A quarter-century!

DSC_2215_aIt’s the big XXV birthday for Ross and Ryan!

These young men who stand before us bear not the slightest resemblance to the tiny, quivering beings who entered this great big world on that September 30 so many years ago. Here, as Sharon held them on their way home from the hospital over 4 months after birth, they were already four times their birth weights!Sharon w 2_aThe magnificent community that aided their survival and supported their growth into young men has been a wondrous group to behold! We remember so many….

The huge adjustments these boys caused over the years have ranged from cataclysmic to glorious. We have learned so much as parents…and it never stops!

The present arrangements for ourselves and the twins seem to work the smoothest of any we’ve ever had. Many of you have remarked that we’re “livin the dream”, and I’d have to say it’s probably true. Not quite the way you might think….we do seem to roam from one vacation spot to another, and we have few appointments clamoring for our time and attention….but Robyn is sleeping on the floor right now with Ryan because he has experienced a very difficult time settling down for a good night’s sleep the last few nights, and awakens multiple times in great upheaval! She is masterful at soothing him….

Our flexible schedule allows us to experience many things…so long as there isn’t much walking involved. We were able to catch a special run of the ski lift at Boyne Highlands the other day, and the operators took care to adjust the system to accommodate Ross and Ryan’s needs to load and unload. Here’s a glimpse of what they experienced:
DSC_2232_aDSC_2252_aDSC_2276_aDSC_2284_aWe take every opportunity we can to do short walks with the boys, and to help them experience daily living in simple and safe ways. The variety helps us and works for them.
DSC_1979_aThese last two photos illustrate the point: we stopped past a park where we knew there was an eagle nest. None were there, but Ross and Ryan experienced the wooden deck that serves as a lookout platform, and I had some fun taking their picture!
DSC_2493_aDSC_2488_aWe’re heading out the door now, to begin the next quarter-century. Sure hope you’ll hang with us!

Things are about to turn

It was nippy like fall, so we decided to dress like it was…
DSC_1955_aWe went scouting colors again. The colors, they are a-changing…each day brings a few more standout trees and a slight shift in hillside colors, but no generalized change.

Evening is our favorite time to scout. Everything’s winding down, the sun is turning golden, and the deer are out in force. They’re quite skittish and stay in the shadows or so far from the road that it’s been rare for me to get a decent photo.
DSC_1990_aLike I said, out in force and far from the road: those are not livestock on this side of the barn….they’re a dozen deer, and there were that many more farther to the right in shadows!
DSC_1992_aThis view holds a lot of promise for fall colors, wouldn’t you say?
DSC_1999_aIt’s part of the lovely village of Harbor Springs. Along the distant shoreline at the right, the sandy section is the beach at Petoskey State Park where the final picture was taken for this post. We felt as though we got our money’s worth….

All in a day’s jaunt

DSC_2122_aSeptember 30 is the big day….

Cloudy day with rain forecast, so we decided to drive north and scout the Tunnel of Trees for fall color.

HA, clouds went away and it was lovely!

But no color…yet.
DSC_1942_aNotice no centerline in the road. This magnificent route travels the shoreline of Lake Michigan for more than 20 miles, and is mostly covered by trees. We hope to still be here when the colors are in high gear….

Along the way, there are frequent views of the Lake. On this day, the views frequently showed the massive clouds that still threatened other portions of the shoreline. In this photo, the dark area offshore is all cloud except the sliver of dark blue on the horizon to the right, which is Beaver Island.
DSC_1932_aOne stop we made was down a stairway to the shore, which revealed only rocks on the beach. But it also revealed this really tough old tree that showed what it sometimes takes to eke out a living on this shoreline!
DSC_1890_aFor some reason, as we headed back south through the Tunnel of Trees, we felt the need to briefly visit Charlevoix…maybe for a quick perch dinner. But we got a bonus when we arrived…this two-masted schooner was in the harbor! It’s a 114 foot replica of an old sailing vessel, and is used for weekly charters out of Traverse City. Notice how the deck in front slopes down toward the middle. There were 31 people on board, and only 7 were crew!

Everything’s coming up pumpkins

DSC_0391_aWe continue to have fun with Ross & Ryan’s upcoming birthday….and Ross continues to have fun with anything that is dumped in his lap!

The sunsets around Little Traverse Bay are usually special to behold, because there are always some clouds and they’re always moving into different shapes and layers, and because the sun sets over the lake past the mouth of the bay. Lots of color, lots of foreground, and lots of changing action. And sunsets seem to linger longer….

We thought the golden-red of the sunset was so fitting for this season….almost like pumpkins!
DSC_0274_aDSC_0281_aThe sailboat looked to be flying everything he had, and gave us another nice shot!
DSC_0327_aDSC_0300_aWe started this evening run in Harbor Springs, stopped briefly at Petoskey State Park, and finished on the edge of Bay Harbor in East Park.

It’s in the air

Just up the street from our new park, the Bear River tumbles over a low dam and down a narrow concrete channel into Lake Michigan.

We were surprised to find the small bridge swarming with fishermen in the morning as we left for the day. What was it?

DSC_9944_aA salmon run in the heart of Petoskey! Guys were netting them, spearing them, and catching them with hooks. One guy had 6 and said he was staying until he had his limit of 10!

Up the road a little ways, we passed some maple trees that were already in “full song.” As we passed, I noted what a great picture they’d make…then said wait, wait, wait, why pass them?

So, turned around and got this picture for you.
DSC_0342_aThe trees were alongside a parking lot in front of some condos that were on Crooked Lake. I mean ON the lake:
DSC_0338_aWho needs a dock when you have a boat garage under your condo?

We were on our way to Pond Hill Farm, located a couple miles into the Tunnel of Trees north out of Harbor Springs.

What a great place! Adults like to visit for the vineyards and wine tasting. Kids like to visit for the pumpkins, pig races, baby animal barn, and….just everything!
DSC_0375_aDSC_0441_aWe’re scouting spots that should provide grand vistas for fall colors….

In the meantime, there’s always a memorable sunset over Little Traverse Bay, looking past the Petoskey pierhead lighthouse….
DSC_0590_aBut wait, there’s more….moonrise over Petoskey!

Up close

Sometimes surroundings and perspective distract us from the beauty of a small part of our circumstance.

In each case below, if I showed you the full surroundings, you probably wouldn’t notice the pictured element.

We miss so much!

(The toad is smaller than my thumb nail.)
DSC_3627_aDSC_3686_aDSC_3700_aDSC_5117_aDSC_5664_aDSC_5137_aDSC_9998_aDCIM101GOPROWe celebrate Ross & Ryan’s upcoming birthday in similar fashion!

Found our new coach

DSC_0090_aDSC_0059_aSt Ignace has a weekend show for everything. This time the show was for Big Trucks.

We found this rig entertaining….you know, found us entertaining the thought of buying such a rig, then hauling loads to make some money on the side….

Just kidding.

These guys were serious about their looks. Check out this double-bottom dump truck: not just all its tires lettered, but color-coordinated lettering…outlined in white! The driver said his company has about 50 of these rigs, and the owners want the rigs washed every night!
DSC_0120_aThe owner of this spit-and-polish tractor also has a 1957 Chevy show car.
DSC_0130_aNot everything was completely serious. Here, the thought was serious but the execution (?!) was light-hearted.
DSC_0102_aIn St Ignace, no big show of vehicles of any kind is complete without a parade across Big Mac. The truckers do it with flair, parading at night while blowing their horns!

Makin a run for provisions

Sometimes we have to do boring stuff like hitch up the wagon and ride 30 miles for provisions.

Worse this time….had to go out of our way to stop by a farm for some of the stuff.

Ahhhhhh, see, that’s YOUR way of doing life….gotta do this, gotta do that, hurry up, we’re late….

Not us. Everything is an opportunity to go somewhere different and see something new. Out of the way is good.

And buying some of our food from the farmer…wow, that’s terrific!

Did I say farmer? I meant Farmer’s Daughter.

Robyn made two new friends at the weekly farmers market in Hessel. Betty was the dear, sweet lady who stopped by the coach a couple days after their first meeting, and invited Robyn to come to her farm and tour the 125 acres with her on the ATV! We pictured her in our post of Sept 1…at the farmers market in the Soo.

The other new friend was Kelly, who bakes goodies in her home and sells them under the name The Farmer’s Daughter. Her home is on the sheep farm run by her father and her husband.

We were leaving town for a new campground too early in the day to catch the farmers market, and Robyn arranged with Kelly to stop by her farm and pick up a supply of important foodstuffs (sweet rolls and scones!) the day before.

This was the scenery on our way to her place:
DSC_9701_aA sky that threatened rain, but looked glorious doing it!

Met Kelly and her mother at the farmhouse, and who should come through the kitchen right then but father and husband. We had a great time meeting everyone, and were promptly invited on a short tour of the farm!
DSC_9791_aTyler, the daughter’s husband, took us on his ATV out into the field with the lambs, because we could see a bald eagle eating something on the ground with several vultures nearby. Yep, a lamb had died. He said they keep several large Pyrenees dogs in the field with the lambs to protect from coyotes and wolves, but several young ones will still die from medical problems each year.
DSC_9818_aDSC_9727_aTwo huge fields held a huge flock of lambs and another huge flock of ewes. It’s near the end of the season for the lambs, who will be sheared and then sold about November. The ewes will become pregnant this winter and deliver next spring.
DSC_9824_aTyler took us across the road from the flocks to a small garden patch, to get some corn. He apologized for the crop, pointing out that he and his family are shepherds, not crop farmers. Shucks (sorry), he had nothing to apologize for…the corn was tender and sweet!
DSC_9825_aAs we left the farm/ranch/family home, up the road just a bit was a field filled with sandhill cranes!
DSC_9846_aAfter we finished with that interruption, we resumed our trip to the Soo for provisions.

Actually, we had taken so long with our detours, we needed to eat. So we tried a new restaurant called Lockview…that was across the street from the Soo Locks. Mmmmm, good Cajun spice walleye.

As we left…finally heading to the store for those provisions…we realized the International Bridge just a few hundred yards upstream from the Locks was all lit up in national colors! We took another detour, so we could catch a nice shot to share with you….
DSC_9936_aWhew, we finally headed to Wal-Mart. Doing life in an interesting fashion can take a lot of time!

We leave you now with this final picture that was taken on a different day, with an enchanted Ryan and a contemplative Ross!