Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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First time camping

No, not me silly, you all know I’ve been camping enough to wear out a couple tents. But my sister was up from the South, visiting us here in Michigan, and one of the things she wanted to do was camp in her brand new tent.

Her new tent, before we introduced sand to the inside.

She bought it a few years ago anticipating a vacation like this, but then Covid happened. And she was busy teaching and working on her house and time slipped away and the tent stayed in it’s packaging and summers came and went and we always said ‘next summer.’

Finally she got to retire and go on a real vacation and we scored a campsite with a view of Green Lake up in Interlochen, near Traverse City.

Our little compound.

So exciting!

I had piles of camping equipment that we packed into the car, much more stuff than you really need for two nights, but you never know, right? And as we were both girl scouts once upon a time, (OK, I was a girl scout for only about 8 weeks) we were trained to be prepared for anything.

For the record none of the bad things we prepared for occurred. Like torrential rain or thunderstorms flooding the tents, or nighttime temperatures plummeting below freezing. We actually had beautiful weather every day. We should have stayed longer, but that would have been tempting fate, as it was threatening to rain the morning we were packing up to come home.

Her view.

Still, though our time there was short, we had so much fun and did so much exploring. From visiting a bagpipe store near Traverse City, to picking rocks up near Northport we covered a lot of territory.

Would you like to see what we saw? Well come on!

There was a bird up there. Or maybe rain coming.

Before we even got to our campsite we stopped at Pt. Betsie where we walked the beach looking for pretty stones. It was the first time my sister had visited this lighthouse, though it was a favorite place for our parents and is now a favorite spot of mine.

I am always awed by the color of Lake Michigan’s water.

I don’t think I’ve ever been there in mid-summer when there were people laying on the sand. I’ve been there in all kinds of weather, but never when it was actually a busy beach. That was sort of fun to see.

A busy place.

I noticed an older couple trying to take a selfie with the lighthouse in the background, so I offered to take their picture. They were celebrating a wedding anniversary, I don’t remember the number, but it was over 50. They reminded me so much of my own parents, and I told them that and we all smiled. I got a lovely image of them grinning at each other.

The fog horn was not needed on this beautiful day.

We have a grainy picture of mom and dad standing in pretty much the same spot that they took during an October 50th wedding anniversary trip. Dad must have had the camera propped up on something, he looks worried about whether the shutter will go off. Mom just looks cold.

Makes me smile every time I see it.

Looking for special stones.

After our time at Pt. Betsie we headed over to our campsite. We were lucky to get a spot at Interlochen State Park because we didn’t need electricity and there were a few sites open in the rustic loop. The vault bathrooms weren’t really fun, but we didn’t spend much time at the campsite anyway.

There’s a series of amusing but unsuccessful images before we got this one…you can imagine them yourselves.

Our site was on Green Lake, and that first night we went down to the very narrow beach to watch the sun set. With high clouds striping the sky we knew to stay after the sun dropped below the horizon just in case those clouds lit up.

Can’t stop smiling.

And we were right. It turned into the most amazing sunset.

Worth the wait.

Then we headed to bed with alarms set for around midnight when we returned to the beach to see if the Milky Way was visible. Turns out it was…sort of. There were still wispy clouds obscuring some of the stars, and a bit of a wind blowing to keep us chilled.

Still, it was very cool to be out there together under the stars.

Still pretty.

My sister plays the bagpipes and one of her pipe sets needed some work, so she was eager to stop at a bagpipe store and talk to an expert. So the next morning I sat out in the car reading a book while they discussed what needed to be done to fix her pipes. She got so much good advice at Henderson Imports she kept grinning and saying “I’m so HAPPY about my pipes!” the rest of our trip.

Ok, so maybe it’s not typical of my camping trips to visit a bagpipe retailer, but the rest of our trip was Pure Michigan. Getting our steps in during this vacation was never a problem.

Worth the climb.

After the bagpipe experience we drove up to Northport and visited a friend in her bookstore, then went out to Peterson Park to look for more stones. Peterson Park is known for it’s stony beach, and we were not disappointed.

There’s gotta be a Petosky stone in here somewhere!

It’s such a pretty place, well worth the long flight of stairs from the parking lot down to the beach. And the seemingly longer flight of stairs back up to the car when you’re usually laden down with special rocks. It has been documented that it is impossible to visit this park without picking up at least one stone to take home.

Easier on the way down.

After Peterson Park we drove south to Sleeping Bear National Park where we stopped for a quick dune climb. I have the lifetime national park pass, so it cost us nothing more to pull in and climb. We haven’t done that since we were much younger, but I have to say we did just fine.

Ready to climb?

We only climbed to the first summit, it’s possible to keep going for miles eventually arriving on the shore of Lake Michigan. I’ve done that twice and don’t need to ever do it again. It’s a cool walk, but it’s HOT and sandy and it takes FOREVER and once you get to the lake you turn around and do it again. No footwear is ever the right footwear to walk miles in shifting sand. Just saying.

We made it!

And after the dune climb we drove out to Barr Lake which is a small inland lake that connects to Lake Michigan. We trekked from the parking lot out to the big lake and spent some time lounging on the beach people watching, then did the requisite beach rock looking for stones. Neither of us took a camera out there, which I regretted once we got out there, but it was freeing not to lug the camera up and down the beach. So just imagine a beautiful white sandy beach, with people kite surfing out on the waves, and building sand castles on the shoreline and throwing frisbees and laughing and sunbathing.

There. Now don’t you feel relaxed? We did too.

So, slightly sunburned and covered in sand we headed back to the campsite where we made dinner and settled in for a nap before our planned walk back down to the beach to try for the Milky Way on our last night.

It’s right up there!

My alarm was set for midnight and I when I poked my head out of my tent I could see lots of stars, and the Milky Way right above us. Neighbors in the site next to us had a dog that barked at every noise so I tried to be quiet as I woke my sister but she is infamous for sleeping like a rock and I couldn’t get her up by shining my red flashlight into her tent or whispering her name, so I went down to the beach by myself.

Amazing.

The sky was clear on this, our second night, and I shot a few images of the Milky Way out over the lake. There was still significant light pollution, and a party going on across the lake compete with bright lights, but in general I was pleased.

The breeze was warm and there weren’t any bugs, the stars were bright and I was standing in a beautiful place. It was all good except I should have tried harder to wake my sister up. She was disappointed when I got back and she woke up as I was climbing back into bed. She was ready for a night time adventure and all I did was tell her to go back to sleep.

But we saw other pretty stuff, like this orchard under the clouds.

In retrospect I should have gone back to the beach with her so she could see the Milky Way. Sometimes, as Katie always said, I can be a little dense.

In the morning the sky was dark and the air felt damp and the radar on my phone predicted rain. We hurried up to get the tents down while they were still dry. We skipped breakfast and packed everything up as fast as we could finishing just as sprinkles began to dampen the sand.

Tearing down isn’t as much fun as setting up.

But we took the long way home, stopping at a farm market north of Ludington for some more wonderful fruit. And, of course, I stopped later for a photogenic barn.

Green barn under navy summer skies.

Because, after all, what’s a trip north without a barn?


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Stars, the first night

It’s taken me a few days to sort through the images from my two nights of photography. Looking through them I’m transported back to those warm nights again.

A place in the sand.

Before my photography friend arrived that night I spent a few minutes capturing the sky above the dunes and houses along the road. It was an image I’d had in my head since my last trip up to this area, back in May. I think it looks like an amazing painting, and I’m glad I got to go back and get it.

Once she arrived we went down to the beach to see what there was to see.

Our first glimpse of the beach.

It was a very windy night. We were pushing our tripod legs deep into the sand to try to reduce camera shake. The wind was cool, but I never felt cold until we stopped shooting. The adrenalin kept me warm.

Lighting up the sky.

The sky was stunning. The Milky Way was so clear. And when we turned around to face north the lit lighthouse was beautiful too.

The moon and several planets were supposed to line up around 4:30 that morning, so though we were done shooting the lighthouse and the Milky Way around 3:00, we thought it would be a waste not to stay and see. It was warmer up on the road, and we stood around talking as we waited for the moon to come up.

Waiting for the moon to wake up and join the party.

The moonrise was stunning, but it was rising through a bank of clouds and only intermittently visible. And in the end we didn’t see them all lined up, just Jupiter and sometimes Mars, and the moon.

The lighthouse catches me trying to grab an image of the pole and the Milky Way.

But even without planets we were both smiling when we finally headed to bed just as the sun was beginning to light up the world.

We knew we’d had a wonderful night under the stars, and if we were lucky we’d be out the next night too.

Stay tuned.


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Starlit solace

I went on a little adventure this week, two nights spent near Lake Michigan shooting images of the Milky Way. It didn’t escape my attention that I went without my girl. Or that I went in part because it was too hard to be here without her.

And it worked. For two glorious nights I stood in silky sand with my lens pointed at the sky and I was happy.

Last night, after I was finished shooting while waiting for my photographer friend to finish her work, I sat alone in the sand, gazed up at the Big Dipper and talked to my dad, a warm breeze drying the tears on my face.

Pt. Betsie lighthouse on a warm summer night.

Hey Dad. I know you and Mom never met Katie but she’s up there now. Take care of her for me, will you? She might be scared to be so far away from her mama and daddy. I don’t want her to be scared, so please reassure her. And she likes her shoulders to be massaged. If you could do that for me, I’d appreciate it.

Tell her we love her, and miss her, and we’ll see her again someday.

PS: I’ll have more images to show you from the past two nights once I get them all sorted. It was pretty amazing, millions of stars crowding the sky, the Milky Way glowing.

I felt lucky to be there. Even without my girl.


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Joyous Lilacs

I’ve seen pictures of the Pt. Betsie lighthouse in lilac season. I’ve been covetous of those images because I’ve never seen it myself, never timed a visit to the lighthouse, one of my favorite places in this state, at exactly the right time.

I always get a happy feeling, deep down inside, at the first sight of the Pt. Betsie beach.

Yesterday, on my way home from a 3 night camping trip near the Sleeping Bear Dunes, I finally got to check that as done.

I mean…how can it get better?

The lilacs were at their peak, the sky was cerulean blue with a few wispy white clouds, we were the only ones there.

Perfection.

The view the other way was pretty striking too.

I have many reason to love this lighthouse, one being it’s where my parents visited during their honeymoon in 1953, and where they went for their 50th wedding anniversary a year before they died.

Gentle waves lapped at the base of the lighthouse.

I like to sit and think about them there, and I hope they were close when I squealed at my first sight of the purple blooms against the white of the lighthouse.

The iconic image. Even though I have hundreds of these I can’t resist this angle every single time I visit.

I imagine they were, possibly, even squealing along.