More Ice, More Exploring

There’s more snow above that mailbox than there is below.
laughable mailbox

Yep, that’s a lot of snow. Our inland lakes are frozen, with the snow on top forming drifts, and over half of Lake Michigan is frozen. Some days it seems like a featureless landscape, and fighting off ye olde seasonal affective disorder can be a chore. Normally, we’d just jaunt off to go skiing, but our schedules have been less flexible lately, and it has been cold. Thus, when the clouds part to reveal the blue sky they’ve been concealing, we go adventuring.

…And because it’s still winter in northern Michigan, sometimes the clouds swallow the sky right back up as we’re on our way for a hike. Too late, though; we were already on our way, so along we went, to the mouth of the Platte River. Our dearth of moving water meant that we appreciated the short stretches of exposed river wending its way into Lake Michigan’s icy expanses.

Tony, Petey and I meandered along the beach (there was sand to walk on in places – sand!) and then scampered out onto the near parts of the ice shelf for our weekend explorations. Occasional peeks of the sun added a touch of drama to the sky to compliment the ice formations.

After a bit, we headed south to check out the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse. We were there just before Christmas, reveling in the blue waters despite our constant grey skies. Yesterday revealed a different scene. Ice stretches nearly to the horizon; from the top of the dune, you can just make out a hint of open water.

It’s a surreal thing, absorbing the beauty and irony of a lighthouse perched above a giant frozen lake. This lighthouse is always a favorite, but I particularly love how the ice near the shore retains its characteristic teal color.

Not long after we left Pt. Betsie, lake effect snow again blew in, blotting out any color in the sky. With a projected high of 6F tomorrow, I am ever more grateful for the ability to take spontaneous refreshing, recharging trips on the weekend. I hope you’re recharged for the week ahead.

Skiing Weekend Getaway – or How to Be the Coolest Aunt and Uncle Ever

A little after 10:00 on Sunday evening I got a text message from my sister asking if we had made it home. We hadn’t, quite, but were nearly there after a journey down to Ann Arbor and back. “The boys are worn out an in bed,” she said. “They should be!” I said. And I wasn’t kidding. Also, so were we. Continue reading

Baby It’s Cold Outside

The weather behaved a bit atypically on Thanksgiving Day. We enjoyed mid-sixties, albeit with quite a bit of wind – downright balmy by Up North standards. By the end of the day, though, things were cooling off, and the sky was dropping flakes by 9am Friday – about four hours earlier than predicted. Mom and Dad took a break in da U.P. from our renovation while the tile sets, and ended up in a blinding snow for their troubles. They’re back now, and Mom has taken over my kitchen, not following the soup recipe she has pulled up, but making dinner, so I am not complaining one bit. Continue reading

A Falls-less Fallsville

After work this afternoon, mom and I wound our way over to the Fallsville Wildlife Area. I could be making this up, but the area is named, presumably, after the waterfalls formed when the Clear Creek cascades over a 15-foot drop. Or it does in non-drought-at-the-end-of-August. I’ve been there when there’s water in the creek, and the falls are a beautiful surprise amidst the area’s usual pastoral scenery.

Mom and I simply enjoyed hiking the dry creek bed this time. Much of the exposed rock was so dry that the normally slippery algae was instead a dry crust. The area still held unexpected beauty; more leaves than I had expected were tinged with gold, and the very occasional breeze whispered through them, providing a nice soundtrack where the falls failed.

At the beginning of our descent into the falls area, I tried to spy another, easier way down to the falls. (Remember – my mom just had that surgery, regaining her ability to for-real-walk back in June.) She hopped down  – a drop of about five feet in a tight, rocky crevice – and beckoned. Well, obviously I was underestimating her (sorry Mom!).

We clambered over rocky outcroppings and tumbled stones, until the puddles of creek disappeared from view. Despite the heat and sweat dripping down my back (thanks, camera bag), we had a great time. I’m pretty sure we’ll go back to shopping for our “girl time” when the weather worsens, but it’s great to get out for a brief hike together again!

I love you Mom. Please forgive my use of this picture that I also love :)

Snorkeling for Lunch

Do you remember back in June when Tony and I went out in search of a future dive site? Today during lunch we went back there – the Petobego Natural Area- armed with our snorkel gear and camera. We originally learned about it from a couple of guys we met at a dive site in Northport, who described the area as having some interesting underwater sawdust-plus-sand formations.

Back in the lumbering days, there was a sawmill located on the water near Angell Road south of Elk Rapids. As a result, the sandbars that surround the current Petobego Pond are full of sawdust. As we walked along the shore, this odd mixture of sand and dust barked (very similar to the sound of H2 + O2 –> H2O in a test tube, which I know is very specific, but I did  teach high school science) with every step. I couldn’t help but barking my way along like I do on gym floors in squeaky shoes :)
Looks like sand, “pops” like burning hydrogen


We left our belongings at the edge of the water and then ventured in. We stayed within the pond since the nearby bay was rather choppy. Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the site for snorkeling/free diving. There just wasn’t much to see, although there were tons of tiny fish schooling around us. (Presumably we’d have better luck if we swam to the drop out on the bay…maybe next time.) The bottom was very soft (probably the whole ground wood meets ground stone thing), which I found a bit unnerving. Also, it kicked up into the water easily, reducing visibility.

Despite the flash accidentally being on without my noticing :( I still like the left-hand snap because the surface of the water from below looks neat – plus that sun-dappled bottom :)

But, right before we decided to hop out of the water, I spotted something I’ve never seen up here:

I’m pretty sure it’s a gar. When you’re submerged in water, you can’t exactly shout for your swim buddy. Instead, I excitedly waved my arms around in his general direction until he noticed. Unlike most fish that immediately dart away when they detect your presence, this guy languidly swam around for awhile before finally and slowly swimming away.

Note: In my attempts to verify what the guys in Northport told us, I came across some info suggesting that this place is a favorite for kiteboarders. You can get here by boat, or by walking along the shore…on private property. If you plan to visit this site via a hike in, stick to the water’s edge.