The Cherry Festival officially ended on Saturday night, a full week after it began, and it left town as quickly as it appeared. There are no longer carnival rides blocking the office’s view of the bay, although I can see that the waterfront grass is not looking nearly as nice as it used to. And walking down the street is no longer a struggle – I felt much safer on my bike today than I have during the past week when there were way too many frustrated drivers funneled into the tiny streets.
I can’t say that I actually participated in the festival too much. It was so different from my expectations of a small-town festival celebrating local foods. The first thing that was apparent was the corporate sponsorship with giant blow-up beer and pepsi cans showing just who was funding the festival. It was all pretty overwhelming and didn’t really intrigue me. Besides a quick fifteen minute walk-through last weekend I didn’t really spend too much time there. For me, the best part of the Cherry Festival was that I really felt like a local. Walking down the streets I realized that I was living in Traverse City and didn’t belong to the throngs of tourists. I was able to joke with all of my colleagues and others about how crazy town was and how I would be holing up in my house all week. It was great to have that feeling because I’ve been here for a little while now (more than halfway through my internship amazingly) and I like seeing how well I’ve come to know the area and how comfortable it feels to be here.
I did take advantage of a couple of the nighttime activities with an air show last weekend and the 4th of July fireworks on Thursday. Both took place over the bay and it was nice to sit on the beach, enjoy the sunset, and people watch in the crowds. Photos are tough because it was so dusky, but I have an air show photo and a couple of photos that try to show the crowds during the fireworks. I was on the main downtown beach and it was completely packed – I was glad that I was walking home and didn’t have to try to drive out of there.
In trying to escape the Cherry Festival but also enjoy the beautiful weather that we’ve been having, I’ve been riding my bike a lot. My most recent accomplishment is cycling Old Mission Peninsula. Traverse City sits on a bay and the peninsula divides it in half. There’s a highway that runs up the middle of it, but I followed the perimeter roads which stick to the water’s edge. At the tip of the peninsula is a beautiful beach park with shallow, rocky waters and a cool lighthouse. It was a tough ride – 45 miles, headwinds in both directions because of the water, and a couple of surprising hills, but definitely worth it.
I had a fantastic four-day weekend because of the holiday and it felt like real summer vacation. The weather helped too as it was high 80s and sunny all weekend. I spent a piece of each day on the beach and went in the lake every day. The water is the perfect temperature, just cold enough to make you rethink getting in, but so refreshing once you do. There’s a secret piece of public access beach just a few blocks from my house and it has the added benefit of shade so I was able to spend hours on the beach each day, getting in and out of the water and reading in the shade without charring. It’s my new favorite spot in town.
There are lots of exciting things coming up as I work my way through my last four and a half weeks (!) in Traverse City. I’m working on some cool articles about community solar co-ops and local currency systems, as well as helping out with random tasks and getting excited about upcoming events, such as a rally in the Upper Peninsula this Sunday to raise awareness of oil pipelines that are present in the straits of Mackinac and an annual celebratory dinner at the end of July with MLUI and cool guests such as Michigan Senator Stabenow and many of those who help to fund the work that MLUI does all year long.
The other great thing is that my mom’s coming to visit this weekend and I can’t wait to show her around, take her to the dunes, and introduce her to all of my new favorite things. It’ll be nice to test my knowledge of Traverse City and see how well I really know it.