Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Fall Trip to Northern Michigan for Peak2Peak

This week, we took a few days to head up to Northern Michigan for camping and for Ryan to compete in the Peak2Peak mountain bike race at Crystal Mountain.

On Wednesday, after Keira was finished with school, we got packed up and headed to Traverse City. The drive was uneventful, and the leaves on the trees were beautiful. We picked a great weekend to go up north, and I went a little nuts taking pictures. The funniest thing was that Soren thought we were going to REI to camp. We camped at the Traverse City State Park. We found a good campsite, not too close to the campers but still close to the bathroom, and got to work. Keira and Soren wanted to help, so we let them a bit, but then I took them over to the playground so that Ryan could get everything set up. We cooked a dinner made from backpacking meals that was pretty good, and finished off the night with s'mores over the stove. At bedtime, Soren didn't want to sleep in his sleeping bag, so we had a few issues getting him settled down and asleep. Eventually, he went to sleep on top of it. He woke up a few times in the night because he was cold, and I would snuggle him in with me and he would warm up, and then scoot away and get cold again. Keira and Ryan slept fine, though.

We woke up Thursday and got some breakfast at Burger King. Keira and Soren played a bit in the playplace, but came back to the campsite and enjoyed collecting leaves and playing around the campsite. They just looked so cute!

Once both Ryan and I were all cleaned up, we headed over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We started with the Pierce Stocking Trail, which is a paved road that takes you to several lookout points on the dunes.

After that, we headed over to the dunes. Ryan hiked up a bit, while I stayed at the bottom with Keira and Soren. They liked playing in the sand a lot.

Our next stop was to the US Coast Guard Station at Sleeping Bear Point. It was pretty cool inside, and the guide was really great with Keira and Soren. He let them help him take the flag down.

That night we had dinner in Traverse City at North Peak. We were sad that the Freshwater Lodge had gone out of business. Back at camp, Ryan built a campfire and we roasted marshmallows over the fire for more s'mores. Keira and Soren were bigger fans of the chocolate than anything else. We bundled Soren a bit better tonight, and he and Keira both slept great. As expected for a MI camping trip, we got rained on in the night, but we had great gear and didn't notice anything except for the outside of the tent being wet when we woke up.

On Friday morning, we woke up and cooked breakfast at the campsite. We let everything dry out a bit. While we were packing up, we had a squirrel that was begging for food from the kids.

Once we packed up, we headed out onto the peninsula to the Mission Point Lighthouse. It was pretty chilly and windy, so we didn't stay long.

After we had lunch on the peninsula, we stopped at a fun farm that we saw yesterday on our way to the dunes, Gallagher's Farm Market. What would a fall getaway be without cider and donuts! They had pumpkin cinnamon and sugar donuts, as well as sour cream cinnamon and sugar donuts, and we got some cherry apple cider. The also had a fun children's straw maze, pigs, and chickens. We also got honeycrisp apples to bring home.

That was our last stop in the Traverse City area before we headed over to Crystal Mountain. We arrived fairly early in the evening, and Ryan was able to pick up his registration packet for the race. He also pre-rode some of the course to get a feel for it and get ride of some of the stiffness from sleeping on the ground. Keira and Soren enjoyed running around on the grass at the base of the mountain while he did this. We stayed in the Wintergreen condos, which were the perfect size and a great location for the race. We were just a short walk from everything. We got some takeout pasta from the Thistle restaurant for dinner, and gave Keira and Soren a much needed bath. The kids slept great tonight while sharing a queen sized bed in their own room.

Base of the mountain fun while Ryan rode parts of the course:

On Saturday, Ryan woke up and headed out to the race. He was in the second wave, which was only 2 minutes behind the first. We watched all of the sport and beginner riders start, and then we made the hike up to the top of the mountain. It was pretty rough pushing the stroller up there, and I was actually really glad that Keira wanted out because it lightened the load by almost half. We couldn't take the flatest green route because it was too sandy, but were able to avoid the steepest route, nd took a blue up. We got almost to the top by ourselves and then ran into a sandy patch where another spectator was able to help me get the stroller to the top. We enjoyed some great views from the top of the Crystal Clipper lift while we waited for the racers. We weren't up there terribly long before we saw Ryan, who was in 4th place at the time for his first lap. We stayed at the top for a bit to see some of the women come through before heading back down to the base for the finish. The descent was much easier, and I did not have the same terrain limitations going down as I did going up. In fact, I welcomed the growth of the longer grasses/weeds as it helped me control the speed of the stroller. Ryan had slipped to 9th place during his second lap, as he was unable to maintain his pace throughout the duration of the race. We also saw our friend Bill at the race. This course was very different than the courses that Ryan typically races, as it was not very rooted or as technical as some of the trails that we favor in our area. It was very fast with the big climb up the ski mountain. This course did not require a full suspension frame, and we saw several fully rigid frames, and lots of 29ers. Ryan did have a good time, as did the kids and I.

After the race, we grabbed some food from the grill took a chairlift ride to the top of the mountain. Keira and Soren loved it, and we did it just in time before they closed it off.

The we went to the Harvest Day celebration, also at the resort, that started after the race festivities were over. Keira and Soren LOVED feeding the goats leaves and would have done it all day. They also had a blast in the hay maze there, and Keira did a craft. They were a bit bummed that we would let them paint or carve pumpkins, but the truck was so loaded up on our way that we really didn't want to worry about getting them back home.

We hung out at the condo for the rest of the evening. Soren napped, and Ryan and I watched football. We got some pizza for dinner and just relaxed.

The next morning, I took a couple pictures of Keira and Soren in their bear pjs, under the bear artwork. They matched so well! They were having a special pancake breakfast with blueberry and cherry syrup. It was so good. Soren just wanted to eat the blueberries from the syrup. The we headed back home!

It was a great trip. We had such a good time. We spent the afternoon getting unpacked and attempting to get ready for the week. Keira and Soren had fun playing in the court a bit.

Up for next week: Keira is star of the week at school!

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