Tagged with "family"
10 Nov
2016
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Take a Trip: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

sandstone arches at Pictured Rocks

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.

tree at Chapel Hill Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

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.

woman's legs being bitten by stable flies

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.

children playing at Chapel Beach Pictured Rocks

family hiking through a forest at Pictured Rocks

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.

tiny frog sitting in a child's palm

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.

Miners Castle overlook at Pictured Rocks

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.

children playing under a waterfall in Michigan

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


 
Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park
By     |    Nov 8, 2016
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Take a Trip: Mississippi Headwaters, Voyageurs National Park

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]

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Act with Abandon
By     |    Sep 26, 2016
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Act with Abandon

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]

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Broken Bones and Mommy Guilt
By     |    Sep 1, 2016
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Broken Bones and Mommy Guilt

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]

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Tailoring Parenting to My Audience
By     |    Aug 28, 2016
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Tailoring Parenting to My Audience

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]

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No Rose-Colored Glasses for Me
By     |    Aug 18, 2016
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No Rose-Colored Glasses for Me

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]

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For the Love of Olympics
By     |    Aug 11, 2016
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For the Love of Olympics

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]

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Wandering Through the Summer
By     |    Aug 2, 2016
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Wandering Through the Summer

We’ve spent our summer doing what we do best: wandering. I play the part of responsible adult most of the year, attending meetings, turning work in on time, volunteering, and running kids hither and thither. Summer is for following my gypsy heart. I long for deserted roads stretching to the horizon and open vistas from the mountain tops. I pour over the road atlas and maps looking for the next place to visit. I’m sidetracked by road signs. I constantly... [Read More]

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Parenting the Littles
By     |    Jun 24, 2016
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Parenting the Littles

Something has been missing all week. Someone actually…two someones. Our oldest two sons have been at summer camp this week which is the first time half of the children have been away at the same time. It’s been interesting to see our third son step into the role of oldest for the week. He’s been extremely helpful and attentive to his sister. He’s enjoyed being the leader instead of the one who tags along with whatever his older siblings want... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Dinosaur National Monument
By     |    Jun 13, 2016
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Take a Trip: Dinosaur National Monument

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. I have a box of plastic dinosaur figures in various sizes in our basement. Each of the boys went through a dinosaur-loving phase during their toddler years. While they no longer play with the dinosaur figures, they remain intrigued by fossils. The love of fossils comes from... [Read More]

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Mama, They See You
By     |    Jun 6, 2016
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Mama, They See You

I’ll be limping across the finish line this week on the last day of school wrung-out and emotionally drained. Our 5th grader has had A YEAR. I cannot tell you anything specific academically he learned because academics took a backseat this year to some serious life lessons. There have been difficulties in the classroom with another student. There have been laws to study and bureaucracy to wade through. There have been meetings and emails…so many meetings and emails. We seriously... [Read More]

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Our Traditional Summer List
By     |    May 26, 2016
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Our Traditional Summer List

I have to stop looking at my social media feeds for the next two weeks. I have several friends, in and out of state, who already are on summer break from school, and I am jealous. The end is in sight for me but not close enough. We have eight school days remaining this school year. The kids are excited for the field trips and picnics and less-rigorous final days of school, but I’m over it. I want to wake-up... [Read More]

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