Friday, January 9, 2009

Day Trip No. 2

Our second day trip keeps us closer to Traverse City. We're headed to Old Mission Lighthouse!

This destination is one of my favorite beach areas because of the privacy and unique shoreline. Since we're closer to town this time I would stock up on water, fresh cherries, great cheese and crackers, plastic cups and a wine key. Why this combination, you'll see! Plan on heading out to catch the later afternoon sun to be sure and have an appetite for some great cuisine on the way home.

But, before we get to the 45th parallel (yep, that's right, OML is built exactly half way between the equator and the North Pole) from downtown TC head north on M-37 or Center Road. This takes you on Old Mission Peninsula dividing East and West Grand Traverse Bay.

I hope you left room in your cooler for a couple bottles of wine! 12 miles from the base of the Peninsula on Rue de Vin lies Chateau Chantal, one of Traverse City's esteemed vineyards and bed and breakfasts.

With a beautiful tasting room and fabulous 360 degree water views Chateau Chantal delivers on all aspects- fabulous wine and fabulous views. Tastings are complimentary however it is polite to purchase a bottle of vino if you tend on enjoying the samples!

A wonderful aromatic white wine is their 2006 Pinot Grigio. This wine finely aged in stainless steel in the cellar and is light, fruity, crisp and dry. A great addition to the picnic foods you've packed! And if you are at the Chateau and are looking for a great bubbly my personal favorite is their Celebrate sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and a splash of Pinot Noir. This blend makes a fabulous Mimosa or a Northern Michigan Bellini!

Head north from the Chateau about 5 miles until the road ends and you've arrived! Welcome to Old Mission Lighthouse. Built in 1870 the lighthouse remained active until 1933 aiding ships passing throught the rocky schoals and shallow waters of the Bays. The Parks Service is in the process of developing a Keeper program were visitors can rent the Lighthouse. However for now it's open to the public and for $4 you can climb to the top of the tower.

The beach area immediately in front of the house tends to be crowded but slightly further in either direction there is much more room for a quite picnic and lots of sun. One of the great features of the Lighthouse beach is the shoreline. Us locals aren't crazy about the low water levels but at the end of the Peninsula you can walk for over a half a mile and still touch sand. If you have sensitive feet I'd recommend some waterproof hiking shoes- it's a little rocky!

Once you find a great spot to picnic crack open the wine and enjoy a late afternoon snack in the sun. But don't stuff yourself, the Boathouse Restaurant at Bowers Harbor is waiting for dinner!

Owner and retauranteur, Doug Kosch, has been in the industry for over 20 years and has a great reputation for providing guests with wonderful dining experiences. If you're too full from your picnic to dine enjoy some the Ahi tuna or Oysters Rockefeller overlooking the sunset on West Bay. Don't be surprised when you see Chef Eric Nittolo out chatting with diners or if he approaches your table. He may even share some of his prized culinary secrets!

As you head back to town be sure and take Peninsula Drive south which follows the east shore of West Bay. But becareful, the views are stunning and if you're driving stay on the road!!


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