By Ken De Laat
“Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes” - Van Morrison
Besides having the namesake of what is perhaps one of the best songs, from one of the best albums, of one of my favorite performers, Moon Dance Cafe has been a personal favorite eatery for the 16 years since they opened their doors.
I recall doing a review shortly after they debuted back when I was freelancing for the Times Indicator (the print news edited by the esteemed journalist Rich Wheater) and being enamored with Ms. Drum’s approach to restaurateuring as she brought a bit of panache to the local dining scene.
Then came the pandemic and after attempting to keep pace with take out and delivery MDC closed their doors just after Christmas.
And now they are reopening...at last.
From owner Tina Drum:
“My staff and I have been busy all week ( Re-opening a scratch kitchen is no small feat) and are very excited to get back to work. We have missed our loyal customers and feel hopeful that things are starting to return back to normal. We are back and better than ever!”
“We are so excited to open tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 18) for Dine-In, Take-out, Curbside & Delivery.”
One only hopes the bread pudding (to die for) holds out long enough for a couple of pieces to make their way back to N3 World Headquarters.
And if you’re stopping for breakfast?
The stuffed hash browns will surely make you smile.
Book Review: Long Bright River
By Alexis Mercer
My book club has been on pause for much of the pandemic. There was one outdoor, distanced meet up we had in August, but other than that we haven’t met. Most of us spent so much time on zoom during the day in our jobs all spring and then again this fall, the last thing we wanted was more screen time.
It had been long enough, however, and we were anxious for more books to read and a chance to catch up … even on Zoom! January finally worked out ot get on Zoom, discuss August’s book (The Magical Language of Others by EJ Koh), catch up on life, and choose a new book!
Oh how I missed book club books. They are never books I would choose on my own. And nearly every time I love them. Long Bright River by Liz Moore was no exception.
Mickey is a police officer who patrols the streets of Philadelphia. Her sister Kacey works those same streets - on the other side of the law.
Kasey comes up missing right after Mickey responds to a call of a young woman who walks the same streets as Kasey and it’s discovered the woman was murdered. Soon another woman is murdered - and another. Mickey desperately tries to find her sister all the while hoping the next body isn’t Kasey.
The story is more than a suspenseful thriller: it’s a captivating, realistic tale of life on the streets, the ties that hold families together, addiction, and love.
While this book is much more intense and realistically terrifying (mind you anything about drugs I find terrifying) than I normally choose to read - I really did love the book. The main character, Mickey, was believable and easy to get behind. The pages turned quickly and kept me in it until the very end.
Last week many of our local food venues opened their doors to inside dining for the first time since mid November.
And through those doors ucame the patient patrons who have been waiting to grab not just a meal but an actual seat at their favorite eatery.
To help support these businesses coming out of a bit of hibernation we asked readers to take part in a non scientific, off the wall and likely wildly inaccurate survey.
The most popular first visits?
River Stop Saloon. (“great owners, that care about the people of the community”)
Followed closely by Newaygo Brewery and Blind Squirrel.
Northern Trails fared well and Sportsman’s received several nods.
And we had others who got some honorable mentions.
“The breakfast skillet was awesome. Best breakfast in town.” were the words for Diner Between the Dams.
And speaking of breakfast… “ Breakfast wrap and a double mocha cafe. Best way to start a day.” said a Koffee Kuppe fan.
Blind Squirrel got kudos for their shrimp tacos and the RS Saloon impressed with their steak fajita salad and Philly cheesesteak.
Then there was this tribute to Northern Trails.
“The warmth we feel and how we are genuinely welcomed whenever we go there, (as well as seeing the amazing staff including our favorite and best server Tina), is why Northern Trails is almost always our first choice!! And always our favorite place to go to relax and feel comfortable hands down!!!”
The next place they were going to go? Back to Northern Trails.
What folks missed the most?
Many entries mentioned seeing familiar faces at their favorite sites.
As one reader responded while referencing Sportsman’s “The people & great food. Who doesn’t love feeling like family while enjoying an amazing meal they didn’t have to cook?”
But our favorite response came from a Lunch Pail customer.
What did you have?
“My kids had grilled cheese kids meals.”
What did you miss?
“Someone else doing the dishes and wiping the table. Being able to leave.”
Where will you go next?
“Nowhere. The kids were terrible and are out of practice being in public.”
Bon Appetit Near Northians
Take our Survey...Be the 25%
“Newaygo Brewing is thrilled to be safely reopening for dine-in this week. Our staff is eager to see the community joy back in our taproom. Community is the life blood of our small town and it pairs so well with craft food and beer!”-Nick Looman, Newaygo Brewing Co.
Our local dining diversions have been impressively innovative during this most recent ban on indoor service.
Hit the Road Joe went to thrice weekly take out and then tossed in a pizza night.
The Red Anchor’s curbside service kept their customers coming to their doors.
The River Stop Saloon created a little ‘al fresco’ area in their backyard to supplement their food-to-go biz as did Shamrock Pub up there in the Cloud.
And of course, there are the pods at Northern Trails delivering the ambiance of private room dining with no need to think about what to do with your coat.
Well, kudos to all our inventive, creative and ultimately resilient eatery owners.
And now starting Monday our invaluable vittles venues will be able to toss those doors open and welcome folks inside.
At 25% capacity of course.
So, not out of the woods yet and with a bit of ground to make up, it’s still a dollop of good news for those who have been struggling.
Some will continue their present take out path since 25% isn’t exactly a panacea. A few will likely wait until they can open fully.
But some are giving it a go and deserve our patronage.
We all have our best-loved breakfast bistros, likable lunching locations and desirable dinnertime destinations and wish them all to thrive, right?
So here it is for those who are not wary of indoor dining...
Be the 25%.
We’ve listed some of the places that have supplied us with their info and will add others should they make contact.
In the meantime…
Take our survey.
We want to spread the word that eatatoriums in the Near North are reopening their doors and welcoming back patrons.
Here’s what we have thus far on the returnees to indoor dining:
City Limits Monday 7am-8pm
Koffee Kuppe Monday 6:30am-7am
Riverstop Cafe Monday 8am-4pm
River Stop Saloon Monday 7am- 10pm
The Lunch Pail- Monday 7am-3pm
Blind Squirrel-Monday 11am-10pm
Newaygo Brewery-Monday 12-8pm
The Driftwood-Monday 12-10pm
Northern Trails- Monday 12-10pm First come first served indoors, Pods by reservation only
Shamrock Pub Monday 11am -10pm No reservations
Forager Tuesday 1130am-9pm Strongly encouraging reservations
Sportsmans Tuesday 11am 10pm
Red Anchor-Wednesday 4-9pm
And for those who might be heading north on a snowmobile trail?
Chase Creek Smokehouse Monday 11am-10pm
For more info please contact the restaurants or visit their social media pages.
If you want your place included send us the info and we’ll add you on.
And Happy Dining Everyone.
“I've long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we're talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime 'associates,' food, for me, has always been an adventure”-Anthony Bourdain
Perfect partners for Cabin Fever Fest
Starting tomorrow Fremont is saying goodbye to January in a big way with a slew of outdoor activities that will highlight the Cabin Fever Winterfest weekend.
Of course all who have spent winters here in this bipeninsular paradise agree with the words of Alfred Wainwright who opined, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
With an outdoor winter market, a downtown stroll and a boatload of fun activities that will be making the most out of our chilly climatic condition keeping the hands warm is a must.
And with the recent Bernie Meme mania making for a possible upcoming shortage the Artsplace Market wants all to know they have an enticing selection of mittens perfect for both strolling the outdoors in winter and creating a Berniesque meme.
By Tim McGrath
“…When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad….” Favorite Things from The Sound of Music
Every year beginning in 2002, ABC has featured The Sound of Music in its Christmas holiday lineup. It seems that, because we spend so much time together around the holiday with family, this film is a family-friendly must see. It joins the other classics: It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, A Christmas Carol, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, The Polar Express. So, in spite of it having absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, The Sound of Music lingers on as a Christmas staple.
Lest you think me a Sound of Music old-man-grumpy-pants, I say au contraire. I’ve always considered it one of my favorite films. I recall, as a ten-year-old, viewing the original in 1965 on the big screen with my parents at The Majestic Theatre in Grand Rapids. The music and story line had me in their spell the entire 174 minutes (with Intermission). And, I walked out of there with a BIG crush on Liesl. Years later, I bought the soundtrack on CD and would sing along in the car, giving it full value, until I’d spot a car passing by me in the opposite lane. I’d tame it down a bit until they were in the rearview mirror. Then, I’d be at it again. Couldn’t heIp myself. I did get caught once, though. I was singing along with Rolf and Liesl on Sixteen Going on Seventeen while waiting for the light to turn green at a stoplight. I didn’t notice the car full of teenagers pull up next to me. They watched my antics for a bit, then started honking, pointing, laughing and imitating my grand gestures. Punks.
In the Favorite Things scene in the film, Maria and the children find themselves huddled together on Maria’s bed during a thunderstorm. As the lightning and thunder crash and rumble, Maria breaks into song, quickly calming the children’s fears. I suspect you remember the lyrics: “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…, these are a few of my favorite things….” As I listened again, I got to thinking. Hmmm…, what are a few of my favorite things?
Truth be known, I think I have a weakness for socks. Didn’t fully realize my affinity until my dear, long-suffering spouse asked one day as she peered into my suitcase on a trip, “How many pairs of socks do you have in there? Really, just how many does one person need?” That wasn’t the only time, either. It got to be a standing question on all subsequent trips. There would then come the mild exasperation followed by head shaking and eye rolling. I’d haughtily sniff my indignation, turn, and keep on stuffing them in my suitcase.
While gearing up for another trip, a little bell tinkled in my head. As I grabbed the mid-calf pairs, then following that up with several pairs of the mid-ankle shorty style, I stopped. Maybe I do have a few too many. Six pairs of socks for a three-day trip seemed reasonable at first, but maybe not? That’s when I had to admit my thing for socks.
I just like socks. I especially like the cushy, stay up, and don’t bunch up in either the toe or heel types. Give me a good mid-calf pair of Smartwool. Just makes the whole day brighter. A decent pair of socks can make the aggravations of the day seem like so much drivel. And, for the love of all things sacred, they are “socks”, not “stockings”. This is 2021, not 1921.
I’d say the same things apply to underpants. I’ll take a pair of smartly styled mid-rise briefs; combination cotton, spandex, and polyester any day. Why, it just makes the whole thing better right out of the chute in the morning. No boxer shorts irritations here, no sir. I can’t for the life of me figure out how guys wear those things. The legs get all tangled and twisted. You can usually tell straightaway who’s wearing a pair. There’s the constant fidgeting, trying to get the blasted things untangled from around a thigh or unbunched from up in there. Not to mention everything bouncing around. Same thing with guys sporting those saggy, baggy, whitey-tighties. Egad, man, I think, have a little pride.
Then there’s the food. Number one, standing tall above all others: Fricano’s Pizza. In my reckoning, this is the gold standard to judge all other pies by. When I was growing up, my family would load up in the sedan and make the drive on Saturday nights to Grand Haven where we’d land at the original Fricano’s Pizza Tavern on Fulton Avenue. Would usually have to wait to get in, as the front half of the building only had a couple tables. When the addition was built, at some point in the 1960’s, it just increased our travels to Grand Haven. I haven’t been to this location in a long time. If I’m not mistaken, though, the red and white checkered tablecloths, simple menu, the yeasty smell and sound of bottled PBR, Miller, and Bud being poured into the little juice glasses is the way they still do things. Why would anyone tamper with this perfection?
When the pies finally, finally made their way to the table, the clouds parted, heavenly choirs burst forth in song, and all conversation stopped. The one task at hand was to get to those slices of heaven on earth. Thin, perfectly chewy crust tinged with just the right amount of crispliness. Tangy, sweet red sauce covered in beautifully textured mozzarella bubbled to perfect shades of creamy brown. On top of the whole thing loads of all the right toppings: homemade Italian sausage, onion, pepper, mushrooms, and pepperoni baked to a crunchy brown around the edges. On the way home after one of these excursions, Dad would look at Mom and comment: “You know, Arlene, I love the way the grease runs down my chin, I’ll tell you that.” Mom would usually reply back, “blecchh” while scrunching up her nose and sticking out her tongue. Have to say, though, those Saturday night forays to Grand Haven set me on the path to be a Fricano’s Pizza lover to the present day.
Speaking of favorite foods, I have a couple more that round out the runner up list. In no particular order, they are:
Bill’s Shop-N-Save cinnamon rolls: These babies are fried, not baked, as any respectable cinnamon roll should be. Smothered in vanilla, caramel, or chocolate frosting. They’re especially tasty with a steaming hot mug of coffee. A helpful tip in winter: when transporting home, put the bag on the heater vent on the dashboard under the windshield in your vehicle. Just make sure it doesn’t block your view. Upon arriving at your destination, your pastry will be perfectly warm, with just the right mix of chewy and doughy.
Cheeze Kurls: not to be confused with Cheetos, Cheez-its, or any of the other cheesy snack posers out there. These things are the real deal. Made in Grand Rapids, with a fairly limited distribution. These have been a family junk-food-go-to for three generations. I’ve shipped boxes of them to both of my kids living in far-away places as they’re that good.
Spanky’s Bread Stix: For all my local friends, adding this to my favorite foods list is a big, “duh”. No surprise here. Known far and wide as a signature item many of us crave. How many kids return home from college on a vacation period, and head straight to the restaurant on the singular mission to get their choppers around a plateful of these exquisite creations? Same thing for adult kids who’ve moved out of the area. When home visiting ma and pa, what do they ask for? That’s right….
National Coney Island coney dogs: This Detroit dog palace has earned a fond place in my heart for having coneys with just the right combination of tender bun, snappy dog, just-right chili and onion. Pair it with an order of hot, greasy, salty fries and you’ve got yourself some memorable eating.
So, there it is. This Favorite Things compilation is a work in progress, of course. Haven’t really begun to tap all the categories possible. Film, music, candy, sports, cars, collectibles, engine lubricants, DeWalt vs. Makita. vs. Milwaukee. On and on it goes. There’s just so much out there to consider.
Now, don’t you think it’s high time to get cracking on that list of yours?
Winter Market, Sled Races, Mini Golf, Legos, Volleyball, and More...
From our friends at Fremont Rec Center and Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce
Join us for the 2021 Fremont Cabin Fever Winter Fest held in Fremont on Friday, January 29 and Saturday, January 30. Organizers are encouraging residents, community visitors and all our friends to get out and enjoy some of the fun outdoor activities that have been planned!
Get your team together for some SNOW VOLLEYBALL! Teams of four (4) will compete at the Fremont Rec Center on courts outside! This is a co-ed mini tournament! Pre-register forms are available at the Fremont Rec Center’s website. This event is sponsored by Wrightway Marine & Detail and Great Lakes Signature Properties.
Get your LEGO, Duplo, Megablocks or other LEGO-compatible plastic bricks out and start building! Lego Contest is for Grades K- 6th and will be held from Wednesday, January 27 through Friday, January 29. All entries must be dropped off at the Fremont Rec Center with your entry form and $3 entry fee (entry fee covers prizes). Thank you to our sponsor, Fremont Regional Digester, for supporting this event. All creations will need to be picked up the week following the winter fest!
CBD Store of Michigan and the Fremont Regional Digester Arctic Mini Golf will be set up in Veterans Memorial Park for you to come down and play! You will need to bring your own putter and tennis ball to enjoy a free round of mini golf! Let your creativity flow in the snow!!!! Build a cool miniature golf obstacle for the Fremont Cabin Fever Winter Fest! Your design needs to be in place by Friday, January 29! All contestants are welcome, but community businesses, groups and organizations are encouraged to participate! Players will be asked to vote for the most creative obstacle! 1st place will win an ad on the Fremont Area Chamber’s website for 1 year and a blue ribbon! 2nd and 3rd place will win an ad for 6 months and a red or white ribbon. Contact the Chamber office at (231) 924-0770 to register or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Saturday, January 30 is the Gerber Federal Credit Union and Great Lakes Signature Properties Cardboard Sled Races!!!!! What can you construct with only corrugated cardboard as your main building material? Put together a one -of -a -kind sled with a team of friends, family or co-workers and come out to Hemlock Park to show us what you’ve got!!! Hemlock Park is located behind Gerber at Valley Avenue and Hemlock Street. Only cardboard, tape and glue may be used to construct your racing sled! Registration for this FREE event begins at 9 am; races begin at 10 am!
Stroll around downtown Fremont as you enjoy The Original Print Shop and Fremont Area District Library Poetry Walk! Local businesses will have winter poems for your enjoyment as you are out! Get your passport card that lists the participating stores, when you stop to read the poems, you can get a sticker from that business. Once you have collected at least 5 stickers, drop your card off at the Fremont Chamber office (office is open from 9 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday) to enter for a prize drawing of Fremont Fun Cash. All cards need to be turned in by Tuesday, February 9th, drawing will be held on Wednesday, February 10th. You are encouraged to bring canned goods and leave them at our local businesses after reading the poems. Maps will be available of all the locations where you will find the poems. Check with the Fremont Area Chamber, Fremont Rec Center, Fremont Area District Library, as well as the participating businesses! You are being encouraged to donate canned goods at the participating businesses that are featuring winter poems. All canned goods collected will be donated to the TrueNorth Community Services food pantry. Be sure to stop at our local eateries while wandering around to get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to keep you warm!
The Commons of Fremont and Summer Breeze has the course ready for a little snow golf!!!! Get your 4 four-some together to enjoy some fun on the par 3! Contact The Commons for more details on playing a round of golf!
Cleaning out your closets and house, extra crafts that you want to sell? We have the answer for you - Cabin Fever Winter Market will be held on Saturday, January 30th from 10 am to 3 pm under the Marketplace Pavilion, Fremont Farmers Market pavilion. Spaces are 10x10 and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Contact the Fremont Chamber office to save your spot, (231) 924-0770.
The Fremont Cabin Fever Committee would like to thank our sponsors for helping make this event possible! WrightWay Marine & Detail, The Original Print Shop, The Commons of Fremont, Great Lakes Signature Properties, CBD Store of Michigan, Fremont Regional Digester, Gerber Federal Credit Union, Hi-Lites Shoppers Guide, Fremont Community Recreation Authority, and Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce.
For more information contact the Fremont Rec Center at (231) 924-3750 or the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce at (231) 924-0770. Visit the FACEBOOK pages for the Fremont Community Recreation Authority or the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce for details and more information.
The story behind Northern Trails’ innovative approach to dining ‘out’
Here at N3 World Headquarters we have embraced creating meals at home with LSC Lil assuming the role as the primary architect of our ever expanding menu and this writer serving as sous chef, supply runner and head dishwasher. Save the occasional take out we have supped, dined and breakfasted at home.
However, hearing about ‘the pods’ at Northern Trails from N3 friend Martha Gabrielse piqued our curiosity.
A few days ago, with some remodeling work looming at N3WH, it became necessary to run a few errands involving these upcoming efforts. It was a long day and after a conversation that resulted in simultaneous agreement we decided to give NT a shot on our way home.
We found the pods to be an intriguing and enjoyable experience, not merely for the wonderful NT food and superb service that we’ve been missing, but also for the unique ambiance the enclosures provided.
Following our visit we reached out to Stephanie Barrett one of the owners of the enticing eatery to pose a few questions.
N3-This has been a tough time for restaurants. Have the pods helped increase business significantly?
During the first round of closures (March-June) business slowed considerably, but between stimulus checks and the additional unemployment that our customers received, we experienced a financial hit, but it was nothing like the second round of closures (November-Current). Since we've added the pods, we've had very steady reservations and it has nearly tripled our current sales, despite the fact that there are only six pods and two additional areas that we have since added outside the pods.
How did this go from an idea to a reality?
Long story..., although the business was our Dad's, Our mother, my brother and myself purchased the restaurant in September of 2019 from his estate after his passing. Our mother was diagnosed last spring with cancer and passed away December 4th. I've learned from my years in the restaurant industry that in most things, you have to carefully weigh decisions, and my brother who's new to the industry, but a business person himself, is more of a risk taker. He has contacts with Blox, LLC who had brought the idea to him and my brother was all for it. I was initially opposed to the idea, but I decided that our mother, who's not here anymore to vote, would be in favor of taking the chance so we went with it.
Blox, LLC is a fairly new company that my brother is very familiar with. They had a very detailed concept for the shipping container pods, but hadn't had anyone commit to spending the money on them yet. We received the Weatherization Grant in December, and while the grant did not pay for the entire project, it paid for a good portion of it. Some adjustments had to be made to be compliant with the outdoor dining regulations, but Blox, LLC made them immediately and once they got the go ahead, they had the project completed in about a week and a half.
What has been the response?
The response has been great! We get some people here and there who aren't happy that the pods are still chilly, but I think that's to be expected. We've got two radiant heaters going nonstop in each of the six pods, and 2-3 propane heaters going in the additional pods where ventilation wouldn't be a concern. People seem really excited about them, both because they're very different from the igloo type dining (which was our intention), and because they can experience a little bit of something normal by going out to eat, and doing it in as safe a manner as possible.
What have been the biggest challenges?
We're learning as we go. We had to develop a completely different set of operating procedures for this type of dining and we are tweaking it daily. Keeping reservations to the allotted time frame has been a huge challenge as well as adjusting reservation times to stagger the amount of orders for our kitchen. Keeping the pods warm has been a battle. My brother has been working to make things as comfortable as possible by adding an additional heater to each pod, lowering curtains, etc. Dealing with power issues because the load of 13 heaters had us scrambling to spread the heaters out to avoid blowing breakers during peak times. All in all, it's smoothing out, and it doesn't seem like it should be that much different from our perspective than indoor dining, but it's proving to be very different.
Is this something you might continue to offer as a novelty this winter if the ban is lifted?
We're definitely going to continue to offer these if/when the indoor dining ban is lifted. We had discussed the fact that there will be customers who may prefer the privacy they offer for groups, as well as the fact that COVID 19 isn't going anywhere, and there may be some people who feel safer dining in the pods that indoors, even with the capacity restrictions and curfews we're sure to experience upon reopening. We've had several calls from people asking the same question, which shows us a demand, and we've got reservations already into February thankfully.
We've also got plans to re-purpose the pods after the winter if things return to some kind of normal, so our hope is that they'll transition from a necessity to a novelty, even into the summer months!
Anything you care to add?
I don't have much to add outside of the fact that we're grateful for the community support that we've received since the beginning of COVID 19, and that is still continuing. The video that Blox, LLC marketing team created brought a lot of visibility to our restaurant, and we have had a lot of new customers visit in the last two weeks, but our community, and the support they show us is what's kept our heads above water during this awful time and we're so grateful for them.
Thank you Ms. Barrett.
We'll be back soon.
-Ken De Laat
Photos by Stephanie Barrett
On the Run: North Country Trail Adventures
By Alexis Mercer
I grew up in the north. Not “near north” like now. But the actual north. Where the closest mall or movie theatre was more than an hour away. Instead we had Higgins Lake and the AuSable River in our backyards. How lucky was I?
A friend from college once visited my house in the summer and said “is there anything else but trees up here?” I happily replied not really. What a gift to have nature all around.
When two of my friends from grade school and I decided to plan an adventure somewhere in Michigan and I recommended the North Country Trail, one of them couldn't remember whether she knew of the trail. As we hiked and caught up we laughed that this trail ran the entire length of our state and as kids we did not even know it existed.
These friends, David and Megan, and I grew up together. We all went off to college, traveled, and settled in places other than up north. But those roots have stayed strong. Our appreciation for the beauty of nature never left any of us.
So when David and I talked about getting together while he was in the state visiting his parents (an extended stay thanks to his work having been remote since March), we knew we would go for a run or hike to be able to safely and responsibly visit. The idea of running quickly got set aside because as David said “we want to actually be able to talk, right?” and both of us knew trail running and talking were not going to happen simultaneously.
We decided on a hike and brought Megan into the plans. I had just recently signed up for the 100 Mile Challenge on the North Country Trail, so I was itching to explore new sections of the trail I knew quite well from Newaygo County. We all agreed I could do some research and find a location that would work for us.
Not having been on the NCT anywhere except in our county, I really had no idea what I was looking for. I printed off every map from the entire Manistee National Forest section from the website. (https://northcountrytrail.org/the-trail/explore-the-trail/) How does one choose a section not having a clue what it would entail? But I figured if the trail is anything like what I know from around Newaygo, there isn’t a “bad” section. I kept my fingers crossed.
The portion of the trail that for some reason was calling out to me was west of Cadillac. We could do a through hike from Tippy Dam area to Red Bridge River and it would be about an 8 mile stretch if my map reading skills were up to par.
Being that David and Megan are always up for adventure, they agreed without a second thought. Thankfully the trail did not disappoint. In fact, we kept “oohing” and “aahing” at the amazing scenery.
Beginning by the Tippy Dam trailhead, the trail overlooks the Manistee River. We probably snapped 20 photos of the view before we even took a step on the trail. The air was a frigid 7 degrees but that made for a stunning view of ice crystals glistening in the morning sunshine.
Despite the three of us not having been all together in nearly 20 years, we very quickly fell into step both literally and figuratively. We hiked along, catching up on each others’ lives, admiring the beauty of the world around us and laughing until we had tears pouring out our eyes. We hiked for just over 8 miles and found joy in every step.
The choice of where to end up on that day was completely random. David and Megan were praising my choice of trail sections, but I insisted it was only luck on my behalf. Thinking back, I have come to realize that from what I know of every section in Newaygo County I have walked, and the beauty I saw from that location even farther north, it would be pretty difficult to find a section of the North Country Trail that wasn’t majestic.
We are three kids who grew up in the trees. Perhaps we didn’t fully appreciate how blessed we were to have nature around us in every direction. But we certainly today can appreciate the beauty the trails in our own backyards provide us: a perfect backdrop for old friends to catch up, reminisce, and laugh as if there isn’t a care in the world.
NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest Winners
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is a free annual contest for all ages and all levels of skill. The 2021 contest winners were selected by local photographer Gail Howarth of Holton.
The first place award was given to Susan Gillaland of Newaygo for her photograph “Perfectly Preserved". Megan Wirts of Grant received second place for the entry “Light as a Feather” and Carrie Homrich of Grant was awarded third place for “Silence”. Honorable mention went to Aaron Carpenter of Fremont for his photograph "Woman in the Dunes".
All entries will be on display through February 6 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street in downtown Fremont. January hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman