Otter Creek Sunset – A B&W Photo Challenge

Eliza, who shares a similar love for the outdoors as me, and who lives in a similar place but different country invited me to join a black and white photo challenge. Since It’s all in good fun, and since it’s so windy out, I’ve decided to play along. At least once. There are rules, as with any contest/challenge, but I’m not playing by them ;) So, new rules: if my post inspires you to try your hand at a black and white photo when you might otherwise opt to see the world strictly in colors, link it up to this post. If there are multiple participants, I’ll post a future blog shouting out my favorites. Or something.

Without further ado, here’s the photo – perhaps the only one, perhaps just the first – that I chose to convert to black and white. I originally shared it on FB and Flickr in all its peachy sunset-y glory, but decided it had nice enough lines to lend itself to B&W too.  I posted larger versions of each below, which can be further embiggened via a click if you like.

What do you think?

Otter Creek - B&W Otter Creek Sunset

The Great Skegemog Melt

Despite hovering right around the freezing mark, the sun was shining this afternoon giving the appearance of a much warmer day. And since we’ve endured far colder days, I decided it would be a perfect day for a hike – because really, when isn’t it? Since sunset happens later than 7:30 now, I waited until after dinner (which Tony cooked because he’s awesome!) to load Petey in the car.

Skegemog adventure

The parking lot, such as it was, did not look promising. I switched out my running shoes in favor of the waterproof winter boots that I’m tired of wearing. Most of the trail back to the swamp was fine, being along an old railroad bed.
Skegemog adventure-2

A good portion of the swamp trail was fine, too. It was either frozen or boardwalk.

As we neared the viewing platform, though, our luck ran out and the trail ran underwater. Petey, who had happily been trotting ahead and then coming back to check in, stopped at the edge suddenly unsure of where to go. Grateful for my olde faithful boots, I plunged ahead and then called him after me. He looked at me like I was a crazy lady (I’m not arguing that he’s wrong), and then decided that maybe it wasn’t so scary after all. He wasn’t nearly so trepidatious about climbing up the viewing platform, again bounding ahead of me.

Left photo shows our underwater trail. Right photo shows a dog in my face ;)

We stayed atop the platform overlooking the lake and swamp for several minutes, enjoying the warmth of the evening sun and the trill of the many redwing blackbirds. Much of the lake is frozen, but the swamp is open, so that’s a nice change.

On the way back out, Mr. Petey Puppy expanded his horizons a bit, exploring just off the side of the trail. I stayed up where I was sure it was dry, but he assures me he had a better time. Based on his snores down at my feet now, I think he might be right.

I called Tony to check in with my plans, which he guessed were “…staying out taking way too many photos of the sunset and having to hike back in the dark.” He knows me well, but we were already driving over to Torch Lake to check out its melt progress, so there Tony. Signs point to slow. (In case you missed that, we did not have to hike back in the dark ;) )
Skegemog adventure-12

Some Words on Wednesday

Spring might be in the air, but winter is still on the ground. I pretended it wasn’t yesterday morning, and took Petey on his walk in running shoes. I even ran for a couple minutes at my new cadence. It wasn’t fun – it feels like I’m Velma Dinkley with a tiny stride. But it fits my short legs better, so I’ll incur less joint damage and therefore less pain this way.

We had some errands to run yesterday, and we knew we’d want to walk around town, so we let Pete be a wild man at Hickory Meadows.
meadow

Actually, we let him roam off leash until other dogs and their owners approached, and then we on-leashed him until we got the go-ahead. Petey can come on a little strong, and not everyone responds well to that. I just wished they realized that having their dogs unleashed and uncontrolled kind of drives our dog nuts (which is not the same as doughnuts). Anyway, that’s neither here nor there.

spotlit-Petey

Petey had a big time with several new canine pals, and ended up panting despite the 50-degrees with a breeze and mushy snow pack. In fact, he got so toasty that he tunneled through the snow, and wallowed around like a pig in that stuff pigs like to roll in. I’ll post a video later on Instagram (you don’t have to be on Instagram to view photos or videos in my stream) or on Facebook if you want to see his shenanigans.

burning-Boardman

The upshot of all this was that we enjoyed one of the most laid back walks through downtown Traverse City that we’ve ever had. Petey was mellower even than our sunset, and we felt absolutely at peace. Except for the chill creeping in, because as I said – it’s still winter on the ground even if it is melting away.
melting-bay

Deeply Ill

In case you’ve forgotten what it’s been like in this part of the world, let me remind you:

frigid Rapid River

That was Thursday morning. Double digits below zero again. But the mercury was on the rise, and threatened to get almost warm. No really – we’ve been expecting 40’s (between 5 and 10 C) and sunny, which I feared would make our ice unsafe for exploration so I did the unthinkable.

On Friday morning, I rose at an indecent hour, and then left the house just a couple minutes too late to catch the moon setting over the west coast in Empire, MI. I remain a touch disappointed about that, but only a little. I had the whole beach very nearly to myself (I wasn’t out on the ice all alone-y on my own-y) for the entire hour and a half I was there.

Although temperatures hovered in the single digits, I was never cold. Being surrounded by such beauty is awe-inspiring, and surreal, and breathtaking. It is invigorating.

The sun rose hot on Friday, and by the time I made it to my running appointment at 10:00 (I’m cleared to ease into running!) it was nearly 20F. I hesitate to speak out of turn, but I think Old Man Winter finally got tired, and went to bed.

good morning sunshine

This morning we woke to brilliant sunshine accompanied by spring-like temperatures. It was still below freezing, but not much. Birds sweetened the air with their songs – and not just one or two birds, but a whole chorus of them.

I’ve removed the fleece lining from my coat, and didn’t make Petey wear his. Speaking of whom, some puppies have a terrible case of spring fever. That little guy practically pranced his way through his morning walk. He sniffed the air and sashayed along the way, not once trying to end the walk early. Then, he begged to go out for an afternoon jaunt. Then, he asked to go for an evening walk.

A stop on our evening walk on Torch Lake in Alden
Torch reflections

And then we walked again during sunset. Since I obliged with every request, I think I must’ve caught it too. Looking at the forecast – which has 50’s in store dontcha know?! – I think I might have a fatal case of spring fever. Quick, no one get some ice! And be careful; I think this strain is highly contagious ;)

Images from tonight’s everlasting sunset. That sun pillar lasted nearly 15 minutes after the sun dipped below the horizon,

A Skegemog (Mis)Adventure

Because we had gallivanted on Saturday, Tony and I decided to stay closer to home on Sunday. Plus we had a house showing (they’re not interested) right in the middle of the afternoon, which would’ve spoiled any potential plans. We’re still thrilled with the warmer weather, so we decided to take Petey for an evening hike on one of the nearby Skegemog trails.

I was last over there by myself with Petey, and while the trailhead parking wasn’t clear, it was passable. Things looks similar as we pulled up, and I advised Tony – who was driving – as such. Too bad I was wrong. As soon as we cleared the initial hump of snow into the parking area, we slid down and sideways into deep mushy snow fit only for snowmobiles. Thankfully, we were only a few feet off the road, and some careful back and forth work with a bit of pushing freed us. Much better than a couple years ago.

This was on our way back, so it’s dark, but I thought this post needed a photo break ;)
trail-Petey

The sky was fully covered in clouds when we set off, so I left my camera in the car. Petey was an absolute wild man – a veritable friskopotamus. He was pretty responsive, but you’d never have guessed he’d had a big day of adventures on Saturday.

Still running hog-wild after over 1.5 miles on lightly packed snow
Petey-on-Skegemog

Of course, the sky opened up a bit as we approached the frozen lake. I lamented not bringing my “real” camera. My phone died a couple of times in the cold, so I had to borrow Tony’s for a few of these. It was probably a good thing I didn’t have the Nikon – we’d never have left ;)
Skegemog-sunset

Eventually we did go, though. Partly because the wind across the open lake was freezing us, and partly because night was swiftly approaching. By the time we returned to the car, twilight was upon us, and Petey had calmed somewhat. Again, I am so grateful for the many places we can escape to the great outdoors!

You can embiggen this one if you want :) It’s a 180-degree pano of Lake Skegemog.
Skegemog-Pano