Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 2008: Fall in the L.P.

Part Two: Old Mission PeninsulaThe tip of Old Mission Peninsula sits at the 45th parallel: a latitude shared with Bordaux, France which gives it the distinction of being near the heart of Michigan's wine country.Known for its cherry and apple orchards, vineyards, and a handful of wineries, this narrow finger of land makes for a scenic and leisurely fall drive. I stopped to take a look at a few of the orchards (some of which have a U-pick policy at certain times) but the extremely windy conditions of the day made it difficult to get many good photos.
Cherry season was long over, but apple season was in full swing and many types of apples are grown in this region. Local growers operating roadside produce stands are prevalent in this part of Michigan and I took advantage of this, buying a few enormous Honeycrisp apples which ended up as my dinner once I got back on the road later and didn't feel like stopping to eat.

On the peninsula, one can shop for supplies and food (including locally-grown canned items) at Old Mission General Store which has been around since the mid-1800s. A tiny white schoolhouse from the same era is also still operational nearby. Driving all the way to the tip of the peninsula brought me to Old Mission Lighthouse. Built in 1870, the light helped guide ships around the rocky point once shipping in the area had grown significantly. A log home built in the 1850s by early settlers sits in the woods just west of the lighthouse. Historically speaking, Old Mission Peninsula has many interesting things to offer.

Heading south and back down the peninsula, I stopped at Ogdensburg Cemetary to crunch through the fallen leaves and view old headstones from the 1800s. Nearby, the vineyard of Chateau Grand Traverse Winery provided a striking vista stretching out from the road toward a stand of forest in the early stages of fall color and the blue water of West Grand Traverse Bay.

Overall, fall color was not yet at its height here due to the proximity of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. I always forget that it tends to stay a bit warmer (although it may not feel like it) along the lakeshore because large bodies of water retain the heat they absorb during summer. This phenomenon causes the fall season to extend a bit longer.

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