Birthday Adventure

Today is my birthday. I think that my birthday occurs in the most beautiful month of the year, and my annual gift of taking a long drive to enjoy the autumn color is the most awesome gift imaginable.

We left home at 9 a.m. We had discussed whether or not to take Hannah Joy with us, but we decided to leave her home because Hannah can be headstrong and we wanted a relaxing day. Before we left home, we shut the cats in the entrance hall/pantry so Hannah would leave them alone. She likes to chase some of the cats. We closed the pet door so she couldn’t get into the pantry because there is a lot of things in there that she could get into. We put away anything in the rest of the house that Hannah might get into and gave her a rawhide bone to keep her occupied for a while. Although we were gone all day, she really did quite well. Nothing chewed up, no messes to clean up. However, she misbehaved quite a bit after we returned home–chasing cats, trying to eat our food, and so forth.

Since it was on the way, our first stop was at a feed store in Traverse City to buy a winter’s supply (we hope) of cat food, wild bird seed, and a big box of treats for Hannah.

Our morning started out rainy. The rain stopped later on but there were dark clouds in the sky all day. We didn’t mind. We actually enjoy all the “moods” of autumn. We had worn “layers” of clothes–t-shirts, sweatshirts, and windbreakers–so we could put on/take off layers as needed according to the weather. We had also brought along warm winter hats because we knew it would be especially chilly and windy near the coast of Lake Michigan. It’s a good thing we did: we would have frozen without our hats and warm clothing.

Since we moved to Northern Michigan, my birthday drives tend to take us either north on M-119 through the Tunnel of Trees up to the Mackinac Bridge or south along Lake Michigan on M-22. Sometimes we do both, traveling north one weekend and south another. Today we traveled on M-22, pretty much following the route marked out on the map at the top of this post–only we turned west at Sutton’s Bay and went only as far south as Frankfort before turning around and working our way toward home. Although EJ’s birthday is in late March, he declared that next weekend is his birthday and he wants to go north.

Boats on Grand Traverse Bay

From Traverse City, we traveled north along the coast of Grand Traverse Bay. The rain and thick clouds shrouded everything in a mysterious fog. The sky and water seemed to blend into each other. It was difficult to take good photos as we drove along because our windshield was dirty and the raindrops blurred everything, but I liked this photo of the boats on the bay.

At the picturesque town of Sutton’s Bay, we turned west to the coast and meandered our way down to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We went on a very beautiful scenic drive through the area called the “Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.” The rangers at the entrance to the drive gave us a map with places of special interest marked. We stopped at the overlooks and walked along the dunes, taking in the gorgeous views. At one overlook, we saw birds soaring overhead. It was difficult to see what they were, but we are sure that at least one of them was a bald eagle. I took many, many photos at the dunes. Here are some of them:

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Here are a couple short videos that I took of two different areas at the dunes:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 1
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 2

We were very hungry when we finally left the dunes, so we drove south to Frankfort hoping to find a restaurant. We parked the Xterra and walked through the cute town. Surprisingly, most of the restaurants didn’t open until 3 p.m., but we finally found L’Chayim Delicatessen, which was open until 3 p.m. EJ ordered us two sandwiches–a Reuben and a Berg–and we each had half of both sandwiches.  They were very good.

EJ looking for rocks at Point Betsy Lighthouse.

We drove to the shore at Frankfort to take a photo of its lighthouse, and then we headed back north. We stopped at Point Betsy Lighthouse to go rockhounding. At Sleeping Bear Dunes we were high above Lake Michigan, on top of very steep dunes, but at Point Betsy we were able to walk along the shore at the water’s edge. We’ve been to Point Betsy several times before, but only on calm, sunny days. It was fun being there on a day when the waves were higher and came crashing to shore. I thought they were beautiful, and very mesmerizing. As we were crossing around some large boulders to continue down the beach, we got caught by some higher waves. My shoes and pant legs were drenched. We found a few pretty rocks, but didn’t want to get too close to the water to find more. We both agreed we would like to visit Lake Michigan on a stormy day to watch even higher waves.

As we left Point Betsie, we suddenly realized how very tired we were. We had had a very full day of fun. We headed home. I took my soaking wet shoes and socks off in the car. We stopped at Meijers on the way home to pick up a prescription for EJ, and I grabbed a gallon jug of cider.  We hadn’t found any donuts or cider on our trip. We had planned to stop at a farmer’s market in Frankfort after we ate, and we might have found some there, but we forgot to stop. We have a few errands to run tomorrow and may go to Cops & Donuts.

When we got home, I took Hannah outside and then went out to gather chicken eggs and give them fresh water. Meanwhile EJ unloaded our cat and bird food. He also heated up enough cider for a cup for each of us. He sprinkled in some spices–I think cinnamon and cloves. I made popcorn. Hot cider and popcorn was just perfect after a day spent along windy Lake Michigan.

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