Autumn Is Over

Last winter didn’t end until May. That’s right – the fifth month of the year. Summer wasn’t warm, and felt more compressed than normal, and fall was beginning to feel that way. Or I worried that it might.

Last weekend, on the Old Mission Peninsula


But really, we had a spectacular fall. The colors lit up, and decorated the landscapes in vivid autumn hues. We had chilly days, and we had warm days. We found ways to enjoy all of them – even the blustery almost-winter days like yesterday.

Yesterday, at the Point Betsie and Frankfort Lighthouses


Today, it seems, the weather’s clock has officially ticked over to “winter.” While I’m not thrilled with the rigmarole that is getting dressed for a simple outing, I’ll enjoy these coming days as well. I hope you do, too.

Earlier today

A Quick Kayak

Something about the weather this summer has just not been inspiring for kayak trips. We’ve talked a few times about going out, but changed our minds for various reasons. The other morning after I dropped Petey off for puppy day camp (What? Who’s spoiled?), I stopped by the beach in Elk Rapids. It was early enough in the morning that the water was still, and the beach was entirely empty. I really wished I didn’t have to return home for work, but I did. At least I had my few peaceful moments on the sand before my work day began.

 


The morning remained calm long after I arrived home. And as we finished lunch, the sun was shining, and things still looked entirely pleasant out. I checked the forecast, and the weather report indicated wind speeds at a max of 5MPH – not too shabby. So before we picked Petey up, we decided to squeeze in an hour on the lake.

kayaking Elk Rapids-7

I’m not sure about the whole 5MPH thing. The air didn’t seem particularly breezy, but the lake surface was quite choppy (I walked away with a very wet lap), and the current on the south side of the beach pulled strongly at the tails of our boats.


But for no longer than we were out, the paddle was exceptionally rejuvenating. I don’t know why time spent quietly on or near the water is so restorative, but it is. I feel so at peace and so connected to the water when we kayak. We should really get out more often.

Dog Days

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting anxiously to see how our evening turned out – you remember; we went on that beach hike where it was cloudy and windy the whole time only to have the sun pop out as we left for dinner? I thought you remembered.

bubbles and waves

Since the sun was still out after dinner, we all decided more time on the beach would be best. Isn’t it always? Our bare feet sifted through the cool sand while we basked in sun (finally) beating down through the ever-present breeze. The pups were oblivious to the things we enjoyed, but then I suspect we can’t quite discern the nuances that delight them.

We had no plans for the rest of the evening save appreciating it. Jim and Jess headed for the northern parts of the adjacent county, while Tony and I aimed to complete a hike that we had abandoned a year or so previously. It wasn’t in the cards; before we even stepped on the path, mosquitoes swarmed, and we simply weren’t in the mood.

Otter Creek

Instead, we opted to hang out a bit longer on a different beach – where the wind keeps the bugs at bay – and watch the sun set.

Petey sunset beach

driftwood sunset

In between beach visits and sunsets, and beach visits with sunsets, Tony and I have been driving ourselves crazy with house shopping. We know better than to get attached to any potential homes, but we’ve looked at a couple in person and find ourselves hoping they’ll be available when the time comes.

Petey on beach towel

We’re not really that hopeful, and all the shopping is helpful. Though we’d love to speed up the process, having time to sort through options is nice. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new home, and being forced to take it slow has allowed us to explore some vastly different choices.

WIlderness Petey

I’ll keep you posted on Operation Relocation, but in the meantime, don’t worry too much about us ;) We’re managing to find time to do things we love – you know, aside from poring over homes for sale and imagining the renovation potential!
through grass Petey

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.

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)