Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


17 Comments

Day 2 of camping during a pandemic

I left you at midnight feeling disappointed on my first night of camping, in a dark and cloudy parking lot up in the thumb of Michigan’s mitten, with no stars in sight. After all, the entire purpose of this trip was to watch a predicted meteor shower in a dark sky park.

Certainly the small plot of dirt squeezed between two other equally small plots of dirt that masqueraded as a campsite was nothing to write home about and no reason to visit.

I should have gone into Grindstone City (the city part is a misnomer) because I hear there’s a store that sells awesome ice cream there.

Still.

The night was warm and with no schedule to follow I slept in until almost 10, as did my camping neighbors on both sides. I enjoyed my bowl of cereal and blueberries and spent a couple hours reading undisturbed. Not such a shabby vacation after all.

By noon I was ready to go exploring. After all, I was in farm country!

There’s just something about wide open spaces.

I found myself driving around big country blocks, sometimes multiple times, looking for illusive barns. Which actually weren’t so illusive.

I went around the block twice to get this shot. It’s the sweetest little stone barn with a tin roof. I think someone is living in it as a home.

There were barns everywhere!

This was one of two barns I saw with the quilt square on the side. The other one wasn’t in a safe spot for me to stop.

But eventually I found myself sitting at a picnic pavilion along the shores of the water again. It’s hard for me to stay away from water for very long.

There was a private campground out here, but no one was using this shady spot but me and the birds.

The seagulls shared it with me, after a bit of screeching they lifted off and flew out for an afternoon float on the beautiful blue water.

It was a beautiful day for flight.

I have to admit I didn’t get much reading done there, the view was too pretty. It was nice just to sit and watch the birds bob and the light on the water dance.

The colors of our Great Lakes never cease to amaze me.

And there was the lighthouse here too — even though it wasn’t open it was fun to explore the grounds. Last time I was here with Katie it was raining and we did a mad dash to get a picture then headed right back to the car.

I can never resist a lighthouse.

But mostly I was waiting for the sun to go down, so I headed back to camp in anticipation of a clear evening and bright stars. Before going to my campsite I figured I’d go check the beach, see what was happening.

This is what was happening:

As I walked down the stairs to the beach a bit of remaining sun hit this sailboat and lit it up. I squealed. Out loud.

A storm front was bearing down from the north! The weather guy hadn’t mentioned any storm front moving through! What was this? And had I left the windows of my tent open to the weather?

The sailor and I head for safety as thunder begins to sound the alarm.

After taking a few dozen shots I ran back up the stairs and to my car and drove as fast as I could through the crowded campground to my site. There I found the neighbors hurriedly packing things away and talking about ‘rain in 5 minutes’ I threw my chair into the back of the car, grabbed some fruit and my book and dived into my tent as the rain began.

I have to admit I took a nap while still wondering…

…would there be stars tonight? Would I be smiling in the dark? Or would it be another starless night?

Stay tuned.

Day two. At least I still had the barns.


32 Comments

Camping during a pandemic

I’m just home from a short 3 day camping trip in the tip of Michigan’s thumb. It was my first camping trip outside my backyard of the season and I went to spend some time at a dark sky park that’s tucked into the dune grass along Saginaw Bay a few miles up the road from the state park campground.

A pretty minimal site, but I wasn’t there for the camping.

It was a last minute decision when our local weather person predicted clear skies and good views of a meteor shower.

I wandered on the drive up to my campsite on Tuesday afternoon through miles and miles of flat farmland which was filled with….you guessed it….barns!

You can’t beat red barns and puffy clouds!

So, while you might think this post would be filled with dark skies and bright stars you’d be wrong. At least for now.

The wheat is already harvested, mostly it’s soy beans and corn waiting to ripen now.

I knew you’d want to see the barns, it’s been way too long since I did a post about barns, and they are one of my favorite things to hunt down.

This was my favorite barn of the trip up, but notice the sky is filling with clouds.

And once I arrived at my campsite I had to go check out the dark sky park, to make strategic plans about where I might want to set up for prime star gazing.

Lots of low dunes and a few trees might make the perfect place for star gazing.

It’s a pretty little park with a huge parking lot and a viewing platform. But I found the low dunes and grasses more interesting.

I didn’t notice this dragonfly when I took the shot. But I like that he photo-bombed my image.

I also noticed all the clouds accumulating and wondered whether I’d have clear skies that night. But the weather guy said I would, so I tried not to worry.

If I weren’t there for stars I’d have been thrilled with the beautiful clouds.

That evening the sun went down amid the clouds in a pretty little show.

Waiting on the sun to sink.

I sat on a platform overlooking the Bay. Last year in June Katie and I visited this park, sat right here to watch the sun set. I was missing my girl, but it was much too hot for her to go camping with me. She was home enjoying air conditioning with her dad.

A nice place to watch the sky turn colors.

I went down to the beach to explore a little as I waited. High water in the Great Lakes have turned the beach into such a narrow strip of sand you could hardly call it a beach at all.

This split rail fence used to mark the beginning of the beach. Now it’s part of the bay.

The sky was pretty, but I was impatient for the show to be over so that I could scoot up to the dark sky park and see what I was there to see.

Just a bit north of the actual sun the clouds were turning pink.

Finally the sun gave up it’s grip on the day and settled with a sigh into the water.

The end of a pretty day.


The clouds seemed to be dispersing, so I was hopeful as I headed up the the night sky park. There were perhaps a dozen cars filled with other people hoping to see some meteor action.

I was hoping for stars.

And as the sky got dark an immediate problem became evident. The half moon was high in the sky and shining brightly. I checked my phone and learned that the moon would set at 1:30. I figured I could wait it out. But the longer we all sat there the more clouds moved in until even the bright moon was obscured. By midnight I gave up and headed back to camp for some sleep, not having taken a single shot.

I had one more night there, and I just knew the sky would be clear! The weather guy said so!

Stay tuned.

At least the barns were pretty.


20 Comments

Hanging in the rain…and fog…and cold…and…

Katie here. I know you can hardly stand waiting to hear all about my adventure, but I had to wait until mama trimmed my paws. You know how hard it is to type when your nails are too long.

One of my favorite things to do is hang out under the picnic table. Never know what you’ll find under here.

Plus, we got home from our trip way last Friday but this is the first time I’ve been able to kick mama off her laptop long enough for me to write to all of you.

Sometimes mama forgets I’m the princess.

We had a great view!

But other times, like last week, she does things just for me, like taking me camping in my tent but way up north instead of in my own backyard. I just love doing that. This time we went up into the thumb of Michigan, and camped at a Michigan State Park called Port Crescent.

Mama reserved our site way back in January, so that we could have a spot right on Saginaw Bay. It was awesome. OK, yes when we first arrived on Tuesday afternoon it was a trifle windy. So windy that mama wasn’t sure she’d be able to get the tent up by herself. I told her I wasn’t about to help her, as a princess doesn’t do manual labor.

Mama was hoping for no rain.

She got it up but was afraid to try to put up the rain fly. She said that would be like handling a giant kite in a tornado.

Eventually the wind died down a little, plus it looked like rain, so mama gave it a shot and, using the wind to her advantage, got it up and over the tent. Turns out this made the wind try to lift the whole tent up into the air.

It was really windy, but I wasn’t afraid of those waves!

Mama got out the heavy duty stakes and pounded them deep into the ground.

Then she and I got inside the tent to help hold it down. The wind was amazing, making the tent walls shudder and the waves, only feet away, roar. Then on top of the wind and waves the rain began to pour down. Rain on a tent can be pretty relaxing, but not when it’s coming down sideways!

You want me to help you hold the tent down mama?

It was a pretty noisy night, but I slept through most of it. Mama said she stayed awake shivering and finally put on more socks and long underwear and her winter coat and a hat and mittens so that she could get some sleep around 1 a.m.

Guess mama isn’t built for cold. I thought it was the perfect sleeping temperature.

The next morning the wind had died down, the bay was calm when we ventured out about 5:30. I don’t know why mama was so grumpy, it was beautiful! She should thank me for getting her up to enjoy it.

Early morning blue hour. She would have missed this without me. She never gives me enough credit for the good stuff.

We walked down to a little beach and looked at the water for a bit, then mama said after breakfast we were going to go visit Grindstone City. Well, I don’t know what that is, but I’m always up for an adventure.

A nice morning…but is that fog?

Mama said it was a tiny town up on the very tip of Michigan’s thumb that used to make grindstones, and lots of the old grindstones are still up there scattered around. She’d been there twice before, once with my dad about 10 years ago, and once with her dad so many years ago she can’t count.

She was confident she knew where it was.

Hurry up mama, I think the fog is closing in!

So off we went. First up we visited the marina at Port Austin, the town just up the road. It was really pretty, which, from a princess point of view isn’t always a good thing, cause mama makes me pose in front of a bunch of stuff. All the time. Boring mama!

A pretty spot to sit on a day without fog maybe.

Anyway, while we were there the fog blew in, and it blew in really fast! By the time we left you could hardly see anything. Mama, however, noticed a few barns as we drove further north looking for Grindstone City. She was so busy looking at the barns that she sort of lost track of where she was.

Lots of barns in lush green hills!

At one point she stopped to look at a map. I don’t know why she had to do that. I mean, I asked her, how hard can it be to find the furthest northern point of a thumb? It’s like right there on her hand, right? (Joke mama, joke!)

Mama said she thought we had gone too far in the fog and needed to turn around. So she was looking for a place to do that when she saw a sign for this.

We had this place all to ourselves.

It’s Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, built in 1847. In 1849 Catherine Shook became Michigan’s first female lighthouse keeper when her husband drowned. The current structure was built in 1857. It began to rain as we were exploring, so we didn’t stay long, but it was fun to walk around and imagine what it must have been like back in the day. The fog and rain made our imagination even more vivid!

Still, we hadn’t found Grindstone City! Mama referred to her map again and set off confidently. And this time she was right!

Grindstone City must be around here somewhere!

We pulled into town and stopped at one of only a few commercial buildings. Signs said the best ice cream in the world was served there, but it wasn’t open.

No ice cream today!

I wasn’t disappointed cause I never get ice cream anyway. Mama said it was OK because she was too cold and wet for a frozen treat.

Really old.

So we headed off to look for a particular peninsula where she knew there used to be some abandoned grindstones. Plus when she was there with daddy years ago she had thought that I would like to explore it someday. And there, just around another corner was the place she remembered!

This looks interesting mama!

We pulled up and she noted that there were lots and lots of families of Canadian geese, complete with dozens of babies. She told me maybe we wouldn’t be walking out to the end of the point after all, as geese can be pretty aggressive when they’ve got the babies around. But as soon as she got me out of the car they all slid noisily into the water.

Guess they know not to get in the face of a princess.

Let’s get sniffing mama!

So off we went. Mama liked this one tree across the way and spent a lot of time trying to get a shot of it. There were tons of swallows flying and she started laughing cause she couldn’t get a shot of the tree without a bird flying into the image.

A bird flies through the frame.

I was too busy sniffing the ground, looking for grindstones to bother with birds. And way out at the end of the point I found one!

There’s a grindstone out there!

We spent a long time out there, mama found all sorts of things to photograph. And I liked being out in the wind and the fog and the rain. Kind of made my fur curly, but I figure it’s a look. Right?

Right?!

Anyway, by the time we got back to camp I needed to take a long nap. Unfortunately our campsite had a whole bunch of wood chips that liked to stick to my fur. It didn’t bother me, but mama spent a lot of time sweeping out the tent and muttering.

A princess needs her nap.

Wednesday night mama slept in all her clothes including hat and mittens again. She actually googled for nearby hotels but there weren’t any. I, on the other hand, slept great.

Don’t bug me mama.

Thursday morning I managed to let mama sleep until about 6. It was a beautiful morning and she was happy to see what she thought might be sun touching the tops of the trees. And soon we had evidence that finally we were going to have a nice warm sunny day. Perfect for camping even though it was our last day there.

Tall cottonwood trees shaded our site.

We went south a little bit and explored the Albert E Sleeper state park. Mama hadn’t wanted to stay there because their campground is on the other side of the main road. Mama says it’s more fun to be right on the water.

Another park with no one around.

I reminded her it probably would have been warmer at night to be in the woods instead of on the water, but she said the sun on the water Thursday was worth all those nasty nights of shivering.

Sunshine on the water makes us happy.

Whatever mama.

No one was at the Sleeper state park at all. There were lots of trees and it was pretty…

Lots of parking available!

..but there were also lots of signs like this. Which we ignored since no one was there.

Let’s go see what’s over the dune quick before anyone notices!

We walked down to the beach and I got my picture sort of on it…without really touching their precious sand. I figured I’d rather just hang out at my campsite and watch the water instead of worrying about being busted breaking the no dog rule.

So that’s what we did.

Kids and their dog play in front of our site. I stayed dry on shore as befits a princess.

And Thursday night there was the prettiest sunset. The people in the next site brought their kayaks and went out to enjoy the sunset. Of course mama took their picture ( a few dozen pictures actually) and she sent them the best shots yesterday.

A romantic paddle at sunset.

She took a few of me too.

This was a perfect day mama!

And then it was Friday morning and time for us to head home. I was sad, it was going to be another beautiful day and I didn’t want to leave. But mama said camping in the state parks on the weekends is just not fun, too many people, too much noise, and besides, she was sort of missing her bed at home.

You always do this mama! Where is my tent!?!?!

I didn’t understand that exactly, cause I was sleeping in my own bed. Mama brought it with us, per my demand. Doesn’t matter to me where it is as long as mama is nearby.

Anyway mama packed up Friday morning, and I supervised. Then we took the long way home and mama took pictures of a few more barns.

A bird on a barn with a bird.

We made it home in time for dinner, and then mama unpacked the car and did the laundry and put stuff away. I took a nap.

I’m ready for us to go again real soon, but mama says she might need to take a little break. She says it’s nice to sleep without putting on four layers of clothes, and huddle under three blankets. She also enjoys sleeping without sand and wood chips in her bed.

I don’t know why she looks at me when she says that.

I miss my campsite by the water mama!

So that’s the story of my adventure. We had a lot of fun, that last day of sunshine sort of eclipsed all the rain and wind and fog and cold. Almost. I hope our next adventure is a little bit warmer, but not too warm. You know how a sheltie princess enjoys being cool.

Mama will just have to suck it up.

I can’t wait to get back out there!


24 Comments

A smiley kind of week

Trent hosts a weekly smile blog where he invites people to share something each week that made them smile, then link to his blog so that he can send out a recap on Mondays.

That alone makes me smile.

But this week there are plenty of things I smiled about and it’s hard to choose just one to share. For example, my tree peonies bloomed. Their flowers only last for a day or two and if you’re not quick you’ll miss them all together.

Katie and I were quick this year.

And as you know Katie and I went north for a few days to camp along the shores of Saginaw Bay, on the west side of Michigan’s thumb.

Lots to smile about there.

And this morning I made music with many of my Clarkston Community Band members at the opening of our local Farmers’ Market.

We sat out in a parking lot under the hot sun and played for three hours. It was a blast. I’m pretty sure the top of my feet are sunburned even though I put unscreen on, but at least that will be proof we’ve finally moved into summer arsound here. Another reason to smile!

Katie says she wants to tell you all about our camping trip, so you’ll have to wait just a little bit for that. She’s a slow typist lately. She blames me because I haven’t trimmed her feet in awhile and the extra long fur tends to obscure the keyboard.

Oh! And on our drive up there and back I got to see a lot of barns! You know how that makes me smile!

So let me count. The flowers in the garden, the trip up north, camping, barns, music…it’s just too much to number! What have you smiled about this week? Write a blog and link it to Trent’s and we’ll all be able to smile together.

Katie had a lot to smile about too!