Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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What it means to have an old dog

Having an old dog means you have to watch where you’re stepping in the kitchen while you cook, as she’s underfoot looking for anything dropped, and she can’t hear you move around.

Having an old dog means you get to open string cheese and actually eat the whole thing because she doesn’t hear the wrapper. Or the fridge door opening.

Having an old dog means you can get up to go to the bathroom at night without her getting up and having to do the same.

Having an old dog means when she does wake up in the middle of the night to go outside she’s serious about it and you better sleep with one ear cocked.

Having an old dog means you don’t travel as much, and never as a couple because someone needs to be home with her.

Having an old dog means shorter walks and longer sits on the deck.

Having an old dog means you smile wistfully when she play bows, or attacks your feet. Because she doesn’t do that very often anymore.

Having an old dog means you stare at her when she’s sleeping, memorizing the way her fur curls around her ears.

Having an old dog means more vet appointments and bigger bills.

Having an old dog means cooking chicken and rice for someone other than your people.

Having an old dog means pointing out the squirrels in her backyard and feeling sad when she doesn’t care.

Having an old dog means sometimes you sit longer in one spot because she’s finally settled and you don’t want to make her move again.

Having an old dog means stepping out of the shower and having to dry your own legs off because she doesn’t come to lick away the water.

Having an old dog means waking her up before you go to the grocery so she doesn’t wake on her own and look for you.

Having an old dog means sometimes finding her looking for you anyway, even though you haven’t left the house.

Having an old dog means reassuring her that you’re still sitting in the same chair when she opens one eye to check on you as she naps.

Having an old dog is keeping all her toys, even her frisbee, out of sentimentality rather than any hope she’s going to play with them again.

Having an old dog means going out in the backyard to explore and sometimes having to carry her back into the house.

Having an old dog means the UPS or FedEx driver can ring the doorbell and she doesn’t go crazy barking.

Having an old dog means checking the floor after she’s been deeply asleep to make sure she hasn’t leaked.

Having an old dog means letting her choose where we go on our daily walks.

Having an old dog means sitting at a picnic table and watching her park rather than exploring much of it at all.

But mostly having an old dog means you are very very lucky.

Love you baby-girl.


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So…..lighthouses

I’m starting to feel repetitive here. All three of these lighthouses have appeared in this blog in years past. Still, lighthouses are irresistible, so maybe you won’t mind seeing them again. I didn’t mind visiting them again myself.

I was exploring the northern edge of the Upper Peninsualia, when I noticed a sign for Point Iroquois Light, and I remembered visiting it a few years ago.

A beautiful building.

During all the years I lived in the UP I never knew about this lighthouse. But it’s a special one, on a beautiful piece of land with a great view of Canada.

Canadian windmills across the way.

When we were here before it was open and we climbed the tower. This year covid has it closed, but I still enjoyed walking around the grounds. I was taking a picture of the lilac bushes along the front of the lighthouse when I realized there were butterflies everywhere.

Do you see them in this image?

So now you’ll have to indulge me while I show you some of those.

Hold still for a moment!

I spent a long time circling this lilac bush, trying to get a good shot of both types of butterflies.

I love the colors on the underside of this guy’s wings.

They didn’t stay still long, especially, it seemed, never stopping long in the sunlight.

Did you know the body of the monarch is spotted? I didn’t until just a couple weeks ago!

But it was so much fun to try. And in the end I got a few shots that I liked.

What a spectacularly beautiful day.

During this trip I camped at two locations, the first on the Straights, and the second at the mouth of the Hurricane River, where it empties into Lake Superior.

My site tucked into the trees. This was a beautiful, but rustic, campground.

This campground has a lighthouse too. You walk a mile and a half up a beautiful, wide, mostly level path above the shore of Lake Superior, out to the point where the lighthouse sits.

It’s a really pretty walk, though 1.5 miles starts to feel like a long way if you’re carrying all your photography gear.

My goal, when I made the reservation for this campground, was to do some night photography with the lighthouse in the foreground. It was a good plan.

Some of the coast here is rocky. All of it is beautiful.

I walked out there late in the afternoon one day. No one was out there, covid had this lighthouse closed too, so no park rangers were around.

Almost there!

No tourists either as the wind was picking up and another storm was on the way.

Au Sable Light Station, a beautiful compound.

It was kind of nice to have the place to myself.

I loved the colors of the brown ferns in the late afternoon light, with the red brick outbuilding.

On the other hand, it was still a couple of hours until the sun set, and a few more hours after that until it got really dark.

And I loved these sweet daisys with this building down near the water.

I started to feel uncomfortable with the thought of walking back down the path in the dark by myself. Plus there were no open restrooms out there.

The weather was changing.

So I reluctantly gave up on the idea of staying there until the stars came out. But I haven’t given it up totally. I plan to go back but bring someone with me so I’m not out there all alone!

The view from up there is stunning!

In the end it was good I headed back when I did. That evening the thunder began far off and quickly advanced until it was overhead. We ended up having 7 hours of pouring rain, lightening and thunder. I listened to it all from my cozy tent, glad I wasn’t running back through the dark and rain from the point!

As I listened to the pouring rain that night I thought about this open window in the tower. Bet no one closed it before the storm.

My last lighthouse is out at Whitefish Point. It’s a totally different sort of lighthouse from the other two.

This is the image everyone gets from the parking lot. It was starting to rain when I grabbed it.

And the beach there is totally different too.

Filled with huge fallen trees turned driftwood, tossed about by Lake Superior, it’s certainly not a swimmer’s paradise.

I had grand plans of trying to get the Milky Way behind the lighthouse. Or at least some stars.

Would have been cool with the Milky Way behind it.

It was sunny and 85 degrees when I left to drive up to Whitefish Point. When I arrived it was 58, windy and thunder was just off to the west. Another plan foiled.

And then the storm arrived.

So there you have it. Three lighthouses along the south shore of Lake Superior. Worth the trip even if I didn’t capture what I set out to get. I guess that’s the fun (and frustration) of photography.

There’s always next year. You won’t mind seeing them again, right?

It’s all about the light. And avoiding the rain.


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Every day is Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

On this day when people everywhere are celebrating their dads, I celebrate you.

1953

I wonder what you’d look like today, at age 91. I can’t quite imagine you any other way than how I’ve always known you. You never seemed to change much, you never aged.

1959

But you will always be 75, the age you were when you were stolen from us.

I know I’m lucky we had you that long. I know plenty of families where people have been stolen or injured much earlier than 75. I know plenty of people whose parents were taken when they were much younger than I was.

1980

I know parents whose children were taken. That’s beyond anything I can even imagine.

1990

So I know we were lucky. .

2003

But I can’t help but wish you were here today.

Every day is Father’s Day, dad, because we all think about you every day.

But, I know you know that.


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Waterfalls

While I was camping in the Upper Peninsula last week I got to roam around several waterfalls. I’d been to all of them in years past, and if you’re a long time reader you’ve probably seen them all. But come along with me anyway, you deserve a short break and waterfalls are fun.

The biggest waterfalls in Michigan are near Newberry in the Upper Peninsula. Tahquamen Falls are a big tourist attraction, there’s a state park campground there, and a few hotels in neighboring towns. I just drove over from my campsite down at St. Ignance.

The view from the trail to the falls.

The upper falls are the highest. Notice the red tint to some of the water? That’s tannin from the cedar trees growing along the banks of the river. Sometimes the whole thing looks like frothy rootbeer. You can walk down a lot of stairs to see it from river level.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Of course I did.

The view from down at the river.

On the way back up I stopped to take this picture of the rocky walls the river has cut away over hundreds of years. Don’t tell anyone, but taking pictures is a good way to rest when you’re having trouble breathing on your way up a whole lot of stairs.

Carved by the river centuries ago.

Then you can take more stairs down to the brink of the falls.

Definitely don’t want to skip this!

It’s important to take these stairs down so you can get a good, closeup look.

Sometimes it’s good to have a hand to hold on to.

Even if your knees and back are protesting.

Getting up close.

Then you can walk the four miles through the woods to the lower falls. Not many people do that, as the trail is quite rustic. I drove. Those stairs were plenty of exercise for me.

When you get to the lower falls you walk along a boardwalk back to get a good view of the falls.

I love this walk almost as much as the falls themselves.

Some years, when there’s less water kids play in them. But not this year! The noise and spray were pretty intense.

Lots of water roaring over the falls.

You can rent a rowboat and paddle over to an island where it’s safe to play in the water. As I was taking pictures I heard the thunder of a storm coming in. The people working at the rowboat station were calling everyone to come back, to get off the water. Everyone did but one young lady who was having trouble paddling in a straight line.

I don’t think he was a lot of help.

I enjoyed Tahquamen Falls, though I lost my phone somewhere there. I don’t remember putting it down anywhere, the last thing I remember doing was taking a picture at the bottom of the first set of stairs. Once back at the car I realized I didn’t have it and I traced my path again, all those stairs included, but never found it.

Ah well, it was pretty anyway.

I learned there are ways to survive without a phone, and continued on my trip, heading north and camping at Hurricane River. From there I explored a few waterfalls, the first being Sable Falls, just a few miles from the campground.

Guess what? There were stairs, even more stairs than at Tahquamen!

They have a sense of humor at Sable Falls.

But it was worth it! No one was there but a fisherman who was further down the river. I set up the tripod and had fun working on smoothing out that flowing water.

Such a pretty waterfall.

But I forgot to carry down my remote shutter release. So after I shot a few images by physically touching the shutter, and worried that I might have moved the camera doing that, I climbed back up the stairs to my car, grabbed the shutter release and clomped back down.

Smoothing out all the edges.

To be honest, I don’t know which of these pictures used the shutter release and which might have been just me and my finger. It didn’t make any difference, but you never know. It was worth the extra steps to me.

Then I drove over to Munising which has several falls. I visited Wagner Falls which has a small parking lot and a short walk back to the falls along a boardwalk…

This was a small waterfall on the walk back to the main event.

..where along the way you can hear the water flowing over the falls hidden by the trees.

Another beautiful waterfall. And very few stairs!

I can’t decide which image I like better of this falls, so I’ll show you both.

Water glides over the rocks.

Then I drove into town and visited Munising Falls. There’s a visitor center there with information about the area, and a very short level walk back to the falls.

The water was ethereal.

Both Wagner and Munising falls are easy walks from the parking lots. I recommend you visit them yourselves if you’re ever up there!

Last time I was up in that part of the woods (literally woods!) my husband and I walked the mile back to Miners Falls in the snow.

No bugs to speak of on that trip.

This year it was getting dark and the bugs were bad, so I didn’t. Plus, have I mentioned tourists? I hadn’t been in the UP (Upper Peninsalia) in tourist season in years. I’d forgotten about all those darn tourists everywhere!

I did drive out to see Miner’s Castle, a rock formation that you shouldn’t miss, and you get this vantage point from very near the parking lot. You can also walk down to see it closer. But did I mention tourists?

Spectacular.

So those are the waterfalls I had the opportunity to visit this trip. I hope you enjoyed them, it was nice to have company on all those stairs…and while I was running from the black flies!

Next up, maybe I’ll show you lighthouses….or maybe it will just be other pretty things. I have to hurry up or I’ll be talking about this camping trip the rest of the summer!

Watching birds fly over in the morning light from my cozy tent.

Guess that wouldn’t be so bad though.


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The mighty Mackinac Bridge

Pronounced Mackinaw, the Mackinac Bridge was finished in 1957, and it connets the lower and upper peninsulia of Michigan.

My first evening at the Straits State Park.

It’s just about 5 miles across, and once a year, on Labor Day, they close one side of it to traffic and let people walk across. I’ve done that once, and it was amazing.

The bridge lit up for the night.

This past week I booked 3 nights at the Straits State Park which is located just over the bridge, on the UP side of the water, hoping to practice some night photography. I booked three nights because you just never know about the weather. Would there be a clear night to shoot? Or would we have cloudy skies and rain?

I has lovely campsite, a grassy spot right on the beach with my own private path down to the water. That, of course, aforded me numerous opportunities to run out there and shoot an image. Or a dozen of them.

Lots of people around, but my site was large and grassy.

The first night I was there was clear, and after messing around in the evening getting some shots I set my alarm for 1 a.m. and went for the star and bridge combination. As I figured, the lights from the bridge washed out most of the stars, but I had a nice warm night playing around with settings, so I didn’t mind. And I figured I’d have a couple more nights to try again.

Trying to get some star in the shot.

The next day was another beautiful clear morning. I wandered down to the shore, noting the family of geese that had slept there and the freighter going under the bridge. All of that was fun, but I was planning on traveling up to Whitefish Point to see if I could get some more interesting night photography in. So I headed out.

That ended up being a story in itself. Though it was 85 and muggy on the Straits, it was 58 and pouring rain up at the point. So no night photography there! I headed back down to my campsite, and found this:

Fog overtake the bridge at sundown.

I was so glad I didn’t miss this, glad that it was cold and rainy where I had intended to spend my evening. The fog was so beautiful.

Things are turning pink.

And then the sun began to set. I could tell this was going to be spectacular.

Oh, this is going to be good!

And I wasn’t wrong.

People on the beach were as excited as if it were the 4th of July fireworks.

We all sat out there on the beach until the last bit of pink light faded and the fog rolled the rest of the way in. No night photography for sure, but I didn’t mind at all. And in the morning we woke to this:

No view to speak of.

So much fog I couldn’t even see the beach! So I headed out to find something interesting somewhere else. As soon as I left the park the fog lifted, it was hanging around over the water, but the rest of the penninsula was warm and sunny. But that is also another blog post.

There’s always something to photograph. Bug and buttercup.

When I got home I had one last chance to try for the pretty lights on the bridge. You’d think I had enough images of the Mighty Mac (and I did have several hundred) but you’d be wrong. I hadn’t quite got the one image I had in my mind.

Pretty, but not quite.

You know the one. The one people line up on beaches on both sides of the Straits to see every clear summer night.

This one.

When I got it a smile spread over my face. I’m sure the others on the beach didn’t know why I was giggling. But I did. When you get the one, you know.

And in the morning, to say goodbye, the bridge again cloaked itself in fog just so I could get one more artsy-fartsy image. Because she knows I’m always looking for that special shot.

Floating in air.

Such a fitting way to say goodbye. For now.


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Epic camping experience

Time is sliding by and I haven’t shared my wonderful camping experience from last week. And it would be a shame if you missed that because it was amazing and it definitely made me smile.

We were in sites C3 and C4.

You know that usually I camp alone with my Katie-girl, but this time Katie stayed home and I met a couple of friends at a campground on the Platt River, within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. The three of us had kayaked this river last fall, and checked the campground out back then.

The trail from the parking lot to our sites.

And one of my friends knew someone who told us about the walk-in sites which are even more beautiful because you’re not near anyone else. No one’s generator will be running all night. No listening to people partying around the campfire in the next site, because there’s so much space between them.

My campsite.

Plus, if you have to carry everything to your site you’re not apt to be partying late into the night! Trust me on this.

Our other site.

Our first afternoon one friend and I got tents set up on our two sites. We were at the end of the trail so no one else would be walking by. As it turns out, most of the time no one else was out there at all.

It was a short hike over the dunes to the lake.

Once we were set up we walked the .8 mile through some low sand dunes to the beach on Lake Michigan. It was a dark and pretty cold afternoon, but it was good to walk after our long drive to the campground. And you can’t beat the view once we got out to the shore!

A chilly afternoon for beach walking.

The next day we decided to take a hike on trails within the park, looking for three small lakes. We drove around on some narrow dirt roads and accidently ended up back at the beach, just further down from where we walked the day before. It was beautiful, but still kind of stormy with a threat of rain.

It was a dark and stormy morning.

Eventually we found the trailhead.

This looks inviting.

The woods were beautiful, filled with wildflowers. My friend had an app on her phone that told us what they were.

This was really tiny, but the bright color made us notice it all over the forest floor.

Of course I don’t remember any of it, except for this lady slipper.

This ladyslipper was right next to the trail, just begging to be noticed.

We found the first lake just as it began to sprinkle. But we didn’t let a little rain stop us.

Bass Lake, the smallest of the three lakes we walked around.

We continued on around the first lake; the trail led right through a deep, wet boggy place, with no option except to just get our feet soaking wet. We were compensated for that by seeing a beautiful, lush fern right there.

Worth the muddy feet.

We eventually found all three lakes as the rain continued. Of course I had left my raincoat in the car where it could stay nice and dry.

A little rain never hurt anything.

Ah well, we enjoyed seeing the woods and the flowers, and the lakes, and when we got back to our campsite our other camping friend was arriving!

Nature’s double yellow line.

We had a lovely dinner….

Yummy dinner coming up!

…and an even lovelier campfire where we heard coyotes loudly discussing something important….

Did you hear something?

….and went to bed. During the night foxes yipped and owls hooted and we knew we were truly in the woods!

The next day we kayaked down the river again. We were looking forward to a nice easy paddle, but the wind picked up, and we had to work really hard across one long lake, and every time the river turned to the west into the wind.

Paddle harder!

By the time we got to the mouth of the river we were definitely tired!

A pretty amazing day.

But not too tired to hike the Empire Bluff trail! The trail goes up and down through some beautiful woods.

Heading to the bluff.

And the first view you get of the shoreline is stunning.

A first peek through the trees.

But it was soooo windy by then it was hard to stand up on the bluffs and look at the view for long, so we drove down to another beach to watch a guy who was windsurfing.

Not easy to do!

And then we went to a diner and had a burger! It was my first restaurant experience since February of 2020. It was amazing.

Our last night at camp was windy with a big thunderstorm blowing over. Lightening and thunder and wind, the perfect ending to a perfect three days in norther Michigan!

Tucked in safe and dry.

We packed up in the morning, walking everything back down the long trail to the car.

Packing up always takes longer than setting up.

It took a bit of work, but it was definitely worth it to camp back in the woods away from everyone. We had so much fun, it was peaceful and beautiful and I’d do it again next week if I could.

One of many trips to the car.

Oh wait. Next week I’ll be camping in the Upper Peninsula. Not at a walk-in site, but it will be beautiful in a different sort of way.

Home sweet home.

Stay tuned.