Tag Archives: Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

Peregrinations

Speaking of peregrinations: When I was child I wanted to be a falconer. I wanted to have a hawk, or perhaps a peregrine falcon on my arm. She would fly off my arm and circle the sky until she was only a dot and then, finally, fly back to me. I didn’t dwell on the hunting part of this fantasy–just on the bold, high flying bird who would come home to me. (I confess that I might have come up with this idea from reading The Hardy Boys: The Hooded Hawk Mystery). I keep alert for birds of prey wherever I am, but I have not had one on my arm. However, we’ve had Phoenix the orange-winged Amazon parrot in our family for the last 27 years, and I have been content to have him on my hand and in my heart, if not in the wild blue sky.

Phoenix Q. Terrill

Tom and I spent much of September 2022 traveling. This year our road trip was at least 4,300 miles and we loved it, as usual.* We only camped by one great lake this year, but we did travel through 12 states. We visited with loved ones and walked on beaches, in forests, and on prairies. We enjoyed our travel on foot paths, back roads, dirt roads, and highways. Tom and I lunched in prosperous Glen Arbor, relaxed in the egalitarian comfort of campgrounds, and talked about sights to see with couple of Wisconsin bikers at Kitch-iti-kipi.

beach, Lake Michigan
Fayette Historic State Park, Michigan
bison and prairie grasses, Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma
Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore
Kitch-iti-Kipi, Manitisque, Michigan

Besides, Michigan, Tom and I camped in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. We drank cold coffee and ate cold, but delicious, meals. Furthermore, for most of this trip, we didn’t even bother with putting up the tent; we just reclined on our the Subaru’s front seats and slept when the sky was dark.

dinner at the campsite

One thing was different this year: we had campfires at three different campsites. Tom and I are usually content to have the sunset be the dramatic display of the evening. It’s more environmentally sound, I think, than the big bonfires some campers build. Plus, who needs a campfire for cheese and meat sandwiches, especially when we weren’t packing marshmallows, Hersey bars, and graham crackers. This time it was different, though. I think–damn hot weather not withstanding–we needed the emotional warmth of the fire. The flickering yet steady light, the hopeful sparks flying upward, and feet warming on the firepit rim soothed us. Tom and I are grateful for the year we have had–we are still here and we are still okay. However, we continue to get older, and not so much wiser. How can it be that I have been tagging along with brothers Mike and George for 70 years? How is it that brothers Rog and Dan are missing somehow? Why do I still miss the stubborn and lovely beagle/basset, Randi? Now that I finally finished reading Will Bagley’s South Pass: Gateway to a Continent, I want to talk to him about it and where is he? I just read in the Washington Post today that the January 6th berserkers “…stashed weapons, ammunition and hand grenades in a Comfort Inn in Arlington County, Va….” That motel is a 0.9 mile walk from where I am now writing in my living room. What is happening to my beloved country? We needed that fire to comfort us at night just as the water, trees, and flowers did during the day.

Lake Michigan, September 2022
post oaks, Osage Hills State Park, Oklahoma
snow-on-the-mountain, Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma

We call them “roadtrips,” not just “camping trips.” We do so because although we enjoy camping in less frequented parks, forests, and the like, we also enjoy finding out-of-the-way museums and visiting little towns. I sometimes imagine the lives of the people who live on the farms and in the burgs we pass through. I imagine them to be mostly happy. Early in the trip, Tom and I stayed in Green Bay, Wisconsin for a couple of days. We went to the National Railroad Museum. I was prepared to be blasé about a museum dedicated to trains, but, if–in your peregrinations–you ever find yourself in Green Bay, I recommend it.

Near Pawhuska, Oklahoma
The Tree That Escaped the Crowded Forest, the Price Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Old food service people that we are, Tom and I also keeping trying to find good restaurants and bakeries along the road. I just counted and I find that Tom and I have traveled in 47 states together so far. That’s a lot of states for the number of good eateries we’ve found. That’s okay; we are still searching.

kolache and apple fritter, Rise N Shine Donuts, Amarillo, Texas

I have a list of places we’ve visited that includes, national parks and forests, state parks and forests, trails, monuments, historic sites, museums, restaurants and wonders of all kinds. So far, this document is five pages long. On the other hand, our still-need-to-explore list is eight pages long. It carries a heading that indicates the complexities and course changes of the current era: “Points of Interest for Trips Spring/Summer/Fall 2019/2020/2021/2022.” In fact, I probably originally started the list about ten years ago. We keep hoping and we do what we can. Speaking of course changes, Tom and I had planned on heading west to New Mexico, at least, and then north to see friends before we headed home, but that didn’t work out. Instead, we got to watch the sun rise in Arkansas on our way home.

dawn, Mt. Nebo State Park, Arkansas

I look forward to our next trip. Maybe it won’t be the months long trips we used to take, or maybe it will. I remain optimistic that we will hit the road again together. I feel like we–Tom and I, our family and friends, and our country–are on a challenging journey. My wish for us all may be expressed (yet again) by the Beatles. I wish you good sleep wherever you are.

*You can read about last year’s roadtrip here.

More Clouds

Last week when I was writing the article about my salad days and Joni Mitchell, I looked at some cloud photos I’ve taken. Below are several of my favorites.

Front Range late afternoon, Denver, Colorado, April 2012
Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah, February 2013
The Needles Overlook, Canyonlands, Utah, March 2013
Sunset, Antelope Island State Park, Great Salt Lake, April 2013
Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, April 2013
Pawnee Buttes, Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado, August 2015
Union Bay, Lake Superior, Ontonagon, Michigan, September 2018
Mathews Arm Campground, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, September 2020
Bartholdi Fountain, Bartholdi Garden, Washington, DC, August 2021
Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, September 2021
dawn Upper Mississippi River, Pikes Peak State Park, Iowa, September 2021
from the grounds of the Netherlands Carillon, Arlington, Virginia, May 5, 2022

U.P., Up, and Away

the view from our campsite on Lake Superior, Ontonagon Township, Michigan

Tom and I have been taking road trips together since 1971: fifty years in and we still love them. We went on another road trip from September 1 to October 2, 2021. This trip could be fairly summarized as: nine family members, three great lakes, two pleasant peninsulas, fourteen states, and 4,500 miles. Also, Tom and I went on six hikes where no one shared our trail;  we saw old growth trees including giant, healthy eastern hemlocks and hundred foot birches, and we learned to love the bluffs of the upper Mississippi and the river itself.  Our trip was balm to our societal-disintegrated and pandemic-battered minds, souls, and bodies. We mostly took short 3 to 5 mile hikes, punctuated with longer hikes (11+ miles at Sleeping Bear). Still, I was happy to see that my hiker’s leg muscles came back.

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

eastern hemlock, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

I have other photos (see below) and stories: happy times visiting brothers and sisters-in-law and nieces and great-nieces; plus eating those delicious camp meals again–hummus, chips, carrots, local sausage, and Amy’s chili. Once we got to the Upper Peninsula, we left the poison ivy behind and found ferns, flowers, and fungus galore. On part of the journey, Tom and I traveled along the Great River Road along the Mississippi River. We had never heard of this road and, now, we have another part of the country to love. A young bald eagle soared near us as we stood on the bluffs above the Mississippi River at the Effigy Mounds National Monument.

dawn, Upper Mississippi River

Other Parts of the Journey Tom and I–fully vaccinated since March–both contracted the Delta variant, probably somewhere in the Upper Peninsula.  Also, three of our loved ones died. This trip, even with its aftermath of illness, death, and mourning was fabulous.  My major struggle lately has been trying to write the words about the ones who have gone away.

Randi Tom and I camped in Pike’s Peak State Park in Clayton County, Iowa for three nights. Yes, this Pike’s Peak was also named for Zebulon Pike who explored the upper Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains in the early 1800s. The park was an unexpectedly lovely oasis and one of the highlights of our trip.  On the first afternoon at Pike’s Peak, we pitched our tent and headed out for a walk. We headed to a lookout point high above the Mississippi. We took a hike to see (and to feel) the Bear Mound (a ceremonial burial site constructed by indigenous people of an earlier time) and to take a look at the Bridal Veil Falls. All of it: the forest and the sun and the clear air and the whiff of fall caught us up into a perfect afternoon.  Chinkapin oaks and hickories and butternuts had already been dropping their acorns and nuts. Hearty and vigorous squirrels crashed through fallen leaves with, it seemed, some delight. I had a strong vision of Randi (our daughter Sarah and son-in-law Mike’s dog) and how she would love this forest.  Randi, a beagle/basset, likes nothing more than smelling squirrels, barking much louder than her weight class.  I didn’t say chasing squirrels: Randi just loves smelling the squirrely trails; she doesn’t need the squirrels themselves. I thought of Randi at least twice on that walk and mentioned to Tom how Randi would love this high forest near the great river.  The next day an early morning text came from Sarah. Randi, who had been suffering with late stage kidney disease had died.  Through tears, I told Sarah about the prior day’s thoughts about Randi in the forest. The sun and air had been special–as it can be in a cathedral forest. Sarah and I agreed; maybe before Randi left this particular reality, we think maybe she stopped by to share our perfect afternoon.  What do I know? I am an old woman crying in a Panera as I write this.  One thing I am pretty sure of is that all dogs go to heaven.*

Randi visiting us December 2019

Randi visiting us December 2019

Will I didn’t know Will Bagley very well, but I did love and do love him. Will married my lifelong friend, Laura in 2003.** A few years after that, I was going to be conducting professional development workshops for adult English as a second language (ESL) teachers somewhere in the west–maybe Montana. I can’t remember.  What I do remember is that I had a stopover in Salt Lake City where Laura and Will lived.  They said they would pick me up at the airport and drive me down to Zion National Park. I was exhausted from my workshops and I slept part of the way.  We reached Springdale in the dark of the night and I woke in the morning surrounded by my old friend Laura, my new friend Will, and my red rock refuge for the first time in twenty years.  We three walked and talked and I bought a pair of socks at the Zion Lodge gift shop. I haven’t been able to throw away these worn-out holey socks because they remind me of friendship, love, and refuge.

Paraphrasing Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web: It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Will was both.

desert socks from Zion National Park

Tom and I got back to Arlington on October 2.  In Arlington we tested positive for Covid-19, which was no surprise.  In the latter half of September, I had felt like I had the flu with a little cough and aches and chills. At first, it was a little difficult to tell what I had because we were tent camping and a few aches and chills go with the territory. Tom followed with similar symptoms. A couple of day after we got home, we got the call that my brother Dan had died of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dan I have a lifetime of memories of Dan: from early years in Detroit and Milford to the middle years in Ann Arbor, Dodge City, Kansas and Lemoyne, Pennslyvania to the later years on our Deep Creek family reunion weekends. For all his brilliance–and he shone brightly with style and grace and rock and roll songs or poetry ever on his lips–it is Dan’s kindness I remember most. Circa 1970, when Dan and his wife Jeanne lived in Ypsilanti they watched over the baby sister–me–eight miles away in Ann Arbor. They hosted my 21st birthday party in their small apartment. A few years later, Dan and Jeanne’s home in Dodge City was my beacon as I crisscrossed the country between Michigan and the Intermountain West. I could go on, but I I don’t know if I can trust my own words to do justice to this good brother. A couple of months ago, on this blog, I dedicated Dylan Thomas’ Fern Hill to Dan. While not exactly a prince of our apple town, he was the fair-haired and bold youth with the golden ’36 Ford with the corvette engine.  Enough. Let Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey say the words.

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

 

*Maybe you caught it: I wasn’t quite able to write all of Randi’s verbs in past tense. Not yet.

**Laura is not exactly a “lifelong” but since our teaching fellow days beginning in 1973; close enough.


Lake Superior, Ontonagon, Michigan

Lake Superior, Ontonagon, Michigan

in the Upper Peninsula

in the Upper Peninsula

yellow patches (Amanita flaoconia?) near Cascade Falls, Ottawa National Forest

yellow patches (Amanita flaoconia?) near Cascade Falls, Ottawa National Forest

asters, Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin