Appreciating Snow…and Rain

This time of year is difficult for me. I’m an outdoors girl – I think we all know that by now – and it is tough to get in enough nature time. I’m not a morning person, but that matters less and less, since the sun isn’t a morning person right now either. Or an evening person. With a sunrise around 8:00 a.m. and sunset around 5:00 p.m. there just isn’t much day in the day.

So the other day, when the sun peaked out for a bit during the morning hours, I went traipsing about.
snowy path

I stopped just over the hill at the Seven Bridges Natural Area, where I was the first person to walk the snowy trails. There were some old footprints that had been covered in several inches of fresh snow, but that day it was just me and talkative river.
snowy bridge

Nature seems so desolate in November, void of color, but full of detritus. A girl can become downright depressed. In some ways, then, we’ve been blessed by the early heavy snows.
Snowy Rapid River blog
Snowy Bridge Smooth Water-blog

Winter will likely again feel too long this year, but the snow adds a cheerful touch for which I’m thankful.
snowy country barn

It decorates the remains of fall’s bounty, turning mundane sights into special, short-lived vignettes.
santa hats-3
Snowy Red Berries-blog

Yes, I am thankful for the snow, but I am also grateful for the past two days of rain that have melted most of it. It’s dreary as dreary out, but November is awfully early to be contemplating where to stack the snow from the driveway.
red at night

Fudgies Head North

In no particular hurry last Monday, we tossed some hiking clothes and toiletries into our suitcases and departed for a quick trip to the U.P. sometime around 11:00am – which just happened to coincide perfectly with a Petoskey lunch at Polish Kitchen. Since Polish food (at least what we ordered) is sleepy comfort food, and because it takes only the barest of excuses, we wandered across the street to grab coffee before climbing back aboard for our northerly voyage.

shaggy manesOur route took us up the coast, along Michigan’s locally-famed Tunnel of Trees. A gorgeous drive at any time of year, it’s particularly pretty in fall. Because it’s perched directly above the lake, the color comes late to the Tunnel, but gold is creeping into the leaves. Even if it weren’t one doesn’t need fall color to enjoy the sweeping views high above Lake Michigan.

As we neared the Tip of the Mitt (for those of you from afar: that’s the top of Michigan’s lower peninsula, which is sort of shaped like a mitten), we hopped out to stretch our legs (and perhaps find an appropriate repository for the processed coffee) at Wilderness State Park. Sure, there’s a lovely beach there, but did you see those mushrooms? 😉

We made another stop on the south side of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City. Aside from the bridge and Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinaw City basically consists of hotels, flavored popcorn, and fudge. We left the hotels and popcorn behind (though I can attest that the Oreo popcorn is far better than it looks), but did pick up some fudge.

Mackinac Bridge – can be embiggened
Mackinac Bridge - storm front

Meg giving a clinic on how never to grow up 🙂

Views while crossing the bridge. Just pretend that those spots from my polarizing filter aren’t visible in the upward looking shot.

We were officially in the U.P., but still had many miles to go. Even on the deserted northern Michigan highways, we expected to be driving for two more hours, which is just too much in one go when you’re transporting a badly jet-lagged friend. (If you didn’t catch yesterday’s blog, Meg flew in from Maui the previous night.) So once more, we hopped out of the car at a pretty place and played for a few minutes before finishing up our driving for the evening.

Cut River Bridge. A trail goes all the way down to the lake, but we stayed up top.

Autumn color is (or at least was a week ago) exploding in the central part of the U.P. Unrelated outbursts about trees and hillsides and the general fall beauty that enveloped us amusingly punctuated our conversations. Soon enough, we were in Wetmore – practically to our destination – and since the evening was fading, we stopped once more to take advantage of the remaining light.

Alger Falls
Alger Falls

It’s at this point that we learned an interesting thing. You see, the tiny Mackinac Island reportedly exports over 10,000-lbs of fudge a day (it’s not open to tourists year-round). We’re just not that into fudge, so I didn’t understand this, but I know it’s a thing because locals often call tourists fudgies…which according to Urban Dictionary are tourists

to the northern lower, or eastern upper peninsula of Michigan, especially the Mackinac area. Often these tourist are from lower parts of Michigan, and are usually on vacation “up north”. The name “fudgie” comes from the fact that many of these tourist like to spend lots of time in the many fudge shops in northern Michigan.

I just didn’t know of any. Until Meg joined us. That skinny lady in the above photos ate half a pound of fudge in the two hours it took us to get to Munising! I’ll leave you to decide whether her 2:00am bedtime was a result of the jet-lag or the sugar overload.

Post sunset lavender, seen from a few steps west of our bay-facing room
Sunset Motel sunset

No Foolin’ – April Morels!

After an unusually stressful workday, we unwound in the woods. Though not really expecting to find any mushrooms, we packed a mesh bag. After about 45 minutes of hopping from Ash to Ash, it became obvious that it was still too early, so I filled the bag with leeks. I updated some visitors that the weekend of the 20th would hopefully still be a good hunting weekend, but if not, we’d still have a good time. Then we drove down the road a bit, just to check a spot that produced a surprising quantity of nice yellow morels last year. Non-hunters: yellows are late-season, so I had no real hope here. Continue reading

Shades of October

For more than a week now we’ve had solid blue skies and summer-y temperatures.  Add in the fall color and you get lots of pictures.  We’ve been taking it pretty easy, going out on several Sunday drives – on both Saturday and Sunday – and otherwise just trekking around the neighborhood.  Fortunately for us, fall is in full swing, and we sigh at its beauty daily.

Continue reading