Out of the Storms and into the Other Storms

Since we last talked, Tony and I decided to sell our house, and we took a trip to Ohio. If you’re really interested in details, I’m happy to share, but the short version is: we want to live closer to where we seem to spend all of our time when we’re not inside the house. Obviously, working up to that decision and then prepping for selling has taken up much of the time that we weren’t visiting family in Ohio. So, that’s where I’ve been whilst neglecting this blog.

But you’re here for adventures, right? The weather has been rather stormy for summer in northern Michigan, with far more rainy days that we’re accustomed to. We’ve taken to scheduling outdoor activities during brief periods that we don’t expect inclement weather rather than just days of outdoor fun.

Initially, Saturday afternoon looked like a great time to take a trip up to Wilderness State Park with Jess, Jim, and Jackson. But then Saturday arrived, bringing a long string of storms to plague the Tip of the Mitt at least through the evening. Tossing that idea in File 13, Jess suggested we look south to a shipwreck we had both recently learned about.

Frankfort beach hike

We all arrived at the beach south of Frankfort to a lovely, sunny stretch of mostly empty beach. Winds blasted the shore, whipping Lake Michigan into an ocean-like fury – beautiful, but with lots of rip currents. Not great for swimming, but terrific for a beach hike.

Frankfort beach hike-2

Unfortunately, clouds darkened the sky just a couple minutes into our trek, threatening rain with each additional step. We were a determined group, though, so we pushed on. However, a few of us might have been wishing for less summery clothes.

Frankfort beach hike-3

Happily, the ship’s remains rested a short distance down the beach. We marveled at the size of the old boat, and wondered about its past.

Curiosity sated (well, only regarding the shipwreck’s appearance), we turned back north with hopes of returning to our cars before the weather really got ugly.

Frankfort beach hike-13

Jackson might say otherwise, but the hike back was more comfortable thanks to the wind on our backs instead of our faces.

I even took a few moments to linger with some exposed beach grass roots, appreciating their anti-erosion effects.

Frankfort beach hike-15As often is the case, the trek back seemed shorter than the journey there. Once more at our trailhead, we were all grateful for the warmth found a few steps up and away from the water – not least of all Jackson, who quickly returned to his happy, talkative self.

Not only did we make it safely back, but we also took the clouds away from the beach with us: the sun reappeared before we got back on the main highway. Such is life…and such is life Up North that we all stopped at a different beach after dinner to enjoy some funtime in the sunshine. And if I can get it together, I’ll share some photos from that soon :)

Edit: A quick Google search reveals some interesting info about the 1886 shipwreck of the Schooner Marinette.

Four Years In, Discovering New Places

After living in and exploring northern Michigan for the past four years, you’d think we’d have found all the cool local public access places. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t think that, but I would. Or I would if we didn’t keep finding “new” ones. This weekend, in a bid to continue our reclusivity, Tony looked for some nearby coastal green on Google Maps – you know, that indicator on a map identifying a public place. Thus, we discovered the Wilcox-Palmer-Shah Nature Preserve. Rolls right off the tongue ;)

This 41-acre preserve sits just north of Elk Rapids, and features a lovely stretch of sandy shoreline. On a less windy day, or on a year with lower lake water levels, the beach might be a great place to spread a blanket and enjoy the afternoon. Instead, since there are no amenities beyond the boardwalk at the entrance, it simply makes a great place to hang for a while. Probably for the best as far as conservation is concerned.

Some of the details I enjoyed. You can choose your favorite, or not. I won’t judge.

We stuck to the trails and beach as requested, but we did let Petey off-leash (shame on us) for some water time. I think we were still within the spirit of conservation and respect: there was no one else at the preserve, and he only left the sandy shores to fetch his stick out of the bay.

Energizer Petey eventually tired of fetch, so we leashed him and hiked out. To satisfy our pizza craving. For a second dinner. Hey, I didn’t judge you earlier, so you just be kind ;)

Fourth of July in Pictures…and a Rant

Independence Day is a big celebration Up North. Not that it isn’t everywhere, but the weekend of July 4th really marks the true beginning of Tourist Season. Thankfully, this worst part of the season lasts just a few days. I nearly put worst in quotation marks above, but then thought more honestly about it.

Warning: I’m going to be all crankipants for a moment, so if you’d like, just skip to the next bit below. Although I am somewhat of a hermit, I genuinely don’t hate tourists. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. I am not sure what happens to people on this weekend each year, but it’s deeply unpleasant. Our sleepy, ultra-rural area turns into something akin to Panama City Beach during spring break. The roads around the south end of Torch Lake are lined in both direction with cars, and throngs of mostly young drunk people roam in the road barefoot carrying coolers. And if they just partied and kept mostly to themselves, I wouldn’t even do much more than roll my eyes (because I just cannot relate). But they don’t. Every year, I pick up piles and piles of garbage…and there are trash cans at every single public access point (where I find the litter). Sadly, it’s not just confined to the Torch River Bridge. You should see the photos of the Traverse City beaches. It looks like a garbage truck spilled over. I will just never, never, ever understand how a person can vacation at a place like this, where it must be the natural beauty that draws one here, only to behave in a way that is detrimental to its continued existence. Sigh. I will be helping with clean-up efforts, and will continue to pick up after folks who lack good sense.

Rant over.

In an effort to avoid The Fourth crowds, we headed farther north on Friday. We hiked a couple miles at the Headlands Dark Sky Park, and were nearly run off by mosquitoes. Well, I guess we were kinda run off. About a mile in, we gave up and headed back for the car (the hike we were on was optional) before rejoining the lake. The beach was open, and the winds kept the bugs at bay, so we stayed for a bit before landing on a nearly empty beach on the outskirts of Mackinaw City.

The scenery was stunning: clear skies, smooth stones, a few boulders, and copious crashing waves. Petey met a few other dogs, and splashed around in the clear water. We didn’t end up having a very close view of fireworks over the Mackinac Bridge, but the serenity and sunset more than made up for any shortcomings – which admittedly would have come from unfounded preconceived notions.

For the record: we left only footprints and took only pictures. (More of which I’ll be adding to my photography site and Facebook over the coming days)

Peachy Beach Time

Tonight after work, we were all itching for some outside time. We’ve stayed very near to home recently, making a concerted effort to cut back on thoughtless miles. (We’ll always be vagabonds to an extent, so don’t worry that we’ve suddenly become shut-ins!) Last night we took a looong walk in a nearby park, so when we considered where we might go, that was off the list. And with the clouds of marauding mosquitoes this year, the Seven Bridges were out too. Maple Bay is always a nice place, though, and it’s been a while since we were last there, so we headed thataway.


The beach is at the end of a short hike through the woods, and is normally quite pleasant. Tonight, we swatted mosquitoes the entire time, and ended up nearly running despite being in flip flops. Thankfully, they preferred the closeness of the forest to the fresh air and breezes on the beach.


Other than a couple of ladies and two children who were leaving as we arrived, we had the entire area to ourselves (which is about 3/4 of a mile according to Google Earth estimates). We waited until we left to read the signs asking you to keep your pet on a leash, and we let Petey roam. He never wandered far enough that we felt like we had to go get him, and when he meandered near private property, he listened when we called him back. He did not, however, play in the water very much. Even though we happily splashed along ankle-deep, he tried his best to keep his paws in dry sand.

I love the collection of driftwood here!


Petey trotted along busying his nose, Tony traipsed along scouting Petoskey stones, and I trekked along shooting my camera. It was incredibly peaceful and pleasant – a perfect way to relax post-work. (Can you tell I’m a touch delirious and having too much fun with alliteration?)


As sunset neared, we headed back to the car, again braving running from the mosquitoes. We’d have stayed at Maple Bay, but really didn’t want to venture through the woods in the dark. But Elk Rapids is a short drive up the road, and on our way home, so we stopped off at the Dam Beach for sunset.

We stood on the sand, waves lapping around our feet as the sun dipped below the horizon.

After the sun was gone, the sky really lit up, as it often does. And as is sometimes the case, the action was not where you’d think to look for it.
Elk River sunset

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Because it’s the weekend and we can, Tony (and Petey) and I decided we’d go for another beach-combing adventure this afternoon. Sure, the skies were grey and it was cold – single digits again plus wind – but we could still have fun.

Knowing we’d be traipsing through snow and on the coast exposed to unmitigated gusts, we dressed in our ski clothes. We laughed along the way at the height of the snow drifts. We noticed one mailbox completely encrusted in snow; it had literally been dug out of a drift, with at least four feet piled above it. And at least one place had drifts that were a couple feet higher than the roof of the car.

Driving conditions that typified the afternoon. These are relatively low drifts…
driving

It was all silly “Hahaha, isn’t life Up North funny sometimes?” until we got to the beach. And couldn’t see the horizon at all because the snow had so intensified.

Icebergs and icy pilings in Glen Haven – contrast exaggerated so you can see the horizon

If there were a decent trail, we might have stayed to explore, but with such a downpour Petey kept shaking to clear his head, and the photos are all littered with white blurs. While we were out, though, Petey had a good time chasing balls of ice. He’d have stayed gnawing on his catch, but we knew it was time to go when his hind legs began shivering.


Ah well. You win some, you lose some. We had a few good days earlier in the week (I’ll share photos and details at some point!), and we’re all still healthy and happy (relatively – Dominique is having a dental issue…), so for now, Life is Good :)