Rediscovering Skegemog

On the last day in November, Tony and I took Petey on a hike at the south end of Lake Skegemog. We had been fairly recently, but the boardwalk was underwater, so we turned back before we got to the viewing platform. After that trip, we decided this one we’d just stick to the old railroad bed. Back in 2010, we discovered a pretty little spot on the lake, and were sure this was the way to get there.As the sky darkened – no sunset this night – we figured we must’ve been mistaken. We did find this cool place, though, and had a nice walk so we were content.

Fast forward to today. Prior to this weekend, the sun’s presence has been scarce in northern Michigan. But we’ve had a fair amount lately, and all day today, the sun shone, begging me to join her outdoors. I finally did late this afternoon.

And wandering around the yard – despite the lovely dripping icicles – just did not satisfy. I consulted The Oracle (google) and her maps, and we set off for what I was sure was our previously discovered paradise on Skegemog.

Unsure of our distance, but sure that we only had about one hour of acceptable hiking light, we struck off at a decent pace. The trek follows a fairly wide, level trail through tall cedars and other evergreens. The path looks tangly, but it isn’t.
evergreen trail in

We arrived to the lake’s edge right at sunset. The southern end is frozen. I’m not sure how thick the ice is. It is both strong enough to support rabbits, as is evidenced by their tracks across the ice, and weak enough that experimentally adding weight (don’t worry – it was only inches deep where I was, and I was supported by one leg on solid ground!) causes interesting/eerie noises along the cracks as the force is distributed across the surface.


We stayed as late as we dared, knowing that we had about 1.5 miles to hike back out.

It wasn’t as dark as they look. I severely underexposed those shots because I liked the way the grasses appeared as silhouettes against that beautiful sky gradient. But, the light was quickly dimming down in the canopy. By the time we arrived back at the car, houses had their outdoor lights on.
dark hike out

We arrived home under the very last light of the sun, and to the glow of our neighbors’ Christmas-y house.

Satisfactory

It rained yesterday. Not very long, but heavily. Piles of sand and detritus litter the erosion-prone parts of the hillside out back. More of the roadside washed away, but I don’t think the county intends to beef up the pavement on that stretch of road.

A Walk in the Park-pano

Before the storms rolled through the air hung thick with humidity and the continuous groan of distant thunder. After, they felt much the same, only hotter with the addition of afternoon sun. How did we ever live in Miami? I wondered. Where every day in the summer was at least ten degrees warmer, but with the same humidity and sunshowers. But then, how do I live here now, with our relatively cool summers and everlasting winters?

By the time evening arrived, some of the air’s moisture had soaked into the ground, and the temperature dropped back into my (current) comfort level. Even as we strolled sedately around the park under vivid skies, I lamented not having my camera perched over the lake.

Are we humans ever satisfied? Sometimes I think not, but I’m working on it, this recognizing when I have enough :)

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

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)

Peachy Beach Time

Tonight after work, we were all itching for some outside time. We’ve stayed very near to home recently, making a concerted effort to cut back on thoughtless miles. (We’ll always be vagabonds to an extent, so don’t worry that we’ve suddenly become shut-ins!) Last night we took a looong walk in a nearby park, so when we considered where we might go, that was off the list. And with the clouds of marauding mosquitoes this year, the Seven Bridges were out too. Maple Bay is always a nice place, though, and it’s been a while since we were last there, so we headed thataway.


The beach is at the end of a short hike through the woods, and is normally quite pleasant. Tonight, we swatted mosquitoes the entire time, and ended up nearly running despite being in flip flops. Thankfully, they preferred the closeness of the forest to the fresh air and breezes on the beach.


Other than a couple of ladies and two children who were leaving as we arrived, we had the entire area to ourselves (which is about 3/4 of a mile according to Google Earth estimates). We waited until we left to read the signs asking you to keep your pet on a leash, and we let Petey roam. He never wandered far enough that we felt like we had to go get him, and when he meandered near private property, he listened when we called him back. He did not, however, play in the water very much. Even though we happily splashed along ankle-deep, he tried his best to keep his paws in dry sand.

I love the collection of driftwood here!


Petey trotted along busying his nose, Tony traipsed along scouting Petoskey stones, and I trekked along shooting my camera. It was incredibly peaceful and pleasant – a perfect way to relax post-work. (Can you tell I’m a touch delirious and having too much fun with alliteration?)


As sunset neared, we headed back to the car, again braving running from the mosquitoes. We’d have stayed at Maple Bay, but really didn’t want to venture through the woods in the dark. But Elk Rapids is a short drive up the road, and on our way home, so we stopped off at the Dam Beach for sunset.

We stood on the sand, waves lapping around our feet as the sun dipped below the horizon.

After the sun was gone, the sky really lit up, as it often does. And as is sometimes the case, the action was not where you’d think to look for it.
Elk River sunset