Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Other Side of the Channel

I have stood on my side of the channel for the past 44 years looking at Big Red, and for the most part have been content with that.

Although, there was something inside of me that wanted to be on that side, to stand next to the lighthouse, to touch it. And now days with my love of photography so strong, I wanted to be on that side to photograph it.

Big Red is not easily accessible. Most of the land over there is privately owned. There is a staffed guardhouse in the summer and parking near the boardwalk to the lighthouse is either for the marina or for the summer cottage people.

A conversation with a friend a few weeks ago renewed my desire to explore on the other side of the channel. He told me to park near the guardhouse, it's not staffed in the off-season. Plenty of parking with no marina or summer residents in November. All I had to do was follow the boardwalk out to the lighthouse.

It worked like a charm. I picked an overcast, non-windy day and it was perfect. It was wonderful to shoot the lighthouse from different angles, to climb the steps and look inside, and to take some closeup detail shots.

Here is the Historic Marker for the Lighthouse:

I enjoyed my adventure and I am so glad I took a risk traveling to the other side of the channel. I plan to go back, as there are some great old cottages over there as well.

Happy to be participating in Lissa Forbes Walk and Click Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Summer People Are Gone

The summer people are gone...gone back to their other houses in Grand Rapids, Chicago, or basking in the warmth of the Florida sun.

Their cottages stand empty...waiting for them to return again next summer.

This is the time of year that the locals relish. Less people, less noise, less busy, just less of everything.

I went exploring by their empty cottages the other day, something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing in July. As  I walked along the old, cracked, narrow sidewalks. I could feel the history of this Victorian era cottage association in the air.

Cottage History
Construction of cottages in the Ottawa Beach resort began in June 1886. Most cottage owners, hailed from Grand Rapids. Among the earliest cottagers were prominent business people, furniture makers, railroad officers and politicians. For more than a century, the same families returned each summer, often occupying the same houses for decades. From the 1930s through mid 1960s future U.S. President Gerald Ford spent many summer vacations here.

Many of these cottages remain relatively untouched except for routine maintenance. Others look "new" and to me that spoils the charm of these Victorian era cottages. 

After exploring and taking lots of photos, I returned to the Black Lake Boardwalk where my car was parked. It was such a beautiful day that I found a bench along the boardwalk, pulled my journal and pen from my backpack and sat contemplating all this rich history just behind me.

As I sat there, not another human being was in sight. There had been a lone fisherman in his aluminum fishing boat puttering along, but even he had deserted me.

I knew there were others close by, because I hear the sounds of cars, leaf blowers, the beeping of construction equipment and the barking of a dog, but I didn't see them and that was fine with me.

I was enjoying just sitting there writing, gazing out over the lake and reflecting on my cottage explorations. This was a peacefulness you won't find in July. Only in November on the cusp of Winter can this quiet be found.

As always linking up with Lissa at laf Custom Designs for Walk and Click Wednesdays, please click over there to see where the other explorers have gone this week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 On Friday

Since the theme of the 52 week project that I participate in was "Happy" this week, I thought I would list 5 things that make me happy.

1.  My Family

This picture was taken in July 2011 when we were in Alaska. It is the most recent picture I have of the three of us together. Going to have to work on that!

2. Photography

I feel like I have grown so much this year in my photography skills. Still lots of room to grow, but the best part is practicing.

3. Exploring

I have been participating in a friend's link up called Walk and Click Wednesdays and I have to tell you I LOVE going out and exploring new places and taking pictures. There are so many places in my own area that I have never been to, so I finally have the reason I need to visit them.

4. Walking the Dogs

This makes them very happy too, and when Scout is happy and tired he isn't grabbing my socks or my slippers from the closet or the kitchen towel from the counter.

5. Wine

I love to visit wineries with my husband. I love the whole process of tasting, trying to find something that we both like, and then enjoying it together at home with a nice meal.

What is something that makes you happy?

Check out other 5 On Friday bloggers here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Stairs Scare Me

As I sat in the warm heated seat safety of my car and read the description for Rosy Mound Natural Area, I thought "I can't do this".

The thought of climbing 1,000 feet of stairs up the sand dune scared the living daylights out of me. You see for most of my adult life I have had on and off problems with my low back and my hips. It seems every time I get over eager and climb a lot of stairs, my hips hate me for days afterwards. I never know when they will completely call it quits and one will "pop" out of place leaving me couchbound and visiting the Chiropractor every other day for weeks.

But then I can't live in fear for the rest of my life. I haven't had a bad episode in a few years and I have climbed some stairs during that time. I do stretching and strengthening exercises daily, as well as, daily walks.

It was time to face my fear head on. I was already here, no point in driving somewhere else.  I was going to have to tackle this park sooner or later, since it was an Ottawa County Park and I vowed to visit them all in my year of being 44. Sitting in my car in the parking lot does not count as a visit.

I gathered up my courage and opened the car door, put a tentative foot on the ground and then I was out, out in the scary world leading to stairs.

I looked at the park map once I was out and saw that the stairs were broken up by paths and nicely spaced landings. There also was a handicap accessible trail that I could go on if worse came to worst. I ventured off...

Oh what beauty...beautiful stairs made for meandering up, not those straight up, no rest for the wicked, my thighs are burning stairs.

Some of the beautiful sights and scenes along my climb...

I made it to the top of the dune looking down on to Lake Michigan. It was a bit windy and chilly up there and my eyes were watering like crazy so it was a little hard to focus my camera.

 I didn't venture down to the lake, it was just too windy and cold. I will leave that for a future visit. A good excuse to come back and look my stair climbing fear in the face and smile...and start climbing.

Linking up with Lissa A. Forbes at laf Custom designs, please check out where the other Walk and Click Explorers went this week.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Kim and Xanthe have returned with their revamped 5 ON FRIDAY, so I am hoping to get back into sharing five interesting things from the week.

1. Glen and I have been doing an on-line writing class together, the main activity each day is to think and write on the daily word prompt for 5 minutes. We are having a great time doing this together and it has become my favorite 5 minutes of the day.

2. I really need a rainy day so I won't be tempted to go out exploring each afternoon. I need to get a few things done around the house, including laundry and ironing. Yuck! No wonder I would rather go explore.

3. So proud of my girl today as she wings her way to New Mexico, all by herself, for a conference on Native Americans. You are an amazing young woman Mallory Huizenga!

4. I bought some things to hang on the walls this week, we will see how long it is before they get hung up. It took almost two months from the time of purchase until it was on the wall for the last picture.

5. My favorite shot of the week... so far...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Scouting Adventure

I knew when I left the house that I was going to be way past that magical golden morning hour for perfectly lit photos. My destination was a good 30-45 minutes away making my arrival time about 10 a.m.

My destination was the Eastmanville Farm, a county park that I had never been to. I looked at this outing as a scouting adventure, scouting out good places and things to photograph, and scouting out whether morning or evening would be the better time to come shoot.

The thought of this being just a scouting adventure went right out the window as soon as I turned into the park. There at the end of the gravel driveway was a beautifully restored 1930's red barn. Quickly out came the camera and the tripod. I figured I could try and get a few decent shots, if nothing else it would be helpful for composition ideas on my next visit.

As I was getting my gear out, a couple of lovely ladies and their furry companions came over and chatted for a few minutes. There must be something about photography gear that naturally attracts people's curiosity. Which is why I like to make sure nobody is around when I do self-portrait work.

After more than a few shots of the barn, I put my tripod back in the car and headed for the trails. The trails are widely mown paths in the prairie-like grass. Easy to follow and wonderfully maintained. The only thing you have to look out for when walking is horse poo since these are equestrian trails as well.

As I meandered along the paths enjoying the weak warmth of the November sun, I felt such a calming quiet come over me. This was someplace I could while away the day, looking for treasures to photograph or sitting quietly on a bench looking out at the landscape with my writing journal on my lap, writing down random thoughts as they came to me.

I determined that evening will be a great time to come back and photograph the barn, every time I turned a corner and looked back at the barn I could picture it with the golden glow of sunset on it and I was filled with joy.

My scouting adventure was a great success, more than I ever expected it to be. I got a few good shots, but more than that I got a sense of peace that I never would have know if I hadn't come to explore.

This wasn't what I had originally planned for Walk and Click Wednesday this week, but I have learned over the last month to stop questioning the gift of the unexpected.