Do you ever have days where the universe seems to be telling to you give up and just go back to bed? Today was one of those days. Only, we ignored all the signs, and because we were with great friends, we had a beautiful day.
Let’s start from the beginning. Today (by which I mean 5/28) actually started yesterday (5/27), with plans to join the Cliftons on a beach excursion in celebration of what we’re nerdily calling our Traversary. (We moved Up North two years ago this weekend; the Clifton’s one year ago.) Yesterday had other plans, though, as severe thunderstorms raged through in the early afternoon, leaving behind a steamy late afternoon. We cancelled beach-going, and I got further stuck in my book.
Today dawned cloudy, but bright and with little chance of rain. Also, it was hot and humid. After a yummy lunch at Slabtown Burgers, we headed to the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore. The hike to the beach was a short but strenuous one, via a poison-ivy lined path that then opens to a brief dune climb. Cresting the last rise, we were greeted with expansive views of glittering, blue Lake Michigan. The path ended at the beach that contained only three other people, who left about five minutes following our arrival.
And no wonder, either: we were quickly swarmed by biting flies. We ran for the safety of the cold water, but it turns out flies can still fly – and bite – over water. Tony remembered the small bottle of deet we carry in the beach bag, and we sprayed down exposed body parts…to no avail. Only swatting would send the critters flying, and then simply to a part of your body from where they weren’t being evicted. We snatched up Jackson and practically ran back to our cars.
Since nearby Empire beach was completely packed, we headed for a beach farther up the Leelanau Peninsula that hopefully had fewer people, and no flies. Or at least drastically fewer flies. Or at least non-biting flies. Please? After an aggravating drive behind a lady doing 35 mph in a 55 mph zone with six cars lined up behind her (I’m mostly not bitter anymore ;)), we found a spot that looked promising. We ventured down several flights of stairs to another mostly empty beach. I collected several stones, and threw many more into the surf with Jackson. Though the flies were much-reduced, and the scenery was stunning, the beach still wasn’t a great place to hang, thanks to the rock-covered ground. We left after about an hour in search of sandier shores.
Parking places in abundance, rocks to throw plus sand to sit/walk on, few terrorizing insects – success! Jess, Jackson, and I wandered along the beach, occasionally meandering ankle-deep in the waves. We lazed and watched sea gulls dive into the water as they fished for food. Tony and Jim ventured out deeper into the water, in some kind of cold water standoff (which I suspect is not a standoff at all, but more of an “I’ll go if you go” kind of thing). Then, the sky threw a few drops of water at us, and we took the hint: dinner time.
The rain held off until after we left the patio of a little place in Northport. A place I won’t name since we won’t be back >:-| I’ll leave it at that. (Perhaps the hint wasn’t “dinner time?”) Shortly into our drive back to Traverse City, the storm blew in. Considering our luck so far, we felt glad to have avoided that mess. After hanging out on the Clifton’s front porch, Jess and I decided that we hadn’t had enough time at the beach, and wanted to see the sun set over Clinch Park.
Jackson and I brandished swords for the trek through town, and vanquished innumerable foes along the way. The sun sent out its last rosy rays behind a deep blue cloud bank.
As we were sighing about what a lovely place we all call home, the winds rapidly picked up, and we found ourselves amidst a brief downpour. Taking harbor under any covered area we could, we managed to make it back to Jim and Jess’ without getting too wet, and before the tempest unleashed its full wrath.
You might think we’d walk away from such a day grousing, or that we might take a hint about giving up. But you’d be wrong. Even though the flies and restaurant were a horror-show, and it took us several tries to find a place we liked, and we got caught in a thunderstorm (that took down 100 trees in Kalkaska county when it rolled through!!), we had an absolutely fantastic day. Happy Traversary indeed 🙂