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.
Katie here. I noticed mama was sort of sad lately so I thought I should take things into my own paws. This morning, on this last day of the calendar summer, I told her not to turn on that stupid TV and instead I suggested we take a walk in the woods.
I bundled her into my chariot, and I let her drive, because you know my mama loves to drive, and we went over to a park not too far away. It’s a new park to me, but I’ve been reading mama’s blog when she’s sleeping, and I see that she’s been there a couple of times without me!
Well! I don’t know what she was thinking, but I guess I’ll forgive her now that she’s taken me to explore it myself.
I knew that once I got her into the woods she’d feel better, and she says it worked. She got all artsy, taking pictures of the wildflowers that are blooming, and the morning light shining through the trees.
Mama says you can’t help but feel better when you’re out in nature. I let her take as long as she wanted, and we walked really slow up and down hills. She stopped a lot and that was fine with me, it let me get extra sniffing time. Win/win!
The only thing I have to say is that when mama’s focused on her camera you should stay away from her feet because she actually stepped on me! I told her off and then I made sure to pay better attention to where she was.
Mostly we were in the shade, but we did explore down near the wetlands. The flowers were so pretty, all tangled up together. And see down in the lower right, that monarch butterfly? Mama was happy that she got him in the picture too.
Mostly she took pictures of stuff that is not me. I was OK with that this time. I figured she should do what she needed to do to put a smile on her face. I didn’t even argue much when she said we should turn around and head back to the car. The sun was higher and it was getting hot anyway.
And now that I know about this park I’ll get her to take me again soon. Maybe after it gets a little cooler with a bit of a breeze to make my fur blow. I think that’s my best look.
Oh…and remember that I’m supposed to tell you about our trip back from up north last week? Well, next time mama isn’t paying attention I’ll do that.
A girl has to be strategic, you know.
Yesterday, during our last day of adventuring, Katie and I stopped for a few minutes in Mackinaw City, located at the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan. There’s a 5 mile bridge between the lower and upper peninsula of our state, built in the 50s, and in the park at the base of the bridge is a sculpture dedicated to the iron workers that worked on the bridge as it was being built.
The sculpture of the iron worker showcases many of the tools needed to do the work, the details making it particularly interesting. When we saw it we just knew it would be perfect for Cee’s challenge this week!
I’m retired, so one day is pretty much like another. Weekends have no real significance, and Monday is now my favorite day of the week because most of you go back to work and I don’t have to.
I know. That’s just cruel.
But then again sometimes weekends are filled with so many fun things that I actually am sorry to see them end. Like this past one.
It started out with me volunteering on a campaign for a woman who is running for Congress in my district. Our district has been represented in Congress by one party for as far back as I can remember. This year there’s a serious contender, a woman with military experience, who has worked for the Pentagon and was willing to sit with my husband and I for over an hour discussing truck safety issues.
She’s got my vote.
So, though I am not political and have never worked on a campaign before, Saturday morning found me sitting in a small stuffy room with several other people my age, all of us peering through our bifocals at our laptops as a young campaign worker explained the data entry project we volunteered to help with.
She was so patient with us as we fumbled through connecting to their WiFi, stumbled over the password, then tried to understand the data entry program. Never once did she roll her eyes, though I have to admit I did at least once.
Turns out she had just graduated from high school, and was taking a gap year before she went to college just to work on this campaign. Amazing. She was nineteen and had the ability to make us not feel stupid when we asked questions as we worked through the huge pile of reports filed with information from volunteers out canvasing neighborhoods.
Her enthusiasm was contagious and we willingly worked past the time we originally committed to get the job done.
And to reward myself for sitting in that small room straining my eyes for hours I took myself to the Woodward Dream Cruise that was happening in a town not so far away.
If you’re asking what that is, well, you’re not from around here.
In the old days, on Friday and Saturday nights the locals would drive their muscle cars up and down Woodward Avenue, through and between several towns. These days, for one weekend every August, people come from all over the country, some bringing their antique muscle cars, to do the same.
The streets are lined with people who enjoy watching the beautiful cars go by. Parking lots are filled with more of the vehicles.
I fell in love with this pair of vehicles.
There’s a sort of elegance that most cars today lack. I guess we’re more functional and less stylish these days.
I enjoyed wandering around, though I walked less than one mile down Woodward Avenue, and spent maybe an hour there. I loved taking pictures of old cars, the lines so beautiful, the colors so vibrant.
Anyway. That was Saturday. Sunday a college friend and I went kayaking at my favorite park.
We rented kayaks there, for only $8 an hour. We told the (very) young lady there we’d be out for an hour at most, after all we were old. She smiled politely.
We were out for 2 hours and I’m not even sore this morning. Pretty good for a couple of old broads!
And I slept out in the backyard in the tent all weekend too, getting geared up to take at least one camping trip this summer…before summer slides away!
Katie says she hasn’t gone on one camping trip all summer. She says that’s unacceptable. I have to agree.
Listen people, I’m totally bored. Mama needs to find something for me to do that is inside with air conditioning! It’s just too darn hot outside for me with all my flowing fur.
I still like to go outside, but only in the morning, and even then only for a little bit. Sometimes I forget and take mama way up the road on my daily walk. Then, when we’re like four or five houses away I realize it’s too hot and I find some shade and lay down!
Mama usually just stands there and waits for me to rest up. So far I’ve rested up in almost every neighbor’s front yard. They’re OK with that, after all I’m the only princess they know, and so they feel it’s somewhat of an honor to have me choose their front lawn to grace.
Sometimes I even make mama carry me home. She’s not so happy when that happens, and every time she reminds herself not to let me get so far from home next time. But then the next time comes and I convince her to go to “just one more mailbox mama!”
Mama is a little slow, as I’ve mentioned before.
So anyway, I haven’t been to any of my parks in a very long time. Even the ones with shade. Mama tried once and I only walked a few yards and then I sat down. Mama says she doesn’t want to take any chances with me overheating.
The most exciting thing I’ve done lately is go out with her when she’s weeding in the morning. I get to sit in the shade and watch her work. I think that’s pretty nice. Even then she watches me like a hawk and if I look like I’m overdoing she makes me go inside. She’s sort of a helicopter mama.
Yesterday we were sitting on the deck out back. Mama was sitting in the shade reading and I was supposed to be sitting next to her, watching the birds. Well, I decided (twice) to go sit on the sunny side of the deck and go to sleep. Mama was not happy. Each time she got up and brought me back into the shade. When I went over there a third time she picked me up and put me in the house.
Mama is as stubborn as I am.
She says she’ll make it up to me. She says that once it cools off, sometime in September or October she will take me to all my parks. She says I’ll have a good time then. (Obviously she’s never heard that song about the cat and the cradle.) She says I should be patient.
Right mama. Patient. I’m a sheltie, remember?
But she did scout out a new park for me today. She says I’ll like it. There’s lots of shade and hills and a big wide trail. Brand new sniffing places she says! All the pictures on this blog are from her walk over there.
I’m trying very hard not to be jealous.
But it’s hard.
I’m walking a challenge along with Robin over at breezes at dawn and who knows how many other people, each taking a walk every day for an entire year and posting on Facebook (and maybe other places too) each day one photo of what we’ve seen.
I’m a little over 100 days into it. In the beginning it was a bit intimidating, thinking about three hundred and sixty-five walks. But Robin made a good point. Nothing in the rules said how long the walk had to be. And as long as I don’t think about how many I have left to do, as long as I just think about today’s walk, well, it’s all good.
Some days I go for a walk down the road and through my neighborhood. Some days I drive to a park and walk a trail in the woods or a bike path along a lake shore. Once, in bad weather, I took myself to the mall for my walk. No matter where I go there’s always something interesting or pretty or both to capture.
And some days it’s just Katie and me walking around the backyard. She likes those days best lately because it’s been way too hot for her to take a longer walk at any of her favorite parks. She says this will be a great challenge in cooler October or November or even December when the snow will start to fly.
Husband and I stayed out late last night, unusual for us, at an election party where we got to watch the returns come in and cheer when our candidate won the local primary. I’d never done that before, sit with a group of strangers hoping that it all turns out, cheering when it does. I hate politics but this year perhaps the need to become involved will supersede my need to avoid conflict. We’ll see, it certainly is fodder for another blog.
Anyway, I went to bed well after midnight, and Katie was up at her usual 3:30. It was tempting to try to go back to sleep on the sofa after she got the attention she was craving. And I did for a couple hours.
But while it was still morning and the air was reasonably cool I headed out to a park with the intent to walk four miles. I don’t know why four. It just seemed like a nice round number.
I didn’t want to go. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but Katie was in a mood and I was tired of arguing with her. All in all, the choice between hanging out with a needy dog and going for a walk turned out to be easy.
What a beautiful day! From the parking lot there’s a mile long downhill through a meadow before the bike path turns into the woods. I got a lot of nice pictures out in the open, and then another nice group deeper in the woods. That’s what makes this a great park to walk in…until you have that mile long uphill back to the car.
I had a lot of things to think about on this walk, and I hummed (quite loudly as there was no one else there) songs from Fiddler on the Roof, a musical I was lucky enough to see on Saturday evening. If I were a rich man….. A blessing on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov…Tradition!….Anatevka….
I wondered, as I did Saturday night, what kind of welcome Tevye, Golda and their two young daughters would find if they were to arrive in the United States today. Would they be granted entry given their town had been forcibly evacuated? Would the young girls be separated from their parents?
I hate to imagine what might happen to them today. But I also know that their passage to America and their life here wouldn’t have been easy in the early twentieth century either. That’s what makes politics hard; there are so many variables to every decision and policy.
As I walked I tried not to mourn summer. I missed so much of the Michigan summer when I was in Alabama, and suddenly it seems like school is starting and corn is ripening and goldenrod is blooming and summer is almost over.
I scolded myself for not being in the moment. After all there are still three weeks of August. And even though there was subtle signs everywhere of the impending fall, there was still plenty of green. Dark green, lime green, green glowing in the sun, green hiding deep in the woods, it’s definitely still summer here.
So this long, rambling post is sort of a stream of consciousness thing, wrapping everything that’s been going on into one long walk. Talented kids putting on a wonderful performance on Saturday, dedicated people campaigning with all their hearts for a candidate they feel is better than who we have now, all morphed together on a golden Wednesday morning.
Four miles flew by and no concrete conclusions were reached.
Guess I’ll have to go on another walk tomorrow.
We did score the best campsite in all of the Pigeon River Forest, nestled next to the river in all it’s gurgling glory. We could have sat there all day, but there was more to explore.
There’s a large elk heard residing in this park, with certain locations where you’re more likely to see them. We drove around one evening looking, but didn’t see any; I guess the elk hadn’t read the memo about where they were supposed to be. In 2014 we were luckier and saw three of them in almost exactly the spot where the map said they’d be. Now those elk knew how to follow directions!
This year I did see this guy, on our first day there, as we were driving to our campground on a narrow sandy road through the tall trees.
I caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye and screeched to a halt. My friend, who was driving ahead of me, kept on going so she didn’t get to see him. I felt privileged to be able to snap his picture as he gazed somberly back at me.
Aside from the elk this state land is known for beautiful lakes and wonderful hiking trails. You can walk through varying topography and plant life, from wet bogs and reedy lake shores to hilly pine forests and open meadows.
We did all of that. We hiked around Pickerell Lake on a beautiful afternoon, the sky filled with white puffy clouds and the lake a beautiful blue.
We climbed to the top of Inspiration Point, where the ranger said you can almost see from horizon to horizon. He was right.
It would be a perfect place for star gazing if you’re there on a night when the full moon isn’t beating down on you.
We walked along the river and looked up the names of all the wildflowers we could find. We were surprised by just how many there were when you stopped to really look.
Mostly we just enjoyed being outside in a beautiful place during a beautiful weekend. Even when there was a bit of rain.
And in the morning, when it was time to pack up and leave I felt sad, but happy too, that I got to spend time in this magical place. I know I’ll be back, likely on a dark night with no moon and clear skies. There are stars out there just begging to be photographed and I’d like to try.
Until next time Pigeon River State Forest! It’s nice to know you’re up there waiting for us to stop by again.
It’s good to know that the river continues to dance over those rocks, singing it’s gentle and calming song, even when we’re in the midst of whatever gets in the way of happiness out here in the real world.
I’m lucky to have such a wilderness so close to home, and I’m pleased to share it with all of you. If you’re ever this way, stop by and explore even a little of it.
You won’t be sorry you did.