A Day of Perfection

Northwoods Journal

Saturday October 12, 2013

I slept like a rock last night, unusual for up here, and it was hard to get out of my cozy, warm cocoon this morning.  But, I didn’t want to waste a minute of precious daylight and I knew all my feathered friends would be waiting for their breakfast.

The chickadees arrived en masse this morning along with a flock of blue jays, white-breasted nuthatches, and hairy and downy woodpeckers.  Despite the chill, I took my second cup of coffee and my camera out on the porch and took pictures until my fingers were numb with cold.  The air was filled with the near-constant flutter of birds’ wings and my heart was filled with joy.

A blue jay waits for its turn at the feeder.

A blue jay waits for its turn at the feeder.

Hungry chickadee

Hungry chickadee

The day promised to be a glorious one so we decided to forgo a big breakfast and instead got dressed and loaded up the dogs, heading toward Thompson’s Harbor State Park.  We stopped in town first at the Baklava Shop for fresh made cinnamon rolls to eat on our way.  (And baklava, too, of course, and shortbread, for later!)  The drive was beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed the lovely fall scenery along the way.

Thompson’s Harbor State Park is about 10 miles south of Rogers City, right off US23 on the shores of Lake Huron.  I have to give a big shout out to the blog Quiet Solo Pursuits for informing me about this state park.  His writing and photography have really been instrumental in encouraging me to strike out beyond the boundaries of Atlanta and Montmorency County.  If you are interested in birding, photography, or hiking I suggest you check out his blog.  His posts are always interesting and informative and his photography is stunning.

There was only one other car in the parking lot when we pulled in.  Another vehicle came in just as we headed toward the trails.  The couple had two big dogs so we watched to see which trail they chose and took the opposite one.  We didn’t see another human soul the rest of the morning.  These interesting fungi were growing in the middle of the trail.  Unfortunately their colors didn’t quite come out as well in the photo – they were pinkish and the rims were blue.

Interesting fungi

Interesting fungi

Lake Huron was beautiful in the bright fall sunshine.  Unfortunately the shoreline is almost entirely rocky in this area so we couldn’t walk along the beach very much.  We did venture down to the water so the dogs could take a dip but it was hard walking for us and for them.

The three beagles, Daisy, Milo and Ruby.

The three beagles, Daisy, Milo and Ruby.

Mark found this awesome piece of driftwood on the beach and if it hadn’t been so far to the car, he probably would have hauled it out of there and taken it home.  (We also didn’t know if that was legal, LOL.)

A nice piece of driftwood, probably off an old boat.

A nice piece of driftwood, probably off an old boat.

We saw one freighter out on the lake.  (Click on any photo to see a larger view.)

Freighter out on Lake Huron.

Freighter out on Lake Huron.

Farther along we did find one area where the beach was more sandy.  Someone had spent a lot of effort on this tee-pee right at the water’s edge.  It was fun to imagine it was a remnant from the days when Native Americans ruled these waters.

Weathered tee-pee skeleton on the shore.

Weathered tee-pee skeleton on the shore.

We had taken sweatshirts with us in the car but it was so warm when we arrived that we left them behind.  We hadn’t hiked long when we were shucking out of our long-sleeved over shirts.  We really could not have asked for a better day!  When Milo started to drag we took a rest on a bench overlooking the water and ate some trail mix.  Mark and I discussed the three state parks we visited this year and compared their pros and cons.  Mark said he liked this park better than Negwagon but I decided Cheboygan State Park was my favorite because we could hike right along the beach there and also see the lighthouses and Bridge.

Best we could figure, we hiked three miles.  Daisy was still raring to go when we reached the parking lot but Mark said three miles was his limit.  As we left the parking area we decided to drive to this scenic outlook.  The sign warned of “rough road ahead” but the trail wasn’t nearly as rough as the sign would lead you to believe.  Mark was disappointed because he didn’t even need 4-wheel drive!  The color was spectacular and we stopped so I could take a few photos.

Spectacular fall color.

Spectacular fall color.

Leaving the park we headed to Rogers City to get something for lunch.  We bought a couple of sandwiches and ate them in the car.  Mark took a different route back toward Hillman and as we drove through Hawks I asked him if this was the road with the big smiley-face boulder in the field.  A few minutes later there was the boulder!  I made him stop so I could take a picture.  The first time we saw this rock was a few years ago and he wouldn’t stop that time.  Mark isn’t much for photo ops.

The happy boulder in a field near Hawks.

The happy boulder in a field near Hawks.

Close up of the happy boulder.

Close up of the happy boulder.

It was after three when we got back to our place.  We plopped down on the porch and enjoyed the antics of all the birds.  Everything was so perfect – the vibrant colors of the falling leaves, the blue sky, the birds flying to and fro, the fragrant smell of fall heavy in the air – I longed to wrap my fists around the day and hold on tight.  But, of course, the sands of time insisted on slipping between my fingers as the sun slowly set.

Today, along with all our regular bird visitors:  blue jays, white-breasted nuthatches, chickadees, hairy and downy woodpeckers, we also saw a brown creeper and another bird we were unable to identify.  When I first saw it I thought it was a red-breasted nuthatch and Mark thought it was it was a goldfinch.  We soon realized we were both wrong but the bird flew off before we could make a proper identification.

We rested for about an hour-and-a-half and then decided to take the dogs out one more time while we still had daylight.  A light breeze had kicked up and blew in some cloud cover so the fall colors weren’t as vibrant.  Mark had in mind where he wanted to go but we ended up behind two other vehicles heading to the same area and then there were bird hunters everywhere so we had to change plans.  He said we were already half-way to Tree of the Rock, so let’s go there.

We discovered Tree of the Rock (my silly name for it) probably ten years ago now.  You can only get down to it in spring and fall because the path down gets completely overgrown with briars.  The first time we saw it, the tree was just a small sapling growing out of the top of this huge boulder.  We’ve gone back every couple of years and now the tree has grown so big you can hardly see the rock anymore.  The whole gully has gotten so overgrown it has lost some of the enchantment it once held.  There are all kinds of underground springs and the ground gets very boggy and wet in spring and early summer.

Tree of the Rock in 2007

Tree of the Rock in 2007

Tree of the Rock today.

Tree of the Rock today.

After our brief walk we headed back to the trailer.  Mark took the rough, scenic trail that requires 4-wheel drive!  On Kellyville Rd. a great blue heron took off from the swamp beside the road and flew in front of us along the road for nearly a quarter mile.  Then, at the intersection, we saw a blue bird, an unusual sight up here.

I made a big pot of vegetable soup for dinner that filled the trailer with a wonderful aroma and tasted divine.  We agreed to leave the dishes for tomorrow and went outside to enjoy one last campfire.  The clouds obscured the stars and no owls called.  We did hear coyotes just before we headed inside.  Rain began pattering on the roof just as we tucked ourselves into bed.  Funny, but there had been no rain in the forecast before we came up!  Matter-of-fact, the rain chances were zero percent for the entire weekend!  Oh well, I’m tremendously thankful for the beautiful day we were blessed with and went to sleep recounting the wonderful adventures of our perfect day!

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4 Responses to A Day of Perfection

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    Another beautifully written post, Amy. Thru your narratives you always keep me enamored of the great images of Michigan.

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  2. Thank you so much, Bob! That means a lot to me, coming from you! Your blog is a great inspiration to me! 🙂

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  3. Thanks for the shout out and kind words!

    We’re so lucky here in Michigan, there’s always a park nearby to suit every one’s tastes. I don’t know if you’ve visited Hoeft or Rockport State Parks yet, they are cool in their own right. Hoeft is just north of Rogers City, Rockport is just north of Alpena.

    Your day does look like it was perfect, thanks for sharing it with us!

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  4. Thanks for giving me more places to check out! 🙂 After seeing your photos of Lake of the Clouds I told Mark we definitely have to get to the U.P. next year! We’ve even discussed investing in a tent! (I gave up tent camping more than 15 yrs ago!) 😀

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