…well, not quite the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine (apologies to Shel Silverstein), but the cover of the Leland Report website (October 16 edition), for the second time no less. And it’s because of a dog.
The dog in question is Biscuit, companion of the fellow who started the Leland Report, Keith Burnham. More on Biscuit later. I have been visiting Leelanau County in northern Michigan, along with the town of Leland, for 35 years now, since I first met my friend Keith Lowe in Ann Arbor while at university. His family has a cottage near Leland and my first visit was in late September of 1978. I doubt that I looked at a school book all weekend.
Back then I was wearing a fairly new pair of Richard Pontvert “Galibier” model hiking boots, which I mentioned a few posts back. I could not recall the name of the outdoors store in Ann Arbor where I bought them back in 1977. But my friend Keith remembered, probably because he grew up there. It was The Bivouac, which is a great name for an outdoors shop. By golly, it’s still located at the same place, on State Street at the famous Nichols Arcade. Just looked at it on Google street view and it seems bigger than I recall, grow or die, I guess. Here are the boots, just the other day at the Empire Bluffs lookout over Lake Michigan:
We’re here for a week this time, watching the leaves turn colors as autumn progresses and hiking many trails of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan State Parks, and property owned by the Leelanau Conservancy.
Beauty everywhere you look, except for my grizzled hiking partners. They likely have the same opinion. The hiking squad is me (recently retired from 32 years of IT support in the Southern California aerospace industry), Keith (a biotech research scientist at Pioneer Hi-Bred in Iowa), Tom (a state lobbyist in Iowa and a friend of Keith), and John (another friend of Keith from university who actually lives relatively close to me near Los Angeles and is a lawyer with an independent practice).
Oh yes, Biscuit. I first met Biscuit virtually, on the Leland Report website. Never expected to actually meet him in person, or his human. But when I was visiting here four years ago, on our way to Peterson Park north of Leland, I was telling my fellow travelers in the van about Biscuit and the Leland Report. None of them, not even Keith, whose family owns the vacation home, had ever heard of either. We pulled into the park, overlooking Lake Michigan and the islands in the lake, unloaded from the van, and goodness, there was Biscuit on a walk with Keith Burnham. We all got to meet Biscuit, chat with Mr. Burnham, and got our picture with Biscuit on the cover of the Leland Report.
Yesterday was a rainy one during most of our waking hours, so we drove to Leland to wander about Fishtown and have a refreshing hoppy beverage at the Cove Restaurant. We walked around a corner on the docks of Fishtown, and goodness, there was Biscuit and his companion Mr. Burnham. We visited with them for 30 minutes and made it on the cover of the Leland Report once again. Fame… so fleeting. Here is Biscuit on the docks at Fishtown in Leland (image courtesy of Thomas Fey)
Here is a gallery of photos from our hikes (click on any image to pop a slide viewer):
As much as I love visiting here and appreciate the natural beauty, I have always had a feeling of melancholy when I am here. Perhaps because my time here has always been limited, mostly long weekends or short vacations, and then back to work. But that feeling is not as strong this time, and I’m speculating that it’s because I’m retired now from my job – I can come here any time I want and stay as long as I want. I could even buy a property here and move in. Oooh, but it gets chilly in the winter…
I’ve been doing all of the dinner cooking during our visit, which the other guys are happy to let me do. They clean up after, and provide the beverages. One such beverage is a bottle of Templeton rye whisky, from Templeton, Iowa. Apparently, Templeton rye whisky has a storied history as the favorite of Al Capone during the prohibition era. It is quite satisfying, if you enjoy whisky. Here is our empty bottle
Being that this blog is supposed to be about cycling, there is a curious tie-in between Templeton rye whisky and cycling. Back in 2010 I was spending a week-long working vacation with the United Healthcare pro cycling team during the Tour of California. I was an “assistant manager”, but really just a glorified gofer. Tom Ritchey, who is pretty well known in the cycling business (recently inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame), was one of the team sponsors, and I had a chance to meet him during the final stage in Thousand Oaks.
Here is a pic of him with his wife and a couple of pals, as well as an image of the TR logo that is embossed on some of the components he manufactures. Compare that logo to the TR logo on the neck of the Templeton rye whiskey bottle. Hmmmmm, I wonder if Mr. Ritchey drinks whiskey.