.”   Beans are now grown worldwide and is second only to crude oil, as the most sought after commodity in the world!

It matters not what you choose to call your coffee but if you need it to get started and want to make great use of your letter “J” , you could call it  java, joe, jitter juice or jamocha all will be as satisfying and a perfect excuse to take a break.

I is for Ice Cream

Ice cream means summer to us.  We literally count the season by how many weeks the ice cream shops are open! This favorite confection was once limited to the elite.  Currently the price of a cone from an ice cream shop is running around $5 per cone,  which does start to crimp the budget if we are eating it almost daily (which Alan does through the season).  Thankfully I can find ice cream on sale pretty regularly for about $2.50 per half gallon, which can sustain him for a week, so he never feels deprived.

Ice cream hasn’t always been so readily available.  The origins of ice cream are debatable, Romans and Chinese Royalty are both referenced.  Imagine that the earliest version of this treat would have some poor soul being sent off on an expedition to travel through the desert then climb the highest mountains to collect glacial ice, which was sweetened by fruits!  It is not hard to imagine then that this treat was limited to royalty.

It would take until the 1700’s before being brought to the United States.  American Colonists would be the first to call it “Iced Cream”, which would later be shortened to the phrase we know today.  With the introduction of mechanical refrigeration sometime around 1897 the product could be sold in a commercial setting.  It would take another 7 years before the ice cream cone would debut at the St. Louis World Fair, finally making the treat portable.

Today there are so many flavors to choose from.  We could probably spend hours at an ice cream counter trying to figure out what we want…hard or soft, what flavor, toppings or not, cake cone, sugar cone or cup.  The options are endless.

One thing is for certain, with an ice cream shop in nearly every town we visit, we never deprive ourselves of this sweet treat.  Life is simply too short to miss an opportunity for these tiny blissful moments.  Even though ice cream is easily accessible these days, there is still associated with special occasions and if living itself isn’t reason to celebrate, then I don’t know what is…eat the ice cream and imagine yourself a royal!

“H” is for Harbor Springs, Michigan


Sometimes it is just important to get off the beaten path, which is how we discovered the quaint town of Harbor Springs.  I would like to say we took the road less traveled, but the popular scenic corridor along Highway 119 is located just north of Petoskey, Michigan and the pull of nature and beauty is great.

The waterfront community sits in a sheltered location on the North shore of Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan.

Harbor Springs lies just 7 miles off US 31, yet feels like a step back in time as travelers seek the views of Lake Michigan and the many activities offered during all four seasons.  There is also an abundance of culinary and cultural attractions available in this area.

With a population of just 1200 people, some might be tempted to roll right through the sleepy little village of Harbor Springs. The tiny downtown area seems to have stood still in time but closer inspection reveals a thriving art community.  Benches scattered throughout town invite you to slow down and savor the moment.


The real treat is tucked quietly behind the main road, it is almost hidden and if you don’t allow yourself time to wander, you might just miss it.  A short walk reveals a beautiful waterfront area, complete with two beaches, a green space, picnic facilities and a dock to walk on.  Luxurious homes and huge yachts reveal there is more to this town than meets the eye.


“G” is for “Gorgeous Gardens”-Gaylord, Michigan


Flowers and gardens are often part of our ABC Adventures.  As I researched things to do in the Gaylord area, I was more than just a little curious about the description of the Demonstration Gardens, since it had been described as having been created from a waste area.    I wondered if it would be worth a visit.  We had already explored the little town of Gaylord for our “G” but we had a little time available and the gardens are free, so we decided to add a little detour.  We asked several locals, but no one seemed to have heard of them.  Thank goodness for google maps.

We found the park at the edge of a very industrial area.  Concrete and asphalt seemed to be more abundant that flowers.   The small sign located at the edge of this area offered little inspiration for the beauty which lay beyond.  We followed a path which passed under an arch of orange berries, inviting us into the gardens.  This turned out to be a best kept secret type of adventure and I hope the locals will one day realize what a gem they have.


The three acre garden was developed to heal the land and “educate the public on the importance of native plants for preserving water quality and supporting ecosystems”.  Since replanting with natives was something I have been trying to do in my own gardens, we decided it was worth a few minutes exploration.

The city began removing refuse from an old dump site in 1997.  Over the years, the area was replaced with plants native to Michigan.  Native plants tend to need less care.  Their roots can grow up to several feet as they reach deep for water and nutrients.  Some people call them weeds but seeing a native garden in a structured format we are reminded how very beautiful these plants can be.  Native plants will always attract butterflies and wildlife as they work to create a full circle of life.

Visiting in the fall and toward the end of the day, we had the place to ourselves as we meandered through each of the 11 gardens.  With hoses strewn across the paths instead of in-ground sprinklers, in many ways it was like visiting a neighbors garden.  Unlike touring a Botanical Garden, the structure is loose but great care has actually been taken.  From songbirds, to hummingbirds, to butterflies many of the gardens have been planted specifically to support a particular type of wildlife.


Other gardens such as the herb garden and the Seed to Harvest garden have been planted to support a youth education program and grow foods for the less fortunate.  This area also features a home compost demonstration site geared toward educating people on how they can compost kitchen scraps and yard trimmings in their own backyard.  We had arrived at the end of the harvest season, so didn’t see a lot of the food which had been grown but the tender loving care given to each garden is apparent.

Some areas such as the Children’s Garden are planted to invite you to play in a riot of colors, smells and textures meant to stimulate the senses.  We embraced our youth as we hid from each other in the arborvitae maze.


We notice a stage set along a forest edge, we can only imagine the family memories waiting to made in this special place.  What a great setting for a picnic.

With the sun beginning to set, our adventure comes to a close.  As we head towards the car, we reflect on the beauty we had seen in the Demonstration Gardens.  This had been a terrific way to end the day.  The colors, patterns and variety had indeed made us pause and  play.

As I hold my husbands hand I  also reflect on taking time to do this activity, it would have been easy to skip it.  I am filled with “gratitude” for this man.  We have been married 38 years, marriage can grow very routine over time.  I marvel that Alan is so willing to play the alphabet game, to continue to explore and discover together.  I hope  there are still many memories to make.  We have both come to realize that every day can be an adventure, if we choose to make it that way.

Today we had gained a greater appreciation for what others call weeds.  I guess it is all in the way you look at the world. Marriage and relationships are like gardens, they must be nurtured and tended.  Some will see weeds, others will find beauty, it is all perspective.

Holding hands, we pass under the berry arch on our way back to the car.  We are once again thrown into the reality of urbanization but like these gardens, I realize it is up to us to always strive to remove the toxins from our lives and replace them with beauty.  We need only to plant the seeds.



The gardens may be found at:

Corner of Cross St. and Livingston Blvd.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gaylord, MI 49735                                                                                                                                                                             (989) 732-4021

“F” is for “Finding a Fabulous Farm Market”-Petoskey, Michigan


Farmer’s Markets have always called to me.  I am not sure if it is the bright colors of the produce, the smell of earth, or the gratitude I have, knowing what it takes to get this food to a table.  Perhaps it is genetic, stemming from the deep farming roots which run through my father’s side of the family.

I don’t know why specifically I seek these attractions out, I just know that I could spend hours lost in the discovery of everything which a Farmer’s Market offers.  Fresh produce, herbs, flowers, jars of homemade produce, all seem to ground me a little, to the earth which they are grown.   It was no surprise then, that while researching things to do in the Petoskey area, I was drawn to “Bill’s Farm Market”.  It had been rated 17 of the top 37 things to see/do in this location. Sometimes small towns are limited in what they offer, so I didn’t have high expectations but we were determined to fulfill our alphabet goal on this trip, so we selected the “Farm Market” as our letter “F”.

Driving along the quiet lane, the popular city soon turned into the rolling fields of farmland, which surround the area. It was easy to imagine that we might have taken a wrong turn.  With just a touch of fall chill in the air, the fields glistened under the morning dew. Here, there was no traffic.  It was so peaceful and was proving to be a beautiful drive, along a yet another road we wouldn’t normally travel if it wasn’t for an ABC Adventure.

Still, I couldn’t imagine how this site had gained so much popularity, every review on a popular travel site had sung the praises, still I was a skeptic.  Surely this market, located nearly 8 miles away from any town, didn’t attract nearly the population which went out of the way to rave about it.  As we crested the final half mile, traffic came to a standstill.

F-TrafficI have been to many Farm Markets over the years.  I never imagined that we would find a traffic back up, waiting to enter the popular location, especially on a Monday!  I was like a child heading to an amusement park as we waited for a parking space to free up. This place promised to be something extraordinary! 

I had read that the high hoop tunnel, holding the market was directly attached to the farmhouse. “Bill” had taken it over in 1982.  He and his brother Don still reside in the home where they had been raised.  In fact, the farm has been in the family for over 100 years!


F-Flowers 003The market bustles with activity from June through December.  It quietly moves through the seasons as it offers over 20 varieties of fresh flowers, 10 kinds of herbs and too many varieties of foods to mention, all grown in front of the house and in the beautiful valley which wraps around like an embrace, dotted only by cows quietly grazing on the hills.





On this August day, the smell of fresh peaches mingles with the cow manure, drawing throngs of people into the covered high tunnel. I am transformed to student, determined to learn the secret of the super sized produce filling the bins.





I stand transfixed, marveling at the 20 varieties of fresh flowers recently picked from the farm.  Cow poop and clean air, I am told are the magic which makes this happen. Soon the fields will be full of pumpkins and gourds as the season moves into fall. 







F-Flowers 002

Perhaps we will take a fall drive to see the pumpkins and gourds which will soon fill the fields. A hay ride might just be the way to pass a few hours.   Or maybe, as the snow begins to turn this setting into a Currier and Ives postcard, we will return for a Christmas tree, wreath or sleigh ride.






F-FieldsWith a final glance out over the valley, which surrounds the farm, I imagine the snow beginning to fall here this winter, transforming the scene to a Currier and Ives postcard.   Each season offers its own unique adventure of food, flowers, hay rides, sleigh rides, wreathes and trees. For now, I will simply revel in  the beauty of this location, content to have discovered this fabulous place.

As I file my letter “F” away, this adventure now complete, “We will be back”, I whisper, to no one in particular.


Bill’s Farm Market  4450 East Mitchell Rd., Petoskey, MI 49770  (231)-347-6735

“D” is for “Discovering Delectible Delights” in “Delicious” Tiny “Doughnut” Bites-Traverse City, Michigan

Sometimes we don’t know where to begin an ABC adventure, so we will start by letting our fingers do the walking through a Google search.  This will often turn up a location to explore, or a great restaurant or shop to visit.  Such was how we “discovered” the “doughnut” shop in Traverse City, MI.  But which letter to assign to it?  Peace, Love and Little Donuts could give us a P, if we went with the name of the location, an E if we threw it together with all the other wonderful places we would eat along our 400 mile mini vacation, or a D for doughnuts.  We would photograph all three and decide later where this fit in with our overall journey. Whatever letter we chose, tiny doughnuts just sounded like a fun way to start a day! D-Donuts

Food is always a big part of our trips.  We couldn’t imagine how we had never heard of this tiny shop, after all, we live here!  We were very surprised to find that this hole in the wall business, is a franchise and there are actually two of them in the state of Michigan!  The other location is in Portage.

Because education is such a part of all of our adventures, we diligently read the story of how this franchise had first begun.  Like many small business owners, success had been by accident.  It started with the purchase of a doughnut maker, which led to making the tiny treats for a hockey tournament.  The size of the doughnuts had been an accident, after a piece of equipment failed to produce full sized doughnuts.  The event had begun, so they were out of time.  Choosing to go with what they had, they decorated the mini doughnuts. The bite size was such a hit, that the idea for a small business had been born.  The shops are now spread across 14 states!


E-Our order


Alan was skeptical, feeling the doughnuts couldn’t be that good if we didn’t already know about them…the line out the door on a Sunday morning, at 9am, told a different story!  As I joined others, drooling over the 60+ options, I realized it would be hard to choose just one or two of the delectable delights. There are all manner of flavors to discover.  We needed to narrow it down to a dozen.  We each chose our favorites, Peanut Nutter and Salted Pretzel for me and Chocolate Chip and Oreo Cookie for Alan.  The rest, we agreed to split, so we could sample more.  With an employee dedicated to the frier, the doughnuts churned out almost as fast as they were ordered. A second team decorated them.     For less than $20, we left the shop to find a beach to “devour” our “delights”.  We headed to one of our favorites, Byrant Park.  The doughnuts were still warm!


D-DelectibleD-Delicious 2D-Decadent








After working our way through about 6 of the doughnuts, our favorite flavors remained our favorites, but we mutually agreed that the “drizzled”  Strawberry Shortcake doughnut was our combined favorite.










D-donut sign


We were quickly getting full.  I dared not start counting calories at this early stage of our trip.  I remembered a great sign hung in the shop.  Perhaps this was why it had been there!  All in all, we enjoyed this little shop.  We will be back to devour more of these “decadent” little treats!





Peace, Love and Little Donuts 441 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686  231-421-5255

“C” is For a “Calming Chapel in the Woods”-Grayling, Michigan

Chapel in the Woods

Hartwick Pines State Park is the only place in Michigan which still holds the towering White Pines, which once covered the entire state and built the wealth of countless lumber barons.  Today, there are just 49 acres of the  trees, in the entire state!  This area, was the third city along our 48 hour Michigan tour, which is why we dedicated the third letter of the alphabet, “C”,  to discovering the tiny “chapel” which sits in the middle of the forest.






The chapel quietly appears after a short walk through the towering pines. I was so excited to see this cabin-like structure, which was a big reason we had gone so far out of our way to include Grayling in our adventure.  The chapel was intended to be a place of spiritual reflection and meditation for “all who walk the trails of Hartwick Pines”.  The first thing I noticed was the beautiful curved glass, which makes up the window and forms a “cross”.








A brief history informed me that this is actually a fairly new structure, having been built and dedicated in 1953.







Making our way to the entrance of the church, the light filters through the window.  I imagine how spectacular this space might be in the morning, as the sun rises and floods the tiny chapel. I think of the married lives which might have begun here.  I can visualize the light washing over people, flooding them with warmth.   For now, the sun has already moved beyond the window so there is just enough light to see the pews.  I take my place amongst one of the tiny benches, which line both side of the chapel.  The chapel only holds 18 people.  I am the only person here at the moment, Alan waits outside as I spend a moment in silent meditation.



A plaque positioned under the window reads:

Our Heavenly Father, Creator of all that is nature,
We humbly come to you in the midst of nature’s splendor,
To thank you that as Americans we are free
To worship as we please, work as we please,
And move about as we please to enjoy all that is nature:
Its mountains, its hills, its valleys, its lakes,
Its streams, and the living things that dwell therein;
We pray unto You that someday the world may be at peace
And all men be free to enjoy nature’s abundance.
We ask you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
That we be guided to protect this priceless heritage
Which we, in America, are privileged to enjoy. Amen.



Following the Covid outbreak, which has so divided this country, what a year (or two) it has been.  Uttering this small prayer of hope,  instantly fills me with a sense of “calm”.  I step from the chapel feeling just a bit lighter, as I return to the forest for the remainder of our walk in the woods.



“B” is for “Beautiful Boyne City”, Michigan

BWhen Alan and I take on an ABC Adventure, we don’t limit ourselves to doing the letters in any particular order.  By the time we got to the letter B, on our 48 hour mini trip, we had already visited Kalkaska, Grayling and Gaylord!  We had explored many new places, tasted several fun foods and immersed ourselves in nature.  The letter B might have also been utilized at the “bakery” as we filled up for donuts at “breakfast”.  We might have used the letter when we went to the “beach” to eat that breakfast, or as we explored many of the “buildings” we had already seen along our journey.  Instead, we had safely guarded our letter “B”, knowing that we would soon arrive in “Boyne City” where there are only a few specialty stores, a couple of amazing restaurants and a number of condominiums.  In this seemingly tiny town, which appears to spring up from nowhere, the beautiful Lake Charlevoix takes center stage.   This area has been attracting people to its shores for many years.  From skiing in the winter, to the Morel Festival in the spring, sailing in the summer and enjoying the colors of fall, there is something to explore here year round.  In fact, 3500 people call this place their permanent home.  The population swells in the warmer months as people flock to the natural beauty of the area.

B-Boyne flowers B-Boyne Fish

I don’t know what intrigues me the most, the waterfront, or the flowers. The old and the new   combines seamlessly.  Everywhere I look radiates a personal pride in the area.  Even the little log cabin, which has served as the visitor center since the 1940’s, is awash in carefully tended flowers.


Sadly, I am unable to find out anything about this little building but the careful preservation has ensured its safety  as industry develops around it.

B-Boyne-my baby

More flowers are planted along the riverfront.  These are carefully tended by volunteers, providing me a fun place to play with my photography.

B-Boyne riverfront B-Boyne-flowers













As we make our way down Main Street, which is really no more than a few businesses, we are pleased to see that it is enough to attract plenty of shoppers and people looking for a great waterside meal.

B-Boyne downtown B-Boyne development









The Sunset Park was a great place to end our adventures for this day.  We purchased an ice cream, then sat upon a “bench” to enjoy the “beauty” of “Boyne City”.  It had been a “busy” day of exploration!

“A” is for “Accommodations at the Apple Tree Inn”-Petoskey, Michigan

Since Covid restrictions and lock downs, it has been a while since Alan and I have traveled, let alone stayed in a hotel, about 2 years to be exact!

A-Apple Tree

On our most recent ABC Adventure, we chose to stay at the Apple Tree Inn.  There were likely more modern places we could have chosen, but we wanted to stay here because it had always been Alan’s parents favorite hotel, when they had traveled to this area.  We arrived just as the sun set.  The day had been hot and very humid as we explored Kalkaska, Grayling, Gaylord and Boyne City, before finally arriving in Petoskey, Michigan.  The twinkling lights, which welcomed us as we approached the property, gave an inviting and magical glow to the trees surrounding the property.

Before our arrival, I had messaged the staff that we were retracing the steps of my in-laws, who had stayed here some 15 years before. I find that this personalization often leads to room upgrades. As the clerk handed Alan our keys, he said, “I thought that name looked familiar.”  I like to imagine that he had remembered these two very special people. Entering our room, we were pleasantly surprised to find a large Jacuzzi and king size bed. 

I am not sure if the room had been an upgrade, but the room was lovely.  While perhaps a little more worn than its glory days, it was easy to understand how Leslie and Josie had fallen in love with it.  The air conditioner, pre-set by the cleaning crew to a frigid 60 degrees, soon forced me out to the balcony to warm up!  It was also a great opportunity to enjoy a wine cooler and appreciate the bay view.

A-Amazing A-Alcohol







Alan’s parents have always been two of my favorite people.  Their love for each other reflected daily, in the 54 years of marriage, which they had shared.  As Alan and I settled on the balcony, we reminisced about this love and our shared passion for travel.   These people had taught us the value of play in a marriage. Perhaps this is why Alan is always a good sport about embracing every adventure with me.  He has always held the best qualities of both of his parents.  My Father-in Law passed away over a decade ago, but I can still picture him sharing a quiet waltz with his “girl” as they dance across this balcony under a rising moon.  There’s was a love to admire and the memories will always be the jewels I carry as my greatest possessions.

Following our own waltz on the balcony,  we finally return to the room, ready to settle in for the night.  Simultaneously Alan and I begin to laugh, sheets, blankets, mirrors and wall were all dripping wet with the humidity which had built up as soon as we turned off the air conditioner!

So what is one to do?  Crank the air conditioner, pull back the blankets and laugh at ourselves for being so foolish.  Even after 38 years of celebrating our own marriage, we try to end every day with a smile, another lesson we had been well taught.

Apple Tree Inn 915 Spring Street, Petoskey, MI 49770   (231) 348-2900

ABC Adventure 2021-We finished the alphabet!

Planning an ABC Adventure takes time.  When I know I will be traveling, I start collecting words.  I will pour through travel guides to find the “must do” adventures and sites to see in the area.  I will assign them to a letter.

I will scour Pinterest and You Tube and Trip Advisor in the hope that someone has left a tidbit of information which I might draw knowledge from.

By the time we head out for our adventure, I have a long list of possible places to explore.

It can be difficult to get an entire alphabet done in a short amount of time but we did it!

This month I will share our whirlwind vacation to Traverse City, Grayling, Gaylord, Boyne City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and home again.  It was a whirlwind of 48 hours but we discovered things we never knew existed, all because of the alphabet!