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)

A Clear Forecast with a 0% Chance of a Hike

Despite cool temperatures, Tony and I had decided last evening would be perfect to revisit a hike in the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Clouds had cast a pall on the landscape all day, but the forecast promised clear skies shortly after work, so we packed up Petey and headed for the west coast.

The clouds parted about five miles into our drive, and we basked in the sun’s warmth. However, as we neared the park, threatening skies loomed and we checked the radar. Our 0% chance of rain had been upped to 40%, and a small system was clearly blowing in from Lake Michigan. Not wanting to get caught in a rainstorm two miles into a hike, we altered our plans. Instead of walking the Dune Drive, we opted for a few shorter treks, starting at North Bar Lake.

This is what it looked like from the overlook on November 3, the last time we saw it (we went again at the end of November, but it was snowing too hard to make anything out).

We followed the short trail from the parking lot down to the lake, and then skirted along the edge.

This is the little lake in the photos above: North Bar Lake
North Bar Lake
Winds picked up as we climbed the dunes separating the Big Lake from North Bar, and rain sprinkled down. We decided to take in just the high view of the lake instead of venturing down farther into the wind. But we were in good company. An eagle was perched on high as well, surveying the lake for dinner. Glad it wasn’t us ;)

Next, we retired to the Empire Beach, our old standby. Even if the weather is downright yucky, you can sit in your car, protected from the elements, and enjoy the view…which is exactly what we did for a bit.

I did get out of the car for this one, just not for long. Yes that is still ice on the lake.
Empire view

I’m not entirely sure why, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time, but after I grabbed my pre-sunset shot, we decided to head down the road. I think we were hoping for a chance to hike around near the shore while waiting on sunset. Things had not worked in our favor so far, but we decided that if we returned to Traverse City, we’d arrive right along with the rain we were currently waiting out. So, south we went, where we were hoping the rain would surely, eventually pass.

We were rewarded almost immediately. It didn’t suddenly get warm, and the winds didn’t die down, and the rain didn’t leave, but a beautiful sunset was waiting for us at the end of the road. I meandered with the camera, Tony meandered with Petey, and the sun meandered toward the horizon.

Again, probably because it is in my nature to wander, even though were in a delightful location, I thought it would be a good idea to travel farther down the beach. Just on the other side of Otter Creek. When you come down the road to the beach, you have two options: park right at the beach, or park off to the left before the beach so that you can explore Otter Creek. Instead of moving the car, though, we just decided to walk (it’s not very far, and we were glad of a chance to move). Just as we started making our way back out toward the open water, the rain really let loose. Tony – gentleman that he is – took Petey and went back for the car while leaving me to my photographic devices.

rainbow tree silhouette

I clambered through low shrubs and downed trees, making my way to the creek and lake. As I stood capturing tree silhouettes in the falling rain, I looked over my shoulder, hoping to see a rainbow. Given how the trip had gone, I wasn’t hoping very fervently.

double rainbow

For once in the evening, the weather cooperated. And then Mother Nature decided enough was enough. She turned off the faucets (mostly), and let the light shine. I set up a few places along the bluffs, thoroughly amazed at the progression of the setting sun. The area around the sun was dressed in vibrant yellow, the clouds overhead were bruised purple, and a short-lived shower over the lake absolutely glowed red.

This is one of many great shots I got. I’m not done processing them, but they’ll be making their way to my Facebook page and my photography site over the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled :)
amazing sunset

As the pink tinge faded out of the sky, Tony popped up over the dunes behind me. I grabbed one last image before running to greet him, (you can’t see him, but he’s in the photo – dressed in black against the black background) grateful for the evening if not for our broken hike.
Otter Creek and mountainous bluffs