The road to our own personal ‘Tour de Leelanau’ started, in a grand sense, around the summer solstice, when we and our bikes pedaled out of the Chicago area with the intention, like so many others, of getting ‘out to the country’ to celebrate the warm months. Earlier, in the spring, while living and working in Los Angeles, we used a program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) to get in contact with a number of farmers situated up and down the western coast of your great state.

We need to rebirth train travel here in Michigan. The rails and the back lots are still here. And the will to do so is emerging thanks to the leadership of the local Groundwork Center (formerly the Michigan Land Use Institute). They have a plan to connect Traverse City to Ann Arbor, with stops in Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant, Alma, Owosso, and Howell. This is a great idea. Let’s all spread the re-appearing railroad news. Here are some details from the Groundwork Center:

Empire resident Ella Skrocki returned from Nepal just weeks before the tragic earthquake struck. She wrote the story “Nepal in our hearts and minds” for Skrocki is an organizer of a fundraiser on May 14 at The Remedy cafe in Traverse City, from 4-7 p.m. The event will benefit Nepali earthquake victims. Guests will be treated to Nepali cuisine, live music by local artists, a slideshow of Skrocki’s experiences, and before and after images of impacted areas.

Empire native Ella Skrocki recently returned from Nepal. She writes these words following the terrible earthquake on Saturday that has claimed the lives of thousands. “After the network in Nepal came back this morning, I finally was able to get through to Angnima, the mentor I lived with for two months while studying in Nepal’s rural villages. Angnima was hit by falling rock while fleeing Langtang as the trees and land caved in around him. He and the rest of “our” family is alive.”

When dolphins wash up on shore in significant numbers, we suspect there’s something wrong happening in the ocean. It’s just not what we expect. It’s not a natural phenomenon. We may not know what it is exactly, but we guess that, whatever’s happening, however unknown or unknowable to us, it’s got to be about more than dolphins simply taking a notion. Why don’t we have the same common sense intuition about the children at the U.S.-Mexican border?

We are talking, together, in common and without apparent hierarchy, about the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s idea of the good. We are talking seriously about what it means to seek the good, to live the good life, to address Aristotle’s question on the purpose of being human. I am in Aspen, but all this is making me think about things in Michigan.

A wander through the doors of Ann Derrick’s Glen Arbor Botanicals gallery can produce exquisite results, but not many suspect that a purchase within those doors can change a life. Derrick, who together with husband Brendan Burrows, owns the Good Harbor Grill and the Pine Cone ice cream shop west of Glen Arbor’s main intersection, spend their winters sailing the Caribbean. It is there that they discovered an island and its people, along with a story and a mission that struck their core.

You don’t really know where you’re from until you’ve been somewhere else and come back. That’s because anything is only itself in relationship to some other thing. A day is only a day in relationship to the night. An apple stands for every fruit until you’ve tasted a mangosteen. America isn’t America until you’ve been to El Salvador.

Cedar’s Polka Fest isn’t the only Polish attraction in these woods. The Duneswood Resort along M-109, and right on the popular new leg of the Sleeping Hear Heritage Trail, is a hit with Poles from Detroit and Chicago, and even Warsaw and Krakow. Owner Debbie Rettke began displaying a Polish flag along M-109 last summer because she had employees from the central European nation. Lo and behold, people began pulling off the road to ask her (she recalled in a pronounced Polish accent), “What do you have my flag here for?”

On June 7, actor Ramón Rodríguez was Leelanau School’s youngest ever commencement speaker—by far—and perhaps the one most likely to connect with the senior class, many of whom already knew him on television and on social media. In May, the New York Times wrote of Rodríguez’s “rakish good looks”; a couple days before returning to Glen Arbor he appeared on Conan, and agreed to send more ladies Conan’s way if the late-night talk show host would help the actor get more followers on Twitter.