Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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UP dreams

The Upper Peninsula is mostly rural. Though there are small towns everywhere, and a few larger more urban areas, much of it is woods and water. That’s why I like it so much.

Someone cared enough to paint the trim.

But as I travel around I always notice the old homesteads. The places where people once lived but have abandoned. Nature is gradually taking back what was always hers.

Somehow the goldenrod made this one seem a bit friendly.

I think about the people that used to live here. I wonder what happened to make them leave. I wonder what dreams they had when they first built, moved in, worked the land or at the neighborhood store. I wonder when and why they gave up on their dreams.

Sometimes, in cold climates, bright colors help to make the winter more tolerable.

Maybe they haven’t left at all, maybe they’re around the next corner, maybe they just built a bigger, stronger house somewhere.

This one was already quite large. Love the virginia creeper taking over the porch.

But it doesn’t usually feel that way.


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Remembering covid victims

A friend alerted us to a project happening now in Washington DC, where thousands of white flags are being planted near the Washington Monument, one flag for each victim of covid.

Getty image, found on NPR website

The installation will be there only until October 3rd, so we won’t get to see it in person, but you can see pictures at the project website.

You can also submit information for your loved one lost to covid at that site, through September 30th, so that they can be part of this event. We have submitted information about my brother-in-law, Denny Morgan.

It’s a beautiful way to keep their memories alive for all of us.

I encourage you to visit the physical site if you’re in the DC area, or online if you can’t get there. There are more images on the NPR site.

Denny

Edit: Go to the project website above, and scroll down to the Covid Lost Loved Ones map. You can click on any of the hearts on the map and see the story of the individual. Click on a few. You will see how this virus doesn’t discriminate. The loss is heartbreaking.


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Both ends of the road

While camping midway on M-77 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week I decided to explore both ends of that road.

The colors are changing on M-77 north of M-28 in the UP!

I’d been up at the northern end, which terminates at Grand Marais along the coast of Lake Superior, in June, but it’s such a pretty spot I thought I’d go see what the lake was up to again.

I always love the color of the water against the purple grey clouds during a fall storm on this lake.

As seems to be usual when I visit, it was a stormy day on Lake Superior. Heavy dark clouds made the sky facinating, but made me dash to the car several times as bands of cold rain swept in.

Good thing I brought my raincoat.

That didn’t deter the rock pickers and there were even a few beach walkers out there even during the worst of it.

This guy was riding the waves and wind, while a flock of sandhill cranes in the distance fly against the wind.

But amazingly, the sun won the weather battle and the sky began to brighten. More people instantly appeared to revel in the beauty that is a beach walk in Grand Marais.

Nothing like a brisk walk along the beach once the rain lets up.

I always enjoy my time on the shores of Lake Superior, and this time I didn’t pick up one single rock! Though that might have been due to the weather and not my willpower.

The next morning I headed south on M-77 down to where it ends at M-2, then a bit west to Manistique. My goal was to visit a spring my husband and a friend had both told me I had to see. But first there was this pretty lighthouse off the shore of Lake Michigan.

Reminds me of us, decades ago.

Who can resist, right? It was still windy and cold, but this family out there on the rocks was having lots of fun. Four little kids, they reminded me of my family when we were all that young.

But I was really there to see Kitch-iti-kipi.

This deep, photogenic spring resides within a state park.

What is that, you ask? And how do you pronounce it? Well, maybe I better let you read about it first.

It’s a deep, beautiful spring that maintains a 45 F temperature all year around, even in the cold upper Michigan winters. There’s a barge like flotation that runs on a cable out over the top of the spring.

The colors really are this intense. Especially when the sun shines.

The barge is moved by turning a wheel near the back. Anyone on the barge can turn the wheel and be captain for awhile.

Pull hard to the starboard side!

The center of the barge was open so you could see straight down into the water.

Some big fish down there!

The water was so beautiful, it was mesmerizing. Everywhere I looked people were smiling and happy and chatting and exclaiming over how beautiful it all was.

Such amazing colors!

So, that’s what there is to see at the north and south ends of M-77 in the UP. Since you can’t all get there this fall, I figured you wouldn’t mind if I shared.

Hope you’re smiling now too!

Note: You really should look at these images on something bigger than a phone. You’ll smile wider I promise.


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The adventure continues

When last I left you I was settling into my campsite, grateful for a loaner tent because I forgot the rainfly that belongs to my tent. And it was raining.

My site, on the river.

Now I like the sound of a light rain on the roof of my tent. It’s a soothing sound that will lull you to sleep.

The sky didn’t look promising on my drive to the refuge the next morning.

But when the wind rises and the rain comes harder you’re pretty sure to wake up. And in the darkness, when you realize your sheets are damp, and you start feeling around to figure out the source of the water and you figure out there’s quite a bit of water on the floor along the edge of the tent, well, you start to worry.

At the refuge the sun kept trying to come out.

And as the wind increased and the rain pounded down harder you start rethinking this whole adventure thing. And you start thinking back on all the tent adventures you’ve had this summer and how every single one got cut short due to torrential rain.

Drama everywhere you looked.

Maybe all those people that advise staying in a hotel have a point.

When the rain slowed I ran to the car and grabbed some towels, then dove back into the tent to mop up the mess. I settled back in bed. Then splat! Water dripped on my face. Then another drop. And another.

I saw more wildlife this time around.

That’s it. I grabbed my pillows and a blanket and high-tailed it for the car where I slept the last five hours of the night nice and safe and warm and dry.

This was as close as I got to any wildlife. This is a swan butt.

I had planned on getting up at 6 a.m. so that I could be over at the Seney Wildlife Refuge by 7, because sunrise was 7:30 and I figured there’d be more animal and bird activity at sunrise. I turned off the alarm when it went off.

Even without many birds there were still pretty places to shoot.

Still…I’d hate to miss anything over at the refuge. And it wasn’t raining, though it didn’t look like it was going to be a sunny day either. So reluctantly I got up, stretched, threw the pillows and blanket in the back of the car and drove the couple of miles over to the refuge.

Mostly I focused on the clouds and sky. Do you see the two sandhill cranes up there?

And, as you saw in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday, I was treated to the most beautiful full, Harvest Moon setting over the water of the Seney Wildlife Refuge. It was going down just as I got there, and I raced to a place to park and stood there grinning while it sank gracefully into the next day.

In case you missed yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post.

That alone made sleeping in a wet tent and then the car worth it.

The sun came out long enough to light up the cattails.

The pictures in this post are others I took on Tuesday as I drove around the 7 mile wildlife loop. There was more bird action, but in total not a lot. I decided I’d just enjoy the dramatic skies and hope I saw some wildlife.

Though most of the day could have been shot in black and white, there was some color around.

And I enjoyed every bit of it. I hope you do too.

But that was only the morning…stay tuned.


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And then…

My adventuring continues into the Upper Peninsualia of Michigan where I intended to spend a few days exploring the Seney Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge is a giant wetland, with lots of water and grasses.

Years ago when I lived in the UP I always thought I’d visit, but you know how it is when you live near somewhere cool. You always figure you can do it next week, and next week never comes around.

I couldn’t find an eagle’s nest

Late Sunday afternoon I drove the seven mile wildlife drive under pretty skies. I had the big lens on the camera, expecting to see lots of birds. But all I saw was a pair of sandhill cranes flying and a couple of ducks. I didn’t even hear much of anything.

I heard them before I saw them.

One issue I can see with driving a wildlife route rather than walking, is you’re never going to sneak up on anything. Though to be honest I didn’t even scare up anything.

These are the same two cranes that flew by.

But the trees and water were pretty, so I decided to switch lenses and just enjoy what there was to enjoy.

Light through dying ferns.

The refuge is beautiful, but I wondered what I’d do for four nights camping nearby. I decided to worry about that when I got there.

Meanwhile, I had a reservation at the Pleasant Moose Lodge for one night while I waited for my campsite to be available. I was tired by now, driving up from downstate, then exploring the refuge. I was ready to find the hotel.

But darn it, neither my GPS in the car nor on my phone could find this pleasant moose. I drove up and down the road looking, and saw plenty of places with moose art displayed, but all I saw whenever I was told “you have arrived at your destination,” was a decrepit rundown set of cabins. No way. It was getting on toward evening now and I was going to have to find somewhere to stay if these cabins were really the lodge!

Guess I didn’t notice this big green moose when I was driving by.

So I pulled into a parking lot called the Pleasant Moose and a pleasant guy answered the phone and talked me in.

Whew!

Imagine my relief when I saw it was a real hotel, just tucked way back behind some other stuff. I spent an uneventful evening, enjoying my last night of a real bed, shower and television before heading out to camp for 4 nights.

The next morning I needed to find something to do while I waited to check into my campground. I remembered seeing pictures of Crisp Point Lighthouse that was somewhere around here. Checking the map, and putting it into my GPS I set off. It was about 20+ miles away, but GPS said it would take me an hour.

The trees are beginning to turn up here.

What GPS didn’t tell me is that more than 15 miles of the trip will be on increasingly narrower dirt and sandy roads.

More narrow, and sandier.

Roads that wind up and down and around. My average speed on the last 15 miles was 14. The last 7 miles it was closesr to 8 mph. I couldn’t believe it when, with only 5 more miles to go there was actually a stop sign.

Seriously? Is there an intersection coming up?

But all that crazy driving was worth it to find this.

My first glimpse of Crisp Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is absoutely beautiful. And yes you can go up to the top for a donation.

As I wandered the beach the clouds moved in.

The beach is equally beautiful.

Nobody can resist these rocks!

It’s strewn with wide swaths of smooth, rounded stones. A rock picker’s paradise.

The water was too cold to go wading after these beauties.

I kept telling myself not to pick up any rocks. Not to even look closely at any rocks. I have plenty at home.

I had to touch. They were so smooth, this one reminded me of an granite egg.

But they were soooo beautiful!

I was also facinated by what I guess was an old wooden breakwall.

I love how the sun made it glow.

It was actually two rows of logs driven into the ground.

Engineering from a generation ago.

Eventually I walked back up to the lighthouse and checked out what was on the other side. The light was better over there anyway.

People were picking rocks….

The beach was sandier with fewer rocks on that side.

…and climbing the tower.

A lighthouse selfie.

It was beautiful out there! But it was time to head back down that winding, sandy road.

Quintessential beach photo.

The trip back out to the main road wasn’t nearly as scary as it had been driving in.

I enjoyed the leaves on my way back and didn’t worry about the road as much.

My campsite was waiting for me.

When I arrived the office was closed, but they had taped instructions for me to the door. I gathered those and drove to my site, a big, grassy relatively flat spot with a view of the river. I pulled the tent out of the car and realized as I was unfolding it that the rainfly was missing. And it was beginning to rain.

OH MY! What to do.

Obviously I couldn’t tent without a rainfly. Especially since it was already raining. Disgusted I threw the tent back in the car, went up to the office, put the rest of my reservation money folded into their instructions, along with an explantion note, and taped it to the door.

Then I drove back toward town, intent on calling the Pleasant Moose to see if they had a room. But a few miles away I thought I should call the campground and tell them there was money taped to their office door, wanting to make sure they got it rather than some nefarious camper.

The owner answered, and I explained and she was as sad as I was. Then she said she had a tent I could borrower! Really! Yes, she said, it’s just a 4 person tent, nothing fancy. That’s all I had myself, I replied. She said she’d go set it up on my site if I’d come back.

So I did. And this is what I found:

Isn’t this cute?

This campground comes with a mascot.

He waited around to make sure I was OK, then he went off on his rounds.

So….here I am camping in the UP in someone else’s tent, ready to visit a refuge I’ve already explored.

What will happen next?


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Adventuring

I’m off adventuring again. Mostly alone, though I did spend a day on a river with a college friend. But first, as most of my adventures go, I began with barns.

Because it’s hard to drive anywhere from my home without seeing at least one barn.

I was hoping to find yellow soybean fields, but mostly they’ve already gone brown. That was sad, but it was such a pretty day I couldn’t stay sad for long.

And eventually I made it to the river where I met a friend from way back in college, and she and her daughter and I paddled in the warm fall sunshine for a few hours.

It was totally unlike my previous times on this river when we had most of it to ourselves.

This time we were out on the river on a sunny fall weekend afternoon. There were lots of other people there too.

But we managed to make our way through the crowds of tube floaters and enjoyed people watching while we were paddling.

An interesting combination, a totally different vibe, but lots of fun regardless.

After we left the river we drove a few miles north to walk the Empire Bluffs trail. Turns out Empire was having some sort of car race. The little town was inundated with people and race cars.

It took us a long time to find a way to get to the trail, but once we did we enjoyed the scenic walk out to the bluffs.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we arrived at the end of the trail, and we didn’t linger out there for long, but it was definitely worth the walk!

On the way back I got distracted by the low rays of sun glowing in the woods, spotlighting plants along the way.

We had a little bit of a drive to get to the hotel, though, so we moved along.

And then had dinner at The Painted Lady Saloon.

It was a pretty darn good day, and it definitely made me smile.


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Little smiles

Changing gears from the previous two posts…

…how about we just look at the frolicing going on in my backyard.


I know you’ve all seen my birds and others before.

But these are brand new images Promise.

I should try to learn how to do a slideshow in this new blockhead format.

But I don’t have time or patience.

So you only get a few.

But they made you smile, didn’t they.


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Chills

Yesterday, the 20th anniverary of September 11th, I was reading blogs and putting together my own thoughts. By chance I read My OBT (One Best Thing), written by Donna, who posts one thing each day that she finds beautiful.

I confess I don’t read her blog every day, but if the title catches my attention I will.

The title of her post yesterday was “Homecoming” and it was essentially a link to a post written in 2019 by John Fox, a New York City Police Transit Chief, describing the homecoming of his nephew, firefighter Michael Roberts, who was killed on that fateful day.

I read Chief Fox’s account of the way Michael’s body was found on the day before his memorial service, and how the firefighter community brought him home. It’s a heartwarming, heart wrenching piece.

Then I finished up my own post, struggling with the words, realizing that I had nothing more profound to say, and linking back to my own post about a visit we made to the Memorial and the Freedom Tower five years ago. While I was linking to that old post I flipped through it’s images.

And suddenly stopped breathing.

Because there, in my photos, images taken years ago, was Michael Roberts.

Maybe there was more than one Michael Roberts killed that day. But I choose to believe that the Michael Roberts I photographed that hot July day back in 2016 is the same Michael Roberts I read about on the 20th anniversary of his death.

And somehow, even in the midst of sadness I had to smile.

Edit: I did some research on Michael Roberts the rookie firefighter that died on September 11. His middle name was Edward. He was born July 15, the day we were at the memorial. Hence the white rose. This was definitely the same young man I read about yesterday.