Sunday, September 27, 2015

Little Luna

World, meet Luna.  She is the newest member of The Middle(tons) of Nowhere.

Luna is a three month old Australian Cattle Dog mix (the same as Specks) and she came to us from the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society (LTBHS).  Before LTBHS, she was living a pretty rough life that alternated between the streets and death row at an Illinois kill shelter.  I've been wanting to adopt a companion for Specks for quite some time.  We've even gone to meet potential adoptees, but Specks is an extremely passive dog with no tendencies towards aggression, prey drive, or even barking.  Because of this, we've been holding out for the perfect brother or sister for him.

Luna (formerly named Joplin) seemed like a wonderful fit.  She is awfully timid right now, but she is already shyly curling up next to Specks and sneaking kisses to Cody and I.  The three of us are positively smitten with her.  We decided to change her name to Luna in honor of Luna Lovegood (from Harry Potter).  Luna Lovegood has always been one of my favorite book characters and I think our new, baby Luna will live up to all of her silly goodness :)

Your turn…Have you ever adopted a pet? 
Currently listening to…Can't Feel My Face - The Weekend

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekending: 9/18-9/20

It was another beautiful weekend on the island. Chilly temps followed us around most of the time.  I actually considered turning on the heat at one point because it was only in the 40's outside.  My stubborn side prevailed though and I am still holding out for October to run any heat.  Instead, we beat the chill by going for coffee and donuts at the local bakery.  I say "the local bakery" because it's the only one.  It has semi-limited hours, but Dalwhinnie Bakery is a must if you are on the island.

Specks and I did some serious walking this weekend too.  It was perfect weather for long strolls out into the wilderness.  I caught this picture of our shadows on Sunday morning, just after sunrise.  We were strolling at the beach near our house.  I'm going to miss these early sunrise days soon, but the days are getting shorter all the time.

Here's a little proof of the shorter days to come from one of our nighttime strolls this weekend. I'm sure the darkness will just keep creeping in until I am going to work and coming home in the dark every day.  Such is the pattern when you live in the north woods.

We wrapped up the weekend with some homemade chicken and dumplings, courtesy of Cody's grandma and her super-top-secret family recipe.  Cody spent a ton of time learning to make them with her and now he makes them a few times a year.  I don't eat them because of my meat aversion, but I do always help make the dumplings.  It's a fun project that we love doing together from time to time.

Your turn…What did you do this weekend?
Currently listening to…Across the Universe - Fiona Apple

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunset Sunday

This is actually a picture of a sunrise, but I loved it too much not to share.  If you look closely you can see a small boat pulled right up next to the shore.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Things to Do on Beaver Island: Little Sand Bay

Beaver Island is a downright mystery to most people.  They ask where I live and when I reply the responses range from…

"Are there beavers there?" to "Never heard of it."  to "Why?!?!"

I thought that if I started doing a Things to Do on Beaver Island segment of my blog people might be a little less confused…or not, whatever works. You'll probably notice that most of these things involve just (insert outdoor activity here) around in nature.  Honestly, that's just the majority of what there is to do here.  There are a few community events sprinkled throughout the year, but nothing super crazy.  For all of you outdoor enthusiasts though, it's a paradise!

Little Sand Bay Preserve is one of my favorite hikes on the island. Right past the airport there is a two-track trail that you can drive your car down.  A sign marks it for what it is. You drive a little ways back into the fields, but don't worry your car won't get stuck.  Another old, painted sign shows where to park.  I've never seen any other people out here hiking, so I don't imagine you'll be fighting for parking ever.  Next to the parking is an awesome abandoned house.  The house is from the original Mormon settlers on the island.

The trail is mostly a dirt path in the beginning and you'll traverse through some tall dune grass and abundant apple trees (feel free to snack).  The trail then heads into a winding, swamp-like section of the island.  Boardwalks dot the trail to help with the high water in some spots. It is very mossy with lots of fallen trees, which makes it seem like the Pacific Northwest or SE Alaska for a stretch.  Finally, the trees part and you are out on a huge, sandy beach with endless wildflowers.  It's pretty stunning to walk out of this dark and wooded trail only to be blinded by Lake Michigan. 

This trail comes highly recommended by me, especially if you are wanting a look into the islands many ecosystems.  It is also a popular birding trail and beavers are often seen building in the swamps, which is very cool!

Your turn…What are some of your favorite beach trails?
Currently listening to…New Slang - The Shins

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Beginning to Feel Like Fall

We woke up to temperatures in the 40's today.  Winter is the dominante season on the island.  November (and often October) through April (and often May) there is snow on the ground and a serious chill in the air.  Last year we were buried in snow before Thanksgiving and had our last snowfall in May.  The year before winter lasted even longer.

Fall is definitely in full-swing on the island already.  Last week we had some nice, warm temps.  This week is supposed to be in the 70's, but if this weekend is any indication then there is little hope.  The meteorologists claimed that we would make the 70's all weekend, but I don't think it got above 63 during the day and the nights were downright chilly.

I love fall on the island because everything is so spectacular.  The leaves, the dune grass, the wildflowers, everything.  There is so much color and I can't wait to start seeing more and more of it.  Although, I am a bit sad to say goodbye to the warmth and beauty of summer.  Living this far north means that only July and August boast truly summer-y temps and weather. We took full advantage during those short, precious months and spent many days at the beach…and we have the leftover sunburn to prove it.  September is here though and that means that I am more than a little excited to pack away my shorts and swimsuits in exchange for wool socks and sweaters.

Your turn…Are you ready for fall?
Currently listening to…Wide Eyes - Local Natives

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Another First Day

Well, another first day of school has come and gone.  My fourth first day, if you can believe it (I hardly can).  I officially started my fourth year of teaching this morning, promptly at 8:15am.  It was an adventure to be sure.  I am teaching 1st/2nd/3rd grade this year and I have a whopping nine students. Most teachers would kill for my class sizes, but most of them also aren't teaching three grade levels of (insert core subject here) in one classroom.  It is certainly a trade-off, but a decent one for me.

Work was tiring, as it always is the first week back.  I found myself ready for bed by about 4:30pm.  Significant force was used to get myself to eat dinner and get outside for a bit.  It's been very hot and muggy this week, but the rain finally cooled things off around here, which made for a relaxing and much needed walk. The dog usually accompanies me, but he is an easy walker and spends a lot of time off-leash. I find that an evening stroll really changes my attitude.  Even when I am stressed or exhausted I can find some beauty and solace in my time spent hiking through the great outdoors.  A long, winding nature walk really adds peace and balance to my days.

Your turn…What peaceful activity do you try to do every day? 
Currently listening to…The Decemberists - O Valencia! 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Riding the Boat

One of the many unique things about living on in island in the middle of Lake Michigan is the "how" you travel to it.  There isn't a road or a bridge that conveniently transports you 30+ miles out into the middle of the lake.  A traveler must choose: boat or plane?

View from the boat in Charlevoix, MI
Whichever you choose, you'll find yourself leaving from the quaint northern town of Charlevoix, Michigan. It's a beautiful town at the top of the mitten.

Specks chillin' on the deck of the ferry.
Yesterday, Cody and I took the boat because we needed to get one of our cars over to the island.  There are two ferry boats that go to the island and they are both owned by Beaver Island Boat Company.  The  ride takes about 2 1/2 hours.  It's slow going, but many people enjoy taking the boat because they can sit in the sun and relax with an adult beverage.  The boat is also a good alternative if you have someone traveling to the island who is afraid of tiny, puddle-jumper airplanes.  Although, for those skittish of travel, being in the middle of Lake Michigan and not being able to see land can also be a bit unnerving.

The island coming into view.
The main downfall of the boat is that from December-April it can't run because of icepack on Lake Michigan.  Every year if different because of natural weather fluctuations, but I think last year it stopped running in mid-December and didn't start back up until pretty late in the spring.  I primarily use it to travel in the summer, as flying is so much quicker.

Your turn…Have you ever visited an island by boat?
Currently listening to…Green Man - Type O Negative

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Few Days on the Island

Cody and I headed up to the island for a few days this week.  We are back at my parents house in SW Michigan right now…packing…ugh.

Our flights (over and back) were very smooth and scenic.  I always love watching the island pop into my line of vision as we cruise the 30+ miles over Lake Michigan.

We stayed at the Erin Motel, which is just a little spot on the main drag.  It's fairly cheap ($75/night) and you have waterfront access.  We are moving back into our old house, but our landlords were there staying for the week.  Looks like we will be officially moving back into our old house on Saturday.  I've missed our little house in the big woods, so I am feeling pretty excited to get back home.

Your turn…What is your ideal house like?
Currently listening to…Miss You - Blink 182