Northern Michigan By Air

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One benefit to my extra-long blogging hiatus is that I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on my reading – which means lots of reviews and other bookish content soon to come, but those are a little tougher to write. [Read: they take more way more time.] In the meantime, I thought I’d share a post about the family’s recent plane adventure in Northern Michigan.

For the Memorial Day weekend, Ryan flew Ruby and I to Traverse City to see my parents. Flying north for a holiday weekend beats driving every time, even if it’s a little bumpy. No traffic and crazy drivers! The forecast was also promising a sunny, cloud-free Saturday, so we took the opportunity to shirk responsibilities and take a sightseeing flight around the area. This was also my dad’s first time in a single-engine airplane!  Continue reading

A Traverse City Memorial Day

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As part of our whirlwind Memorial Day weekend, Ryan and I decided to spend the day in Traverse City after the music festival.  Half because it’s awesome, and half because it was practical, and a little bit of needing cross-country flight hours for his next rating, Ryan decided to fly.  So, we got up early, put the dog in the car, and drove to the airport.  I texted my parents that we’d be there mid-morning, and that was that.  We flew into the Traverse City airport, my parents picked us up, and we had a magical day.  Then in the evening, after a delicious BBQ chicken dinner fitting of Memorial Day, we took off for home.  The flight was quick and easy, and Ruby did awesome in the plane – I even caught her looking out the window.

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Close Enough to Vacation

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This was, as I think is true for a lot of people, the summer that wasn’t.  Ryan and I didn’t get any vacations scheduled aside from our annual events, and so they just never happened.  (I had grand plans that included a lot of camping and weekend road trips, alas.)  So, a few weeks ago I said THAT’S IT, and went up north for a four-day break from reality – also known as my parents house.  Being retired from education, they are in a unique position to empathize with my lack of out-of-town adventuring; they’ve had summer vacation literally their whole lives.  So when I arrived they had a full docket of summer-vacation-eqsue entertainment for me.  Except it was 60 degrees and raining. So more like a drizzly European holiday, rather than sunny, friendly, beachy northern Michigan.  But I’ll take it.  There’s just something so cozy about a sweatshirt, shoes, and socks after a few weeks of heat.  And like a kid on a long car ride, I packed a big bag full of things to do – I was ready.  We went hiking, poked around downtown, went to some antique and resale shops, wine-tasting, and ate a lot of great food. Continue reading

Photography Sea Legs – Up North

Frankfurt Downtown
In the name of travel and adventure (and visiting family) we headed up north last weekend to Traverse City and Frankfort to see my parents.  My dad is on the mend everyday, and we took a fantastic bike ride around downtown Frankfort and on the Betsie River trail. My family has their priorities in order, however, and our first stop was lunch – at Dinghy’s in downtown Frankfort. I am something of a French Dip connoisseur, and theirs was out of this world.

Dingys Frankfort

I made sure to take my “good” camera on the bike ride, and everyone was pretty obliging as I kept making us stop so I could get good shots.  There was just so much cool stuff to see.  I’m enjoying how much closer I look at things while wondering if it will make for a good photograph or not.  Before things could get overwhelming “Ah! This is all so beautiful/neat/picturesque/cool!”  But with the camera in tow, I’ve (mostly) stopped trying to get the entire view in the frame, because you know, it will never do the experience justice.  The best thing to do is just get a glimpse, a corner, a piece of the action so you can remember the whole thing later.

Bike Betsie Trail BridgeView from Betsie Trail BridgeThere are a lot of great nooks and crannies in Frankfort – and while I’ve been there before, I never realized how much was in the little downtown area. We rode our bikes past a cute bed and breakfast, which Ryan and I decided would be perfect to come back to, just to have a weekend completely without driving, filled with eating, drinking, and poking around.  Not to mention a BEAUTIFUL beach.

Al Ryan Frankfurt Beach
You’ll have to excuse the helmet hair and outfits – hey, we were biking!

Frankfurt Lighthouse
When we got down to the beach, the weather was oddly humid with the overcast clouds on their way out. But farther out on the lake it was still foggy, so you couldn’t distinguish between sky and water, which was kind of eerie.  Everything was completely still.

Mom and Dad Bikes Frankfurt Beach
How cute are my parents?  And how much would you love to live in that house right there?!

Betsie River Mouth Frankfort
There is so much history in Frankfort, I don’t even know the beginning.  Like much of northern Michigan, Frankfort used to be very industrial, and with the Betsie Lake and River right beside Lake Michigan, it seems the city used to be a major shipping port.  This is what adventure does for you – makes you ask questions.  I picture Frankfort in it’s hey-day of the mid-to-late 1800s (or even the 1940s or 50s!).  When we go back, I’ll make sure we stop by the library, which is right on Betsie Lake and see if I can’t find some answers to my questions.  (Sure, there’s the internet, but how much more fun is it to learn the story in the actually setting?)

Up North

Glen Haven View 2
While I sometimes lament the fact that my parents live so far away, I should also be thankful that really they’re only a three-hour drive, and are living in (arguably) the most beautiful part of the state.  And, I can go visit them whenever I want.  For instance, just the other weekend, as a combination Mother’s Day / Dad’s Birthday celebration, I made a visit.  Even though the ostensibly spring weather was absolutely horrible, we made the best of it and went for a hike.  A mere 30-minute drive from their house is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  

Glen Haven View 1
Glen Haven School House
These pictures are from a wonderfully eery abandoned town called Glen Haven.  (Perhaps I’ll provide a fascinating and lengthy history lesson on that later.)  Now occupied by the National Lakeshore, Glen Haven has an amazing beach, a scattering of little old wooden buildings, and a trailhead or two.

DH Day Mom and Dogs
And of course I had to get a picture of my mom holding onto the dogs – Emma and Ruby, theirs and mine.  (Please note the extensive garb my mother is wearing – yeah, that’s a winter ski coat, hat, and corduroys – in MAY!)  Ah well, the dreary weather made for exceptionally moody pictures.  When it’s 100 and humid I’ll look back on these and smirk.

Why is this enrichment, you ask?  I firmly believe anytime you can get off dead center and do a little exploring you are doing yourself a favor.  You never know what you’re going to find outside the walls of your own space, especially if you keep your eyes open to it.  So, while I have been to this general area before, I’d never walked on this trail, or been at the beach when the weather was quite so finicky.  Standing alone on the sand as the cool wind pushes you around gives you a feeling of odd tranquility, and to me, that’s enrichment.