Hiking Arcadia

Tony and I have always leaned toward the curmudgeonly side, opting for to bushwack our own roads rather than share one with the masses. It’s not that the masses are lesser; it’s that they are masses. Thus, living in Traverse City, we are more aware of the weekend crowds that gather to play in our northern Michigan playground, and we feel pressure to escape. Even popular outdoor destinations like the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park feel too busy on weekends, so yesterday we decided to aim for a sunset hike a bit south of our normal settings.

After an oddly frustrating drive down US-31, we parked at the Old Baldy Trailhead in the Arcadia Dunes Nature Preserve. We’d driven by the area a few times, but never stopped for a hike. We joined one car in the parking area, and other than footprints, saw no other signs of humanity on our outing. Masses averted ;)

The trail was well-marked, dotted with late summer wildflowers, and devoid of bugs – pretty much the best kind of trail. The mixed hardwoods had a lovely open forest floor, deeply darkened by a rich canopy. But we soon climbed a ridge leading over the dunes.

The packed sand gave way to loose sand as we rounded Old Baldy, an open dune perched 356-feet above Lake Michigan.
Baldy

The sun shone through a hazy sky, painting the sand peach; a gentle breeze took the heat out of the climb; and the vistas made us feel tiny.

Because there wasn’t easy lake access, we decided to stop by the shore in Elberta so that Petey could get a drink and romp in the waves.
After the sunset in Elberta

The scope of the beauty that surrounds our days in northern Michigan sometimes leaves me breathless. Moving here five years ago was a good choice. I love calling this place home – even on “busy” weekends that encourage us to spread our wings a little.

Unsalted Snorkeling

Halfway through August, we are nearing the end of our “summer B&B” season. Summer’s not over yet, though, and splashing in the water with our work friends (who just wrapped up a week-long visit) whetted our appetite for more time in our unsalted waters.

I remember being chilly when we lived in Miami…when the temperatures dipped into the mid-70’s. Now I’d be happy if it never got warmer than that. Except the high temps make the water nice. We were having a tough time deciding between a kayak trip or a swimming trip, and the mid-80’s we’re scorching in settled it.

We rode the half hour over to Glen Arbor, and joined scores of other folks there on the beach. Though it was busy, it wasn’t packed to the point where I felt like a sardine in a tin can of humanity. Still, I didn’t mind when we swam away from shore to be with the fishes.

I’d have been cool without my rash guard on, but a thin neoprene layer up top was sufficient for our time out. We kicked over to a submerged pier, and discovered some wreckage along the way. It’s funny how mundane things gain interest when they become the underwater home to algae and mussels.


The pilings were less intriguing than I had imagined. I expected lots of algae, and perhaps some elodea and fish. Instead, there was just some algae, no seaweed, and only tiny fish. Still, the pier’s remains were expansive, interesting, and a touch spooky.

The expanse of the lake itself can be a bit spooky, but it was calm (no fear of rip currents), and it’s unsalted (no sharks). I eventually got chilly, and we were both hungry. We returned to shore to bask in the now comfortable afternoon heat to dry off before the ride home. What have you been doing to stay cool?

PS – Life’s been pretty busy these past several months, and I have no idea if it’s going to slow down. I felt compelled to write tonight, but I don’t know when that urge will strike again…or when I’ll have time. If you want to sorta follow along, or just look at photos, I do still post regularly to Facebook and Instagram :)

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

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

Last Call and a PT Update

Heeding Petey’s I’m getting cold signals, we trekked back to the car and got him snuggled down in his blankets with a bowl of kibble and some water. Pup sated and stowed, we hit the road meandering through the Leelanau countryside as we made our way to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

By the time we arrived, the world had gone all blue and gold – kind of like that dress only far prettier.
warm and cool palette

Despite its warm color, the sun no longer held much heat, and at the very tip of the peninsula, we were utterly unprotected from the blustery breezes.
out standing in its field hahahaha

Though captivated by the glistening shards of ice and the duo-tone palette, we were cold.
rose ice

We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to leave though. I’d take my last photo, and then Tony would ask where I was going. “Just over to this piece of ice.” You know. That really cool one that’s obviously different from all these other really cool ones.
me as Vanna

I’d finish with my cool ice only to find Tony wasn’t by my side, nor was he walking back to the lighthouse grounds.
ice shards in last light

So it went, until the sun made its last call, and then dipped below the horizon. Still I wanted to stay, but my nearly frost-bitten fingers – like the wind – cried Mary Mercy.
last light


 
I meant to talk to you all last post about my knee and PT (not to be confused with Petey, ahem, Siri). Great news: I’ve been going for one-hour sessions twice a week, and I’ve incorporated as many moves as I can into my at-home workouts. My knee pain isn’t entirely gone, but it’s mostly gone, and when I do feel it, it’s much less intense. Notably, there are times when I move in a way that I fully expect to feel pain, but don’t. That’s my real benchmark for improvement. I have one more appointment on Wednesday, and then a running analysis so that I can start bringing that back into my life. Henceforward (which is a word; I checked), you may call me a PT Evangelist :D