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Hit The Deck!


Happy Birthday, America!

Back in 1955 (so I'm told -- I wasn't around yet), MGM produced a musical motion picture by that name; it was an instant hit.  A term that may mean many things to different people, it could also be frequently heard on US Navy ships (especially during the early war years, according to my father, from his own time of service in the US Navy).  It was a term that conveyed a certain sense of urgency, an expectation to get up and get moving, since being caught below deck might result in unpleasant consequences for anyone who did not promptly 'hit the deck' when so ordered.  So it is with us as we welcome summer Up North with a gentle admonition: get outside and 'hit the deck!'

There are no end of 'decks' one may visit here.  To sort of paraphrase Michigan's popular motto, 'if you seek a pleasant deck [peninsula], look around you.'  Many who live Up North have expansive decks around their homes that make for killer cookouts, sometimes with beautiful views of a nearby lake or stream; outside decks around many of our favorite restaurants with cozy bistro tables that afford the diner(s) spectacular views of the water; cool boat decks -- and docks -- like those of the Manitou Transit Company based in Leland, MI that we visited recently. 


Speaking of which, if your travels take you there, why not visit historic Fishtown in Leland, where you'll be soothed by fresh lake breezes, refreshed at any one of Leland's signature restaurants, or inspired by any of their many one-of-a-kind shops.  Carlson's Fish Market might even be smoking a fresh catch of Whitefish or Chubbs in their century-old smoke house that came in on one of the many early morning fishing boats from Lake Michigan (the fish, not the smoke house).

You'll also receive a warm welcome at some of our other Leelanau County ports-of-call: how about Northport, MI located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, or glamorous Glen Lake on the Leelanau Peninsula's western shore, not far from the historic old logging community of Glen Haven in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (voted "the most beautiful national park in the United States" last year).  Care for a casual stroll in another quaint little Up North town?  Make the short drive to Suttons Bay and experience some of the charm that makes this Up North destination so inviting.

Of course, all that adventure could make one mighty hungry; we can fix that real quick by highly recommending places that we just recently visited.  The Soul Hole is one of Traverse City's newer restaurants, boasting excellent mouth-watering southern cuisine along with their legendary hospitality; you won't be disappointed.  Dine in, or eat out on their neat little sidewalk cafe' style bistro tables.  In the mood for a great pizza?  Try one from Leelanau County's own Roman Wheel (a retired space shuttle astronaut lives just a little north of us and once commented: "Roman Wheel's pizzas are 'out of this world'"; no kidding!).  Have more eclectic tastes?  Try The Bluebird Restaurant in Leland, just a block from historic Fishtown.  If your taste-buds are more in the mood for spicy Cajun or Creole, then you will love the food that comes out of Pearl's New Orleans Kitchen in Elk Rapids; their owner and master chef worked in Dr. Emeril Lagasse's own New Orleans kitchen before moving Up North to open Pearl's; how's that for authentic Cajun cuisine right in here in our own backyard!

There are more serene 'decks' to be discovered for devoted fans of an Up North summer, some that double as stages on which you can take in all kinds of exciting entertainment.  If you've never been to Interlochen, just a few short miles southwest of Traverse City, take time to visit a place of singular beauty and world-renowned acclaim at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.  Here, you'll find venue after venue -- some indoors, some outdoors -- bedecked with gifted artists and musicians who freely fill our Northern Michigan air with some of the most ethereal music heard the world over (and for good reason -- students in grades 3-12 come here from all 50 states and at least 36 foreign countries in the summer to refine their artistic talents at this extraordinary 1,200 acre wooded campus every year since its founding by Dr. Joe Maddy in 1928. It's also home to another 500 boarding high school students who call Interlochen home from Sept-June each year). 

There is an unusual magic -- an attractive kind of magnetism -- about this place that captivates every visitor, just as it did for my twin brother and me when my parents first brought us here back in the summer of '63.  If your travels bring you to this area, why not stop and spend some quality time at Interlochen; you won't be disappointed.  Better yet, if you need a place to stay with some natural atmosphere, why not bed-down at the largest and oldest state park in Michigan right across the street at the Interlochen State Park.  Situated between two large lakes with nearly 500 campsites, it's not uncommon to hear strains of Mozart, Bach, or Beethoven wafting over from the nearby Interlochen Arts Camp on any given day.  By night, it might even be a cool jazz concert you'll hear (recording artist Bob James has a home here, not far from Interlochen).

Decks aside, here's hoping you can get away from the big city for awhile, and venture Up North for an unforgettably refreshing visit.  While Michigan is home to no less than 11,037 inland lakes, an abundance of them are situated Up North, ready to offer you no end of peaceful serenity, and quiet enjoyment of Up North's natural beauty; it's a place we're humbly privileged to call home.  As a sign in a local Leland gift shop declared, 'Four Out of the Five Great Lakes Agree: [Northern] Michigan Is A Wonderful Place To Be.'

Happy summer, drive safe, and...hit the deck!