The closest I’ve come to actually cross country skiing lately was watching the winter Olympics last year from the comfort of my warm and cozy living room, and that was only because I had misplaced the TV remote for a few minutes. It was then that I also confirmed that cross country skiing is a sport that you can get tired from just watching. So, the other night I suggested to my wife Brenda a visit to Fitzgerald Park, a hidden gem for winter recreational activity located in Grand Ledge. She looked at me with the astonishment of someone witnessing their children’s first steps. Nestled on the banks of the Grand River, Fitzgerald Park hosts evening cross country skiing and snowshoe treks under the stars on illuminated trails called night fests. There are approximately two miles of illuminated trails that follow a mostly flat, forested trek on groomed trails. When it comes to trails, flat is a good thing and since two miles can seem long in a car, I was pleased to discover this route easy going. We followed a groomed trail and were transported into a serene and captivating environment along the heavily wooded trail. The tranquil sound of a snowy winter’s evening was a welcome contrast to the noisy world we live in. With the glow from the torches and the evening stars lighting the way, we closed our eyes and felt transported “Up North”— yet here we were only minutes from downtown Lansing. Once off the snowy trail we dug deep, summoned the energy and drove the short distance back into town and rewarded ourselves with dinner. It’s amazing to witness how the human spirit can be aroused when food and wine are used as motivation. We stopped into Cugino’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Grand Ledge, which specializes in pizza and offers quite an extensive menu of sandwiches and Italian entrees. After accomplishing this Nordic adventure together, and still talking with one another using our inside voices, we are ready for whatever our next challenge may bring. We sat at a table near the fireplace and contemplated where our next journey will take us. That night it took us to unique and fun places that, once seen, can seem hours away but in reality are right next door. Take your better half on an outdoor wintery adventure. All the equipment you need can be rented at the park office. $5 per person, per hour will get you boots, skis and poles; $2 per hour with your own equipment. Check out February night fests 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 – 5 and Friday and Saturday Feb. 18 – 19. For more info www.eatoncountyparks.org or 517-627-7351. Plan your next date night at Cugino’s in downtown Grand Ledge. For more information visit www.cuginosmenu.com or call 517-627-4048.
Pete Ruffing is the Sales Director at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. He and his wife of 14 years Brenda live in Okemos.