A winter escape in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; are you kidding? Most Floridians happily forgo snow shoveling, driving under treacherous road conditions and freezing rain. But the fluffy white stuff often makes the right stuff for winter fun. So, I flew to Crystal Mountain Resort near Traverse City in February to frolic in the frigid air.
I laced up cross country skis and was soon gliding along peaceful trails. Snow encrusted branches hung over the frosty landscape and sunshine sparkled through the pines. I kept warm by the constant movement of my arms and legs and rationalized the effort earned me a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
In the afternoon, I thought I’d take a shot at a new sport–paintball biathlon. I’d never fired a paintball gun before, but discovered it was rather easy. What was difficult was shushing (cross country skiing) from station to station as fast as possible, then calming the heart rate enough to aim at the target. I hardly resembled the athletes in the Winter Olympics, but sure gained a new perspective and respect of their sport.
Crystal Mountain Resort offers numerous winter activities and I did my best to try them all. I hit the downhill slopes but the chairlift ride seemed too cold for this Southern lady. Ice skating found me with wobbly ankles and I admit, I would have preferred an indoor rink.
Then, I discovered the Crystal Spa– oh my. An outdoor whirlpool blasted my circulatory system before I indulged in a calming massage. How heavenly to relax with therapeutic touch as warm aromatic oils and stones are applied to the body. Truly decadent as was food in the restaurants.
By nightfall the slopes were illuminated, creating a mystical aura. Snow tubing looked like a hoot but I chose to watch, pretending I was a parent observing my kids. A late evening walk took me by cute rental cottages with icicles dangling from the roofs.
Dogsledding? You bettcha. I became Nanook of the North being pulled by magnificent canines who howled and begged to run. Once they took off, the huskies quieted, content at doing what they love. Fortunately, the owner rode along and instructed me to lean in or out of the sled to balance it over the course.
I didn’t have time for snowmobiling or snowboarding, although they remain popular options in Michigan. Instead, I made a road trip to local wineries. Yes, they’re open in the winter and the view from the top of the Old Mission Peninsula was worth the drive — striking clear blue water in Grand Bay abutting white covered fields. Fabulous wine, too.
I reckon I can honestly recommend leaving Florida and submerging yourself in the snow– for up to a week. Then return to the Sunshine State and you’ll appreciate the glorious weather even more.
If you go:
Crystal Mountain Resort
12500 Crystal Mountain Drive
Thompsonville, MI 49683
800 968 7686