“There is something about visiting a place for the first time”

I was craving a trip so badly.  I wanted to get away but uncertain of traveling during COVID.  The beach is where everyone was escaping too.  I rode the rollercoaster of friends committing and backing out.  I have had my share of traveling alone, but I wanted connection in the worst way.

I was familiar with Sleep Bear Dunes in the upper peninsula in Michigan.  I remember thinking last time I was there several years ago, that this would be a yearly destination because I was so taken by its beauty.

“Your expectations can change the whole experience”

I want to reflect mostly on how I envisioned this trip going down and it was way more than I expected.  I was almost fearful of repeating this journey since in the past, when repeating adventures, it typically isn’t as great as the first.  There is something about visiting a place for the first time.  Your expectations can change the whole experience.

I felt going into COVID things would be a bit strange, and I expected that.  “The Gate” a game in which my travel partner and I played while on the road, was reflective, enlightening and made the travel experience even more amazing.  I was able to get some clarity on what last year has looked like and what I want for myself and my team in 2021.  Not knowing my travel partner outside of our professional relationship, it was so refreshing, her positive outlook, her amazing energy and her gifts, which are numerous and I am forever grateful for this experience.

As expected, the cabin was overpriced.  However, given the sporting events for us, it was practical.  Everything was in close proximity so I was more than satisfied with the location.

“The rocks reflect the beautiful pink skies”

My collection of rocks brought me the most joy.  I will definitely speak of the hidden beaches, the fresh air, the beautiful birch trees, the gorgeous purple grasses, the yellow fields of golden rod.  Clear blue skies reflecting in the clear blue waters, I never realized how many different shades of blue existed in Michigan. The rocks reflect the beautiful pink skies and the dark clouds that change the sand from white to brown.

Enormous sand dunes are what makes this area so remarkable.  Hiking through soft sand is challenging, but majestic, especially when you reach peaks that bring the most astounding views.

Fresh trout seemed to be on the menu this trip.  We traveled a distance for smoked trout only to be too late as they ran out so quickly that morning.  We settled for fresh trout, made it ourselves at the cabin under the broiler with fresh garlic, herbs and an herbal mix called “fox point” my travel partner introduced me too, so delicious.  We then took it to the beach for dinner the next evening and smoked it on our open bon fire.  It was so delicious!  What an incredible flavor.

“Have you ever skinny dipped?”

Have you ever taken a “cold plunge?”  Even better yet, have you ever skinny dipped?  Both of these things are so amazing and cleansing and freeing.  You must try each separately, and together.  It will change your life!  Being warmed by the fire after a cold plunge is indescribable.  I hated it and I loved it at the same time.

“Chasing the spawning ‘Chinook’ salmon”

I have always wanted to see salmon swimming upstream, you know, like you see on National Geographic. And of course, I expected it to be just like that, out in the wild country, witnessing bears fishing for their winter storage of food.  Boy, what we do to ourselves getting caught up in expectations.  Instead, long lines of cars, having to walk quite a distance, people and more people, and fisherman and families wanting to witness the same event.  I quickly lowered my expectations, and the experience I have been waiting for was still so worth chasing the spawning “Chinook” salmon.  We began yelling “girl power” every time they attempted to jump the dams.  Yes, we got some looks, especially from all the fishermen/women.  I couldn’t help but think about the fishermen, the dams, the benefits we all gain from these men and women who love to fly cast for salmon, especially the many health benefits.  I threw in my gratitude mantra to them as we left, after all, I do love to eat salmon!

“Detaching from my need to control”

The stand-up paddle boarding was the high light of our vacation.  The crystal-clear lakes, the vacant beaches with beautiful rocks of a multitude of colors is such a beautiful sight.

Navigating the crystal river, upstream without a fin as to not disturb the eco system was a challenge especially with kayakers coming at us in the opposite direction proved to be my most “detaching from my need to control” scenario.  It was a learning experience in so many forms and I regret I do not have photos of that, but being in the moment and learning new skills was my main focus.

I you have never visited the upper peninsula of the Michigan Lakes, I highly recommend a visit.  I hope to venture further North next visit to see the “Pictured Rocks” as I have seen some pretty amazing photos of this.  Topping the past two trips to this beautiful state and it’s amazing waterways will be hard to beat, but I’m willing to give it a try.  Who’s in?  No, honestly, who will commit to themselves?