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.

A Beautiful Day in This Small World

Yesterday Tony and Petey and I left the house, on the way to somewhere. We didn’t know where we were going, just that we’d get there eventually. Twenty minutes later as we entered Traverse City, we settled on an area south of town where we had previously hiked, but only briefly. After a couple wrong turns – we didn’t consult a map, though we had our phones – we arrived at the Boardman River.

The trail was prettier than we had expected, with a lush canopy above and multiple access points to the clear, swift water below. (The mosquitoes weren’t even bad!) Petey was hesitant to wander much deeper than his elbows, until we let him off his leash to play with a dog (Bronna) who kept visiting us from around the bend. Bronna’s mom apologized for her wayward pup, and we returned the favor with an apology for the sand Petey contributed to their beach blanket.

We chatted on the banks to Bronna’s mom and grandma for several minutes as the dogs raced around, in and out of the water. We talked about where we all lived, and learned that they were immediate relatives of a neighbor who lives on our road, just over a mile away. After the dogs settled down a bit, we peeled Petey away to continue exploring the trails.

The path meandered through the woods and along grassy meadows (thanks, pollen, for the itchy eyes, etc), always near enough to hear the flowing water.

Wildflowers abounded, and I half-wished for a field identification book so that I could accurately name what we spotted. I know we saw irises (yellow) right along the river banks, purple vetch, and locust. There were lots of different little yellow flowers, and a similar number of white ones.

There were several butterflies, too, including a pretty iridescent one with hints of blue. I don’t know what it was either. At least I know that the one that sat for me was a monarch, so I’m not entirely hopeless ;)

After three hours on the trails and in the river, we loaded our tired selves into the car. Petey napped in the shade while Tony and I grabbed dinner, and then we stopped at the pet store to get some wipes for his tummy. (We’re pretty sure he’s allergic to the tall grasses that he so loves to use for exploration and potty time.) On our way out of the store, a couple and their daughter eyed Petey, and remarked how similar he was to their female pit bull. As dog folks like to do (see – I’m doing it right now!), we started talking about our furry ones. We mentioned that our puppy was a shelter boy, and then exchanged dog names (she’s Tilly). The guy then, exclaimed: “I know this dog!” He asked if we happened to get him from the Benzonia shelter (we did), and then the real excitement ensued. He filmed the Dog Man movies, and filmed part of Dog Man 2 at the shelter, and was there while Petey was…and Petey is apparently in the film. They had seriously considered adopting Petey, and were thrilled to see him in his happy life.

We all returned home, tired and happy – me with little happy tears, grateful for the day in this small world.

Quick Trip to the Sand Lakes

This evening after work and dinner, Tony, Petey and I dropped by the Sand Lakes Quiet Area for a short hike. Petey had never been, and it’s been since October that Tony and I were there. The North Country Trail runs through the area, so if we wanted to, we could park the car and then just hike for days and days. Mother Nature hasn’t decided to just let it warm up already, so we only walked to the closest lake – “Sand Lake 1.” Creative, I know.

Sand Lake 1

Aside from a few rounds in the back yard, Petey has been an on-leash boy. He has trekked many, many miles with us at this point, but he’s still a pup so we haven’t pushed it. Tonight, ours was the only car in the lot in a very remote location, so we tied his leash up to his pack to see how he’d do. He wasn’t perfect – he seems a bit deaf to “Petey, come!” if something smells good – but he did pretty well. We’re proud “parents.”
Petey
He stayed near, resisted the (strong) urge to chase little critters that flitted away, and waited patiently for us at any forks in the trail. Accordingly, he got lots of treat nibbles and the chance to flex his developing (haha!) jaw muscles while racing after and chewing sticks.


I was hoping to see a wildflower to two, but I had to settle for fall’s remnants.
Wildflower remains
And since spring is tardy to the Sand Lakes, I sated my desire for greenery in the extensive variety of mosses (and lichen) strewn about.

As the sun waned, and whatever passed for warmth ebbed out of the day, we decided not to linger. We plied the Petey-Puppy away from the lake and its smells with the promise of a delicious stick, and headed back. Many tosses later, we neared the car with a tired, happy dog. Not a bad way to wrap up a Monday! I hope your week’s off to a good start, too :)
Petey-2

Petey-3

The Myth of Spring

They say March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. Around these parts, March roared like a lion for four solid weeks, and then toyed around with the idea of bleating softly for about three days at the end of the month. Since then, Mother Nature has been felinishly fickle – taunting us because we’re the prey she knows can’t escape.

Sure, we know it’s spring, and that this winter will end, but some days it just does not feel like it. Days like yesterday – when we had lake effect snow all day – and today – when the temperature was supposed to rise into the mid-40’s (~8C) but did not.

The sun shone brilliantly all day, I tricked myself into believing it was as toasty as it appeared. I even promised Petey we’d go on a hike after work, because who wouldn’t want to? Us, as it turns out. By which I mean Tony and me, because Petey was all about the sniffing. It must’ve been the smelliest trail he’s walked on. We didn’t notice. We were cold. The silver lining? The woods are showing some spring progress. 1 – No signs of snow :) 2 – Leeks are sprouting and other photosynthetic varieties are reaching sunward. Still, we took the short path, choosing not to meander onto exposed hilltops.

After cutting our walk short, we decided to hop over to the marina to see if Torch Lake had visibly melted since our last viewing. Driving by the south end yesterday, we noted quite a bit of liquid expanse and were hopeful for similar exposure nearby.
Torch under ice
No luck. In Alden, the ice still clings. And it’s not just a skim coat, in case you were wondering. Yesterday’s 17mph NNW winds pushed some ice up onto the rocks, so we can see just how thick it is floating on top of our precious turquoise lake.

Thick. Looks like winter is determined not to relinquish its icy grip yet, even though May is just around the corner. Still, our grass gets greener by the day, and our snow drifts shrink. Hope remains :)
ice and leaf

Tuesday’s Gone – A Midweek Dune Climb

It was tough to tell on Tuesday who was more restless: me or Petey. For some reason he was a friskopotamus, and I was having trouble sitting still because it was warm (slightly above freezing) and dazzlingly sunny. Eventually we decided it would be best for all of us if we took a hike. Half an hour later, we were on our way to a trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes that we hadn’t hiked before, though we had hiked near it to a shipwreck. Of course, half an hour later, unpredicted clouds had also besmirched my bluebird skies. You win some, you lose some.

Again, as on previous winter hikes, we parked on a road and then trudged through snow to get to the trailhead. There had been enough snowshoers ahead of us, though, that the walk in wasn’t too bad – especially considering the half a foot of snow we had just gotten. I can’t say that I prefer the clouds, but at least they were the kind that brings interest instead of flat, featureless grey (that’s what we had yesterday, so I can say this with certainty).

See? Look at that drama

We crested a dune – which are far easier to scale when frozen than when the sands are sliding beneath your toes – and were astonished at sweeping view. I took pictures, but didn’t keep any of them, because every stitch of water in the vista was frozen and capped with snow – a good reason to go back :) Still, Tony and I happily took in the view while Petey happily ignored it any the wildlife cavorting in the distance. He was taken by the grasses poking up directly beside the trail.

We followed the snowshoe path down through a valley to the shore…where the view wasn’t much different than from above. We climbed out a short distance onto the ice, but the earlier sun had melted some of the fresh snow, and it had puddled.

Above and inside an ice cave


The upshot is that the view of the shore was pretty cool, and one we don’t often get a chance to see.
pano

Deciding that we didn’t want to wander on the ice – a combination of possible hidden puddles and other potential dangers hidden under the snow – we began the ascent back up the dune.

Though the hike was enjoyable, it felt a bit stunted. After we emerged from the snow-pack, we walked along the road simply enjoying the ease of movement on the cleared pavement before we began our drive back home.

Since it’s on the way, we stopped in Empire for a glimpse at the sunset. Tony and Petey stayed in the car, while I traipsed about with the camera. Cautious because of the sun and heat, I stayed on ice over water I knew wasn’t deep. I was exceedingly glad I did. After I finished taking the last photo in the gallery below, I set my sites on the beach, and began making my way there. As I climbed over a small ice mound, I slipped, and my foot punched through the snow into one of those cold puddles I feared. I pulled it out, re-situated myself, and promptly repeated the fun with my other foot. Though my heart was racing and my feet were soaked and freezing I wasn’t panicking. But I was exceptionally glad that I was only over water that would be up to my knees even in the summer. Phew. Hope you have a warm, dry week :)