Day 2 of our road trip was filled with quite a few firsts for me.


My mother and I are on our fourth annual road trip and this time we are exploring the upper midwest. You can read about day 1 here if you like.


Today, we woke up in beautiful Traverse City, with is located along the western side of Michigan.  It is a very popular location for visitors and it was easy to see why.


Our first stop was to visit the local farmers market in the historic downtown areas.



Whenever I travel, I like to to take time to talk to the local farmers about their produce and talk about the similarities and differences of growing the same types of vegetables.


Asparagus is really big in this part of Michigan.  There are signs for it everywhere along the roadways.  In the farmers market, just about everyone had some for sale.

Too bad, I don’t like asparagus 😉


A variety of herbs and vegetable transplants were available for sale.  I just love the color of purple basil – I have some growing in my herb container at home.


I love baked goods a lot!


Cherries are grown in the area and you can find cherries in just about everything including salsa.


There were quite a few planted containers filled with flowers ready for eager homeowners.


I really like herb planters like this one.

After the farmers market, we headed up toward the Old Mission Peninsula, which is a small finger of land that extends up from Traverse City.  Our destination was to see the Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

What we hadn’t prepared for was the beautiful scenery along the drive.  Orchards were filled with cherry trees, one type of fruit tree that does not grow in my desert climate.

Along the way, we spotted numerous vineyards.


The lilacs are in bloom everywhere and this vineyard was flanked by a huge lilac bush.




It’s hard to believe that this barren vine will soon be covered with leaves and sweet grapes.



Then we saw this sign, which led to one of my ‘firsts’.


The sign led us to Peninsula Cellars Winery, whose store is housed in an old, historic schoolhouse.


The inside of the old school was very charming.

I have never been much of a wine drinker.  The few times I have tried it, I didn’t really enjoy the taste.

But, I figured if I could do a bourbon taste test on our last trip, I would participate in a wine tasting for the first time.


I tasted four different wines and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked two of them very much.


Many of their wines had a school-themed name due to the old school building.  Their ‘Detention’ wine was a popular choice.
*Note: I have never gotten a detention at school.

I came away from my first wine tasting with a new appreciation for wine and a bottle of my favorite to share with my husband when I get home 🙂

As we got back on the road toward the Mission Point Lighthouse, we were told to stop by the old general store.


The Old Mission General Store is one of those places found out in the middle of the country.  You can see the lake behind it.


The store had a collection of the old and the new – but mostly old.


Barrels filled with salted peanuts and a variety of old-fashioned candies would make excite any child.

Old-fashioned sodas were offered alongside more current soda choices.  


A unique collection of foods were offered in the deli case.  I’m not sure what the reddish item was on the left and I’m still not sure what ‘blind robin’ is.  But, fishing is big here, so I’m assuming it is a type of fish?

The back was filled with an assortment of things including rabbit skins, wooden hand toys and coon hats.


After we left the general store, we continue our journey to the lighthouse.





The Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula.


The area has many trees and it is so green and beautiful.  We parked and started to walk toward the lighthouse and the shore, which we could barely see through the trees.


This lighthouse guided ships from 1870 to 1933.  We entered the lighthouse to see the exhibits and to embark on another ‘first’ for me.



I decided to climb up to the top of the lighthouse – something I have never done before.


There weren’t too many steps to the top, only 35 of them, but they were steep and the last part were ladder steps.




The 360 view was just beautiful!




Climbing back down, I decided to checkout the outside.




A cherry tree was in full bloom in the backyard with the lake in the background.




To be honest, there are a lot of lighthouses along the Michigan coast.  We don’t have time to see all of those along our route, so we had to choose a few to see.  It was the picture of the side of the Mission Point Lighthouse, which made me want to visit this one.  I am so glad we did.




We headed back down the peninsula and on the way, drove by this small painted shack where Michigan maple syrup was for sale.


Payment was done through the honor system where you inserted your money into a modified PVC pipe.  My mother bought a bottle.

Along this small peninsula, we passed an interesting marker…


I thought that we were pretty far north, but it turns out that we were only halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

See, you never know what you will learn on a road trip.


After our journey to Old Mission Peninsula, the rest of our day was spent touring the historic downtown area of Traverse City and later we drove up to the quaint town of Petoskey where we did some shopping.


All of the planters in the downtown areas were newly planted with colorful flowers.

While I saw some very creative containers filled with a variety of flowering plants, I was struck by the simplicity of this window box planted with a single row of orange marigolds.  The vibrant orange of this flower stands on its own.


One of my favorite shops we visited was called the “American Spoon”, which sells all types of preserves.

I love to make peach, plum and strawberry jam as well as applesauce from the fruit from both my garden and my mother’s – so I was anxious to go inside and taste the different types of jams and jellies they had.


While I did taste some delicious fruit preserves, there was also a large selection of salsas, including  pumpkin seed salsa and cherry salsa.
I must admit that I didn’t try any – I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my salsa.  But, I realize that I am probably missing out some new flavors that I may love.


Don’t these tomato preserves look delicious?


I came away from the store with cherry preserves, which I will use on my daily English muffin.  I also bought some tart dried cherries which I will sprinkle on my salads.
Did I mention that cherries are very popular here?  They are growing everywhere you see.




In addition to cherries and asparagus, fudge is also offered everywhere.


I haven’t had any yet, because I am waiting until tomorrow when we travel to Mackinac Island.


I can’t wait!


Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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