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

300 Posts – A Celebration!

Well friends, you’ve probably guessed the big news. This post marks my 300th blog entry.

When I started this blog back in June, 2010, I had no plans for it; I was just posting to keep in touch with friends and family I was no longer near. It’s still that, but it’s developed into a platform that allows me to make friends across the country, and even the globe.

Thank you all for reading, commenting, sharing, joining me on my adventures, and forging friendships. In celebration, I’m sharing my first photo-video. It’s nothing special – just some playing in iMovie combining some images from this fall with a current favorite song (Requiem by Toundra). Enjoy, and again thank you!

Recipes for a Perfect Fall Day

I was worried about the fall this year, because our summer seemed so brief. And even though we’ve already had a few bouts of lake effect snow, I’ve had nothing to worry about. Our fall has been terrific, and we’ve savored several prototypical autumn days.

Back in mid-October, just after Meg winged her way back to Maui, we joined up with Jim, Jess, and Jackson to sample the local treats at Rennie Orchard. It’s a laid back kind of place where you can pick your own apples (and other fruits when in season) if you choose, and where kids are free to go wild in the small straw maze and other kid-sized structures. A smoky fire smouldered in a pit, giving me a place to warm up after meandering around the grounds. In all honesty, though, I was there for the cider. They do a blend of five apples plus pear (I think I’ve got that right), and it’s my favorite. We followed up our orchard time with a hike through Hickory Meadows – pretty little natural area just at the edge of Traverse City.

More recently, before the first snows arrived, several days of drama dominated our skies. The weather that came with them was gentle, but it pulled me outside multiple times just to oooh and aaah and search for rainbows. Last Tuesday it was so distracting that we piled into the car after lunch and went for a “Sunday drive” around Torch Lake. Alternating rain, hail, snow, and sunshine finally delivered the rainbow I knew was out there. And when we returned home, I was clear-headed enough I could actually focus and get some work done.

And as October winds down, yesterday might just be the most “fall” day of them all. Frost etched the lawn in the morning, but melted off in the early sun. Erith joined us for a trip to Short’s, where she enjoyed a pumpkin ale and I partook of some chestnut bisque. She and I carved pumpkins to the soundtrack from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and then we munched on roasted pumpkin seeds and homemade kettle corn. Lest we get too full, we popped over to the Skegemog swamp pathway for a brief hike where we disrobed cattails like all mature adults do. We rounded out the evening together with a scary movie (The Purge, which was good but would have been more impactful as a book). Before bed, I snuggled by the fire with my book and Tony laughed his way through Ghostbusters.

I wouldn’t dare to choose a favorite day – I love them all – but how ’bout you? Got any favorite fall festivities?

Friday Photos: Juxtaposition

As most of you know, we’ve been enjoying lovely fall brimming with color and autumn activities (I haven’t even told you about our wetlands hike and trip to the orchard!). But good ole Mama Nature likes to play tricks on us, and just as we were skipping happily along with the cheerful warm October days, she dumped snow on us.

fall on Morrison

Little does she know that her trick is my treat; she’s just primed my brain for skiing and photo opportunities. (No, I’m not thrilled with the cold, but I refuse to resort to worthless complaining when I can instead find the silver lining.) Given that MN has provided the chance, I thought it would be fun to look at some similar shots, most taken just a day or two apart. If a scant flurry finds its way into your autumn scenery, I hope you find a way enjoy it. And if not, just look at the evidence for what a difference a day can make :)

I included a slideshow at the bottom for any who just wanted to click through all the photos, in the same order without opening multiple galleries. And if you happen to want to see them in much better detail, I’ve included many of my favorites in my Flickr photostream where I have practically unlimited storage.

Have a great weekend!

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A Confession

I lied. I am a liar.

I published a blog this morning about fall and sneaky snow that dissipates by sun-up. But I wrote that blog last night and just set it to go live sometime this morning. I’m not even sure what time I selected – just sometime after I’m working. But I awoke to this:
snowy barn

winter in fall

fall maple under snow

Several inches of lake effect snow piled up overnight, coating out beautiful fall scenery in mashed potatoes. Unexpected and beautiful. But that’s kind of the story of life, isn’t it?

I recommend clicking through the slideshow here. You’ll notice some snowy versions of the fall photos I took just yesterday. Ah winter. I don’t know how I feel about you yet, but you sure are pretty.