Rainy Day Beauty

The weather in the UP (and ostensibly the rest of the state) took a nose dive the day we headed home. Since it was a week ago, and I wasn’t there, I don’t remember how bad it was – just that it wasn’t – and isn’t – summery anymore.

raindrops on fall leaves

The story this week has been rain, rain, and more rain. And it’s been pretty cold. A tough transition to go from shorts to coats, hats, and gloves virtually overnight.

raindrops on fall leaves-2

But the fall color is gorgeous, even under the rain. And since cold rainy weather calls for comfort food, we took a short road trip to Petoskey to track down some Polish Kitchen.

fall fence

We stopped at the Deadman’s Hill Overlook, which looks out on the Jordan River Valley.
Deadman's Hill Overlook - panorama

Petey drew a large crowd, and we met some nice folks before moving on for lunch. It was an odd gathering – well over half of the adults had carried beer or wine on the short hike. Hoping they weren’t driving. They seemed like a big family bunch arriving together, so we’ll assume the best.
Deadman's Hill Overlook

A surprising number of trees still hold all their green leaves.
Deadman's Hill - fall fence

Such an odd fall. Our leaves began changing in the summer, and have kind of stalled out in all this rain.
roadside falls

We have temps in the 30’s coming up though, so perhaps the overnight chill will spur the leaves to get back to their beautification project.
wet barbed wire - fall trees

Regardless, we’ll enjoy whatever Mother Nature brings. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset, right? On that note, have a great week!
red maple in pasture

Trail Time

The arrival of fall brings a touch of melancholy – we hardly had summer, I’m not ready for the cold, and I’m going to miss the long days – but it also brings the blessing of fewer biting bugs, which means more trail time.

dog watching

Last weekend we had Tony’s entire family stay with us. Okay, not his entire family, but his grandparents, mom, niece, aunt, and cousin. Before that – last time we chatted – we had visited the Sand Lakes. Last time we were there was in May; the place looks remarkably different now.

Click to embiggen:

Sand Lakes marl pano

Sand Lakes - clear water and marl

Note the swimming pine trees and soggy trails. If you click for a larger view, you can see minnows schooling on the formerly dry path.

Even with all the rain (I tried to track down the numbers…to no avail. If you know of a reliable resource, please share :) ), the high ground stays pretty dry. This means places like Hickory Meadows in Traverse City are open for a visit after dinner. Or before. Cooler temps make it pleasant just about any time with the right layers.

And tonight we even ventured back into the Skegemog Swamp. Last time – in June? – we high-tailed it outta there because of marauding mosquitoes. Tonight only a couple chased and chewed.

We made it most of the way to the viewing platform before abandoning the trek. Excess water builds up in the wetlands, too, overtaking the boardwalk. :-/

Petey looks for whatever’s making the squishing sound each time we step

Happy to have made it as far as we did, we turned around with no complaints. Except maybe one: Where’s my apple cider? ;)

{Unrelated} – Petey at “camp,” because I’ve been promising Graham I’d share the love. :)

Mushroom Monday

It’s Monday here for about another hour, and I have a lot of mushroom photos to share – so you get Mushroom Monday. ;)

In between yet more storms and dressed for fall (all the layers: jacket, hat, light gloves…), we did lots of hiking this weekend. Seems like the weather hasn’t been very cooperative for much else – too windy for kayaking, and far too cold for diving. But, at least we have lots of beautiful places to explore on foot. I’ll check back in soon with some hiking images/stories. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite mushrooms from along the trails.

Have a great week! (I’ll be checking into all the blogs I’ve missed just as soon as I get my feed-reader working again!)

Transitions

Between storms yesterday afternoon, we took Petey on a couple of small adventures to nearby natural sites. We stopped first at the Seven Bridges Natural Area. It’s been over a month since I visited, and I am always surprised at the differences. Mounds of goldenrod, asters, and ragweed – of course – surround the entrance. My last visit (which I somehow missed blogging about), the area was heaped in marsh marigolds. And whereas the pasture out back was verdant and dew-coated, yesterday it was crackly and brown. Different, but still lovely.

After meandering in the meadows and splashing in the river, we hopped down the road a few miles to Rugg Pond. It’s one of my favorite places around here in the fall. Friendly trumpeter swans always float gracefully nearby (there, but not pictured), and the hardwoods surrounding the water blush all shades of beautiful. If you look closely in the photos below, you can see the tips of the oaks doing just that.

We hiked along the pond’s edge and back into the woods under skies that couldn’t decide whether they’d rather be bright and cheery or dark and stormy. Petey sniffed everything at least twice, and especially enjoyed places where other mammals had obviously been at work.


I especially enjoyed the nascent fall fungi. Or maybe they’re still late summer fungi. Can you spot the edible (fruity, chewy) chanterelles? Can you identify my favored composition for mushroom photos? ;)


Do the maroon oak leaves and red/orange/yellow fungus signal fall’s arrival, or just the end of summer? Regardless, there’s no denying fall is on its way. We will not discuss what comes after that.
Fall Transitions

Walking the Dune Drive

Following several days of dreary drizzle, this morning dawned bright and cheerful. Clear skies overnight made for a thick frost on the grass, resembling snow in my predawn fogged eyes. After putzing around the house, enjoying some fireside time with the bad-old-cats (battle cats?), we dressed for our planned hike with the Cliftons.

We met up at main entrance to the Sleeping Bear Dunes – the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive – which happens to be closed to vehicular traffic at this time of year. Jackson was recovering from some afternoon sleepiness, which was aided by vanquishing some foes me repeatedly. (Don’t worry; I recover quickly, and stick-swords and plentiful in the forest.)

Soon everyone was happy, chattering as friends do about things important and unimportant, and generally enjoying the time outside.

The air was chilly but invigorating, and the golden light warmed us from inside. Though we had meandered at Jackson’s pace, we arrived shortly at the North Bar Lake overlook. Many of the trees have shed their fall adornments, but this place is lovely dressed in any attire.

Feeling pretty certain the next big overlook was within reach (keeping in mind that the sun would leave us at 5:30), we ventured onward.

A few brief paces delivered us to the sandy bluffs perched above Lake Michigan, shimmering and blue below.
Sleeping Bear Dunes

We traipsed up and down the empty dunes, luxuriating in the vast, deserted landscape that is normally teeming with visitors, but today just held us.

We poked around the observation areas, and lingered at the trail’s edge, taking in details that might be overlooked while trying to avoid blocking a fellow visitor.

Eventually noting the time, we sequestered Jackson – who was mastering the art of rolling down the sand – and began the trek back.

Once more at our cars, we parted ways, though I’m pretty sure we converged again for one last shot of the day’s beauty before nightfall. Darkness arrived early, but it was a day filled with plenty, and in November that’s all one can rightly ask for.
Empire sunset