Everything good about Life in Traverse City and Northern Michigan Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:32:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Jim Harrison: A Northern Michigan Literary Icon Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:36:31 +0000 Traverse City author Jerry Dennis has a conversation with Jim Harrison about writing, Northern Michigan, and the influence of the outdoors in this piece that was originally […]

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Traverse City author Jerry Dennis has a conversation with Jim Harrison about writing, Northern Michigan, and the influence of the outdoors in this piece that was originally published in the August 2014 issue of Traverse Northern Michigan’s Magazine. Read on for the entire discussion.

From a small farmhouse in Leelanau County, Jim Harrison built one of America’s iconic literary lives. Now 76 and splitting time between Montana and Arizona, Harrison continues to write timeless and potent work. We asked fellow Northern Michigan author Jerry Dennis to catch up with Harrison, one of his original inspirations, to reflect on life present and past.

It must have been 1981 when I read my first Jim Harrison book. My wife, Gail, and I had just finished college in Kentucky and returned home to Traverse City with our two-year-old son, Aaron, and moved into a tiny camper parked in my parents’ backyard on Long Lake. I was sick of school and wanted to work outside to clear my head while I learned how to be a writer, so I made the rounds of construction companies looking for work as a carpenter. I knew one end of a hammer from another but that was about all I knew. Jobs were scarce and nobody wanted to take a chance on a green college boy, but I was lucky enough to find my way to Paul Maurer Construction. Paul didn’t need any greenhorns on his crew but he needed help in his office in downtown Cedar, so he put me to work filing papers, writing letters to clients, and answering the phone. I did okay at it, probably better than a trained monkey could do, so when an opening for a carpenter’s assistant came up, he gave me a shot.

Of course I had heard of Harrison. I knew he was a poet and novelist, that he had grown up in Northern Michigan, that he had worked in the construction trades while establishing himself as a writer, and that he lived on a farm in Leelanau County, only a few miles from my Cedar office. His book of novellas, Legends of the Fall, had been a national sensation a few years earlier and seemed to have been read by everyone I knew. Gail and I were broke after six years spent alternating college with travel and working throw-away jobs and finally becoming parents of our first son, so it wasn’t possible to buy new books. Instead we shopped at the Salvation Army store on Eleventh Street, where we sorted through musty bestsellers, outdated encyclopedias, and rain-warped romance novels, hoping to find treasures at twenty-five cents each. One of the treasures we found was a paperback copy of Legends of the Fall.

I took it home, opened it to the first page of the first novella, “Revenge,” and was bowled over. I knew by the end of that first page that here was an original, powerful new voice in fiction, unlike any I had encountered in my young but feverish life as a student of literature. I finished the book in a single sitting, went back to page one, and read it again. Then I drove to the public library on 6th Street and checked out all of Harrison’s books. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Not long ago, while giving a reading at a university, I was asked by someone in the audience to name my favorite living writer, and I said, without hesitation, “Jim Harrison.” I hadn’t quite realized it, but the moment I said it I knew it was true. That winter I had reread his magnificent collected poems, The Shape of the Journey, and been astonished at the power and depth of his poetic journey. The book left me with the feeling that Harrison had planned the entire arc of his life’s work, starting with the first book of poems. That feeling has grown more certain as I’ve read the subsequent collections of poetry as well as the Brown Dog novellas—which appeared sporadically during the last five decades and were recently republished in a single collection. The Brown Dog novellas are probably my favorites of Harrison’s work, and not just because they’re set in the Upper Peninsula and feature characters I could have grown up with. They might well turn out to be his magnum opus and will surely be read for as long as anything he has published in his remarkably rich and fecund career.

And what a career. Thirty-six books of poems, novels, collections of novellas, volumes of nonfiction, a children’s book, and a memoir. Add to that more than 20 screenplays, a half-dozen of which were produced as major motion pictures.

For years I’ve wanted to sit down with Jim in a bar or beside a campfire, and talk about his work and his love of the outdoors and his views of the world. We’ve met a few times and exchanged a few words, and although he has always been gracious and friendly, it never worked out to spend time with him.

We conducted this interview by telephone, from my home near Traverse City to Jim’s winter home near Patagonia, Arizona. I wanted it to be a conversation, not an interview, but it turned into a rather strange one. Our cell connection was dicey at best, and Jim often could not hear me, although I heard him loud and clear. If one of us spoke over the other, a momentary lacuna occurred. But Jim was comfortable enough with this shortcoming and adjusted quickly. If he was unable to hear my question, he spoke about whatever came to mind, free-associating in a manner that often reminded me of his written work. Each riff is a kind of oral postcard that vividly describes an aspect of his life and thought. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good way to describe his poems.

We spoke on a frigid day in February, deep in our Russian winter of sastrugi drifts and frigid winds, shortly after the Great Lakes froze over and while ice formations grew to epic size along the shore.

JERRY DENNIS (JD): It’s 10 degrees here in Traverse City, the wind is blowing at 30 miles per hour, and the wind-chill is 35 below. I just spent two hours blowing the drifts from my driveway and another hour shoveling snow off the roof, and now I don’t have any feeling in my feet. How much do you miss Michigan?

JIM HARRISON (JH): [laughs] Not much. I had 65 winters in Michigan. So I don’t miss that kind of thing. We’re in the mountains down here [in southern Arizona]. We get occasional snow, so we get to look at it, watch the dog get irritated with its feet in the snow.

JD: I remember you said once that you had trouble writing in Michigan in winter.

JH: That was a long time ago. I used to get those Scandinavian doldrums. We had to get my daughter Anna a special lamp for artificial sunlight because she suffered from seasonal affective disorder. I always claimed I had post traumatic stress disorder, so I could be like a soldier. Say “PTSD” and people look at you like, really? [laughs]. Years ago I had [Doug] Peacock teach me a bunch of that army lingo so when I lied I couldn’t get caught.

JD: When I was in my 20s I worked with a guy who liked to tell elaborate stories about his combat experiences in Vietnam. But it turned out that he had never even been in the military.

JH: Oh I love that. [laughs]. Phil Caputo wrote what was maybe the best book to come out of Viet Nam, A Rumor of War. He’s down here in the winter now, too.

JD: Caputo has written quite a lot about the Upper Peninsula. He seems to like it.
JH: Yea, he does. I had bird hunting trails all through the U.P. And all my bird-hunting friends would show up there. It was wonderful. You know I had that cabin for 25 years near Grand Marais. It was wonderful to be in Hollywood one morning and the next morning be up in the U.P. What a relief, huh?

JD: I can barely imagine. Do your neighbors in Arizona know much about life in Michigan?

JH: Not much. Only a few of them have been there. The main thing is the water, because we’re always in a state of drought down here, though the creek keeps running. If you’re from a dry state and you see Lake Michigan it’s sort of stupefying. I tell visitors what it’s like being on Lake Superior and just pulling over to drink the water, because there’s no industries for a hundred miles until way over to the Soo. There are those 50 or 60 miles of deserted beach I could walk, watch ravens arguing over a dead fish.

JD: Ravens show up so often in your work that I wonder if they’re a kind of spirit animal for you. You must miss them.

JH: We have Mexican ravens down here, so I’m not too lonely for them. I really got to know the ravens around my cabin [in Grand Marais]. The ravens around here take walks with me, and they hide and scare my wife’s dog. They’ll jump out shrieking. Ravens like to tease animals, you know. I’ve even witnessed—I’ve written about it—a raven funeral in the backyard of my cabin. A raven dropped dead from a tree and the other ravens hung around for about an hour, around it in a circle. When a young raven fell out of my birdfeeder onto his back the other ravens jumped up and down shrieking in amusement.

JD: How was the hunting yesterday?

JH: Very poor. I do a lot of log-sitting because of that spinal surgery last fall. I can’t keep up with the dogs, I shuffle. But I enjoy it because I can take my friend on this private ranch which I have access to. Really beautiful country. We hunt for doves, which I find delicious. And I don’t have to walk for them. You pluck them and grill them over a wood fire. Where did you grow up?

JD: Long Lake, not far from Interlochen.

JH: I remember I came up to the Traverse City Cherry Festival when I was 16. A friend of mine stole his mom’s car and we drove from Reed City to Traverse City. I don’t know what we had in mind. She was a doctor’s wife, had a spiffy yellow Buick convertible. And we rode our bikes up from Reed City to Charlevoix and we went out and camped on Beaver Island for a week, which was fabulous back then, relatively undeveloped.

Jim Harrison

Portraits by Andy Anderson

JD: Great fishing for smallmouth bass in those days, I bet.

JH: Oh yeah, we used to catch them there and around Traverse City, too, in the reed beds. And I’ve fished them near Escanaba, in those big reed beds. We were catching fish there every day on streamer flies, every cast for a while. I brought friends there from Montana and they loved it. You don’t see anybody on it, even on a hot summer’s day.

JD: I know the place, right along U.S. 2. Great fishing. You often describe yourself as an “outdoorsman and a man of letters.” Why is being outdoors so important to you?

JH: Very early my dad would take me trout fishing because you know I’d had my eye put out and I needed extra attention. I remember asking him the difference between animals and us and he said, “Nothing. They just live outside and we live inside.” Which struck me very hard at the time, because I could look at animals and say, “I’m one of you.” The real schizophrenia of the nature movement, if you ask me, was to think you could separate yourself from nature. Even Shakespeare says “we are nature, too.” So there’s this sense of schizophrenia to think you’re different or more important than a bird.

JD: In your writing you’ve mentioned the “mythical underpinnings” that connect us with animals. Is that something you can elaborate on?

JH: Oden, that Scandinavian god, always had ravens standing on his shoulders. Myths, of course, are full of our other creatures. I would see bears almost daily in the U.P. They would wander around my cabin, hog my sunflower seeds, and I got to know a couple of them real well. I’d come home from the bar and a bear would be standing by the side of my driveway and I’d open my window and he’d put his chin on my door sill and I’d scratch his ears. They get used to it. But I’d never feed them near the cabin, that’s where you make a mistake. I’d put a fish on a stump about a hundred yards from the cabin.

JD: People who don’t hunt maybe can’t understand the connection hunters have with animals. The ones we hunt and the ones we don’t. Is that part of why you hunt?

JH: I don’t have my old enthusiasm for hunting but as I said, I love to sit on logs. So I don’t care any more. I lowered my daily kill in Grand Marais down to never more than two birds in one day, so that saved it for me. And always hunting in new places, you know, rather than hitting the old hotspots. So then you get the fun of going to new cover, getting mildly lost, but Peacock had given me his marine-issue compass so hopefully I could get out of there. I find that when you can’t find the car, your dog can … The Cheyenne had a saying, and the Lakota, too: “When your life is tepid and you’re bored just follow your dog and act like your dog all day.” That’s been known to perk you up.

JD: [laughs]. It sure perks me up. And I’ve always thought that getting lost occasionally is therapeutic.

JH: Yeah, I love the sensation, actually. That’s what I liked so much about my cabin in the U.P. It was 35 miles cross country to Newberry, with really not anything in it. An occasional deer cabin. It was fascinating to have that kind of walking for 25 years.

JD: That gets back to the question of why the outdoors is so important to you. Is it partly because of the sense of balance it provides?

JH: An error for writers is self-importance, you know.

JD: I know what you mean. Nature is good at correcting self-importance.

JH: Yea. When I’d get lost in the U.P., I would sort of start drifting. I had a place with about 5,000 acres of sugar plum and dogwood, so I’d go there the last week of May when it was all in bloom. It was just overwhelming, the scent in the air. The dog would even be a little puzzled. Do you go to the U.P. at all?

JD: Quite a lot. In the spring every year with my wife to look at birds and in the summer to fish. And I’ve been going in October for almost 30 years with a bunch of friends to hunt grouse and woodcock. We usually head west of Escanaba.

JH: There’s some nice hunting north of Escanaba, around where the middle branch forms the main branch.

JD: I know that area well. We’ve tramped around in it looking for birds and for brook trout water. 4

JH: The Iron Mountain area too. We’ve had awfully good hunting there. The nice thing about Iron Mountain too is if you hunt all day and don’t feel like cooking there’s three very acceptable Italian restaurants in Iron Mountain, because so many Italian miners ended up in that area. It was fun to get good pasta after a hard day in the woods. We can’t forget food. As I’ve said, eat or die.

JD: So many people like the idea of nature but don’t have much chance to learn about it first hand. Do you think there’s hope for getting kids back outdoors?

JH: I have seen a real resurgence of interest in the out of doors in recent years. I grew up in a farm family, and my father was a professional agronomist, the county agent, so I learned a lot just by exposure, you know.

JD: What about upcoming work?

JH: Well, I just finished a novella called “Eggs,” about a girl who’s in the second grade and is assigned to write a little paper on eggs, for which she has to study chickens, so she sits upon her grandfather’s milk stool amongst the chickens. And later in life when she was really discouraged she took her camping cot out and slept in the henhouse. [laughs]. Why not? You know I have a studio about two miles up the road, and it doesn’t have a phone. Do you work in your house?

JD: I have an office we built in the loft of an outbuilding on our property, an old garage for farm equipment. We call it the stone hut.

JH: That little farm we had in Leelanau was wonderful, because we had a granary about a hundred yards out in back I made into a studio. A “studio” is a fancy name for it. The floor was cold so we put cheap indoor/outdoor carpet down, which made it easier on my feet. It was a nice place to live all those years. Then my wife and daughters took a trip to England to look at gardens and while they were over there they decided we should move to Montana to be near my daughters and grandchildren, because we weren’t seeing them very often. And that wasn’t hard, because I had been there every year since ’68 trout fishing with [Thomas] McGuane, who lives out there.

JD: What’s your life like in Montana?

JH: I live about 15 miles from Livingston. You have a lot of days when no cars come down our gravel road. And the animal life is fantastic, although some grizzlies are moving up toward us from Yellowstone. I don’t really care for that, they frighten the hell out of me. Every year some hunter gets the shit kicked out of him. They’re really a scary bear. I know a guy who trained one and now it’s a pet and goes for hikes with him, this grizzly bear … I helped hunters skin a couple black bears, but I couldn’t kill a bear for any amount of money, because I’ve felt religious about them. Their musculature is so incredible. It allows them to rip stumps apart to search for grubs and stuff. I have one stump up there [in the U.P.] I’ve written about that you can crawl inside and sit up straight. I always thought of it as my church, once I found it. I’ve only shown it to one person. There was this Indian lady whose son was dying of AIDS, so I took her out there, and she spent the day in my stump. She said it was wonderful. Sometimes I peek out of a crack in the stump and see sandhill cranes walking past. So naturally I miss that sort of thing, because when you live in a place a long time you have your secret places, a stump you like to sit on and so on. I told a guy once there’s a beer bottle beside the stump, and he asked why I didn’t pick it up, and I said because the beer bottle conceals the beauty of the stump.

JD: When I was in college I met John Voelker. He used to conceal the beauty of his trout pond by planting broken mufflers along the road that led to it.

JH: Where did you go to college?

JD: That was at Northern Michigan University.

JH: Northern. I like Marquette. I used to go through there every year, eat a bunch of whitefish, walk around.

JD: It’s a great place. But there’s so much to do outdoors, I couldn’t get any studying done.

JH: That’s the beauty of it. I used to love to drive up to Big Bay. Lovely area. I saw Anatomy of a Murder filmed there, and that place was really nifty. And think what a great help I could have been to Lee Remick. I could have taken her camping, huh?

JD: She’d have been great company beside a campfire.

JH: I used to wish that sort of thing. Of course I miss campfires, but you start a fire down here and the whole world explodes it’s so dry. They had some of those huge forest fires in Montana. We were floating the Yellowstone for brown trout, and I told my guide friend, “Look. The sun is in the wrong place.” And he said, “No, that’s the fire jumping from McCloud, where McGuane lives, 15 miles up to Reed Point.” The fire jumped, you know. Really scary. You could hear it. They closed the freeways, but we were fine out in a boat. But that bark beetle that has killed so much timber has made the forests incredibly flammable. I discovered this place [Arizona] about 40 years ago when I was doing a reading tour on American Indian reservations. I was flattered that they sent me, then I found out they couldn’t find anyone else to go [laughs]. So I came through Patagonia then and really liked the looks of it, because I’m deeply appreciative of Mexican culture. I get down there a lot to fish or fool around. Vera Cruz I like a lot. I’ve got a nice book, too, about Mexican wilderness. There’s quite a bit of it, too. Mexicans don’t like to camp because they’re scared of the dark. And whereas I’m scared of the light, huh? My French readers have a hard time believing it—they’re bringing out The River Swimmer next week. They’re trying to figure out why we would swim in a river at night. I didn’t have a good answer. It’s just a delicious feeling of otherness. It’s like walking in the woods naked. I was right on a river in Grand Marais, right on the river, and it was wonderful to hear it around the clock. Water sounds—what more do you want?



Portraits by Andy Anderson

JD: You’ve written that you make yourself vulnerable when you write. It’s probably the same as swimming at night in a river.

JH: Oh probably, come to think about it, because of course the writer’s vulnerability can sometimes be obnoxious, I mean tough to handle. Don’t you think?

JD: It’s awful sometimes. For me the worst is at night, when the work is done but you can’t come down from it and can’t sleep. What you’ve called “the reentry problem.”

JH: You have ups and downs. I haven’t had any downs for quite some time. I’ve been really keeping busy and that’s easier. But it can be terrifying. That’s why I started taking those insane road trips. I drove all around the United States for 12,000 miles one year.

JD: And you got some great magazine pieces out of it, I remember. What do you think of the state of the publishing industry today?

JH: Publishing isn’t in very good shape now. I used to do quite a bit of journalism but now it doesn’t pay enough to bother with any more. So it’s really tough, you know. I used to write some informal essays for Sports Illustrated and we could live for two months on what I made from it. Which was wonderful. They would send me to the Keys fishing, and stuff like that.

JD: I love those pieces you wrote for Sports Illustrated. I can’t drive through Kalkaska and see the brook-trout statue without thinking of “A Plaster Trout in Worm Heaven.”

JH: Too bad they stopped doing that and went only to the hard sports, because I think we had quite a following there. You know, I got fired from my food column at Esquire when somebody new took it over. Then two months later they called and said they changed their mind, and I said you’re too late, because I changed my mind, too [laughs]. But that was really a good job. They’d give you six grand for a column that you could write in a day. If you could get cranked up on food, which I didn’t have any trouble getting. I remember the great days when Folgarelli’s moved to Traverse City. It was wonderful. I had a French friend I’d take in there, and he’d say, “This sandwich isn’t possible in France.” [laughs] Yea, it was nice. But he could eat 15 doves. He was a huge guy.

JD: So are your days in Arizona much different than in Montana?

JH: I’ve got a studio about two miles up the mountain in an old ranch house like. I start the day by giving the dogs some dog biscuits, and they’re really grateful.

JD: Like in your poem, where you scatter the whole box of dog biscuits on the floor and the dogs …

JH: Yea, and then they go crazy [laughs]. I just gave some friends some lox and bagels, and I gave my lab her first bite of lox and she seemed to enjoy it. I used to grill a lot of whitefish over an open fire up there [in Leelanau County] that people used to give me, and my setter, her favorite thing, she would never beg but she would sit there looking out the window, and I would give her the skin of a whitefish. What’s it like there today? Snowing still?

JD: Snowing a little, 10 degrees, not much wind.

JH: My daughter called from Montana this morning and said it’s 27 below. That’s horrid. Like you had when Ironwood was 47 below a few weeks ago.

JD: Yea, it’s been a real winter. A lot of people are packing up and heading south.

JH: Oh yea. I remember I think it was in ’95 we had one. And I remember one winter on Christmas morning there was a fly on the screen [laughs]. I loved my neighbor farmer because he had a big John Deere and he could plow our yard and shove the piles of snow over the top of the barn.

JD: If you wanted to come back, you could see the same thing right now.

JH: [laughs]. Well okay, then, have a good one.

Jerry Dennis has published a dozen books, including The Living Great Lakes (winner of the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award) and A Place on the Water. His essays and short fiction have appeared in more than 100 publications.

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Northern Michigan September 2014 Concert Line-Up Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:20:55 +0000 The Northern Michigan Music scene in September is packed and ranges from a country jamboree to an Elvis festival. Check out the list below for a complete […]

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The Northern Michigan Music scene in September is packed and ranges from a country jamboree to an Elvis festival. Check out the list below for a complete line-up of concerts you can’t miss this September!

Southside Country Jamoboree Featuring Frankie Ballard

Saturday September 6th from 2-10 pm at Southside Festival Grounds in Buckley

Frankie Ballard’s transition from Michigan-based singer/guitar slinger to major-label recording artist was, by most standards, an enviable one. His debut album, Frankie Ballard, produced two Top 30 singles, “Tell Me You Get Lonely” and “A Buncha Girls.” He gained national media exposure, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and played packed arenas opening for Kenny Chesney and on major tours with Taylor Swift and longtime idol Bob Seger.

Purchase tickets here:

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All Elvis! Featuring Shawn Klush, the World’s Greatest Elvis!

Saturday September 13th from 2-10 pm at the Southside Festival Grounds in Buckley

On Jan 6th just 2 days before Elvis’ 70th Birthday, Shawn became grand champion at the $25,000.00 “World Elvis Tribute Artist Competition”. He then received “The Peoples Choice Award” from Gibson Guitar Co in Nashville for “Best Concert Elvis.” Shawn was then named the “World’s Greatest Elvis” by 6.5 million international viewers on BBC1 Television in the United Kingdom. Finally, on August 16th, on the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ passing, Shawn was named the ‘First Ever’ “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist” by Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis TN.

Purchase tickets here:

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Let’s Hang On! America’s #1 Frankie Valli Tribute!

Saturday September 13th beginning at 7 pm at Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts in Roscommon

It’s the nation’s premier FRANKIE VALLI Tribute Show direct from the showrooms of Las Vegas. “LET’S HANG ON!” is a full blown stage production complete with that Four Season’s sound, crisp choreography, and a 4-7 piece live band. These four talented guys and two beautiful girls are passionate about the songs and styles of the era. They’ll bring back some of the best of all time, just the way you remember them.

Purchase tickets here:

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Music on the Green with the California Guitar Trio

Friday September 19th beginning at 7:30 pm at LochenHeath Golf Club in Williamsburg

LochenHeath Golf Club is happy to welcome back the California Guitar Trio. We are excited to have another great evening of wonderful acoustic guitar by Bert Lams of Affligen Belgium, Hideyo Moriya of Chiba Japan, and Paul Richard of Utah. At intermission there will be a Silent Auction and a Live Auction.

Purchase tickets here:

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Almost McGraw

Sunday September 20th beginning at 7:30 pm at Peterson Auditorium, Ludington High School

Almost McGraw featuring Todd Sullivan as Country’s Tim McGraw, is one of the leading tribute shows in the nation! Todd’s portrayal of Country megastar Tim McGraw is uncanny–from his looks and moves, right down to all the vocals! You’ll be up on your feet dancing in the aisles and singing along.

Purchase tickets here:

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Traverse City Youth Triathlon Challenges Northern Michigan Kids Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:05:22 +0000 On Saturday, September 6th, 2014, Northern Michigan kids will get their chance to participate in a sport event typically reserved for more mature athletes. The Traverse City […]

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On Saturday, September 6th, 2014, Northern Michigan kids will get their chance to participate in a sport event typically reserved for more mature athletes. The Traverse City Youth Triathlon is a kid-sized version of the popular three-sport event in which competitors swim, bike and run to the finish line. The event will be held at the Grand Traverse Civic Center in Traverse City.

To learn about healthy exercise habits for kids, read an interview with Dr. David S. Olson.

The event is divided into to age categories that determine the distances covered in each portion of the race. The triathlon is designed to promote participants’ overall fitness and self-confidence within a safe, controlled environment. The two age divisions break down as follows:

Ages 12 and under will:

  • Swim 100 yards in the Civic Center’s lap pool
  • Bike 3 miles on the Civic Center’s pathways
  • Run .5 miles across the grounds of the Civic Center

Teens (13-18) will:

  • Swim 200 yards in the Civic Center’s lap pool
  • Bike 6 miles on the Civic Center’s pathways
  • Run 1 mile across the grounds of the Civic Center

For more information of the Traverse City Youth Triathlon and to register your child for the event, please visit

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Three Fall Northern Michigan Golf Packages from Crystal, Boyne and the Homestead Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:01:40 +0000 Find three stay-and-play Northern Michigan golf packages below and enjoy the twilight of Northern Michigan’s vacation and golf season. MyNorth recommends that all interested parties contact the […]

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Find three stay-and-play Northern Michigan golf packages below and enjoy the twilight of Northern Michigan’s vacation and golf season.

MyNorth recommends that all interested parties contact the listed lodging destinations to confirm package pricing and options.

Boyne Resorts in Boyne Falls, Harbor Springs & Petoskey

Boyne’s Fall Golf Special for Four will have you and three buddies bunking up in one of Boyne’s Mountain Cabins and dodging the bunkers at any of Boyne’s 11 golf courses for an unlimited golf getaway priced at just $159 per person per night. An added bonus: there’s a patio hot tub at the cabin. Package includes:

  • Lodging in a 3-bedroom Mountain Cabin
  • Unlimited golf following each night’s stay
  • Add Hot Breakfast – A $17 value for only $12*
  • Complimentary range balls prior to each round
  • Upgrade to a round on The Heather or Arthur Hills courses for just $22 or Bay Harbor Golf Club for $50-$75
  • $25 Odawa Casino gaming voucher with complimentary to/from transportation provided by the casino
  • Add Forest Dunes Golf Club to your outing at reduced greens fees

The package is available from Monday, September 1st to Sunday, October 19th, 2014. Visit or call 800.462.6963 for booking information.

The Homestead in Glen Arbor

The numbers for the Homestead’s Golf & Gourmet package really add up: two nights of lodging at the Homestead’s Inn, one round at Mountain Flowers par-3 course, two rounds at Manitou Passage Golf Club and a five courses of fine food from the Homestead’s Italian eatery, Nonna’s.

This package is available through October, 2014; call 231.334.5000 or visit for more information and additional seasonal golf packages.

Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville

Revitalize your body and your golf game with Crystal’s Golf & Spa Package. Stay at any of Crystal’s accommodations (prices may vary based on lodging options), tee off at Crystal’s championship courses, and chill out at Crystal’s award-winning spa with a treatment credit. Package Includes:

  • One 18-hole round of golf including cart, per adult, per stay
  • $100 Crystal Spa credit, per adult, per stay
  • 20% discount on all Crystal Spa treatments per adult, per stay
  • Nightly lodging

This package is available through the fall, 2014; please contact Crystal Mountain at 855.995.5146 or visit for more information.

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Up Close and Personal Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:10:44 +0000 The post Up Close and Personal appeared first on

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Biking the Betsie Valley Trail Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:08:06 +0000 The post Biking the Betsie Valley Trail appeared first on

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The Golden Hour in Leelanau County Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:29:46 +0000 The post The Golden Hour in Leelanau County appeared first on

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Summer Salad Recipe from Blue Heron Cafe in Traverse City Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:00:57 +0000 Owner of Blue Heron Cafe in both Traverse City and Cadillac, Brian Williams shares thoughts from his kitchen as well as a recipe for summer vegetable salad. […]

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Owner of Blue Heron Cafe in both Traverse City and Cadillac, Brian Williams shares thoughts from his kitchen as well as a recipe for summer vegetable salad. Both the recipe and the write-up were originally published in the July 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

The recipe for Brian Williams’s signature sourdough bread captures the essence of his cooking style, says the chef himself. With deft skill, he transforms a flour-water-salt trilogy into loaves of cloud-filled crust. “The best cooking is made from simple ingredients, great technique and creativity,” he says. In his two Blue Heron Cafes (Cadillac and Traverse City), Brian parlays a similar philosophy into dishes like minestrone with pea shoots and Asiago cheese and scrambled eggs with goat cheese and house-smoked salmon—menu items that reveal his deep passion for creating memorable breakfast and lunch offerings. While his two establishments are similar, Brian says to expect an even greater emphasis on locally grown products at the new Traverse City location, where artisan farmers are closer at hand. Catch the flavor of the Blue Heron way of eating in this ideal summer salad.

Summer Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider & Butter Vinaigrette
(Serves 6)

6    cups mixed greens (with frisée included)
¼   cup shaved red onion
1    medium pear, cored and thinly sliced
1    cup fresh green beans,poached and cooled
1    dozen asparagus spears, poached and cooled
3    grilled ears of corn, cooled, kernels
3    medium-boiled eggs (place in cold water, bring to boil and turn off heat. Let sit in hot water for 8 minutes, place in ice water.)
6    ounces goat cheese
12  ounces smoked salmon, flaked with bones removed

4    cups apple cider vinegar, reduce 4 cups to 6 oz.
½   cup honey
about an inch of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1    teaspoon curry powder
1    tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1    teaspoon Dijon mustard
4    tablespoons butter, softened

Reduce vinegar to glaze. While still warm, add honey to melt. Add rest of ingredients. Evenly divide salad ingredients on six plates (cutting medium-boiled eggs in half lengthwise). Drizzle liberally with warm dressing and serve.

 July issueMore Northern Michigan Food & Recipes

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Northern Michigan Barbecue with Pigs Eatin’ Ribs in Charlevoix Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:17:03 +0000 Thanks to a new Northern Michigan restaurant and food truck, a small corner of Northern Michigan’s food scene has edged its way toward the savory succulence of […]

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Thanks to a new Northern Michigan restaurant and food truck, a small corner of Northern Michigan’s food scene has edged its way toward the savory succulence of southern-style barbecue. Pigs Eatin’ Ribs is the name of Charlevoix native Adam Kline’s twin restaurant-food truck outift. Find the restaurant in Charlevoix, the food truck at Traverse City’s the Little Fleet, and the following profile—first featured in the August 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazinenothing less than mouthwatering.

For 5 exclusive recipes from Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, scroll to the bottom of this page.

The cerulean sparkle of Charlevoix’s Lake Michigan Beach is tame and flat under a hot August afternoon. Families dig their toes in the sugar-fine sand and waxed white yachts languidly cruise the Pine River Channel. Hanging above it all is a thin fog of cherrywood smoke huffed from a huge drum smoker, the late summer air laced with the savory smell of ribs and pork bellies slow-cooking their way toward picnic perfection. While meat soaks up smoke, Adam Kline, pitmaster and proprietor of the food truck and now a restaurant named Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, works inside his jet black mobile kitchen tossing bowls of sweet corn succotash, black bean salad and his coveted blue cheese jalapeno slaw for an afternoon beach feast.

TVM0814_PIGPICNIC4Launched in 2011 with a tow-behind smoker and a converted party bus, Pigs Eatin’ Ribs has been a runaway success, spreading Adam’s slow food/smoked pork gospel around the North with a growing fleet of food trucks, a brick and mortar restaurant in Charlevoix and frenetic catering demand that keeps bridegrooms and business groups gnawing on smoky bones for nine months of the year. With high summer upon us and local farms flush with fat pigs, ripe corn and juicy heirloom tomatoes, we follow Adam, the North’s pied piper of pork, to get an angle on his tasty enterprise and learn expert tips to up our own backyard barbecue game.

A native son of Charlevoix the Beautiful, Adam took to kitchens straight out of high school in 2000, when he apprenticed under Chef Garrett Scanlan at the Charlevoix Country Club and helped him launch Garrett’s One Water Street in Boyne City where Cafe Santé now stands. Adam was bitten by the barbecue bug while living and working the food scene in Charleston, South Carolina, Dixie’s ground zero for old school whole hog barbecue and tangy vinegar-based sauces. “I rigged up a basic grill and smoker set-up in our backyard and just played with pork on my days off,” Adam recalls of his amateur pit days spent perfecting spice rubs and homemade sauces. Following the birth of their second child, Adam and wife, Jill, decided to move the family back to Charlevoix and fill the Northern vacuum with legit Southern barbecue.

Buying a trailerable off-set smoker built by Adam’s high school pal T.J. Christiansen and his Ludington Public Schools metal shop students, Adam made his first foray into Michigan’s competitive barbecue circuit at Silver Lake under the flag “Pigs Eatin’ Ribs” and swept first place for ribs and third place for chicken. His success in the competition pits spun into a business plan to build a food truck and feed the Mitten’s masses on St. Louis cut ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and tangy, scratch-made slaws at small town festivals and music venues around the North. “I began knocking on doors and promising great barbecue until somebody gave me a shot,” Adam says between bites of chipotle pork belly.


Find the recipes to pork chops, ribs, pickled red onions, sweet corn succotash and blue cheese jalapeno coleslaw below.

Pigs Eatin’ Ribs got its shot at the 2011 Charlevoix Area Trout Tournament where hordes of hungry fishermen ate Adam’s ribs as fast as he could pull them from the pit smoker. A little over a month later Adam was dishing to long lines at the Charlevoix Venetian Festival and feeding hardwood sticks into his smoker every two hours around the clock to crank out scores of rib racks and 10-pound pork shoulders. A viral love for Adam’s smoky, slow-cooked vittles quickly spread across the North, empowering a custom business that began with backyard pig roasts and has morphed into full-fledged commercial catering with china, linens and piles of pulled pork and smoked brisket capable of feeding hundreds. “Backyard barbecue, black tie barbecue, our mobile units can go anywhere and we’re running up to six separate events on any given Saturday throughout the spring and summer,” Adam happily reflects. In 2013 Pigs Eatin’ Ribs added a large stationary food truck with a commercial grade smoker to The Little Fleet lot in Traverse City and simultaneously opened a small takeout restaurant with a picnic patio on the south side of Charlevoix that acts as a hub for the company’s catering operations and fleet of mobile barbecue units.

Essential to all this success, Adam concedes, is the tireless support of his wife, Jill, who works as a full-time accountant, manages his company’s finances and raises their three children. Essential, too, the intrinsic deliciousness of the humble pig. “Nose to tail, it’s the most versatile piece of protein a cook can get his hands on,” says Adam of his company’s eponymous mascot. Pork, as Adam and a great many American chefs will agree, is a thoroughly democratic meat. “It’s an inexpensive product that time and technique can turn into the highest possible quality.”

The highest possible quality is evident in the pink smoke ring that goes from skin to bone on the meltingly tender ribs Adam pulls from the pit and deftly portions with a razor-sharp cleaver on a pig-shaped cutting board. The secret to great barbecue, he reveals, is time and temperature control. “Low and slow,” is the mantra of Adam and every great pit master. “Ribs supply a relatively thin layer of meat on each side of the bone, so they need between four and six hours in the smoker at 225 degrees to become tender, whereas a pork shoulder, which is a big active muscle with more fat, needs about 14 hours.” Whether using an off-set smoker, called a “stick burner” by barbecue pros, or a pan of smoking chips on a traditional charcoal grill, Adam favors fruit woods like cherry, apple or lilac because of their sweet, mellow flavor. He cautions backyard neophytes about using exclusively hardwood chunk charcoal and to go easy on stronger woods. “Processed charcoal briquets can give your food a chemical flavor, and too much hickory or mesquite will overpower the flavor of the meat.”

Before moving on, Adam sums up, re-emphasizes, underscores: Keep the fire under control, ensure a slow steady burn and produce a savory penetrating smoke. Got it.

Adam then turns his eye to the all-important rub. This sweet, salty, savory, spicy seasoning cocktail gets massaged into the pig fleisch to caramelize and crisp the outer layer of meat. Kline likes to build every rub with coarsely ground kosher salt and fresh black pepper, “Get yourself an inexpensive coffee grinder and turn it into a spice grinder,” he says,” freshly grinding whole spices will work the oils out and add a lot more flavor to the final product.” Beyond the elemental s&p, Adam adds onion powder, garlic powder, ground mustard powder, paprika, ground chipotle and a little brown sugar. “Pork has naturally a lot less sugar than beef,” Adam explains, “so you need to add sugar to a pork rub to draw up the juices and help the surface of the meat caramelize.”

With your porcine prize rubbed, wrapped and rested overnight then smoked low and slow until tender, there’s one final, elemental step to take before pork passes lips: sauce. Throughout the American barbecue belt there are infinite iterations of sauce to slather on pit-smoked pork ranging from straight white vinegar to spicy mustard to thick, sweet tomato and molasses-based glop. Adam loves them all so much he had to hybridize. “What I call our ‘mother sauce,’ which is Pigs Eatin’ Ribs’ basic barbecue sauce and the building block for our specialty sauces like mango habanero, chipotle and blueberry has a little bit of everything: vinegar for tang, sugar for sweetness, a little heat and a little ketchup. That’s great on everything, but especially ribs and chicken. To cut through the fattiness of pulled pork I like our Carolina-que, which is a thin, sweet vinegar-based sauce with a little touch of red.” When asked what to drink with all these dynamic flavors, the answer is simple: cold beer.

Amid the wreckage of this August beach barbecue: chewed bones, charred corn husks and empty beer cans still beaded from the ice chest, Adam Kline is one happy man. “Barbecue brings people together,” he says, cracking a wide smile and winking at wife Jill. “When I came home and said I was going to buy an old party bus and drive around selling ribs on the street she told told me to go for it and here we are.” Right now, Kline’s here, relaxing and looking out at placid Lake Michigan; tomorrow he has 25 employees to manage, four weddings to cater and a thousand pounds of pork to cook in a delicate balance of low and slow meets fast and furious.

How To: Low and Slow and One Not So

Pork Butt

  • Actually the pig’s front shoulder, this big muscle is loaded with fat, flavor and connective tissue that requires a long, slow tenure in the smoke box. Liberally coat with rub and cook butts for 12 to 14 hours at 225˚ until they can be easily pulled apart.


  • For maximum flavor penetration coat your rib racks with rub the night before, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate. Smoke at 225˚ for 4 to 6 hours until tender. Slather with sauce. Eat gleefully.

Pork Belly

  • The mother of bacon, this big cut has thin layers of succulent meat sandwiched between rich layers of fat. Rub ’em down, cook ’em slow for six to eight hours at 225˚ to an internal temp of 160˚, cut into portion sizes and then crisp each side quickly on a hot grill.

Bone-In Pork Chop

  • Forget slow and low, this lean muscle calls for flavorful marinade and a hot, fast cook on a charcoal grill. Adam likes to use salt, pepper, thyme, smoked garlic and olive oil. Medium to medium rare is perfect.

Good Eatin’ Recipes from Pigs Eatin’ Ribs

August 2014 coverMore Northern Michigan Food

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2014 Michigan Travel for Labor Day: Road Construction Suspended Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:06:44 +0000 Getting Up North to your Northern Michigan vacation during Labor Day weekend just became much easier: to ease Michigan travel for Labor Day, the Michigan Department of […]

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Getting Up North to your Northern Michigan vacation during Labor Day weekend just became much easier: to ease Michigan travel for Labor Day, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is once again halting a majority of its road projects for the Labor Day holiday weekend. AAA Michigan estimates 1.12 million motorists will be using Michigan roads and bridges during the last weekend before school starts.

Beginning at 3 pm on Friday, August 29th, and continuing until 6 am on Tuesday, September 2nd, 126 out of 156 projects statewide will have lane restrictions lifted. While some construction zones will be halted for the weekend, equipment and lane shifts will stay in place for remaining projects, requiring drivers to adjust their speed and pay attention.

“While many drivers will be enjoying this last holiday weekend, it’s important to remember that safety on the roads requires year-round attention,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “Always buckle up, follow the posted speed limit, and don’t use your phone or text while driving. Let’s all work to ensure everyone has a great Labor Day weekend and makes it home safely.”

For up-to-date information on MDOT projects, view the list of statewide lane closures at

The following is a list of work zones that will remain active during the Labor Day weekend:

Upper Peninsula

  • I-75 near Rudyard, Chippewa County, will have a posted detour in effect for two projects between M-134 and M-48.
  • M-26, Houghton County, will have two lanes open between the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and Dollar Bay with a temporary roadway.
  • M-149 near Manistique, Schoolcraft County, will have a posted detour in effect at Dufour Creek.
  • US-2 in Ironwood, Gogebic County, will have eastbound traffic detoured via local roads in Hurley, Wis., and Ironwood.
  • US-2 near Manistique, Schoolcraft County, will have one lane open in each direction from east of the Delta/Schoolcraft county line to M-149. Wide loads restricted.

For more information, contact Dan Weingarten, Superior Region Communications Representative, at 906.250.4809.

North Lower Peninsula

  • US-23, Iosco County, will have a traffic shift south of Oscoda. Wide loads restricted.
  • Old US-131, Wexford County, will be closed to through-traffic from Boon Road to US-131 near Cadillac. Detour on US-131.

For more information, contact James Lake, North Region Communications Representative, at 906.250.0993.

More Northern Michigan Labor Day

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