New Spaces in Old Places

After five years in northern Michigan, the Old Mission Peninsula and its lighthouse are familiar and well-loved places. We often drive along the shores of the peninsula when the weather is not ideal for getting out in – and sometimes even when it is. It’s idyllic, rolling farm country, and I feel at home there. (In fact, we nearly moved there when we relocated from Rapid City.) We’ve kayaked from a few spots on the east side, multiple times, and we’ve paddled out to Power Island farther south on the west side, but we had never put the boats in at the lighthouse. Until last night.

OMP kayaking-7

Ironically, we had set out with the intent to again paddle around the Old Mission Harbor at Haserot Beach, but with winds out of the east, there was more chop than we felt like fighting. We hadn’t unloaded the boats, so we decided to give the other side of the peninsula a try – if it didn’t look good, at least we’d be in time for a sunset.

Much calmer waters greeted us, and we tossed the kayaks and accoutrements in the water before the mosquitoes had time to feast. Though we had no plans upon arrival, we quickly set our sights on the north end of the islet that was almost directly in front of us. As we approached, the cacophony of bird-screech (decidedly different from birdsong) announced the tiny island as a rookery. Though we had no plans to do so, this underscored that we would not be disembarking for island exploration.

OMP kayaking-6

The sun, which had been a showy and welcome presence, dipped below some hazy clouds taking its drama – but leaving a profound serenity. Not an altogether bad trade, I suppose.

OMP kayaking-3

We paddled farther north as we returned to get a better angle on the lighthouse. I imagine other kayakers and boaters have seen the view before, but this was the first time I’ve seen the Mission Point Lighthouse from so far away. It’s even more quaint and tucked away than it seems from the beach.

OMP kayaking-2

Various bugs – including climbing numbers of mosquitoes – increasingly visited, beseeching that we share our eyes, ears, or blood. Declining, we began the paddle back.

OMP kayaking-4

As we neared shore, I paused (well, actually I circled a few times until I was lined up, and then I paused) to appreciate the simple beauty of a few boulders strewn under the water’s clear and shallow depths. Sometimes it’s the simplest scenes that leave the biggest impressions.
OMP kayaking-5

Walking, Walking, Walking on Trails

Sunny, 60’s, blue, and breezy – today was a perfect early summer day Up North. Before I moved here from northern Georgia, I wondered if I would be cold in the summers. After all, it was often in the 90’s there over spring break, while it often snows here…in May. But five years in, I can assert what I already knew from acclimatizing to the Miami heat: you adjust. Not only do I manage to stay warm during most of our winter activities, but I also find that 70’s now feel hot – a far cry from the days in Miami when 75 felt cold!
For my overseas friends: 60’s = 15-21C, 70’s = 21-27C, 75 = 24C, 90’s = 32-38C

tonysebastian

Thus, while mid-60’s might feel chilly to some of you, it was a beautiful day up here, and Tony and Petey and I had a tough time staying inside. We took a nice long walk this morning, then another at lunch, another after dinner, and then we went hiking this evening with our friend Sebastian (smiling in the photo above).

We met at the trails over by the Boardman River, just south of Traverse City. I don’t know why, but these trails aren’t talked about much in local trail literature. They’re well-tended, have beautiful views, and even feature multiple river access points.

boardmanpano

I’m not sure how far we walked – somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 miles – but I am sure we enjoyed every second of it, and didn’t get swarmed by mosquitoes. The jury is still out on the ticks, which I am a little twitchy about, since I pulled two OUT of my skin the other day :-/

Unlike all the others, these are not from today. But they are other views of the river, just upstream from our hike.

It’s in the 50’s now, and several of our neighbors are having campfires. If it weren’t approaching midnight, I’d be thinking more seriously about some s’mores. Maybe I’ll just stock up tomorrow so that I’m prepared. Or maybe we’ll just go for another walk ;)

PS – All the photos here can be clicked for bigger views, if you like.

Meeting Strange Men at Night

That’s where I’ve been.

Really where I’ve mostly been is buried in work. Re-launching a major product at work, which required a major work shift as my normal pile of stuff continued to mound up, has meant that I’ve been badly behind since April. I’m still not entirely caught up, but I’m close enough and it feels good! I’ve even started to visit blogs again, and that feels even better :)
(Are you feeling nerdy and want to know what I sound like and perhaps what I do for a day job? Part of that re-launch included me creating tutorial videos, etc. for the new product roll-out. Feel free to have a look/listen if you’re feeling especially bored ;) )

iPhone collage of some of our recent moody skies
greatskies

But, I lured you here on the promise of seamy intrigue, and so:

The other day, one of my Flickr buddies, Aaron, posted a cool photo of a shipwreck. Thinking it might’ve been the one we hiked to last summer, I inquired about its location. The short version is: “Yes it’s the same shipwreck, and would you like to shoot together sometime?” To which I replied: “Sure! I have no idea who you are besides some Ephemeral Internet Person, this sounds like a great idea! Let me grab the bear spray!” We hashed out a plan to keep an eye toward the weather, and – naturally – meet up for some star time.

We’ve been having a rather Pacific Northwest-like summer, so when yesterday brought both clear skies and a new moon, I contacted Aaron and another visiting photographer friend (who we bumped into while walking Petey the other morning – she’s in the area from her home northern Illinois), and we settled on a loose plan. Golden hour rolled around, and the three of us met up in the parking lot behind the maritime museum in Glen Haven.

Star trails over Sleeping Bear Point
trails

We hiked between the poison ivy vines and over the dunes, and landed on a stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline that we called home for the next few hours. The conditions weren’t as idyllic as we had imagined they would be, but we had such a nice time together – chatting over image creating, thoughts on editing, funny stories. Landscape photographers, preferring the company of Mother Nature over fellow humans, tend to be loners. I’m no different, but for a few hours, it was nice being among friends – even new friends who feel like old friends thanks to a shared passion. I didn’t even bring the bear spray ;)

The iconic DH Day Barn under stars and light pollution
DHDayBarn

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