October 11, give or take a few days, is the peak of fall in Northern Michigan—the capsheaf of the season. Today my mom, brother’s family and I toured M-119 from Harbor Springs to Cross Village along Lake Michigan bluffs, and up to Sturgeon Bay, one of Michigan’s best beaches. M-119, also called the “Tunnel of Trees,” is unassuming, no curbs, no painted lines, and few houses. It’s also rated one of the best motorcycle roads in America.
On the return to Petoskey, we drove the straight Pleasantville road. There was a predominance of maples and their stark reds even trumped the Tunnel of Trees. Pleasantville passes by the ski resorts of Nubs Nob and Boyne Highlands. We passed by the entrance to Nubs where I skied every winter of my youth. I asked to turn around; I have rarely seen the hill without snow.
My brother Mark began running up the slope and his daughter followed suit; I was barefoot and slipped on my flip flops. Gertrude, his King Charles, beat us to the top. On the last day of every ski season, Smokey was my last run. On skis I knew the contours intimately and they returned to me, though with an undiscovered touch.