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 šŸ™‚

You can’t go to Maui and not snorkel

With abundant corals, urchins, fish, eels, and turtles, Maui’s reef ecosystem offers a visual cornucopia just steps from the beach. Like many visitors to the island, Tony and I were in the not unique position of wanting to spend some time exploring Maui’s coral reef. In the course of a week, amid other excursions, we fit in four solid snorkeling trips, and I squeezed in a short fifth outing while we relaxed on Hana’s red sand beach. Continue reading

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Maui, Dude

If you’re a regular reader, you may have missed me over the last several days. Tony and I returned today from a week with a best, good friend in Maui. We left the island yesterday just past noon, and arrived in Traverse City this morning around 8:30. We’re still a bit jet-lagged, though I will say the 3-4 hour nap helped tremendously, even if that does make it two days in a row that went breakfast…dinner with lunch stuck in the time vortex.

But you didn’t come here to listen to my travel complaints – you (probably) came here for sea turtles. We actually rose with the sun (or earlier) each day, and had a week full of adventures including multiple snorkeling expeditions, a kayaking outing, a driving/exploring tour of the island’s circumference, a few hikes, and yes, a bit of surfing. In retrospect, I probably should have tried to fit in more surfing, because I love it even in my completely novice state. Still, my favorite thing this trip was swimming with the sea turtles. Continue reading

Kayaking the Fall Salmon Run on the Platte

The Platte River is one of my favorite places up here to kayak. The water is beautiful, and the surroundings are perfectly soothing. We put in at the national park area right off of M-22, near Riverside Canoe Trips. If you take the road directly to the mouth of river, it’s about 2.25 miles, but the Platte winds and bends a fair amount, so I’m sure it’s a bit more. I hadn’t paddled those waters since April, when my sister visited, but for the rest of my companions it had been since last August. Because the water is so clear and calm, it is also a favorite place for tourists, so we leave them to it in the summer and enjoy it virtually on our own during the off-season.

The journey Continue reading

Snorkeling for Lunch

Do you remember back in June when Tony and I went out in search of a future dive site? Today during lunch we went back there – the Petobego Natural Area- armed with our snorkel gear and camera. We originally learned about it from a couple of guys we met at a dive site in Northport, who described the area as having some interesting underwater sawdust-plus-sand formations.

Back in the lumbering days, there was a sawmill located on the water near Angell Road south of Elk Rapids. As a result, the sandbars that surround the current Petobego Pond are full of sawdust. As we walked along the shore, this odd mixture of sand and dust barked (very similar to the sound of H2 + O2 –> H2O in a test tube, which I know is very specific, but IĀ didĀ  teach high school science) with every step. I couldn’t help but barking my way along like I do on gym floors in squeaky shoes šŸ™‚
Looks like sand, “pops” like burning hydrogen


We left our belongings at the edge of the water and then ventured in. We stayed within the pond since the nearby bay was rather choppy. Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the site for snorkeling/free diving. There just wasn’t much to see, although there were tons of tiny fish schooling around us. (Presumably we’d have better luck if we swam to the drop out on the bay…maybe next time.) The bottom was very soft (probably the whole ground wood meets ground stone thing), which I found a bit unnerving. Also, it kicked up into the water easily, reducing visibility.

Despite the flash accidentally being on without my noticing šŸ˜¦ I still like the left-hand snap because the surface of the water from below looks neat – plus that sun-dappled bottom šŸ™‚

But, right before we decided to hop out of the water, I spotted something I’ve never seen up here:

I’m pretty sure it’s a gar. When you’re submerged in water, you can’t exactly shout for your swim buddy. Instead, I excitedly waved my arms around in his general direction until he noticed. Unlike most fish that immediately dart away when they detect your presence, this guy languidly swam around for awhile before finally and slowly swimming away.

Note: In my attempts to verify what the guys in Northport told us, I came across some info suggesting that this place is a favorite for kiteboarders. You can get here by boat, or by walking along the shore…on private property. If you plan to visit this site via a hike in, stick to the water’s edge.