After the wind and rain.

Last night I was restless. The sound of the wind and rain and sirens was never ending. With every snap I was sure we were losing a tree in the backyard. We didn't. We were lucky. In the morning it seemed as if we were the only people we knew that had electricity. I was thankful to have the opportunity to work from home on a day like this, especially with the wind still roaring between the houses in morning. The sirens haven't stopped but the now weather is calm and grey. It's a day for blankets.


Sketchbook Project - On the move again.

I just found out that my submission to the 2011 Sketchbook Project will be on the move again, and this time it's coming to Cleveland! Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the event, but I'd love to get the chance to flip through all those sketchbooks that will be traveling around with mine. 

(Sketchbook Project - 2011.)

**EDIT: Due to the hurricane, the dates for the Landmark & A Mission tour have been changed. The tour will now be coming through Cleveland on Sunday, November 18**


Between projects.

It's kind of like that first week after you've graduated college and you can't shake the feeling that you're supposed to be working on something, but for the first time in weeks you actually don't have a project looming over your head. That's how I feel right now. 

Last Saturday we spent the entire day installing a sandstone walkway to our front door. Sunday was spent nursing sore muscles. The weeks and months prior to that were devoted to restoring our office space. Now we're between projects. The next will be our currently un-useable downstairs bathroom. I love making this house ours.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

It was hard for me to ignore the feeling that the sand dunes seemed incredibly out of place. Especially when they became the backdrop for an idealistic white farmhouse and red barn with a field full trees changing into their fall colors. You just don't expect to see massive sand dunes in that picture. 

We spent some time on the scenic drive which was called a "must see" by one of the rangers that we had talked to. I'd have to agree with her. It offered some of the best views of the dunes that we encountered and we paired the views with some of our favorite fall music. Nick Drake for me, Matt Pond PA for him. 

Both of us were eager to camp that night. In fact, backpacking at Sleeping Bear was something I've been wanting to do ever since my dad mentioned it to me as a possible destination for a backpacking trip we took years ago. We headed out with plenty of time to set up camp and get in a short hike to the beach without packs before it started to get dark. The landscape nearest to the dunes was different from everything that we had seen so far. Pine after pine covered in lichen and a few wildflowers still blooming in the dropping temperatures.

We crossed paths with a talkative ranger on our way to the backcountry site. After discussing my camera, Cleveland, and our careers with us, he mentioned to us how important it was to keep all our food and anything with a perfume scent in the bear box at the site. Bear box. Apparently the number of bear sightings in the area was rising. If it hadn't been for that knowledge, we might have slept a little more soundly that night. As it was, we were both wide awake at nearly every snap of a twig in the woods. While we had no bear encounters, I did hear a chorus of coyotes howling in the middle of the night while Andrew snored. You don't get that at home in your bed.

 Seven thirty in the morning was still a little cold and dark, but I made a fire for us and Andrew attempted to toast his bagel over it while the water for the tea boiled. The morning is what I love most about camping. Feeling rested, awake, alive. Our friendly ranger had suggested hiking along the beach to return to the trailhead instead of the trail through the pines. I'm glad we took his advice, that morning hike was my favorite of the entire weekend.

All of my Michigan trip pictures can be seen here.


When things don't go as planned.

We had spent the previous evening celebrating the wedding of a good friend of mine with some of my favorite people in Indiana, old friends, and new friends that felt like old friends. Talking about backyard chickens, gravity and singing along with the Beatles.

The next morning we moved a little slower than we should have and at some point during our seven hour drive to Michigan we realized that it wasn't going to be possible to reach the Sleeping Bear Dunes before the ranger station would close, leaving us with no permit to be able to camp. So, thinking quickly, I searched for other parks in the area that offered backcountry camping. Ludington State Park seemed to be our answer and we made a slight adjustment to our travel route to get us there with enough time to hike to our destination and set up camp. 

After waiting in line, watching RV after RV check into their reserved spot in the park, the woman at the desk told us that their backcountry site was closed. At this point, I was getting rather discouraged. I told her that we had planned on backpacking and she said that if we took their trail to the lighthouse we could then continue on past the park border and into federal land where we could camp wherever we liked. Although I was hesitant about the fact that the woman could offer us no map of the federal land, it seemed as if things were falling into place and Andrew was encouraging and eager to get going.

So we hiked to the lighthouse.

But when we got to the lighthouse our trail came to an end. We wandered a bit. There was no additional trail or signs to be found. No obvious path that others had taken. After many attempts since first leaving the park office, we were finally able to access a map of the federal park on Andrew's phone despite the spotty service. As it turned out, the woman at the desk should have sent us down a different trail. A trail which, at that point, was at least four miles from our location. Not to mention that we would have needed to hike another two once we got past the park border to get to an area that were allowed to camp in. The sun was setting. Hiking miles in the dark was not something we were prepared for. Returning to Ludington to set up our tent amongst the RVs was certainly not in our plans but it seemed to be our only choice.

As we retraced our steps the sun slowly disappeared, the air chilled, and everything became so quiet and still. There was a point when we stopped to look around and on the dune between us and the beach stood a herd of deer silhouetted by the last bit of sunlight. It was that moment that made me stop caring that nothing had gone as planned.

The next morning we packed up and drove to Sleeping Bear.



Andrew and I spent some time wandering through Michigan this weekend. It was a really great trip and I've been looking forward to sharing the pictures but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Soon.

(Andrew snapped this panorama with his iPhone while we were in Ludington State Park failing to find a trail to take us into federal lands where we could camp.)