Dear Regular Readers, I apologize for my absence. I’ve discussed our tendency to run a pseudo-bed-n-breakfast in the summer, but things are generally calmer outside of the warm season. With our random gallivanting, we don’t have trouble keeping ourselves busy, but it can get lonely up here in the tundra. Lately, though, we’ve had trouble keeping ourselves still, which means I’ve not had the right combination of time and motivation to fill you in on my northern Michigan shenanigans.
Last Friday my friend Melinda and her husband Matt came to stay with us for the weekend. Tony and I planned a weekend of moderate activity: snow tubing, a hike, sight-seeing, and a fancy-schmancy dinner out. Under normal circumstances, this is an easy weekend for us, but it turns out that all that stuff is waaaay more energy-intensive when chattering and giggling like a middle-school girl…which pretty much sums up all of my memories with Melinda 🙂
Friday evening, we geared up for some snow tubing. I think we were well into the low teens, so we bundled up pretty heavily. The lanes were alternately quick and quite slow; lake effect had blown in leaving the air alternately clear or in white-out conditions. A few times we couldn’t even see to the end of the tubing lanes, and in the course of two hours, we accumulated about three inches of fluff. We were glad not to have been driving in it.
Following a healthy smoothie breakfast (What, don’t you feed all your guests spinach smoothies for breakfast?) we dressed for a hike, packed for dinner, and rolled up the Old Mission Peninsula for some bay views. Following the appropriate number of ooohhhs and aaahhhs, we stopped by the Jolly Pumpkin for lunch, which we of course chased with coffee from Morsels.
Sated, and now needing an excuse for recreation, we headed for a hike across the Empire Bluffs – a good stand-in for the impressive views that you can’t get at the time of year when the Sleeping Bear Dunes park is closed to vehicular traffic. The trail was nicely packed by previous hikers, and also happened to be largely deserted. The undecided sky provided perfect viewing conditions: blue skies northward highlighted Lake Michigan’s beautiful blues, and cloud-coated skies south allowed only a dramatic spotlight of sun through.
Because it was still relatively early in the afternoon, and because we were relatively near, and also because I had learned Melinda had never been to a lighthouse (which is frankly surprising for a girl who has spent time on multiple continents and spends a goodly amount of time each summer in Italy), we hopped down to Point Betsie. The water there is always gorgeous – what I think of as (flattering, I know) toothpaste blue – so I couldn’t resist a couple of photos, but I did abstain this time from actual lighthouse pics. If you feel neglected, click the previous link 😉
As sunset approached, we headed back toward town for our date at Trattoria Stella. Since we had looked at it from our hike, we decided to drop by the beach in Empire. The clouds blotted most of the sun’s rays, but we played for a few moments on the ice and enjoyed the Arctic scenery. Adventuring complete, we finally headed back to town for our supremely delicious dinner. (Many thanks to Jim and Jess for letting us change at their house. We – Melinda and I at least 😉 – would have been significantly less cute in our snow gear!)
Matt and Melinda left Sunday morning. They didn’t have smoothies. I choose to believe they were still full from the previous night’s gluttony. And you might think that we just stayed in, but really, you know me better than that. This year, Traverse did not host their normal winter festival, so no snow sculptures (can you believe it Dawn?), but they did have a hot chocolate competition, so that’s all right. Tony would disagree – loudly – but I voted for the banana cream pie hot chocolate. Divine, I tell you.
But wait, there’s more! Thursday evening we picked up our nephews in Ann Arbor, halfway between here and there, and have been playing awesome aunt and uncle since. I’ll try to share some happy moments from their trip sooner this time. In the meantime, may your days be as blessed as ours have been with hearty, hardy folks.
I’d be afraid to visit you guys in Winter. I’m coming visiting in summer time when you can’t take me (us) tubing and downhill skiing and running on ice. tee hee. But will accept a smoothie, thank you very much, and perhaps we’ll go somewhere to eat. I’ll treat. I won’t remember that I said I’d treat but please remind. tee hee again.
Kathy, we were smiling in all those photos! I would never take you to do something you wouldn’t have a great time doing. (Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t plan snow tubing or ice running 😉 )
And you are signed up for that smoothie!
I’ve said this before…brrrrrrr…… My toes hurt just looking at those pictures. Hope you had plenty of hot chocolate to warm your cold toes!
We’re such official grown ups that we all had coffee 😉
Believe it or not, I am a serious wuss when it comes to the cold – I spend my working day under a heated blanket! We invested in good cold weather gear, and it makes all the difference in the world!
As I sit here, bare feet propped on my dog under the desk, checking the weather for today’s walk (high of 72!), I realize that I’ve never had a need for “cold weather gear”. I do own some cute pink gloves…I’ve worn them a few times this year, but this winter seems to have been the warmest I can ever remember. I have all kinds of wood we never got to use for the fireplace…Oh, wait. Looks like slightly cooler weather later this week. I’ll use it then!
Too bad you are too grown up. Now I want coffee! I’ll be at Starbucks if you need me!
So much for that caffeine hiatus 😉
Before we moved up here, I thought I had cold weather gear. I was wrong. You wouldn’t believe all the semi-specialty layers I wear on a cold day! It’s taken three seasons, but I have finally settled on a glove situation that actually keeps my hands warm while skiing even on below-0 days.
It was almost 40 in Ann Arbor today (about 4 hours south of here), and I was out without a jacket, happily. When I lived in Miami, I remember a specific winter day when it was sunny and mid-70s. In jeans and a light jacket I was chilly. I wouldn’t know what to do with 72 right now!
Starbucks has decaf, too. I said I was giving up caffeine, not coffee. That would be too much! Can’t even imagine.
40 degrees has me under blankies and shivering!
I shouldn’t have assumed. I get many a decaf latte because I love a dessert drink after dinner but not the sleepless night that may follow.
I’m under my heated blankie right now 🙂
That’s my favorite! The decaf latte! I won’t lie, it’s better with caffeine. 🙂
That all looks wonderful to me! We almost went to Stella’s for dinner when I was up in 2010…that’s at the old asylum…right? Or am I thinking of the wrong restaurant? Would LOVE to go tubing..have never done that…don’t know what’s wrong with me! 🙂 No SNOW SCULPTURE???? What’s up with that?
Stella is the restaurant in the asylum…which sounds creepy, but it is a very cozy atmosphere.
We had never been tubing either. It’s like sledding without climbing up the hill – kind of like the best of sledding and skiing at once 😉
And, I KNOW! Here I had told you all about those snow sculptures, and was excited to see and share them…and they weren’t there. In fact, we seem to have skipped Winterfest this year in exchange for a winter comedy fest with some of the events from Winterfest. Hope they bring the sculptures back.
My WORD, that man is snow covered! Love both of the shots of the bluff overlook ❤
He was toasty enough, but snow sticks to Carharts much more than to “official” snow pants. We decided he was the most “one with the snow” 😉
Don’t you just love the bluffs from there? Even on the cloudiest of days the view doesn’t disappoint!
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