michigan

My Hiatus from Texas

On June 14 I started my drive to Michigan after work and a nap. I had the opportunity to work remotely, from my family’s house, way up north. The whole experience was set up so I could visit my grandmother and other family as much as possible for two weeks during a pleasant time of year in Michigan.

As the two week window came to a close, I learned that working remotely is quite possibly the best thing ever. I managed to stay busy and spend so much time with my family all in the same day, what a dream. I was able to exercise before and after work daily, kayak often, have lunch with best friends, and take long walks on the weekends. It is safe to say that I am not enjoying my home atmosphere nearly as much as the Michigan one. I am back to the grind - commuting, avoiding the outdoors due to heat and concrete, and wishing I was somewhere cooler.

Currently, it is a “real feel” temperature near 100 and too hot to ethically walk my dog on the expansive concrete around us. I’m looking through the photos from my time up north and thought I’d share some highlights to keep the spirit alive. I’ll be back for a visit, Michigan, sometime this year again.


Some sunrises…

And, some sunsets…

But, also, these…

#WayBackWednesday - Backpacking

I keep saying that Friday I’m embarking on my first backpacking trip… that’s not ENTIRELY true. Back in 2010, my best bud Kevin and I did a “backpacking” trip (click here to see that post) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It wasn’t too far in, about a mile, and we took only regular sized gear as well as beer. It was a nice change of pace from state park camping, and afforded us a quick hike to the beach. All in all, I’d say it was a great intro to overnighting with a backpack. Each time we go to Kevin’s family cabin in Northern Minnesota, we also sort of “backpack” in. We are miles from phone service or actual utilities and we have to take everything by canoe/boat or sled, then on our backs, to the cabin. I was letting the anxiety related to the idea of backpacking get to me, mostly underestimating my own ability to persevere through situations. I am no quitter, I do push through, and once started, I don’t give up. I can’t wait to get to it and hike a few miles (4-5) to a campsite and explore the wilderness in Arizona this weekend.

Enjoy a few photos of previous “backpacking” trips, and know I’m going to call this upcoming weekend my first time because it will be with new people and more than a mile from the car or boat dock.

#ForestFriday - Northern Sunshine

I recently flew up to Michigan to visit my family over a VERY quick weekend… we’re talking, I got in Saturday at 1AM and left Monday at 5AM. Crazy quick, but I did get some quality walks in that included being between some trees. The wind through the trees was a welcomed replacement for the CONSTANT traffic noise I live near here in Texas. Enjoy these beautiful, northern trees. Happy Forest Friday!

#ForestFriday - Spring?

In Texas, it feels like summer. Reports from friends/family in Michigan say it still feels like winter. Here are a few photos from April of 2009, almost to this exact week, where spring was surely sprung. I hope you find the forest, or the forest finds you. Get out there!

Location: Aman Park (Michigan)

Land of the Odawa and Peoria

#ForestFriday - Along the Coast of Lake Michigan #PureMichigan

Continuing with the theme of the week… Michigan’s lovely coast. These photos are from the summer of 2010, and I’m almost 95% sure it was at the Rosy Mound Natural Area near Grand Haven, Michigan. My memory is a little rusty, but with the dunes in the distance and the Forest Overlook sign, I’m almost sure of it. Either Way, enjoy some coastal forest photos from where I spent the majority of my life.

#WayBackWednesday - Ludington State Park, 2007. #PureMichigan

Back in 2007 some friends and I took a trip to Ludington State Park on Michigan’s west coast. The park sits along Lake Michigan with dunes, trails through the woods, and access to nearby lighthouses. The whole coast of Lake Michigan is amazing, but this little slice is extra nice. If you get the chance to visit Michigan, make sure to travel along the shorelines of the Great Lakes and stop at Ludington State Park.

We lived in nearby Allendale, MI where our college was located so this was an easy little trip for us. We were a bunch of twenty somethings headed camping and we definitely made some memories. The photos I share are from an old camera and are mostly the natural beauty. I didn’t find many photos from our campsite, probably because we were having a real good time.

Spring here in Texas reminds me of summer up in Michigan. The temps are warm enough, the sun is plentiful, and the air is breezy. Here’s to the summer nights of the past and hopefully some in the near future on one of Michigan’s coasts.

#WayBackWednesday - My first trip to Duluth, MN

The view of Duluth from Park Point

The view of Duluth from Park Point

Beach bonfire before heading up to the cabin.

I am quite lucky to know people with amazing places to go when I want to escape the real world for a little bit. Through my best friend, I have access to an off-the-grid cabin in Northern Minnesota near the Boundary Waters. I may have already gone on and on about how amazing this place is, so I’ll just say it is probably my favorite place to go ever. I met Kevin in the dorms back in 2003. We became good friends and he invited me up to the cabin in the summer of 2004. Since college was done for the summer, he was back in metro Detroit and I was in my hometown on Lake Huron in Northern Michigan. The plan was that he’d swing through my town and pick me up one night and we’d drive through the night to arrive in Duluth at dawn. Unknowingly, this trip set up a lifetime of loving the night drive and road trips. Kevin picked me up, we made one stop to buy a new digital camera in the neighboring town’s Walmart, and we were off. I remember getting to Duluth, being tired from the drive, but excited to see Minnesota. After a nap, I met his aunt who owned the cabin and her friend Marie. We had a nice day exploring Canal Park and had bonfire on the beach that night. I want to say that we slept on the beach that night, but my mind is a little foggy on details. The trip was off to a great start. When we did finally head up to the cabin, we strapped the canoe on the minivan and headed up the North Shore. We stopped very little on the way up, saving some scenic spots for our return trip. Kevin had made this drive and been up here annually, so this wasn’t all new to him like it was to me. Looking through the photos, I’m shocked there weren’t more. Back in 2004 we had cell phones, but not nearly the connected lives we have now so I’d be willing to say I appreciate what the cabin is so much more now. I’m so excited to be heading up there tomorrow, escaping the emails and text messages. Enjoy some photos from that virgin voyage in 2004. Here’s to hoping there are many, many more.

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

Boundary Waters flowing into non Boundary Waters area

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

The only way to the cabin is by boat (or bushwhacking through the woods)

This is a place we frequently visit when at the cabin - it has a nice clearing and is great for pondering the mysteries of life, grilling, camping, or just enjoying a trail beer.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge - our last night in Duluth before heading back to Michigan

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

The journey back to the Lower Peninsula across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

#WayBackWednesday - Around Lake Michigan in One Night. (the first time)

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Road trips have been a favorite thing since way back when. In college, my buddy and I would just get in the car and drive until we had to be back for something important. There were nights we’d end up hours from Grand Rapids, MI in Indiana or Northern Michigan. One of these nights, we had the brilliant(ly stupid) idea of driving around Lake Michigan. It was a random March night and we though it would be fun to see if we could make it around the lake in one shot. By this point in time, we had already had many nights of driving to the Mackinac Bridge and back, down every road in our county and surrounding ones, so we were well adjusted to staying up all night blowing money on gas for no reason. We were fueled by coffee, stupidity, and a lack of direction. These trips, these night drives, would eventually lead to our our spring break road trips, and many other adventures along the way.

Here are a few shots of us breezing through Chicago. Notice the excellent photography skills and attention to photo framing; obviously documenting the trip was less important to me back then.

Morning was starting to show and this photo happened in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Flash + snow.

Morning was starting to show and this photo happened in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Flash + snow.

We started before midnight, and pushed through to the next day. We were getting pretty tired by Northern Wisconsin, and I think we stopped for Hardee’s somewhere before entering back into Michigan. We were good at fighting the exhaustion, it was almost a game, and we’d get second and third winds which led to louder music and rolling the windows down allowing the icy air to blast through the car. This was freedom.

Without the flash, the morning light begins to illuminate the snow.

Without the flash, the morning light begins to illuminate the snow.

Temperatures were around zero and the morning sun was beginning to show. You know that feeling of false warmth you get from the sun on a cold day, we didn’t feel that because that’s how cold it was. We had a stockpile of caffeinated products and the need to get back home so the sunrise was just further encouragement.

We stopped several times to take photos of the sun over Lake Michigan as well as at a little rest stop where a thermometer nailed to a tree read just above zero, which we believed was a lie. I might mention, at this point, that we were doing all of this in a 1991 Dodge Caravan that my buddy inherited from his mom when she got a cooler car back in the early 2000s. This van was a beast, all wheel drive, and made it through an unplowed turnout, with a little help from one of us pushing.

We made it back to our respective dwellings safely and probably passed out, I cant’ be sure because we could have also went to class. This may have been the first time we drove around Lake Michigan, but there were more brilliant(ly stupid) adventures to come.

#WayBackWednesday - July at the Lake

I’m looking back to July of 2016 and a spontaneous trip up to Michigan. This was during a transitional period for me when I was working a contract position that was seven days on and seven off - which was great for road trips! Part of me misses that schedule but I don’t miss that job nor do I miss the hours, but I do miss seven days off in a row. That summer we went to Michigan a few times, went to the Redwoods, and plenty of local excursions. Enjoy some photos from the family cottage in rural Northern Michigan and think back to a good time!

#WayBackWednesday - Grand Rapids, Michigan

It was ArtPrize 2010, a city wide art festival, and my dear friend Ashley and I had made the rounds. These are some photos from the afternoon/evening in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived in Grand Rapids from 2003 to 2011 and I genuinely miss the city. These photos take me back and make me think of all of the good times, as well as all of the learning experiences, I had while moving from adolescence to adulthood. Do you have a city or hometown you miss? Would you ever move back? I’d move back to Grand Rapids in a heartbeat, if the situation was right. If you ever get a chance to go to Michigan, I highly suggest hitting up the great food and brews/wines in Grand Rapids.

#WayBackWednesday - Tahquamenon Falls (#WaterfallWednesday)

It was the winter of 2015 and I had some time on my hands. We had already visited Alaska for Thanksgiving and though why not run through Michigan and Minnesota around Christmas. We visited my family in Rogers City and then up through the Upper Peninsula. One of the best places we stopped was Tahquamenon Falls on the east end of the peninsula. The path was snowy and icicles were prominent, making it all even more beautiful. Enjoy a few photos and escape into the winter wonderland that is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

#ForestFriday - Sable Falls (Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore)

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Sable Falls is located in the wonderful Upper Peninsula of Michigan within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore site. You take a short hike to a bunch of stairs and then there's a gorgeous waterfall. Along the trail, you can see Lake Superior just above the trees. I first saw this place on a 2001 road trip around Lake Superior with my grandparents and it's been one of my favorites ever since.

Here are some shots from both fall and winter, my favorite seasons, so you can get the full experience.

I hope you find yourself in a forest this weekend!

 
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Time Can Stand Still

I moved away so quickly in 2011, I don't think it hit until 2015. Seriously, I was away and working and trying to build a life and all of the sudden I just missed Michigan so much. It's now an overwhelming feeling I deal with on a daily basis. Being there for a few days recently was really nice, but really had me emotional on my four hour drive back to the Detroit Airport.

I'm not in a place, financially or career wise, to relocate, but something is really making feel that I will be or that I need to get back. Maybe it's the recent death of my grandfather, maybe it's my aging grandmother, maybe it's the rest of the family, or maybe it's the scenery? I don't know. I do know that I miss it more and more as I get older and even more as I visit so infrequently.

During my most recent trip, my grandmother and I took a little walk as we did many times for years before. In those moments, the brief 15 minutes, time stood still. I felt like a kid again, I felt as though I had never left the state, and I felt at peace. Reality came back, and I realized I was leaving the next day and had to say goodbye to her and everyone else.

I don't know when I'll get to go back in a more permanent capacity, but I do know I'm looking forward to another visit around Thanksgiving, even if it's only a day or two. I can't wait to drive up there and see everyone again. The trips and interactions don't always go as planned, but they usually contain more positive than negative energy.

I made the most of my three full days there including checking out our local apple orchard for hard cider and donuts, spending time with the family, and enjoying the little moments surrounded by nature.

#ForestFriday - Michigan's Upper Peninsula

This week, I'm sharing some photos you may have already viewed over on my Hike 20 post from my recent trip to Michigan.  I don't care if it's a cop out, the forest was gorgeous and quiet and deserves to be shared again.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is about a 2.5-3 hour drive north of my hometown, where I stay when visiting.  It was a warm morning, and the sun illuminated the lower levels, highlighting the ferns and mosses with a beautiful glow.  Everything was green and vibrant, making it feel so alive.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend ahead, and enjoy the forest photos.

#ForestFriday - Sleeping Bear Dunes Backcountry

In 2010 I embarked on the one and only backpacking trip I've ever taken, to date, and it was in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore White Pine Backcountry area of Northwest Lower Michigan.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  My buddy and I packed up, (he mostly) carried in a normal sized tent, normal sized gear, and beer, and camped at site number 1.  It was nice to be away from most people and so close to the lake.  The hike in was about 2 miles, and you can find out more information about the area HERE.  Enjoy some photos I found from the trip.  Enjoy the forest near you!

#ForestFriday - Herman Vogler Conservation Area

Back in my hometown of Rogers City, MI there is a park called the Herman Vogler Conservation Area.  The park has a few trails over the river and through the woods just down the road from my grandparent's house.

This place is special because my grandma would take us there to cross-country ski and walk the trails all throughout my childhood.  I have fond memories of muddy feet in the spring and sore back sides from falling while skiing in the winter.  This park is where I learned to love cross-country skiing and reminds me how much I miss it!

At the end of 2017, I was fortunate enough to be up in Michigan for the holidays and did my final two hikes of the 52 Hike Challenge 2017 here.  Hike #51 & Hike #52  Both hikes were through the snow, and both brought back memories instantly.  I hold this place near to my heart and look to it as a way to remember the good times from childhood, especially now that my grandparents are older and less active.

The photos below are from a visit my BFF Molly and I made in October of 2009.  Enjoy the forest and happy trails!

#ForestFriday - Late Spring in Northern Michigan (2016)

It was (near) Mother's Day weekend and I had made an impromptu visit to the north country to see my mom.  I was surprised, actually, that the trees were still so bare and the air still so chilly but it was enjoyable nonetheless.  These particular forest photos are from some land that is known for sinkholes and giant cracks in the ground near Posen, Michigan in the northeastern Lower Peninsula.  Many plants were still asleep and waiting for more sunshine, but there were a few trillium flowers in bloom.  Enjoy the forest where you are, and if you can't, I hope you enjoy these photos.