Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ludington and Grand Ledge - last day of the fall color tour!

 Sunday morning we woke up to a gloriously sunny day again but with LESS WIND!  So after a great breakfast in town, we went back out to the lighthouse to see if we could walk out the pier without getting wet or washed into Lake Michigan. And we could! It was a bit wet and slimy-slippery in spots but our feet stayed dry.  It's a surprisingly long walk- from the nearby parking area, it was a mile round trip!

There were no signs to describe the history but it appears the base is the bow of an old steel ship maybe?  Regardless, it was a nice walk and a great view back to shore and out across Lake Michigan.

Next stop was in Grand Ledge, a small town just west of Lansing.  I hadn't known much about the town other than a coworker lived there until another friend was there to watch her son do some rock climbing. Rock climbing, in Grand Ledge?  Really???  Yup.  I didn't take any pictures of the people that were there climbing (it felt kinda rude to do) but sure enough, they were all over the place and one guy even offered to hook us up and teach us how!

It's not a big park or a long walk, but if you take the stairs to the bottom of the rocks, you go along the river looking back up at these sheer rock walls that are really quite beautiful.  This one had this perfect 90 degree cut that wasn't man made!

There was some pretty color along the path and the river was quiet and powerful at the same time knowing that long, long, long ago, it had probably helped to cut these rocks.

Water seeps from the rocks and keeps the paths quite damp.  This cave was surrounded by a heavy wet moss and dripped steadily at the entrance.

It's pretty rugged in some spots and the colors in the rock are just beautiful!

Some of the oranges in the rock matched the oranges in the trees.  Just lovely.

I caught Garry by surprise in this one - but I like it!!

Another Pure Michigan spot!

We really suck at this selfie thing!

Next stop was just a few miles away, still along the Grand River, at a bird sanctuary where there were supposed to be some nice hiking trails.  And there were!

The trails wound through open fields and forests too.

Lots of great color in the oaks and maples.

And there we ended our quick weekend color tour trip and headed home...where the colors are great here now too!!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Manistee National Forest and Ludington

The Manistee National Forest is between Manistee and Ludington and the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area was on our radar for some good hiking.  The trails went out to Lake Michigan and past little Nordhouse Lake. 

Some of the trails were well-groomed and quite wide and others were narrow and lined with moss like this one. 

As usual, we volunteered to take pics for other couples so we could get some of us together too!  That's a little sliver of Lake Michigan in the background!

There were beautiful views around every turn.

Some of the trails were along these high ridges with fairly steep drop-offs to either side.  I loved it!

And some trails were through the sand dunes along Lake Michigan.  There were lots of people camping just under the trees - it was a perfect fall weekend! Temps were about 60 degrees with beautiful sun!

Just Pure Michigan perfection!!

Some of the dunes were a ways in from the water - that surprised me.  I didn't know we had so many that were that far inland!

You just can't get tired of these views!!

There were a ton of evergreens in the wilderness area so we didn't actually see all that much color but it was still breathtakingly beautiful!

Another barely marked ridge trail!

Along the beach in Ludington - just so beautiful! The waves were intense though. It was super windy.

By this point, let's just say our feet were getting a little tired from walking in so much sand...Garry got blisters!

And then we finally made it back to Ludington, ate dinner and hurried out to the beach to catch this beautiful sunset. The perfect end to a perfect day!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Clare, Cadillac and Manistee, Michigan

 I've lived in Michigan my whole life. So has Garry.  Neither of us has ever done a formal "fall color tour" up north.  Until last weekend!!  We left at noon on a Friday and made some good tracks and saw some amazing color on our tour. 

First stop was in Clare at the headquarter store for "Cops & Donuts" for an afternoon apple fritter!  After our snack, we walked around the block to the post office and on the way back, discovered this beautiful alley!!  

The colors were so vibrant and beautiful!

Behind the Cops and Donuts shop was this giant "donut" decorated wth fancy bunt pans and other types of cake pans.

I loved this one that Garry modeled in for me to imitate the boy next to him!

From a distance, you can't see the detail in these murals but there are tons of old fake gemstones and jewelry glued to the wall as highlights to the design. 

This is an old fake, diamond bracelet.

Strings of beads and old necklaces accent the hair.

We did a lot of driving around back roads in Cadillac and saw some great swaths of color and then made a pit stop at this "scenic overlook" on Lake Cadillac before heading to Manistee.

It was a long flight of stairs back up!  What's it with me and stairs on vacations lately!!!

Garry took this pic of me enjoying the sunshine and golden trees.  It was fairly windy so I was keeping my ears covered with my neck gaiter.

 We got checked into the historic Ramsdell Inn, our cute little boutique hotel right in downtown Manistee.  We were in the first room on the right on the 2nd floor.

We were walking to the restaurant for dinner and spotted this building with my name on it!!  As far as I know, we don't have any close relatives in Manistee... 

For dinner, we went to the Blue Fish Kitchen & Bar - a very cool place!  We had great food and Garry's Bloody Mary came decorated with a full salad on top!

After dinner, we walked down to the Manistee Riverwalk. It's a boardwalk that runs about 1.5 miles out to Lake Michigan and is mostly lighted.  It was dark when we walked it but this pic is from the next morning when we sat a bit on a bench sipping our coffee and eating some muffins we bought at Cops and Donuts the day before!

Our last stop in Manistee was at the lighthouse!  We didn't walk all the way out to it because it was really windy and the waves were breaking over the pier.  Neither of us wanted to get wet when we had a big day of hiking planned!

We waved goodbye to Manistee and headed a bit south to the Manistee National Park!

Friday, October 16, 2020

NC Tripping Part 3

 Our last full day we spent traveling a good distance of the Blue Ridge Parkway heading east from Asheville.  The day looked quite promising with nice temps and just some puffy clouds and a decent forecast.  We were pumped to do lots of scenic overlooks and some easy hikes.

As we got to the higher elevations, we felt like we could touch the clouds they were so close!

I don't remember what this waterfall was called but we barely had to walk anywhere from the road to get to it! 

I love these panorama shots when I put them on my TV...on a blog post...not so great!

One of our last hikes started out literally in the clouds.  It was like walking into a rain forest - everything was mossy and wet.

Another tree that I just thought was "special".  Kind of "tree of life" looking.

This tree was also really cool with it's sideways growing branches that make a perfect frame for Leslie standing in the distance.

From the other side - now me in the frame! LOL!

It looks like just a not so great picture but that's because we were in the clouds...a fine misty swirl was surrounding us!

As we wound our way back down to a lower elevation, the sky went back to being it's beautiful self!

Next stop, Crabtree Falls - an easy 1.5-mile hike down and then 1.5 miles back out.  Easy peasy and our last hike of the trip.

Although it was probably one of the tougher trails we took with lots of rocks and roots, going down, down, down is never all that bad.  You just have to really watch your feet. But it was so pretty!  The weather had said there was a 30% chance of rain in the afternoon but it was only supposed to be 0.03" so when it started to sprinkle while we were at the falls, we weren't too concerned and didn't even put on our rain gear right away...

Let's just say, it was a very long 1.5 miles back up from the bottom in what was pretty much a pouring rain!!  But we had a blast, made the best of it, and were almost dry by the time we made it to dinner!