Platte Pointe Beach, looking North to Sleeping Beat Dunes
Platte Point Beach, looking North to Sleeping Bear Dunes

By MIKE NORTON Go ahead, hate me -- I live at the beach. Well, across the street from it, anyway. But one of the great things about living in Traverse City is that you don't just have to go to the same beach every day. Sometimes you like to mix things up a little. On Sunday, Karen, Liz and I took Karen's sister Sue over to Platte Point Beach at the mouth of the Platte River - mainly because this is the place where Karen and her family used to camp when the two of them were little girls, and I think it's where they fell in love with northern Michigan for the first time. It's easy to see why - for a kid, it's the perfect combination: beautiful water, sand and sky, plus a built-in waterpark where the Platte River rushes down between gravelly sand hills to Lake Michigan, and everybody loves to float down on the warm green water, then turn around and run upstream to do it all over again. It was a beautiful day out on Platte Bay looking north to the Empire Bluffs and the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and southward to Point Betsie. The river was filled with people on tubes and in kayaks, and one enormous fur-trading canoe powered by a group of historic re-enactors dressed as 18th century voyageurs. (They actually took that big vessel out onto the lake, with the fleur-de-lis flag of royal France snapping bravely in the wind behind them.)

Karen, Liz and Sue Wading Back up the River
Karen, Liz and Sue Wading Back up the River

I wandered southward for a few miles along the most deserted beach I've been on all summer, and in my inimitable way, I managed to turn an hour-long walk into a three-hour adventure by trying to take a shortcut through the woods. (I was NOT lost!) But it certainly whetted my appetite and took away the guilt of the de rigueur stop at Moomer's for ice cream on the way home. Hey, speaking of food, this Friday is the second annual Paella in the Park event put on by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula -- an evening of great food, wine and music down at Clinch Park on the West Bay waterfront! Each of the seven WOMP wineries is paired with a local chef who creates his/her own variation on paella, the classic Spanish rice/seafood dish over an open fire by the marina in three 36-inch pans..

Dishing up the Yummies at Paella in the Park
Dishing up the Yummies at Paella in the Park

Last year's inaugural event, which featured music from Blues Traveler, brought a sold-out crowd of 2,000, and this summer's P in the P promises to be even bigger - the acts include Cherry Poppin' Daddies (the neo-swing group known for "Zoot Suit Riot,") Groupo Ayé, a 10-piece Cuban salsa band, and Hoots And Hellmouth, a mix of rockabilly and funk. On Saturday, dozens of classic boats will be lined up along the Boardman River for Boats on the Boardwalk, an annual judged show sponsored by the Water Wonderland Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. It doesn't cost anything to walk along the banks of the river and check out those beautiful old watercraft -- high-powered mahogany runabouts, hydroplanes, outboards, vintage engines, powered launches, wooden canoes, and rowboats. And there's live music and food, too. Can it be Fair Week already? Yes, it is! Saturday is the opening day for the Northwestern Michigan Fair. In spite of our pretensions to sophistication, this is still a pretty rural area, and the fair is a powerful reminder with all its exhibits, competitions, 4-H livestock shows, grandstand events, truck races -- and the barn dance. My kids always loved going through the 4-H exhibit areas to check out the chickens and sheep and rabbits and other critters. Stay tuned - there's a lot of great events coming up later in the month, and September is not to be believed!