Let’s Ride!

It’s January, the month where people in places with climates like we have here in northern Michigan start dreaming of warmer weather, talking of things we did last summer, getting ideas of things to do this coming summer. Winter is in full effect, still a lot of snow sports to keep us entertained, whether that would be downhill or cross country skiing at Shanty Creek Resorts, Boyne Mountain, or one of the other ski resorts in the area, snow shoeing in one of the natural areas, ice fishing on the lakes, or hitting the trails on the snowmobiles. Whatever winter activities a person is into, we are truly blessed.

For many, “let’s ride” this time of year means jumping on the sleds and riding the trails, which from here in Antrim County will take you all over northern Michigan on hundreds of miles of groomed trails. For the rest of us, it means dreaming about riding our motorcycles in the warmer times. Get together with biker friends on a cold mid winter night and the conversation will usually turn to the great and not so great rides of summers past, and the places we would like to ride this year.

As much as we are blessed with all that winter has to offer, I feel like we are even more so when it comes to our riding opportunities, living in Central Lake Mi., right in the heart of all that northwest Mi has to offer, some of the prettiest roads you will find anywhere. Leelanau wine country, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore (Prettiest Place in America according to Good Morning America), Mackinac City, The Tunnel of Trees, Lakes Michigan and Huron, not to mention all the beautiful inland lake routes. all these places within a couple hour ride from Central Lake.

I have riders come here from out of town that I take on mini-tours a few times a year. Every one of them have come back year after year, telling me this is their favorite place to ride. It does make it a little better that I know a lot of the routes that wont show up on a regular tour map that seems to keep everyone on the main roads, there is so much more to see off the beaten path.

If you are looking for a great place to spend a few days riding this summer, or if you are part of a group looking to find a new place to hold an annual get together, you’re gonna be hard pressed to find a better location than Antrim County, specifically Central Lake Michigan, in northern Antrim County.Image

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That Time of Year!

Well, here we go again. The Shanty Creek Resort is back in full swing with the runs open, lots of powder, and as if Mother Nature hasn’t been kind enough, the guns are adding to what is falling naturally. We’ve already had over 3 feet of the natural stuff this season, with good temps to keep it here, add in what is being made and you have some awesome skiing, boarding, & tubing conditions.

With its location in Antrim County, just thirty minutes from Traverse City, Petoskey, and Gaylord, Shanty Creek is in the heart of all that is this Winter Wonderland of Northern Michigan. As if the great skiing wasn’t enough, add in places in town like Short’s Brewery, Lulu’s Bistro, Toonies, The lakeside Grill, and Pelican Nest, you can also find world class dining right in the town of Bellaire, where the resort is located, not to mention all the other places to visit while in the area.

With all the area has to offer, mortgage rates at historic lows, and prices of homes and condos still at good prices, for the buyer anyway, this is a real good time to think about purchasing that second home, or maybe that retirement condo, or even a vacant piece of property to build that dream home on.

That’s the real beauty of the area. Sure, the winter sports scene is about as good as you’re gonna find anywhere, Antrim County is a truly four season paradise. Summer offers some of the best boating, kayaking, motorcycling, fishing, camping, pretty much whatever you want to do in the warm months. Fall colors are incredible here, with roads that are second to none for those color tours.

If you’re thinking it’s time to start enjoying the splendor of Northern Michigan like a local, there’s never been a better time than right now, and there is nowhere better than Northern Antrim County!

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I have Found Me A Home

Well, it’s officially that time of year again. The sweet sounds of big bore V-twin road bikes, and one lung dirt bikes are being replaced by the high pitched sound of two-stroke snowmobiles. The morning sound of the birds singing in the trees replaced by sounds of snow blowers, and plows scraping. The sweet aroma of backyard barbecues are gone, making way for the wonderful (at least to some of us), fragrance of oak, maple, and other hardwoods coming from chimneys. All that was green, then red, yellow, and orange, is now white.  Opening day of rifle season has come and gone, people are still out there hunting, but not the big story anymore.                                                                                                       Now we are getting our focus on the Holidays. Christmas decorations are starting to be seen, little Christmas music on the radio, lots of Christmas recipes being put on Facebook and the like. It truly is a great time of year.  This week had something else though. Thanksgiving. That one day of the year when we are supposed to give thanks for what we have. Not that we shouldn’t do that everyday, this is a day set aside to specifically to do just that, remind us that we all have something to be thankful for. I read, and listen to all the responses of folks when asked what it is that they give thanks for. Family, friends, health, food,..All  great things to be thankful for, and I agree. But I also read other things that show me I have something many apparently don’t have. A place I want to be. All the time. A town I love being in, a region where I really don’t have any reason to leave.                 One of the subjects I enjoy reading is the travel blogs. It is kind of interesting seeing all the beautiful pictures of the faraway places. Once in awhile I come across a story or a picture of somewhere I have been it brings back memories.  The diving and sailing in the Caribbean, the motorcycling over the Continental Divide, & so many others.                             What it really drives home to me though is how lucky I am that I live in a place now that I really don’t care about traveling from.  Where once I found myself looking for somewhere to go to “get away from it all”, now I just look around at all the beautiful things we have here in Antrim County, Mi. and think, why would I want to go anywhere? Sure a dive trip to Cozumel in Feb. or March always sounds good, or just anywhere warm, but usually some local event in our small community of Central Lake comes up, and sounds even better.           I guess after all is said and done, I have found that being with true friends doing things like going to watch school kids put on their Spring program somehow trumps a week in the warmth of the little latitudes.  I spent more years than I like to admit searching for that rainbow, traveling and moving around, and I’m glad I got to see most of what I did see.    My only regret is that I didn’t discover this place sooner.

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central lake winter sunset

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Hot Cars And Cool Homes

Reading a couple articles this morning got me to thinking about the parallels between the marketing of homes and cars, from a seasonal value perspective, at least here in the Northern Michigan resort areas.                                                                                                        If you pay attention to the vehicle market at all, specifically the late model used vehicles, you will find a huge  difference in value in certain genres of the market. Sporty cars, Mustangs, Corvettes, SL series and the like, and luxury brands, Cadillacs, Mercedes, etc. see a huge spike in the spring months, then fall off considerably after July. Trucks & SUV’s start their climb in August, and start their decline in January. When you are talking about cars like the SL series, Porsches, even Corvettes, and certain Mustangs (think Shelby models), these spikes can be thousands of dollars, in a span of only a few months.                It has always amazed me why if you were gonna make a purchase, especially of a big ticket item that you were planning to enjoy for at least a few years, why you would you buy it during the high market.

Same can be said about the Real Estate market, at least in areas like ours here in Antrim County here Michigan. While summer is the prime time for the market for selling homes & condos here, many owners go as far as just taking them off the market come October/November due to inactivity, knowing they will put them back up for sale in the spring when the prices come back up.

One article I read was how it is now possible to get 30 year mortgages under 3%. The other was about how home prices have been steadily increasing for the past year, and analysts are predicting that trend to continue.                                                                                   With Fall & Winter come the soft markets, just as in sporty cars, making this time of year the best time to buy that resort or lake property, and unlike the cars, just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the property right away, or even start offsetting the cost of ownership by putting it in one of the rental programs. Condos & homes in The Shanty Creek Resorts, with the excellent skiing, both downhill & cross country trails, and access to the snowmobile trail system, still experience the softer prices, but not quite as much as homes on lakes such as Torch, Bellaire & Michigan that don’t have those amenities right outside your door.

If I had the desire to Buy a Shelby GT500,  Mopar SRT,  Corvette etc., I would try real hard to buy it now, in the “soft market”. Save a whole lot of money and instead of spending half the spring and early summer shopping for a decent deal, and I could start using it as soon as weather permits. Why should a resort home be any different? The fact that I wouldn’t have to wait for warm weather to enjoy it with family and friends, and with cheap interest rates it might make more sense than that Shelby, and in many cases more affordable. Now is the time to buy in Northern Michigan.

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Torch lake

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That Time of Year Again

Well, like it or not, it’s that time of year again. Time to put away all the summer & even fall things away. For some this means getting the boat winterized, maybe the dock pulled out and all that goes with that, for others, like myself, it means getting the motorcycle put away and the kayaks stored away. As I do these end of season chores I think about how I wished I could’ve gotten in a few more rides, a few more trips down the river. But, it was a good year overall, and there’s always next season, and it gives me time to get the bike in shape for next year.

As much as I will miss the warm weather activities, winter brings its own kinda fun, at least when you’re lucky enough to live somewhere like Antrim County Michigan, where I live. While we have some of the best boating, on lakes like Bellaire, Torch, Michigan, and so many others, including the Chain of Lakes, beautiful rivers for kayaking, Jordan, Cedar, and Grass, and highways & back country roads that are second to none for exploring by motorcycle, or any vehicle for that matter, with everything to see, from coastlines to vineyards, farms and just cool little towns, we also have some of the best places for winter activities also. If skiing is your thing, we have The Shanty Creek Resorts, which includes Schuss Mtn., and it’s just a short drive to Boyne Mtn., and many miles of beautiful cross country trails. Maybe you like snowmobiling, with access from Antrim County, you can go pretty much anywhere in Northern Michigan on the trail system, across the state, to Grayling, to Mackinac and the Upper Peninsula. It’s a great system, some of it DNR, some private, but all good.

Another pastime that is gaining in popularity here is snowshoeing. I just tried it last year for the first time, and I’m hooked. Those great hiking trails I have enjoyed for so many summers take on a whole new look & feel when covered in snow. Some of the views you don’t see because of the leaves on trees become an amazing vista in the winter.

With a central location, Antrim County also offers an easy drive or ride to places like Charlevoix, Petoskey, Gaylord, and Traverse City. Good food, from fast food, bar food & family dining, to fine dining can be found here. Places to stay, from cottage rentals and mom and pop motels, to upscale resort rooms with fireplaces and hot tubs are available.

No matter what winter activities you’re into, from snowmobiling to skiing, or just sitting around a cozy fire with family and friends, there really is no better place to enjoy the season than Antrim County Michigan. A truly four season paradise.

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Just Something Special About This Place.

It’s that time of year again, the sad time of thinking about putting away the motorcycle, the kayaks, and all the other things that bring me so much pleasure during the warmer months. As seasons go, this summer & early fall was just so-so as far as weather goes to be honest, but still was good enough to get in some good rides around this beautiful part of the country, and some good paddling in the lakes & rivers. Actually, it’s kinda nice to float down the Jordan River on a nice 70 degree day, as opposed to baking in the sun when it’s 90. Same with the biking, there’s a lot to be said about enjoying the Tunnel of Trees, Mackinac City, Leelanau, Peninsula, The National Cherry Festival, Alpenfest, The Breezeway, and all the other great rides we have available to us lucky enough to live here, without being cooked when we stop.

While there is so many things to do in the summer here in Antrim County, Mi., from world class golfing, the best lakes for whatever kind of water sports you, are into, Lake Michigan offers great wreck diving, big water fishing, excellent sailing, with top notch marina facilities all along the coast. So many inland lakes, with Torch Lake being the real jewel of the area. with 41 miles of shoreline, and a color of turquoise that you really have to see to believe, and the rivers for fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or just enjoying them from one of the many hiking & biking trails.

As hard as it is to say goodbye to all that for awhile, we get to enjoy all the great things that Fall & Winter brings to this area. The Fall colors that are amazing, deer hunting that rivals pretty much anywhere, and of course the annual ritual of getting the Winter toys ready. There’s just something special about getting the snowmobile ready, planning out some trips and just talking sleds with other riders. Or getting the skis & equipment out & ready to hit The Shanty Creek Resort, or Boyne Mountain, or any of the many ski resorts that are close by, or the many cross country ski trails. Or the snow shoes, or the ice shanty’s, whatever your favorite winter past time, we pretty much got it covered.

Yup, just something special about living in Northwest Michigan. A truly four-season paradise. Nowhere I’d rather be.

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Best Motorcycling is Found Right Here!

I’ve been blessed, at least from a motorcyclist’s perspective. I have had the opportunity to ride in some of the best road biking routes in America to some of the greatest trails and off road places. From Colorado’s Million Dollar Hwy (rte 550), and The San Juan Mtns (where they hold the Colorado 500 dirtbike run annually), The Ozarks in Missouri & Arkansas, The old rte from Mobile, Al to Panama City, Fl. and so many more. All of them very nice rides in their own right, Each offering a little something different.

When it comes to the very best all around motorcycling, be it trail riding, dirtbikes, or road riding & touring, I have found nothing better than Northern Michigan. With some of the best trail systems in the country, and the most scenic routes for the weekend warrior, or the most avid touring biker, this place has it all. It’s pretty evident that other bikers are feeling the same way, as on a typical summer weekend, you see license plate from all over the U.S., not just the midwest.

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