Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Yearly Anniversary Trip

  • I have a job! It's only a seasonal position, but it's for a great company. At this point, a job that lasted two weeks would be a huge boost to my self esteem.
  • I miss having coworkers and a daily, employed routine.
  • Three years ago, my wife and I started a tradition for our anniversary. We head north, try to hit a few places that are photographic, we try to hike, and we find a place to stay for the night. Three years ago, October was still considered part of Autumn with cooler weather.
  • Most tourist locations considered October to be the beginning of "the off season." Rooms were cheap and plentifully available. Hiking trails were almost abandoned, free from interuption.
  • For the past two years in a row the tempuratures for the first weekend in October have been in the seventies and eighties. Finding a hotel room has proven to be near impossible without reservations. Hiking trails are clogged with people and not the kind that seem to appreciate the setting they are clogging.
  • I need my yearly dose of nature and Autumn beauty. The trees appeared to be on fire everywhere we went. This yearly visit resets my eyes, helps me appreciate things I often overlook.
  • This past weekend, we were on a beautiful trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area of northern Michigan. More than a few things got on my nerves. I should point out, this wasn't a dog-walk specific trail. Dogs were allowed, but it wasn't like it was a designated dog run.
  • There were nearly as many dogs on the trail as people.
  • Animal people often act as if everyone should be happy to meet and greet their pets.
  • Even the people that didn't have dogs were talking about pets… loudly. Most of the natural inhabitants of the hiking areas I was trying to enjoy tend to run away when they hear loud conversations about animal waste management.
  • When we arrived at Empire Bluff, we were greeted by an awe inspiring view of the dune filled coast of Lake Michigan. There was a great, beautiful contrast between the fall leaves and the deep blue of the lake. You can see for miles: little towns dotting here and there, endless Fall colors…
  • I found it kind of crazy that some of the visitors seemed totally oblivious to all of it. The trail ends in a loop that allows you to quickly exit the scenic area if you choose. Many people would literally stomp around the loop and exit without pausing at all.
  • Wow. They missed it.
  • At the Dunes Visitor Center, cougars are listed as extinct in Michigan and have been "for decades." When you get to the hiking trails, there are notices telling you that encountering cougars is a possibility, but to avoid trying to interact with them at all costs.
  • I thought I understood what the word extinct meant.
  • We ended up finding a room about 150 miles farther south than we intended. The Days Inn had a mural on the wall that showed elfish looking leprechans stealing money from some sort of palace.
  • ??????
  • Nothing makes my hotel staying experience better like theiving elf murals.
  • On our way home, we headed for the west side of the state. We ended up in Ludington. What a strange little town. There were a few large hotels right on Lake Michigan. I'm guessing that tourism is a huge factor for the town.
  • Their art community was very obviously a huge influence too. We passed many little galleries filled with young people on a Sunday morning.
  • Then there were the churches. We parked in their downtown area. All the buildings were very old, but most of them were full and have obviously been updated.
  • We were hungry, looking for a place to have lunch. Heidi noticed a group of older, well dressed folks standing outside of what appeared to be a business. It ended up being a Church of Christ. As we walked by, I noticed that pews packed the small space.
  • Directly across the street, in a remodeled movie theater, was another church. The people standing outside and sitting inside were much younger. They were all wearing black and grey sweaters - still dressy, but more beatnicky. Instead of pews, they were sitting on chairs in a communal like circle around what appeared to be the pastor. It looked more like a coffee shop. The marquee listed their three service times instead of movies.
  • My wife and I love to sample micro-brewed beer, so we tried to visit two breweries while we were up north. They were both a bust.
  • The first one was in Traverse City, and they had an hour and a half wait.
  • The second was in Ludington, and lunch for the two of us would have ran more than thirty dollars. Craft beer and twenty dollar plates of lobster pasta make for a strange business profile in my opinion, but to each their own. It kind of feels like a mix of football and neck ties.
  • The Fleet Foxes make for a great soundtrack to an Autumn roadtrip in Michigan.

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