Food, Michigan

Away From The Fray

Our annual mother/daughter quest for fabulous food and beautiful beaches took us to Traverse City, Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.

First stop: The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, chock full of gorgeous vistas:

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At one “get out and look around” point, we came across a couple enjoying a peaceful afternoon, perched in lawn chairs high above the fray. That’s the life.

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Traverse City sits at the base of the east and west arms of Grand Traverse Bay with Mission Peninsula dividing them. We had a lovely view with dinner at The Mission Table, located half way up the 18 mile peninsula:

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Traverse City bustles in the summer, but just outside of town, nestled among trees on a peaceful 63 acre campus, is The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.  The Village is a renovation of dozens of historic buildings that were once the Traverse City State Hospital, previously known as the Northern Michigan Asylum.

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Dr. Munson, the first director of the hospital, was a firm believer in “beauty as therapy”.  The hospital had its own greenhouses which provided flowers year ‘round and patients were encouraged to walk in the beauty of their surroundings.  Everyone was treated with kindness and dignity.  There were no straight jackets or drugs.  My daughter noted that the place did not feel at all creepy.  Perhaps due to the kind vibe.

Dr. Munson also believed in “work as therapy” and thus  the hospital had its own farm.  Patients were given meaningful work and a sense of purpose through farming, canning and furniture making – all of which kept the hospital self-sufficient.

The hospital opened in 1885 and closed in 1989.  It was designated a historical site in 1985 and renovation into shops, restaurants and housing began in 2000.

This little village, nestled near and away from the bustling Traverse City fray was the find of our trip. We took coffee and refuge from a thunderstorm at Higher Grounds.

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We dodged raindrops as we ran next door for a breakfast burrito.

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And then grabbed cheesecake for later.

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Trying to get what looked like amazing pizza was a roller coaster of emotions.  We came across a flier that said the bakery did pizza Wednesday through Sunday.  “Great,” we said on Sunday morning, “we’ll do pizza tonight!”  But a peek at the website Sunday afternoon threatened our only opportunity.  “The bakery closes at 6?  How can they do pizza if they close at 6?”  We were truly bummed.  As we walked downtown a bit later, my brilliant daughter suggested we check the flier posted at the downtown Pleasanton Cafe.  “Yay!  Pizza until 9 pm! At the hospital grounds.” The flier said so.  With mouths watering and hearts hopeful, we drove to the hospital grounds in anticipation of a great culinary find. Alas, the locked doors and abandoned parking lot at 8 pm revealed that they lie.  We hated them.

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But being forgiving sorts, we returned Tuesday morning for breakfast treats before heading out of town.

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Forgiveness tastes really good.

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