A snowy walk

Scenes from an evening walk at Lake Lansing North:

Lake Lansing North
Lake Lansing North

What doesn’t translate well is the snow flying through the air. When I see snow falling, I want to get outside, even if it’s nearly dark – or completely dark, really. Just like today’s morning break from work to feel a little cold air on my face. There will be plenty more where that came from in the next few months.

Weekend and wine

It was a weekend up north. We headed to 2 Lads for a wine tasting extravaganza with great wine and better views of the water around Old Mission. I don’t know if was the wine, the views, or some mysterious third factor, but we bought half a case of wine, though I am happy to report there is still plenty left. All of it, really. And yes, that is snow you see.

2 Lads
2 Lads

Elena is not partaking of the wine, but she is partaking of the chocolate that came with our snack tray. When not eating, she spent most of the time running around in the rain.

Elena at 2 Lads
Elena at 2 Lads

That little winery snack was followed up at Stella’s, one of Traverse City’s best restaurants. I had the red pizza, which was decent, but not nearly as good as the grilled Spanish octopus – that was incredible. And the fact that you get to eat in the basement of an old mental asylum brought up talks of ghosts and such, though what is now Stella’s used to be the dry storage area, probably not the #1 spot to ghost hunt in the building.

Stella's, Traverse City
Stella’s, Traverse City

White Dome

From our September trip to Las Vegas, one of the three trails we hiked at the Valley of Fire was White Dome. This was the busiest trail of the three, but it was worth the visit. It does involve some scrabbling up and down rocks, but it was not too strenuous. The most interesting part of the hike was the narrow path through smooth-walled canyon.

White Dome
White Dome

Kayaking at Maple River

What else would you want to do on a 38 degree day other than kayaking? Nothing, I know. There were two reasons I decided on the Maple River State Game Area. First, because I had never been there, though I had passed through the state game area dozens of times on our way to parts north. And second, because it was cold enough that other people probably weren’t going to be there. And that was a correct assumption.

Kayaking about to commence
Kayaking about to commence

It did end up being a peaceful paddle. The only disturbance was an otter, but I think I disturbed him more. So I meandered about the water, going all the way to US 127 in my yellow kayak with the yellow vest and yellow hat. I was probably easy to spot.

Maple River State Game Area
Maple River State Game Area

After all that exercise, I stopped at Philips Orchard for some cider and doughnuts. Both were very tasty, and it was way easier to get out of than Uncle John’s:

Philips Orchards
Philips Orchards

First night

First nights are the best. You arrive in your destination, and you have the whole night ahead of you. Our first night started with drinks and tacos at The Still in The Mirage, followed by gelato and macaroons from Le Macaroon in The Venetian. As we wandered back towards our hotel, I got a decent shot of our home for the next four nights.

The Mirage
The Mirage

Vegas, baby!

I finally convinced Andrea to return to Vegas. It only took a lot of tears and a cat, but it happened. With a long weekend of sun and excitement, we headed to one of my favorite places. True to form, we stayed at a hotel we had never stayed at before, The Mirage. It was a beautiful place with the smell of coconuts laying just underneath the haze of cigarette smoke.

But enough about the casino – the only time we saw it was walking through it to someplace more interesting. The room was nice, and fairly quiet, with only a hint of noise coming from the lout next door as he shouted his way into his next door room.

Our view was pretty amazing:

The Strip
The Strip

Granted, it didn’t always look like this – sometimes the sun was up. Four days of cloudless skies – you can’t often say that while spending time in Michigan.

And what would a trip to Vegas be without a trip to Fremont?

Fremont Street
Fremont Street

I didn’t remember the sheer amount of freaky people hanging out there. Men in pink bikinis, naughty female cops, Transformers – I really just wanted booze and to lose some money. Both of which were accomplished at Binion’s. While my last visit there netted me $11 off of a quarter, this time, the video poker machine did a number on my wallet. We didn’t lose much, luckily, and the free margaritas helped dull the pain.

I got those “My lawnmower don’t work” blues

The only time you know your mower isn’t working is when you try to use it. I found that out yesterday when I started my 10+ year old Toro lawnmower and it started, then sputtered, and died. Repeatedly. Though I thought staring at it for a while would fix it, it didn’t, strangely enough.

What instead worked was taking apart the carburetor. The bolt that holds the little cup has several little holes, and those were plugged. So I cleaned them out with a safety pin, and I was back in business – it was running like an old lawnmower should. Both the garage and I smell like gasoline for the rest of the night, but the lawn looked great.

Hard work isn’t always labor

We spent part of our Labor Day on our seats. Andrea, Elena, and I hit the Lansing RiverTrail for a sunny outing. We started at Crego Park, someplace you’ve probably never been to, but it sits on Mt. Hope between US127 and Aurelius. It has a large pond for kayaking, but it’s real appeal is a large parking area for the RiverTrail.

We headed west towards Potter Park, then turned south to take the trail through Hawk Island Park. This area is well-paved with copious amounts of shade, and enough curves to keep it interesting, and with the thrill that you could plow into somewhere around every wooded corner. We continued south, along the newer sections of the trail past Jolly, where the path dips under I96 on it’s way to the southern trail terminal, Valhalla Park. Fond memories of Valhalla – I was baptized there, and I would often walk the trails on my lunch breaks when I worked nearby at Pennsylvania and Miller. Don’t fondly remember the job, but the proximity to the park – that was nice.

Altogether, a good time with the family that ended with watching Back to the Future Part III and Death by Chocolate ice cream from QD.

Since I’m on the subject of cycling, I just wanted to show you the results of biking on Mackinac Island on a rainy day. I was a bit stir crazy from a day-long rain, and decided to hit the roads despite the wetness. The results of this is the shirt and shorts you see below. And since it was Mackinac Island, that isn’t just mud. I love my Rubaix, but sometimes, the lack of fenders gets messy.

Mackinac "mud"
Mackinac “mud”

Iroquois

My home for last weekend, the Hotel Iroquois on Mackinac Island:

Hotel Iroquois
Hotel Iroquois

The clouds give just a hint of what the majority of the weekend was like. Though Friday, our arrival day, and Sunday, our departure day, were beautiful, Saturday rained from sunset to sunrise.

Our first-floor room overlooked the Straights of Mackinac, with a balcony that could seat four. Not bad.

Iroquois Room
Iroquois Room

I got some of my best sleep ever in that room. It pays to be exhausted after a day of walking, hiking, and biking. Despite the rain, we still managed to see a lot of the island.