A couple of really big trees. And a sheltie-girl.
I picked Katie up from camp on Monday. Can you believe the people there say she never barks at all? Me either.
She made up for it by telling me off the entire thirty minute drive home. And then barking at her dad and me off and on the rest of the day. She was pretty wound up. So after one restless night at home we set out for one last camping trip in the north.
Since it’s after Labor Day here in the United States, most people don’t think about camping and campgrounds are pretty empty, especially during the middle of the week. But it was going to be a beautiful couple of days, with highs in the 70s (23 C) and lows at night in the mid 50s (11 C). Plus the skies were supposed to be clear, and better yet, there would be no moon.
Perfect to make another attempt at taking pictures of the night sky.
I made one attempt during our drive across the Upper Peninsula last week, when we stopped along the way at an Inn right across the street from Lake Michigan. My husband was good enough to go out into the night with me even though he was tired from driving.
Turns out we had fun, though I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for. My Wordless Wednesday post was one that I thought was sort of successful with it’s Milky Way high in the sky and the grasses in the front. Not entirely right, but not bad. And the image above was the best of what I got during our walk along the boardwalk.
So I was hoping for another opportunity as Katie and I headed north on Tuesday. Conditions should be perfect, and I had a sweet little lake in mind. With fewer people camping I had a better chance at getting a camp site right along the lake, and Katie and I scored a great site.
There were only three other couples camping, each spaced far from the other. The weather was perfect. Katie and I went on several walks around the campground after we set up the tent. She was thrilled to be there, prancing along with her nose to the ground.
And then as evening arrived, we sat on the shore of our little lake and enjoyed the fading light.
Still, it was a long time until the stars came out, and Katie got impatient and restless. I ended up going to get the car and parking it at the boat ramp so that she could nap while I worked. She was good with that.
Finally, after nine p.m. the sky was a midnight blue. I was hoping to get some images of stars reflected in the still water, but that didn’t really work out. I wasn’t high enough above the water to truly see many stars reflected. And the milky way wasn’t over the lake like I had hoped. But it was still pretty.
I think if I had waited around a few more hours it might have moved on over the lake. But Katie was sleeping in the car and I wanted to be sleeping too. So after an hour of attempting to get the image I was envisioning, I settled for what I had and we went back to camp. None of the images were perfect. This one shows the tremor from me pressing the button to open the shutter. I can’t find my remote clicker thingy. And I think my tripod isn’t stable enough for this. Or maybe it’s just me not tightening it up enough.
Anyway, once back at our site, surrounded by tall dark trees, I looked up. It seemed like there were more stars right above my tent than all across the entire lake. I had to set the camera back up again.
Even Katie seemed impressed. She waited quietly next to my feet as I clicked away. Sometimes she knows it’s not all about her.
And in the morning, after checking out the misty lake, watching a bald eagle snatch a fish out of the water, and happy with my nighttime experiment, we packed up and headed home.
It was going to get warmer, and Katie’s not so good with heat these days. Plus sleeping in my own bed seemed pretty enticing. Katie did not agree and turned her back on me as I was taking the tent down.
She tried to protest by refusing to get in the car after everything was packed.
But when I asked her if she wanted a treat…well….she decided she’d come along after all.
Yea, she’s a good girl, my Katie.
Katie here. I’m at ‘camp.’ And let me tell you there’s nothing about it that reminds me of camping.
And mama is off having fun.
Not fair mama!
I’m posting a pic from our last trip together in the hope it makes her feel bad and come home and spring me from this joint!
So there. I got to see the bridge too, just a couple weeks ago. It was really cool. And now she’s off up north somewhere cavorting around with daddy and I’m stuck here.
Let me tell you, she better have a real good excuse for dumping me at camp. Cause just any little ole reason isn’t going to cut it with me.
And you can be darn sure I’ll be getting her up even earlier unless she makes amends.
Signing off for now.
Your gal (but not my mama’s gal) Katie.
While Katie and I were up north we happened across a wildflower garden that had attracted a lot of monarch butterflies.
You may or may not know that the monarchs are endangered and oh so delicate. It was good to see many of them enjoying the garden on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I felt privileged to have been there while they were lunching.
Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.
But what was the perfect location?
Why, the farm where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.
I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.
So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.
If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.
Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.
Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.
I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.
The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.
Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.
I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.
By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.
Still, the sky seemed clear.
I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.
Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.
I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.
So many memories.
No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.
A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.
The whole experience was priceless.
On my way up to the Pigeon River State Forest, three hours away from home, I drove through some of my favorite farm country. Both on the drive up and the drive home four days later I was lucky enough to witness clouds building above beautiful farm country.
I knew you’d want to see (who doesn’t want to look at barns, right?) so I put together a little slide show.
And even though I know these pink flowers are not native, and are in fact, invasive I couldn’t help but stop and grab a few photos because they’re just so darn pretty.
You can see other interpretations of silence here.
If you listen to Katie you’d think that all camping adventures are about her, and I suppose in some respects they are. We don’t do things she doesn’t want to do, and on this last camping trip of the season she didn’t want to do very much, so we stuck close to camp.
Still, there were many beautiful things to show you.
We made short forays into the deep old growth forests. The air felt cooler to me, but I guess a sheltie-girl’s heavy fur coat made it hot for her, even there, so we didn’t stay very long.
The ferns along the forest floor were mostly brown. I don’t know if it’s drought or they had an early frost. No one else seemed to know either. They were still pretty in brown, but I felt kind of sad that their summer was over.
Katie and I drove a few miles down the road to visit two lakes, formed when the glaciers slid over Michigan years ago, then melted.
The sky was an incredible blue and the lakes were perfectly still. I couldn’t stop shooting images. Katie was pretty patient about the whole thing.
It would have been fun to kayak on either of these lakes, and I think you can rent kayaks from the park. But Katie said she wasn’t into boating so we didn’t check that out.
As Katie told you the last night we had a storm blow over, making the sky and even the air turn bright pink.
It was pretty amazing, and the camera caught even more pink than our eyes could see. Everyone was out looking around in wonder.
I’m glad the weather cooperated last week and allowed Katie and me to get one more camping trip in this season. We’ve been so lucky this year; we didn’t get rained out on any of our adventures.
It might be a long winter, but we’re already planning where to camp next spring.
After the storm; this was worth finding a road to pull over and watch as the clouds layered.
Eventually the stripy purple clouds completely covered the towering pink thunderhead.