There have been several places we’ve visited that we hope to visit again when children are older and physically capable of doing more. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin is one of those places. I hope to go back and try kayaking Lake Superior. During our July vacation stop at Apostle Islands we enjoyed hiking a mainland trail to view “sea” caves. We hiked most of the Lakeshore Trail which begins at Meyers Beach. We only saw a handful of... [Read More]Read more
All outdoor enthusiasts or lovers of beautiful landscapes should place Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan on a must-see list of places to visit. The foliage-covered sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rocks rise above the aquamarine water of Lake Superior lending itself to picturesque views around every bend. I couldn’t get enough of the landscape.
While the view was truly mesmerizing, our nemesis on the trip, stable flies, were in full-force. Stable flies are quite possibly the worst insect we’ve encountered in our many adventures. They are relentless, annoying and deplorable. Stable flies are similar to house flies but bite like they’re harboring small fangs. They will not leave you alone unless you’re in the water and land in swarms on bare legs as soon as you’re near the sandy shoreline of Lake Superior.
I’ve heard we were unlucky enough to visit Lake Superior during peak stable fly season. We were attacked by the flies at several stops around Lake Superior, but Pictured Rocks was the worst. Signs warned visitors there was nothing you could do to stop the pesky flies. Bug spray doesn’t work. Only covering your skin can thwart the flies. My legs were covered in bloody bites by the end of the day. We would violently swat flies away and try to enjoy the sand of Chapel Beach, but didn’t last very long before we gave up on the beach in favor of enjoying Pictured Rocks from the cliffs.
The cliff faces are sculpted by the incredible power of water. There are arches and alcoves along the shoreline. Water seeping through cracks in the rock leaves colorful streaks on the faces of the cliffs giving the name Pictured Rocks. The common theme of our summer vacation was water and vegetation. Pictured Rocks had towering trees and smelled of rotting leaves and dirt, but not in a bad way. It was the rich, primal smell of outdoors.
We hiked through a section of trail with hundreds of jumping frogs the size of a fingernail camouflaged in the mud and undergrowth. We had to prod the kids to get through frog land. They wanted to catch every frog they spotted, which was drastically slowing any progress on our return hike from Chapel Beach.
Pictured Rocks was busier than Voyageurs National Park and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore combined. A steady flow of people were on the trail we hiked, and the Miners Castle information center and overlook was crowded. While the crowds at Miners Castle were large, it’s worth fighting them for a view at the overlook. It’s one of the most iconic at Pictured Rocks.
The question we always ask park rangers is where they like to hike or their favorite overlook. At Pictured Rocks, a ranger pointed us to land at a nearby National Forest that had two waterfalls and the promise of fewer people. It was as advertised. There were two other families on the trail connecting two waterfalls. There wasn’t much water flowing in the waterfalls in July, but the kids enjoyed walking behind one of the falls and cooling off in the late afternoon heat.
Next up on our summer 2016 road trip: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
We’re in the middle of a crazy warm November in Wyoming. The temperature has been hovering in the mid-60s with sunny skies for weeks now. I’m not going to complain about beautiful, fall weather, but it makes me itch to travel. By this time most years, we’re settled into shorter days and cold, blustery weather. Dry, snow-free ground makes me want to plan a trip and hit the highways again. School schedules and extracurricular activities have us staying at home.... [Read More]Read more
Three years ago when our oldest son started youth tackle football, people told me to be prepared. Tackle football was not for the faint of heart. There was the physical nature of football, but there was also the nature of football coaches for these 5th and 6th grade-age boys. By the third football game of our son’s first season, it was apparent that football coaches were different than any coaches our athletic children had ever been acquainted. Our oldest son’s... [Read More]Read more
I’m not overtly political in nature. I have my opinions, but I don’t enjoy debating politics. The last few weeks I’ve had conversations with my elementary-age children regarding issues they’re hearing at school from children that have me questioning what, exactly, adults are thinking. It started with comments about Benghazi and deleted emails. Then there were walls and taco trucks. My daughter has been told by a fellow 1st grader that she’s “what’s wrong with the country” because of who... [Read More]Read more
If I was an animal, I would dig a hole and hide in it when things were too much. The person that I am copes by huddling my family closer in this home we’ve made together. I want to close the curtains, disconnect the WiFi and pretend it’s just us. Really I’m not coping, just hiding. Eventually I have to come out and actually deal with the world. Life has been heavy the last few weeks. We have too many... [Read More]Read more
Teachers, I’m asking for some grace. We’re in our first full week of the new school year. We’ve done the back-to-school nights and signed all the papers. We’re almost in the groove, heavy emphasis on almost. Give me time to acclimate to the four varying schedules and demands of our children. Half our kids don’t have homework. The other half will, one far more than the other. There are reading logs to keep and behavior ladders to memorize. When I... [Read More]Read more
Some of the best money we spend each year is the $80 used to purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. The pass gives us free access to over 2,000 federally managed recreation sites across the United States. This year we have a 4th grader who qualifies for a free pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. I’m always looking for ways to save money. This saves us $80 and allows for access... [Read More]Read more
Confidence is fleeting in my parenting game. One day I think we’ve got this. The next, Craig and I are looking at each other wondering what we’re supposed to do. This morning I had no clue what to do when a child potentially breaks bones. By this evening, I had it figured out. Almost 14 years into parenting and we had yet to have any child break a bone. The simple act of running ruined that record. Our first-grader was... [Read More]Read more
Our second oldest son and I were driving to his 6th grade orientation last week. His brothers and sister weren’t with us. This was the perfect time to talk one-on-one about heading to middle school. I over-think and prepare for situations. I was going to begin with talking about responsibility before moving into the importance of kindness and bravery before wrapping up with a shortened version of previous talks on drugs, alcohol and sex. I’d given this talk to his... [Read More]Read more
She told me I was overly sappy. She accused me of looking at parenting through rose-colored glasses. I was told I was crazy for not wanting my kids to head back to school. I’ll admit to being a sap. It’s taken me years to embrace the fact that I’m an emotional person. I have all the feelings all of the time. I’m passionate and a little emotionally volatile. I feel my way through life, and no longer make apologies for... [Read More]Read more
Barcelona 1992. That was when my passion for all things Summer Olympics began. I watched everything I could in those pre-Internet days and stood in the grocery store reading magazine article after magazine article devouring every athlete profile tidbit I could. Gail Devers, Jennifer Capriati, Derek Redman and the basketball Dream Team were brought up in conversation as if they were friends of the family. Not much has changed in 22 years. My passion for the Olympics runs deep, and... [Read More]Read more