Under the Blue at the Detroit Zoo

Two of the biggest draws of the Detroit Zoo are the polar bear/seal exhibit and the new Polk Penguin Center, both of which feature underwater views of exhibit residents.

We were a bit bummed that the polar bears weren’t swimming while we were there, but we got some great views of the silly seals and swift penguins.

A One-Man Border Patrol

Better watch out, Canada.

Actually, those killer moves aren’t directed at you.

I believe the boy was controlling the fountain, using both mind and fist.

And anyway, he’s a very nice boy.

More pictures of our awesome three-day trip to Detroit in the coming days.

Detroit Riverwalk

These were taken on the Detroit Riverwalk just outside of the Renaissance Center, where we stayed on the 53rd floor.

Renaissance Center, Detroit, MI

 

Rocky Mountains Reflections: The Landscape

My, my, how the week just gets away. April slipped out while I was busy with other things and now it’s a full week since I had the good fortune to be here.

Rocky Mountain Foothills, near Denver

And here.

Moraine, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

And here.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Compared to many of you, I’m sure, I have lived a very sheltered life close to home. It’s not for want of desire to travel. As a child I was wildly jealous of my best friend and her frequent travels to places beyond our small town. She summered in these mountains at a camp called Cheley. You can see it here if you look hard.

Cheley

Don’t see it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She spent her summers riding horses (something else I longed to do, as all girls do at some point) through this landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, I love my state. I could never live in Colorado because of the water factor. It’s hard enough living in mid-Michigan when you grew up with sailboats and freighters and seagulls and drawbridges. But I understand why Colorado sucks people in.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by this?

Rocky Mountains

And this.

Bear Lake, Rocky Mountains National Park, CO

And this.

Rocky Mountains

And this.

Leaving the Rockies

It is fantastically beautiful, inspiring us to stop and reflect on our own cosmic insignificance — were we not made by the same creative and loving hand as each of those mountains. Yet we are known as intimately and cherished as closely. The same God who caused the earth to push up Long’s Peak…

Long's Peak at Bear Lake, Rocky Mountains National Park

…causes the earth to push up the mountain crocus.

Mountain Crocus

He bids us leave our homes, get out of our cars, get off our duffs, and start to climb.

ClimbingUp

He calls us to seek higher ground, not for safety’s sake, but so that we can see the world closer to His vantage point.

Rocky Mountain National Park

He calls us to love and care for this incredible planet, and for all of the living things He put here for our enjoyment and education and inspiration.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And to pass that love and sense of responsibility down to our wide-eyed children.

Tina and Micah

He calls us to notice the shade of the dirt…

Abandoned Mining Operation?

…the sound of the river…

St. Vrain River

…and the chaotic flight of the swallows.

BirdWatching

My first trip to the Rocky Mountains was entirely too short. But I will be back, with husband and son in tow. Because beauty like this is meant to be shared.

Friends1

Vacation Season Is Coming…and Michigan Is Open for Business

Look friends, winter’s over, the trees are leafing out, the flowers are blooming, and Michigan’s cities and coastlines are calling. If you live here, you already know how amazing it is. If you don’t, take a couple minutes and watch this:

And then head on over to my page of Michigan links and start clicking and planning a vacation here.

Michigan is more than Detroit (although, Detroit’s pretty freaking amazing, even for a city in crisis) and it has something for everyone. Here are some of the beautiful places I like to frequent.

Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, bike, hiking shoes, ATV, fishing pole, camera, nature guides, water skis, appetite, and penchant for fun and relaxation.

How to Find the Best Beaches in Michigan’s U.P.

Mosquito Beach
One of my favorite places in the world: Mosquito Beach.

I don’t typically highlight websites on this blog, but in preparing for my upcoming hiking trip to Grand Sable Dunes and other parts of the east side of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (and also in thinking about August’s short story) I happened upon this excellent website: Some Yooper Beach.

For the uninitiated, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is locally referred to as the U.P. (pronounced Yoo Pee, not “up”) and those who live there are called Yoopers. This particular Yooper has done the world a great service by visiting TONS of U.P. beaches and then describing them and sharing photos of them on his website. If you have ever thought of visiting Lake Superior, spend some time on this site first to see which part of the 2,726 miles of shoreline (nearly 1,000 of which are in Michigan) you would most like to visit.

Mosquito Beach
We spent more time at Mosquito Beach than any other place on the trail.

Another handy website is the Lake Superior ShoreViewer. What it lacks in interesting commentary, it makes up for in comprehensive photos of what appears to be the entire Michigan shoreline. Though it would be super nice if you could zoom in on the photos (which you can’t).

I’ve added both of these sites to my page of Michigan Links. If you didn’t know about that part of this site, why don’t you go check it out now? I’m sure you have tons of time to waste, right?

Beach at Coves
The beach near Coves campsite.

Driving North on 131 to Interlochen and Points Beyond

On Tuesday my husband, Zachary, and I dropped the boy off at his grandparents’ house and headed north for Interlochen. At the outset, it did not look to be a terribly great day for driving or for the concert.

Image

Soon we were quite pounded with rain and white-knuckling it at only about 45 mph.

Image

But it started letting up pretty quickly and the rest of the trip went off without a hitch.

Image

In fact, the further north we got, the nicer the weather got.

Image

Which is generally to be expected in the summer months.

Image

Also expected on trips Up North are places like this.

Image

Things sometimes get a little strange is all I’m saying. A lot of oddballs live up north (no offense to my sister).

At any rate, the concert was incredible. Quite possibly one of the best I’ve been to. The weather cooled off and the sun setting over the lake behind the stage set a great atmosphere for Brandi Carlile’s fresh sound and amazing voice.

Image

The next day we lazed around the Traverse City and Old Mission Point area with brunch at The Omelette Shoppe on Cass St. and a short walk around the stony beach.

Image

We found a couple interesting rock arrangements.

Image

See the heart? And this…

Image

And enjoyed the lovely cherry orchards and vineyards along M-37.

Image

Too soon we headed back south. But it will only be a few weeks until we get to drive north once more, this time for nearly two weeks.

Soon it will be July (can you believe it?). So I must say goodbye for a couple days so I can finish up June’s short story for you all. Here’s the updated cover, which I’m liking very much:

Image

Summer in Michigan Means One Thing to Me: Up North

Over the past week my husband, Zach, and I have been engaged in the blessed process of planning summer travel around the state: picking dates, securing care for our pets, coordinating travel with family, reserving a room here…

Bay View Inn

We’re thrilled to be heading back up to Mackinac Island after a few years’ absence and excited to introduce our son to its magical qualities for the first time. Zach and I will spend two nights there alone, writing while overlooking the Straits of Mackinaw and riding bikes around the island. Then my in-laws will come up with our son and we all get to pal around, ride bikes, bring the boy to Fort Mackinac, ride in horse-drawn carriages, and eat ice cream. I can already feel the wind off the water.

Mackinac Island Ride

But before we get to Mackinac Island, we’ll be spending another week at a very special place to our family, Camp Lake Louise

Lake Louise

And in late summer will be the Second Annual Sisters’ Hiking Trip. Last year we hiked Pictured Rocks…

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

You can read about our amazing trip here, here, here, and here. Not totally sure just where we’re going this year. But I’m scheming.

This is the time of year my heart aches for woods and water and sky, when thinking about driving north–far north–elicits a physical reaction of butterflies in my stomach and even tears welling in my eyes. The silence of the night sky filled with stars. The sound of wind through trees. The cold splash of clear water. The clip-clip-clip of horses’ hooves. The heat of the sun upon bare skin. The scratchy sound of sand upon worn pine floors. Just the thought of these stirs deep longing in my soul.

I’m hopelessly in love with Michigan.