The Nuts and Bolts of our Leelanau Adventure

With every destination that is reached in life, there is a spark or impetus that calls you to journey there.  With us, being on the Leelanau Penninsula for the summer can be traced back to the early 1970’s when Diana’s Aunt Ellen bought an old hay barn in the village of Fife Lake, about 20 miles southeast of Traverse City.  She turned that barn into a beautiful home, with an apartment upstairs for her sister Clara.  Upon seeing the area, Diana’s parents bought a cottage on the shore of Fife Lake a few years later.  Over the years, Dad renovated it to eventually make it their retirement home.  As a result, we have a long history in this region, having made countless trips up from downstate Michigan.  We made numerous day trips to Leelanau County, and ended up wanting to spend more time here.

Many people have asked us, “What is it that you will be doing at Wild Cherry Resort this summer?”  Well, how it works is like this:  We work two days a week, generally in a row, 9 to 5.

Diana works in the office, taking reservations, checking guests in, managing the office and alerting me to any guests that will be arriving that day.

I, in turn, make sure the campsites are cleaned and edged, and the firepits are cleaned out.

On the mornings I work, I drive the park, pick up the trash from each site and deliver the newspapers.

To start the season, I have been cleaning spillways of matted leaves and doing general cleanup. I’ll also be spraying weeds and driving the golf ball retriever on the driving range throughout the season, along with helping Rex mow the lawns.  So that somewhat sums up our duties.  In exchange for our work, we receive a free campsite for the season. Water, electric, sewer, and newspaper are included.

As you may remember, we had a dream laundromat that we used in Grand Rapids.  We knew that we were unlikely to find as nice a place as that again, but we at least wanted something clean.  There is a laundry in Suttons Bay that is decent, but it isn’t very large.  So on Monday, we set off for a place on the northern fringe of Traverse City.


The road to Traverse City, the infamous M-22, runs right along the western shore of the western arm of Grand Traverse Bay.  We stopped along the way at a roadside pull off to have a picnic. 🙂

Give me a bag of plain M&M’s and not only will I smile, but my jacket will also!

The laundromat was decent, but nowhere near as nice as what we were used to.  The view out the window made up for it.  🙂

I also wanted to pass along an update on the spring foliage.

We saw several Jack-in-the-Pulpit in the woods at the park.

The Trillium have also bloomed.  We saw these green and white ones, along with the all white varieties.

There are thousands of them in the woods in this area right now!

The sweet cherry trees are in bloom right now, and they smell amazing! 


And the sunsets have been outstanding.  This photo was taken from our campsite.

And turning to look behind me, the entire sky had lit up.  We feel so fortunate to be able witness this.

On Thursday night, we drove up to the tip of the Leelanau Penninsula, about 20 miles north of the RV park.

This view is looking back along the western edge of the penninsula.  The air temperature was about 80 degrees Farenheit, even at the water’s edge.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse has been protecting sailors from this point since the mid 1800’s.  They offer tours, for those interested.  Last time we took it, we thought it was very well done.

We also experienced an interesting phenomenon that occurs around a large body of water called a microclimate.  Within the 20 miles on the drive back home, the temperature fluctuated between 80 and 61 degrees Fahrenheit twice! Luckily, it finished up at 80.  🙂

On Friday, we took a day trip back to Grand Rapids to check on Diana’s mom.  While Diana was tending to her mother’s needs, I ran errands in town. We headed back north by mid-afternoon.  On the way back, we decided to stop at Fife Lake to see what was happening, as it had been awhile since we were there.  We stopped at the cottage first, which had changed hands twice since Diana’s parents sold it in 2007.  It had recently undergone a major renovation, so Diana wanted to knock on the door to meet the new owners and possibly see the renovations.  They were coming out of the home as we were getting out of our car and they invited us inside, once we explained who we were.  They had done an outstanding job on the place, and were very interested to hear about why certain things were the way they were when they first bought it.  They even retained many of the features that Diana’s dad had incorporated into the home, which brought tears to our eyes.  We were glad we stopped.  🙂

Next, we went by Aunt Ellen’s old property.  Being located on a busy intersection, it was recently purchased and the barn was torn down to make room for a Family Dollar store.  The garage was still standing, as it was further off the intersection than the barn was.  To set the scene, Aunt Clara was a flower gardener extraordinaire, and she had planted every flower imaginable around the property.  Of course, when a developer comes in, they practice a ‘scorched earth’ policy, so we weren’t expecting to see anything.  But, to our surprise, there along the garage…..

…Aunt Clara’s Lily of the Valley was popping up, a reminder of hers’ and Ellen’s will and determination.  We miss them both, along with Diana’s dad and Aunt Bernie…four hard working and strong siblings who were great examples to us of how to live our lives.  It is a great history to have as a family, and one I am proud to be a part of.  🙂

15 thoughts on “The Nuts and Bolts of our Leelanau Adventure”

  1. Boy, you guys lucked out with only 2 days per week. Most of the Federal campgrounds want 20-32 hours a week! Lucky Dogs!

    Lovely pictures, specially the Jack-in-the-pulpit.

    Driving the golf ball retriever eh? Sounds kinda like being a moving target on a gunnery range to me!

    We too like to do the drive by olde-family-haunts. It’s so interesting to see what people do with something you once loved, and how. Exhilarating, frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking. But, it’s theirs now and for us it’s just a curiosity.

    Glad you’re having fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With lunches, it amounts to 32 hours, as we both work two 8 hour days, Peter.

      Luckily, the golf range isn’t used much…especially since there isn’t a protective cage over the Truckster! 🙂

      Diana asked me this morning “What would you give for just one more trip around the lake on the pontoon?” Oh, man…Dad at the wheel, putzing along, counter-clockwise every time. 🙂


  2. I was reading your work duties awaiting for the dreaded bathroom clean up then I remembered, no bathrooms! I bet is was nice for Diana to walk through her parents cottage and relive some of her childhood memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes….no bathrooms! 🙂

      As far as the cottage, it was nice for both of us. I was Dad’s gopher on many of those renovations, as I was on the scene from about 1979 on. So many great memories, for sure, Jim. 🙂


  3. A couple of years ago we spent a day visiting Traverse City, not nearly enough time. We vowed we would come back someday. Great post showing us a lovely area and a wonderful tribute to family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing to note about Traverse City itself is that it is really busy and somewhat congested, due to the shape of the bay and all of the inland lakes. Getting out on the Leelanau and Old Mission Penninsulas, things tend to chill out a lot, LuAnn. We were amazed when we went to Meijer (similar to Walmart) on a Monday and couldn’t find a parking place! Come to find out, the Traverse City Meijer store is the busiest in the five state, 213 store chain. Go figure! Besides the solitude on the penninsulas, if you like wine, this is the place to be. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The wildflowers are crazy up here, Debbie! Maybe it is because there are very few deer on the peninsula. I know the deer love trillium downstate. We do have coyotes, as they were howling right outside our rig last night.

      This park is fairly easy to maintain, as it is well laid out. As stated in an earlier post, Rex mows the lawns most of the time. He is 91 years young, and not an ounce of quit in him. I am thoroughly enjoying being around him, for sure. He and his wife Nellie are 100% pure Greatest Generation.


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