30 November 2013

Oct 2013 MICHIGAN Up North 1 - Fast Forward

Almost every year since we moved back to Michigan we go Up North for Mike's birthday weekend. It is almost always the perfect time to see the trees change from their summer to fall colors. This was the weekend. 

We had a fabulous time, but this year was not so good for color. We believe in climate change and this year is a good example of what's happening. Usually the trees are brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows by this time. Not so on this trip. About 80 percent of the trees are still all green. Not great for our trip and not great for planet earth.

Our destination today was Petoskey, Michigan, and we had a lovely day for motoring. We traveled US-131 all the way from Kalamazoo to Petoskey, about 280 miles and just over 5 hours travel time. We made one stop on the way at a Big Boys in Kalkaska. We wanted something quick and simple, but it was a more memorable meal than we expected. 

As we sat waiting for our food, we noticed a lot of gals with goth-like attire milling around the lunch buffet station. There were shades of black, torn t-shirts, studs, fishnet stockings, cinched waists and bodices, and lots of black leather. It was a bit out of place for a noon time meal at Big Boys. Brother Bob, take note. You won't believe this.

I saw the word Killamazoo on one of the t-shirts and realized it might have something to do with our home town. I asked one gal what they were doing in Kalkaska. It turns out she is part of the Kalamazoo "Killamazoo Killa Crew" Roller Derby team. They were competing in the third annual Class B Mitten Kitten tournament hosted by the Kalkaska Small Town Outlaws team.

Her "rink" name is Wicked Wings, which made sense because she had beautiful set of angel wings tattooed on her shoulders and back. She said it was in memory of her mom who had passed away. Anyway, she said the team had lost their first bout with the Ann Arbor Brawlstars 355-122 the night before, but that we should come and cheer them on later this evening.

We said we were headed out of town after lunch but asked when was the next meet-up in Kalamazoo. She advised some time in January. We said we'd see her there. We learned later they came in 6 out of 8 teams, but were in good spirits. Not too many injuries.

If you want to cheer with us at the Kalamazoo Expo Center in January (date TBA), let us know. We plan a Killa party. Or if you really want to join the fun, there are openings on the team!!

To find out more about the Killamazoo Killa Crew or Class A Derby Darlins, see:  www.killamazooderbydarlins.com .

When we arrived in Petoskey we found our hotel was a little north of town. It would have been nicer right in town, but good for a quick getaway in the morning as we were to continue north a bit. In any case, our room was clean and adequate. We freshened up and cruised back into town.

Mike's dad was born in Petoskey and, although we don't get here often, it is one of our fave northern Michigan towns. It is located on Little Traverse Bay, right on Lake Michigan. It has a cool old town district, good for walking, and a lot of little independent stores to shop or window shop in.

There are beautiful views along this stretch of highway. Lake Michigan on the right and a row of gingerbread mansions on the left. On the lake side park was a kite flying event. Some looked like colorful rags flying in the wind and others had a dragon effect.

Petoskey is a resort town with a permanent population of about 5,700. It was founded in 1879 and is recognized as the location of Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams stories. Hemingway was born in Chicago, but spent many a summer in this area as he grew up. Also, the Michigan State stone is the Petoskey stone, as many can be found in this area.

The town looks like a picture post card out of history. A small town feel, but tastefully updated. On the one hand there is the old J. C. Penny Company and on the other are galleries galore. One of the many shops is a huge kitchen store. If you use it in the kitchen you can find it here. Fabulous browsing and you can always find a new item you have not seen before. I think one time we bought an avocado slicer here. There is also a lot of green space in town and old cannons and military memorials. A mix of patriotic and quaint.

We made one "souvenir" purchase--a wooden sculpture of a raven. Mike especially loves ravens and we had been looking for just the right one for a while.

After the day's long drive, we were pooped. We were not up for a leisurely gourmet dining experience this evening. We opted for carry-out sub sandwiches and Dr. Pepper sodas at Jimmy Johns, and ate back at the hotel.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.