Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


40 Comments

Princess Katie does Walktober with the Queen

Katie here. Things have been kind of boring in my world lately – as you may have noticed I haven’t gone on any adventures in forever. So this year’s Walktober seemed the perfect opportunity for me to kick it up a notch. Or ten.

The moms put us up here ’cause some really big dogs were coming. And because we are cute.

So I instructed mama to invite my friend Queen Abby (and her mom) to accompany me on my Walktober adventure. Abby was pretty excited about going on an adventure too. We think alike, Abby and me, mostly by ignoring each other. It works for us.

“Hey Katie, let’s not look at them when they take pictures of us, OK?”

Anyway, we met at Hudson Mills Metro Park down in Dexter which is near Ann Arbor Michigan. That way neither or our servants moms had to drive too far.

Queen Abby refused to smile, stating she was too regal to stoop to the paparazzi’s level.

It was a pretty day, though it started out foggy. But I don’t mind that, foggy means cool, and cool is, well cool to us shelties. We wait all year for the temperatures to drop so we can show off our beautiful but heavy coats for everyone to see

OK, maybe a little smile.

But I digress. I’m here to show you all the fall color, right? Hmmmm….down here in lower Michigan there’s isn’t that much color quite yet.

Mama says the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is at peak color right now. She’s not up there. I think she’s sad about that, but she sure wasn’t sad about going on an adventure with me!

A little bit of color against a beautiful blue sky.

Abby and I even put up with all the photos the moms wanted to take. As long as they didn’t want us to sit too close together we were willing.

Not going to look at you, mama.

And we managed to find some color under a couple of trees so that the moms felt like this walk qualified for a Walktober.

We paused to rest at this spot that was right next to a disc golf tee, so we got to see lots of guys throwing stuff. I thought that was facinating.

We had a wonderful time. The moms were very careful to let us rest as much as we wanted. After all, both I and the Queen are seniors now.

We sat in this pavilion, the concrete was nice and cold.

But we walked a good long way too, just real slow. The better to appreciate our adventure, you know.

Seriously Katie, does your mom always take so many pictures?”

I think Queen Abby was glad she granted me the playdate so we could go on on a Walktober together.

All hail the Queen!

And I was really glad to share my adventure with her too. But, eventually, we had to leave. We each went back to our waiting carriages.

I was disgruntled because my treats had not been placed in my private compartment as requested.

I don’t think Abby was quite ready to leave. I didn’t want to say goodbye either.

See you later sweet Abby-girl!

But I was ready for a nap, and slept most of the way home. Except when mama stopped to take pictures of barns. But I forbade her from showing those on my Walktober post!

Geeze mother!

I swear, that woman has no boundries! But I’ll forgive her, cause I had a stupendously fun day!

Talk later, your adventuring girl Princess Katie.

PS: Thank you to Miss Robin for hosting the Walktober again this year! It got mama to take me to a park, so I owe you!!

Come along with me, there’s another adventure just over here!


17 Comments

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.


28 Comments

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.


19 Comments

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?


30 Comments

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.


25 Comments

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.


21 Comments

Reigning in the tomato princess

Katie here.

So, you saw mama’s Wordless Wednesday post yesterday with the cherry tomatoes? Yea. I did too. But I bet you didn’t know how much I love tomatoes. I watched daddy plant a bunch of tomatos in my back yard last spring.

Yum.

Yep. I know exactly where that garden is and I check it out daily. Several times a day if I can get away with it. Daddy says he put the fence up around it to keep out critters like deer and raccoons and rabbits and groundhogs and stuff.

But I know the truth. Daddy put that fence up cause of me!

You can’t see me if I hide behind this plant. Right?

I like to pick my own ripe tomatoe right off the vine. Every day I pull mama or daddy around the back side of our house when I’m supposed to be looking for a good spot to do my business. They used to be fooled, thinking I just wanted to pee in a new part of the yard.

But they’re not fooled any more. (Sometimes they are smarter than I calculated.)

They’re hoarding all the good stuff!

Mama looked up whether tomatoes were good for doggies and she found out that green ones were very bad and red ones were OK in moderation.

Moderation? I’m a sheltie. I don’t do anything in moderation!

I think daddy needs my help in the garden, mama!

Anyway, they say I can’t have any tomatoes because I’m having trouble with my tummy and my poo. I told them they are way too interested in my poo. They should get another hobby if you ask me.

Shhhhh…don’t tell them.

So I’m a sad puppy. I’m stuck here eating canned pumpkin and boiled chicken and rice and the Royal Canin kibble. I like all that stuff a whole lot (and my folks are relieved I’ve got my appitite back) but none of it is the same as a fresh cherry tomato picked right off the vine by yours truly.

Do any of you other doggies out there love tomatoes like me? Mama says I’m a weird little girl.

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Giving mama the stink eye cause she said “NO” when I tried to eat one!


13 Comments

Nothing to say

I sit here with a few pictures from around the yard to share but nothing to say.

Daddy red-bellied woodpecker is back after raising his kids.

Everything seems bigger than my words. Sadder.

Daddy’s girl follows him to the deck for breakfast.

There’s Hurricane Ida leaving devastation from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Early morning light.

There’s the covid resurgance in my state and most of the country.

Afternoon sun makes everything brighter.

There’s kids going back to school while parents and school boards shout at each other over masks.

Wasps are storming the hummingbird feeder. I took it down for a couple of days.

There’s Texas.

The hummers are unhappy with me.

I need to look seriously for the good that I always say is there amongst all the trouble.

Shadows everywhere.

A good long walk in the woods might help.

I don’t know what these are, they are tiny, hidden in the messy wildflower garden.

But there are those mosquitoes.

And I know just the place to take a walk, too.


41 Comments

Midsummer morning

I feel as if summer is sliding away from me, days turning into minutes, weeks into moments. Yet it’s only the beginning of August, there’s plenty of summer left, especially for a retiree. Right? Being retired is enough to make me smile, but my walk on a midsummer’s morning made me absolutely grin.

The dreaded first sighting of goldenrod.

I was out at my favorite park this past Thursday, while it was still July, while I could still consider it mid-summer, and yet I felt fall encroaching.

Beautiful, but I’m not ready for leaves turning yet.

I went with my biggest lens, the better to see birds in their natural space versus standing on my outstretched palm.

But of course I did have a few birds in my hand. Can’t not do that.

But what I found instead was a whole forest filled with youngsters. And I don’t mean the busses of preschoolers that arrived as I was leaving. Thank goodness.

I don’t know what this is, but it was pretty.

I have so much to show you from my walk in the woods, I don’t know if I should break it up into two posts, or if you’ll have the patience to read one long post.

Joe Pye is beginning to bloom.

I don’t even know if I have the patience to write one long post.

The grasses are maturing.

You can always scroll through and just look at the pictures. I have a feeling the words will be minimal anyway.

Wild grapes are beginning to pink.

I got to the nature center early in the morning, but on the drive through the park I noticed my favorite willow tree island had a beautiful swan. So after I parked I walked back along the bikepath to capture her as she preened.

Was she using the water as her mirror?

Notice the grey pile of fluff off to the right? That is her baby, or maybe more than one, I couldn’t really tell. Her partner is swimming behind the island, couldn’t see him well either.

Her little one (or more) are well hidden in the shade.

But she (I’ve decided it’s a she, I really don’t know) sure was taking her time getting beautiful that morning.

Looking stunning that morning.

Then I walked back to the parking lot at the nature center to get the rest of my gear, and found this exhausted and hungry mama, right beside the bike rack.

Eating at the parking lot salad bar.

With my long lens I was able to get quite close without interrupting her breakfast.

And beside her, on the other side of the bike rack, were the normal crane parking lot greeters, getting spruced up for their shift of collecting the lot fee from everyone arriving to enjoy the trails.

Hurry up Henry, we’re going to be late for work!

Lucky for me I got there before they clocked in.

So I headed into the woods…

The bridge to the woods.

…and met this guy right away. He already had breakfast so I didn’t offer him anything more.

You’re not going INTO THE WOODS, are you?!

It was right about then that I noticed a sense of fall seeping into air. I shook it off and ventured further into the dark cool green, and interrupted two moms and their little ones having some breakfast of their own.

Family brunch interrupted.

I stood there a long time watching them watching me.

Mama and her mini-me.

This little one was intensly curious about me.

Should I run or should I stay?

And then I heard a titmouse, just over my right shoulder, angrly asking why I wasn’t providing a snack. So I handed off a peanut and moved on.

Hey Lady! Fork over the peanut! I know you have one!!

I only saw one other person my entire walk in the woods, and that was another photographer.

I see something right over there…

As soon as he got down from the bench and moved on this mama came out of the brush.

Is he gone yet?

I took a different trail and moved deeper into the woods. The long lens wasn’t really the right choice with so little light. But I didn’t want to stop to change it because you just never know what you’ll see.

Oops, thought it was another deer!

Or how far away it might be.

Way over there on that ridge is another exhausted mama, chewing her cud and watching me.

But the mosquitos were beginning to follow me. I pictured myself running out of the woods with a swarm of bugs trailing me, sort of like a Bernstein Bear cartoon. I moved faster.

After clambering over a downed tree that crossed the trail I was shooting an image of a tree damaged in the recent storms where the fresh wood had a similar color to deer, confusing me for a moment…

Kind of the same color as the deer roaming these woods.

…when out of the corner of my eye I saw more of that reddish brown.

Another mama and her baby hoping to have an undisturbed meal.

These two didn’t seem to realize I was there. Until mama did.

Lady, you need to move along now.

The baby didn’t seem too bothered by me at all, but I went on down the trail so they could enjoy mama/baby time alone. Plus I was beginning to get hungry myself, it had been a long time since my own breakfast, and I was still deep in the woods with a long walk back.

See you later, lady!

I tried not to stop anymore as I booked it out of the deep woods. Except when I saw something interesting. Or fun. Or both.

This says late summer to me for sure.

But mostly I was trying to get back into the open where the breeze would keep the bugs from swarming around my head. Yes, I had applied bug spray before I left the car, but not on my hands, because I knew I’d be feeding birds. I guess that made me fair game for the mosquitos.

Bet you didn’t know crocodiles lived in the woods!

Back out in the open I had a nuthatch and a chickadee makeing big noises about getting a treat, but they wouldn’t come down to my hand. I finally figured out that maybe they were this year’s young, and not quite confident about the whole process of coming in for a snack.

Tell me how this works again, lady?

But eventually they both came down, after doing a fly over or two to check me out.

This peanut is almost as big as me!

The sky was getting dark and I figured it would soon rain, so I headed back to the car. Climbing the stairs to the parking lot I could hear people, cars and busses.

Change of shift for the swallows.

I was glad I’d gotten my walk in the woods finished before the masses arrived. Time to head back home to the princess who would just be getting up from her morning nap.

Earlier in the morning there were deer and cranes. Now bikes rest while their people explore.

It was a good midsummer day all around.