Fire, Ice, and Copper

This afternoon I logged into my Flickr account to check out the beautiful images my contacts there had shared. As always, there were several good ones, and one from my friend Aaron that pushed my “I need to catch a sunset on the dunes” button. This is a frequent occurrence for me, and I am usually successful at staving off photographic attacks. For instance, I follow several photographers who live in Iceland, and I have major travel pangs thanks to them…but I have not (yet!) made my way to Iceland.

But Aaron lives in northern Michigan, and even though his photo is from an hour or so southwest of my house, similar landscapes are within half an hour. I was ready to put this urge on the shelf, but the light this afternoon was so beautiful…as viewed from my chair in the living room. When I mentioned it to Tony, he suggested that I go.

At first I wavered, but not for long. Thank goodness, too, because the light wouldn’t linger much longer. I grabbed my pack, tossed on my boots, and hit the road. I had plans to hike to Sleeping Bear Point, but as I got nearer, I spied a path up the dunes and it seemed so much closer. I pulled in, parked, and began a swift ascent up the trail.

Only it wasn’t so swift. If you’ve ever climbed up a mountain of sand, you’ll understand. It was 38-degrees when I parked, and I was wearing heavy winter boots + more than 20-lbs on my back. I was sweating before I inched over the first leg of the journey, not a quarter-mile in. I eyed the giant bowl in the dunes, and caught my breath for a second while taking an iPhone pano:
Spoiler: The top of that rise is not the top at all.
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Then I continued the hike. The first bit wasn’t so bad, as it was down and then gently up. But then I really started to climb. My steps got closer, and my legs caught fire. My breath grew ragged as the cold air froze my lungs and I tasted copper. I considered how much easier the ascent would be without my gear – much – but then why go?

Look at my steps near the bottom of the photo! And see those two shrubs just to the right of the trail? They’re the same ones on the left side of the trail in the pano above.
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Eventually, after a few false dawns, I arrived at the top. You know what I did then? I descended a little, because the view was better.

Celestial Imperatives
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Looking down from near the top. Mom – this is where I stopped to take a photo and you were talking about Uncle Dick stocking up on pudding 🙂
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Signs of the Season

For a few days in August (Or was it just earlier this month? I don’t remember.) the temperatures dropped into the 60’s, and I thought: Oh, it’s time for fall. I thought it was premature, but then I always feel that way, and I welcomed the seasonal change anyway. And then highs in the 90’s returned, and we’ve since been enjoying an extended summer.

Thankfully, the humidity has dropped back down within acceptable (Yep, I’m the judge of that, thankyouverymuch!) northern Michigan norms, and the mosquito population has died back some so outdoor exploration is less frustrating than it is early in the summer. Without much of a plan, Tony and I headed south yesterday afternoon to check out a state park in Interlochen that we’ve driven near dozens of times, yet never stopped to visit.

About half of the campground was closed, which we took as a mere suggestion since it seemed that only cars were blocked. We ducked under the yellow tape and wandered aimlessly under the oaks, hoping the breezes wouldn’t dislodge acorns onto our noggins.

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Thanks to the summery weather, our trees are still mostly green, though a few are starting to display their autumnal plumage. Since Interlochen is a touch inland compared to on-the-bay Traverse City, we had hoped for a slightly advanced color season. We weren’t entirely disappointed.

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After our meandering, we grabbed some dinner and then went in search of potential super moon eclipse viewing sites. I took a few pictures from the park in Greilickville, but by then the sky was getting too dark for the photos I had in mind, so I threw in the towel on that venture. Considering the lunar eclipse is officially underway, and the sky is completely clouded over, I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time discovering the perfect location. Here’s hoping your view is better 🙂

Between Two Moons

Yesterday was a brilliant, cloudless wonder sandwiched between two full moons. I awoke around 7am (early for me – went to bed at 1am…) to see if I could capture the setting full moon. The temperature had plummeted to -4F overnight, and I was tempted to return to the toasty warmth of my pre-dawn bed, but I dressed and grabbed my gear. The sky was clear – perfect for moon viewing. It hung creamy yellow in the sky, blazing orange as it dipped ever westward. As the sun contemplated rising behind me, the moon sunk below the horizon ahead.

Atmospheric disturbances warble the moon’s edges as it sinks lower

Those blankets still beckoned, so I returned to them for a brief sleep while Tony prepared to fly to Atlanta for a couple of days. After I dropped him off at the airport, Petey and I walked a few laps in the park, shivering in the cold, but luxuriating in the sparkling sun.

Tony’s view from the plane – frozen East Grand Traverse Bay

Since we live and work together, Tony’s absence means the house feels particularly quiet. I’m not great at staying inside under the best of circumstances, but when it’s just me and Petey, there’s little keeping me in the house – not even 12F highs in the middle of March. Thus, as the sun’s light shined down in golden rays in the late afternoon, we suited up for another walk.

A little over a mile in, Petey let me know that he was cold, so we jogged back home. But, sunset approached, and after that the moonrise. For symmetry’s sake, I returned to the same place I watched the morning’s moonset – overlooking the frozen Lake Skegemog.
sunset

Not sure where I wanted to photograph the moonrise, I ended up in a valley, hoping I’d get a decent shot. The sky darkened, stars began to appear, and the temperature tumbled. Eventually, the bright, bright moon rose above the nearly black hills, officially marking the end of a bright, bright day. Here’s hoping yours shone as well 🙂
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Celestial Trifecta?

If you know anyone in this part of the world, you know we’re still not exactly making great strides with the whole spring thing. We are getting lots of sun, in terms of its time above the horizon (mostly behind the clouds, but who’s counting?), but that’s only because the sun is impervious to earthly weather vagaries. Continue reading

Howling at the Moon (and the Northern Lights)

I awoke yesterday morning with plans to go spring skiing (Shanty Creek reopened this weekend for a last hurrah), but instead I was greeted with a surprise cold. Thinking that congestion might not meet well downhill adventures, we opted for a day of gallivanting. I happen to like that old adage: do what you do well, and all that 😉 But, for now I’m skipping over yesterday’s productivity in favor of more exciting things. Don’t worry though, I’ll come back to it.

My nerdy weather-checking self noticed that moonrise was slated for 11:13PM last night, and given the day’s absolute stillness, I thought it’d be a great time to pop down to the lake for a moonrise. Continue reading