Monday, August 29, 2011

Trip To Ludington: Part 3

The highlight of being stranded on a remote bike path, waiting for rescue, is that it gives you an opportunity to explore. Me and the kids climbed a great big dune while we waited for Nate to return with the repair kit for the bike tire. Once we got to the top, a sweeping vista of beaches, dunes and a far-off glimpse of Sable Point Lighthouse was visible -- it was gorgeous!
We finished off the day by going for a swim in the local river. It was quite shallow at the point we were swimming at ... only just below knee-deep almost all the way across. Even Roxy joined in the fun and swam toward Nathan. She's truly an old water dog!
After the swim, it was time to pack up and go home, though we all wished we could stay a few days longer. But we had an amazing time! It just goes to show, that every once in awhile, it's great good fun to act on your whims and be spontaneous!

Nate works to fix his flat tire. What a guy!

Rhylah and Asher at the top of the dune.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse at a distance.

Swimming in the river.

Trip to Ludington: Part 2

My kids would've made awesome gypsies -- they thrive around a campfire.
We cooked hot dogs and then marshmallows -- and of course, everyone has their own way of doing things. Gabe likes his food charred. Ash likes his rare. I like mine lightly toasted.
Afterward, we sat around the fire and watched the millions of stars come out. It was incredible. Then I told a classic campfire scary ghost story and enjoyed watching Asher levitate about 2 feet out of his chair at the end of it. Priceless! He kept begging me to tell it again and again, but I just laughed, not wanting to scare him TOO much!
The next morning, Gabe and I biked to the river, only about a 30 second bike ride, and tried our luck at fishing. I caught my first bass EVER! And on my first cast of the morning! He put up a good fight, my pole was definitely bent over with the effort of it. We carried him back to the tent, very excited with our "kill". Nate was a champ, hauled out a knife that would make Crocodile Dundee jealous, and gutted it. Then he cooked it over the fire. It wasn't bad eating, but I think I prefer trout.
The next morning, we took a bike ride on a gravel trail for a few miles to reach Sable Point Lighthouse. It was breathtaking! On the way back, we got a flat tire, so that was our adventure for the morning. Nate quickly rode back to the car and grabbed a repair kit and brought it back. Problem solved!

Here is Miss Rhy in her jammies and hoodie, getting ready for bed, but staying warm at the same time!

Our campfire.

There's something so cheerful about a campfire.

Me and my catch. Next time, I'm hoping it will be Gabe who hauls home the big fish!

It really was 14 inches! Handy to have a cooler with a ruler on it!

Look at the size of that mouth!!

Here is Sable Point Lighthouse, which we reached after a half-hour bike ride.

Trip to Ludington: Part 1

We decided to be spontaneous this past weekend. I said I wanted to see Ludington, which is about 2.5 hours north of us. Nate said, "We should camp!" Thus began our grand adventure north.
Let me begin by saying that after three years of living in Michigan, we have seen very little of the state. Probably because we live in a resort town. So this was a big deal for us. We also hadn't been on a vacation all summer long, so we figured we were due.
First off, we headed for the state park, one of the most popular in the mid-west. Due to a stroke of luck, or divine intervention, what normally would require a six-month in advance reservation, ended up taking five minutes: They'd had a cancellation! You know you've lucked out when even the park ranger seems shocked to be able to let you in!
The campground, while very crowded, was lovely. A picturesque little river ran through the park, full of people on floats and fishermen. We spent our first afternoon checking out Ludington and then headed to set up our camp site. Such a blast!

Here is a cool old car outside an antique shop in Ludington.

The kids smile before eating lunch as we arrive in downtown Ludington.

In Ludington, we visited the lighthouse off the pier in Lake Michigan. It was quite windy with high waves. Lucca's ears were flapping in the wind, which was hilarious, even if you can't really see it in the photo.

The lighthouse at the end of the pier.

Breezy Asher lookin' cool!

Big water on the pier.

Me and Rhy at our campsite, getting ready to torch some marshmallows.

Me and Nate and the smore I just made.

Lucca was freezing for most of the evening. He burrowed right into my hoodie and was happy to sit there, like a joey in a kangaroo pouch.

Me and Lucca get ready to cook a hot dog.

The perfect marshmallow! It's a talent!

When not in my hoodie, Lucca snuggled in his blanket on Nate's lap.

Asher cooks a marshmallow!

Gabe prefers his mallows completed torched.

The Moments we Memorize

It's that time of year again. Harvesting and Canning!
And this year, I'm even more grateful for it, because there was a point, this past spring, that I thought there might never be another season of harvest and canning -- at least not one enjoyed with the same people around me.
It's not that I care THAT much about canning... no, it was more about the time spent with my Great Uncle Carl. He's in his 80s and almost passed away from complications with pneumonia a few months ago. I remember sitting by his bed in the hospital, when he was completely out of his head, and praying, telling God that he had the "wrong little old man" and that it wasn't time for Carl to go yet. Imagine telling God who to take and not to take. I realize now, the audacity of such a prayer. However, audacity is the last thing on your mind when you're presenting your arguments to God. It's simply a plea.
Well, God, in his so very merciful and wonderful, mysterious ways, answered my prayer. Against all the odds, Carl recovered. And this spring, I'm enjoying the small moments I can steal here and there, spending time on the farm with him when I can. Things that used to be mundane, have now become special: something as simple as walking through the vineyard with him while we taste-test the sugar content of each grape -- watching his face light up when he realizes the Einset and the Mars seedless grapes are already sugary sweet in mid August ... Or just reaching through a peach tree to grab the fruit that he has nabbed from the top branches and passes down to my waiting hands, where I stand in the summer sunshine below the ladder.
I tuck away each moment, to take out and examine and appreciate later. We never know when these moments will be the end of a million similar moments. And that is the heart-breaking truth I learned for myself last spring. And time will not catch me unawares again.
Blessings, rich indeed.

Uncle Carl picks some peaches. The harvest was sparse this year, but one tree didn't give up. We scoured the branches for every peach we could find!

Several bushels wait to be filled.

Carl hands peaches to me through the trees. I'm so glad he's here with us this year and doing so well!

Asher munches on a peach ... one of his favorite farm treats!

Rhy reaches for a peach.

Rhy also loves the peaches!

Me, up on the ladder.

Gabe picks a peach.

Here I am, looking tired after the harvest, but ready for a full afternoon of canning! I put up 10 quarts of peaches, and six or seven large jars of peach jam. Then I froze another several pounds.

Here is "THE BOOK" --- my canning, go-to journal. I keep directions for everything I do, along with the exact date that I canned specific fruits each year and what I tried differently. I'd be lost without it!

After all of this, Uncle Erv generously let us help ourselves to his corn crop. We came away with over 100 ears of corn, which we blanched, sliced off the cob, and froze in the freezer. It was sooooo sweet, the kids kept stealing corn as I was working. I ended up having to just stop and fill up little bowls for them to keep them away!

More Summer Fun

On Aug. 19-20, Nate's sister Courtney and her family came to visit us in St. Joe. It was the first time they'd seen our house and experienced some of the local sites.
We started the weekend by grabbing some Jets pizza and heading for the beach, where we watched the sunset and enjoyed a picnic. The next day, we headed to the farmer's market, narrowly avoided a rain storm, and then headed back out when the sun cam out again. The kids played in the fountain and we came back for BBQ ribs for dinner! It was such a fun time! We also found out that Courtney and Ramon are expecting their third child! We can't wait to meet him or her! (photo above: Gabe, Ash, Mason, Bryce and Rhylah sit on the cannon on the bluff during a drizzly farmer's market last Saturday morning.)

My Rhy girl playin' in the fountain.

Here is what the fountain looks like when the BIG cannons go off every ten minutes.

Daddy and his girl.

Bryce and his mommy.

The boys, acting goofy as ever. :)

Rhylah wasted no time getting Bryce, who is almost two, dressed up as a prince. I love the necklace ... poor boy. :)

Rhylah on the carousel.

Gabe is a blur on a Michigan horse.

Asher is the dark blur in the center, barely visible as he rides the carousel.