It’s so comfortable here at Indigo Bluffs that we had another late morning before starting today’s tourist activities.
We drove to Sutton’s Bay on Lake Michigan where Kay dropped me off and she drove back down to tour Traverse City. The 15-mile Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Leelanau Trail began near the bicycle drop-off parking lot. This proved to be a spectacular ride along a former railroad corridor through rolling hills, forests, orchards, vineyards, cornfields, and meadows, and past streams, small lakes, and ponds. The trail was well marked, and had a water station about halfway between Sutton’s Bay and Traverse City. Benches were placed about every two miles, and several adjoining landowners had signs on their property adjacent to the trail stating that they loved bicyclists; it definitely made one feel welcome. he trail was well marked and had mile markers every mile. The first 5 miles were mostly uphill, but the slope was gradual enough to allow maintaining a relatively high speed (for an old man). Along the way, trees were showing evidence of early fall as leaves were already changing colors. About halfway, at Mile 8, a pear orchard was right next to the trail with beautiful reddish yellow pears ripening on the trees. Further along the trail, at the edge of an orchard, skeletal remains of a couple of old buildings lay adjacent to the trail.
We had pre-arranged a pick-up point in Traverse City, but grossly underestimated the miles, thinking the Leelanau Trail was 28 miles long. As Traverse City came into view after only an hour or so, I texted Kay about our miscalculations and that I would keep riding. At Traverse City, the trail runs along the Grand Traverse Bay waterfront and beach, and it was a busy place as people sunned, played volleyball, threw Frisbees, etc., but few people ventured into the cold waters of Lake Michigan! Maneuvering through Traverse City was a challenge with all the traffic signals, sidewalks, and trail tunnels.
After traversing along the lakeshore, riding through a tunnel under US Highway 31, and crossing into the heart of town, another trail, TART 2, began started, and ran east and north for another 10.5 miles. This TART trail was a paved urban transportation corridor traversing from Traverse City to Acme Township. It was rather mundane after the other trails we’ve ridden this week, and had a number of washboarded sections. Near the end of the trail, I texted Kay regarding a pick-up point, but we miscommunicated—and previous texts with my status and directions never made it to her phone. An hour and a half later, she picked me up at the intersection of US Highway 31 and Bunker Hill Road. The 25-mile ride was invigorating, and the first 15 miles (Leelanau Trail) was the best I’ve ridden.
We had a late lunch at Georgina’s, Trip Advisor’s #1 rated restaurant in Traverse City. This authentic Asian & Latin Taquería is a a fusion of Asian and Hispanic food. Sitting only 18 people, one can easily view the chef(s) preparing their meal, and there was no reheating; everything was prepared from scratch. The young Chef owner is half Cuban and one quarter Chinese, born in Nicaragua. The food was priced reasonably, with most dishes costing $13—not bad for a gourmet meal. Most impressive about the food was the ability to taste each ingredient as you take a bite—yum yum good—and we each had half our meal left for later.
At Indigo Bluffs, we took advantage of the pool to ease muscle aches and pains. It was supposed to be heated to between 85 and 90°, but couldn’t have been much over 80°. It’s all relative, however, as some youngsters from this part of the country jumped in and said it was warm—it’s all a matter of perspective!
We’ve about wrapped up our time in the area in and around Empire, Michigan, with some free time tomorrow to explore.