When the Beach Calls…

Some days – even cold, snowy, grey ones – the sand and water call. Their quiet serenity pleads, and eventually you listen. With no other plans etched on the calendar, we headed for Lake Michigan’s coast after lunch at a favorite place in Traverse City.

Roadside sights on the way – tall trees stand frosted while others are snowless;
roadside sights
A strip of corn remains in a harvested field
roadside sights-2

The day was positively balmy; temperatures hovered near freezing, and just the barest of breezes kissed our cheeks.
Empire beach

Empire beach-2

I was hoping for dramatic ice volcanoes on the edge of a shelf, but instead found a sedate beach ideal for long walks in gentle surf. We meandered down the shore, looking for – and finding! – natural sculptures. The winter beach doesn’t invite you to pull up a chair with a good book, but the sand and ice formations encourage quiet exploration, which is my favorite.

After walking a few lengths at the Empire Beach, we rolled south to the beach at Esch Road.


Welcome gate?
beach welcome

The ice volcanoes were still missing, but the beach holds other offerings. Incoming waves slightly undercut the frozen sand creating overhanging shelves, which occasionally break off in astonishing geometric shapes.

More dripping icicles under the sand shelves pretend to be stalactites, and balls of ice at the water’s edge taunt young pups.
beach offerings-8

My favorite thing about the Esch beach, though, is the mouth of Otter Creek, which must be a great place to play when it’s warmer. Perhaps one day I’ll find out.

The beach also boasts signs reminding visitors to keep their clothes on – not a problem on a December afternoon πŸ˜‰
Esch Rd beach

Esch Rd beach-2

After lots of digging, we loaded back into the car and continued down the coast to Pt. Betsie.

Pt Betsie breakwall
Thanks to reliable splashing waves, the jagged breakwalls and plants below the lighthouse were draped in their usual winter finery

And the lighthouse itself? Absolutely beautiful. (With two Christmas trees lit up inside!)
Pt Betsie pano

With the Frankfort Lighthouse just down the road, we made the Pt. Betsie Lighthouse a short photo stop and then moved on. We got to Frankfort during the “blue hour,” which isn’t actually an hour at all, but is a short time of evening (when everything looks very blue) to take lovely medium-length exposures.

We would have explored longer, but these December days are brief, and night had fallen. I wanted to take photos of Frankfort’s Christmas lights, but apparently lots of the homes are empty this time of year. Instead, I contented myself with a shot looking down Frankfort’s decked street. Not bad, I say πŸ˜‰
Frankfort street

Have I convinced you yet about the treasures of the winter beach?

16 thoughts on “When the Beach Calls…

  1. Are you kidding? Of course you’ve convinced me πŸ˜‰ Like I needed more convincing of Winter’s gorgeousness and the awesomeness of your environs πŸ˜›

    Isn’t it wonderful how water in every form has a unique inherent beauty? Almost sensual πŸ˜‰ The lighthouse needless to say had me drooling πŸ™‚

    Oh and here’s a suggestion – I think Michigan needs to pay you for your fabulous advertisement of its beauty πŸ˜‰ Also…adore the idea of a the ‘Blue’ hour! What’s the science behind it?

    • We are blessed to live near Lake Michigan, which provides us copious lake effect snow. Farther away from the lakes, it’s more cold and less snowy – not as pretty to my eye.
      The draw of water is such a visceral thing. Unless it’s clearly dirty, it really is beautiful in all its forms.
      I wouldn’t mind if Michigan wanted to pass along any advertising revenue πŸ˜‰
      Blue hour – I’ll do some research and get back to you, but I suspect it’s just twilight when the sun’s light still lingers blue in the sky.

      • Wow, Heather, I would have thought you would have written SIX blogs and yet you haven’t written ONE since I’ve been gone. Do you feel like it’s been a long blogging break? I feel like it’s been forever since December 23rd. Wishing you a Happy New Year. So glad that we’re buddies.

  2. Hope you’re having a very merry Christmas Heather! Love all the photos, I confess I do tend to get a bit lost in them….then I can feel the cold and see all that beauty as if I was really feeling and seeing it!

  3. Pingback: More Ice, More Exploring | Adventures in Michigan's Up North

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