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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.
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A Quick Kayak

Something about the weather this summer has just not been inspiring for kayak trips. We’ve talked a few times about going out, but changed our minds for various reasons. The other morning after I dropped Petey off for puppy day camp (What? Who’s spoiled?), I stopped by the beach in Elk Rapids. It was early enough in the morning that the water was still, and the beach was entirely empty. I really wished I didn’t have to return home for work, but I did. At least I had my few peaceful moments on the sand before my work day began.

 


The morning remained calm long after I arrived home. And as we finished lunch, the sun was shining, and things still looked entirely pleasant out. I checked the forecast, and the weather report indicated wind speeds at a max of 5MPH – not too shabby. So before we picked Petey up, we decided to squeeze in an hour on the lake.

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I’m not sure about the whole 5MPH thing. The air didn’t seem particularly breezy, but the lake surface was quite choppy (I walked away with a very wet lap), and the current on the south side of the beach pulled strongly at the tails of our boats.


But for no longer than we were out, the paddle was exceptionally rejuvenating. I don’t know why time spent quietly on or near the water is so restorative, but it is. I feel so at peace and so connected to the water when we kayak. We should really get out more often.

What I Love

One of my best friends shared this post on Facebook the other day along with a list of things she loves.
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It stuck with me all through the weekend, so I’m clearing my head here. I’m not sure it makes me interesting, but it’s far more fun to focus on what I love rather than on things I hate.

I love:
family visits and continuing traditions, laughing until I cry, reading by a fire or out in the sunshine, season changes, a fresh blanket of snow, the first blossoms in spring, petrichor, the smell of a John Deere tractor, playing on or in the water, staying up late watching movies, kettle corn, afternoon naps, morning dog walks, the beauty in the details, falling asleep to a soft rain, sleeping with the windows open, the crunch of fallen leaves and thick snow, Torch Lake, Lake Michigan, the golden hour, spontaneous road trips, sunsets, sun warmed tomatoes fresh off the plant, snuggling with my husband and our little fuzzies, classic rock songs around a campfire, twinkling stars, frogs and crickets on a quiet night, hiking, jogging, kayaking, baking, singing loudly, making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, making photos…

What do you love?

Family time, hiking, mushroom hunting traditions… (too bad the only photo I took of both my parents they aren’t in focus :-/ )

Beauty in the details, petrichor, photos

Kayaking, connecting with friends

Sunsets, Torch Lake

On the Platte Again, with the Salmon

After the northern lights adventure on Tuesday night (okay, early Wednesday morning), we decided a post-work kayaking excursion was in order. I had less than four hours of sleep the night before, and Tony didn’t sleep much more, but we looked at the forecast, and Wednesday was our best bet for an enjoyable trip in the foreseeable future.

I grabbed a maple cinnamon latte (the details are important here – you should request one of these from your favorite coffee shop!) so that I’d have the requisite caffeine to keep me awake on the ride home. Except for my once or twice a week lattes and the very occasional soda, I don’t have caffeine anymore and my body doesn’t react great to it. Shakes and high temperature, and all that…but it does keep me awake, so I imbibed.

We didn’t get the boats in the water until 5:30 or so, giving us just under two hours until sunset…for a trip that usually takes just over that time. Plus we were alone, so we’d have to make the trek back to our origin to get the car. No big deal: paddle faster ;)

Normally during the fall salmon run, the river is loaded with fishermen angling for one of the monster fish that are fighting upstream. By the time we got to the fish weir, which is piled with fish – and then normally just downstream with fishermen – we had only seen one other person on the water. There was a gentleman raking debris from the underwater gates at the weir (it must be operated by the DNR and not the NPS) who kindly warned me to take care: he had seen salmon accost a lady just the other day, and she left with a bloody (broken perhaps) nose. Duly noted.

As we continued our journey, a few flocks of mallards winged upstream overhead, and a heron retreated downstream, eventually giving over to the woods for escape. Finally, we caught up with a few fisherfolks (there were ladies, too!), but nothing like the weekend hordes we often encounter on this trip. We navigated around a guy wrestling a coho, and then hastened on.

Abruptly, we arrived at the El Dorado landing, an access point about a mile before the planned end of our trip. However, thanks to lingering at the fish weir, and not actually paddling faster, the sun rapidly approached the horizon. We dropped the kayaks off to the side of the landing, and began our two-mile walk back to the car.

About halfway there, I glanced over my shoulder, noting the salmon-colored clouds. I grabbed the key from Tony and jogged the rest of the way to the car. He didn’t want to load the boats in the dark, but I’m more practical: if we didn’t hurry, I might miss a pretty sunset.

sunset over the Platte

Crisis averted. One last stop for photos, and then we recommenced the voyage, this time to rectify the now obvious lack of food in our tummies. All in all, the trip was hectic, but it was still a perfect way to unwind and soak up some fall beauty. Ahhhhh!

Quiet Time on Torch River

Hello again. I haven’t disappeared, though it’s been another week since I last posted. We’ve again been busy entertaining, and again had a great time. I think things are winding down for summer though – both in terms of visitors and the season. Our grass is hardly growing, my burning bush is smoldering, and the sun is noticeably setting before 9pm. That’s all okay…mostly because it has to be, but also because there are still summery days ahead, and even the fall-ish days make for great kayaking and hiking.

Last week, Tony and I scoped out new paddling spot, thanks to our neighbor’s description of the area. We weren’t otherwise likely to go, but he mentioned that loons linger there, so we decided the wetlands by the Torch River bridge must not be so bad after all.

We put our kayaks in at a public access point on the south end of Torch Lake and paddled through some chop over to the bridge. The boaters were a little less polite than I’d have liked, cementing our thoughts on not keeping a future boat docked there. However, once we got through the narrows and beyond the marinas, things quieted and we were able to get lost in the river’s serenity.

Torch River reflections

Almost immediately, we spotted a loon in an alcove off the main branch of the river. It kept a leery eye on us, and then dived for a long underwater swim, only to resurface far from us. Well-played, loon – we did not see that coming ;)


After tooling around by the boathouses and deep-rooted lilies, we headed back out into the river. The lazy current drifted us past a stump-laden swamp, which happens to be one of my favorite things to check out while kayaking. It’s a dark underworld that I would not want to walk through, but to paddle over, it’s dark and mysterious and beautiful.

After idling in the swamp, we rejoined the current, and floated downstream in the lowering sun. Seagulls complained of our presence, but were not irked enough to fly away – even when we passed by them on our return, after shadows cloaked the river. This time we explored a different offshoot of the river, hanging out with a heron. The heron was watchful, but was much less cagey than the loon.


By this time, the heat had gone from the day and the shadows were deepening. We paddled back out, against the current this time, and then picked our way through the boat traffic. Perhaps this paddle isn’t one for the weekends, but it’ll be one we revisit.
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