I was recently listening to an older episode of TED Radio Hour. The theme was happiness: what it means; how to achieve it; and the science behind it. All of the speakers made insightful points. However, Monk, David Steindl-Rast made the biggest impression on me. He posited that we cannot and should not strive to be happy, rather we should strive to be grateful for for each and every moment and opportunity. (Hear David’s talk here: David Steindl-Rast: What Does It Take To Be Grateful? Thank you NPR).
That sentiment really resonated with me.
Be grateful for everything and every moment. Your gratefulness will birth happiness.
I took a birthday trip up to Copper Harbor, seemingly the end of the Earth. People asked why I would go there to celebrate my birthday. Well..
To sleep under the stars and hear the world.
To listen to the water and watch the clouds march across the sky.
To sit and think without distractions.
To spend time with my best friend looking for adventure.
In other words: to be myself.
We love to be outside. In fact, most of our free time is spent beneath the trees and alongside rivers. That often means that I don’t update this blog frequently enough. Trust me, I have a dearth of content to add when the weather turns on us. I also have a really cool longterm Hiawatha project that I am working on. That’s all beside the point, back to the story. While I couldn’t think of a better person to spend time in the woods with I couldn’t help but feel like we were missing some quintessential and possibly cliche aspect of being a twenty-something outdoorsy couple. When I told one friend he said that he and his wife had previously been discussing our need for this thing that would enrich our lives.
To that end pease help us welcome the missing piece: our adventure dog Copper, king of the north.
Right now he is 11 weeks of pure energy and excitement but Chelsea has been working extremely hard to whip him into shape. I know every puppy parent says this but he is a fast learner and might even be a genius. Dare I say smarter than your average honor roll student. He is very personable and loves chasing the blowing leaves.
The process of finding a four-legged friend was not as simple as just unilaterally picking one up. We discussed dog ownership extensively and have rearranged our schedules to make sure that time is being set aside to care for Copper. Luckily Chelsea runs The Big Lake out of our home so she gets to spend a lot of quality time with him during the day. We also made sure that we were both on the same page as far as expectations and breed were concerned. We are very active and enjoy a diverse array of outdoor activities. While several different breeds made it to the final elimination round the German Shorthaired Pointer was really only choice for what we do. Couple that with the fact that both of our families have had GSP and it was a no brainer.
He definitely has big dreams: Climbing hogsback, kicking up birds, prancing down single track, ski-joring, trout fishing, camping, and kayaking. Yes, he will be going everywhere with us and honestly he is probably going to take over our attention and social media feed for a while.
We have much to learn and we welcome your input along the way. For example, I just found out that a tired puppy can be jostled awake merely by the sounds of my grumbling stomach. Now he is staring intensely at it.
Today after work we will go on our first hike along the river. We probably won’t put down any serious distance but I can guarantee that it will be a learning experience for all of us.
The adventure continues, but now it feels a little more complete.
Today’s walk brought us to a perfectly packed dirt road and some older Avett Brothers lyrics.
“When nothing is owed, deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.”
The colors aren’t peaking up here yet but it’s definitely coming soon.
Weather plays a very important role here; it rarely stops us from doing what we do but it definitely alters the way in which we do things. While checking the weather report on Friday we noticed that we were under a gale force wind advisory out of the north which was slated to produce 10-15 foot waves on Superior. The waves were supposed to reach the upper level of their ferocity in the late afternoon so we planned our day around a trip to the lake at roughly that time.
The first spot that we stopped at on Presque Isle was largely sheltered from direct waves but served to whet the appetite and provide promise of bigger action.
While waves are easily enjoyed from a safe distance I tend to appreciate their magnitude much more when I can get down to their level. Our second stop on this tour de wave was at the Blackrocks. Most days you will find young shirtless human males trying to show their mettle and attract a mate by hurling themselves from the rocks into the water below. Today was not one of those days. Even the most boisterous of the males were tucked away in their dens weathering the storm.
Some of us can play near the waves and leave unscathed while others cannot…
We got to witness a real rarity on this wavy day, the Blackrock Falls:
Have you ever had the chance to see these mythical falls? They only manifest once in a blue moon and are quite fleeting.
Mother Superior really put on a show yesterday and I am so happy that we made it a priority to make it out before the final curtain.
Lake and Love.
Few and far between: that’s how I would describe the state of quality outdoor shops in the Upper Peninsula.
Enter the new kid on the block:
It’s always refreshing to see a new silent-sports themed shop open up. However, when I saw the sign, I had mixed emotions: I was excited about a new outfitter, but hesitant to get too excited in case it turned out to be just another low-level jacket pusher for over-stylized hipsters who rarely leave the pavement. All of my fears were quashed the second I crossed the threshold.
Its well-lit, industrial chic showroom is accented with all sorts of shiny toys. I especially appreciate how they are not stacked like cordwood on sterile shelves or cheap pegboard. The owners have taken the time to work the product displays into an inspired art form. They have a wide array of products for the novice to the seasoned outdoors person.
Bird’s Eye caries the following top-notch brands:
- Temple Fork Outfitters
- Giant Bicycles
- Salsa Bicycles
Aside from offering those killer brands they also rent out kayaks and stand up paddle boards. They will soon be offering river tours and kayak/SUP lessons as well. Future plans also include bike maintenance and repair once lower level renovations are complete.
MMMM-fresh TFO cork!
Quite possibly my favorite of Bird’s Eye’s many great attributes is the beer and snacks! It’s really nice to be able to enjoy a pint while browsing gear. I love it when my favorite things mash up. The staff also told me that they will be offering Charcuterie plates in the future. I look forward to sitting down to talk shop over salted meats and libations. When you get there ask for the Bird’s IPA, it has hints of Cascade hops, Gore-Tex, and Prima Loft and pairs well with shiny paddle boards or fat tired bikes.
The front portion of the shop houses Superior Coffee Roasting Company. We will be doing a future feature on them but suffice it to say, they pulled me two delicious shots that I am still thinking about.
Head on over to 107 East Portage St., in Sault Ste. Marie, MI and check them out.
Today is Valentine’s Day. While most people were out overspending and feigning interest over things that they will forget by the end of the week, Chelsea and I were immersing ourselves in the great outdoors and enjoying each other’s company.
The plan for the day was simple: stop by Down Wind Sports to pick up a boil in bag meal, drive up CR 550 and find a place to ski. We got a little over a foot of fresh snow in the last few days and we wanted to take make some tracks.
We grabbed some Mountain House Beef Stroganoff and started out and settled in the Harlow Lake/ Little Presque area.
After crossing the road we opted to head south along the NCT. The wind coming off the lake was a force to be reckoned with. The icy blasts plunged the “feels like” temp well into the double-digits below zero. This concerned me a little. I have read some negative reviews about the Jetboil four-season fuel mix and thought that if ever there was a safe time to test it out this would be it; we were relatively close to home and if the fuel failed to provide enough oomph it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
We tucked into a dense stand of pines and stomped down a kitchen. I pulled out our Valentine’s Day meal and lit the jetboil. The water from my bottle was pretty cold from our trek out and it took a little while for the stove to get it lukewarm. To my surprise and delight, after the initial coaxing, the water boiled rather quickly.
While the wind howled and knocked snow from our little shelter we huddled together and shared our bagged meal. It was tougher to wait for the noodles and beef to plump up than usual but it was worth it.
Truthfully the water did boil noticeably slower than normal, but considering the super-cool starting water temp; the gusting wind; and the generally inhospitable weather I think that the four season fuel performed as well as it could. It provided a steady stream of heat and didn’t sputter even once. I definitely think that I will bring the base out next time though. Keeping it directly off the snow may help.
After lunch we swapped skis and crossed the road into the Harlow Lake area. Chelsea had been using a set of Evo Glades that really weren’t working for her. In all honesty, they have never really suited her that well. After the switch I noticed that she was kicking and gliding with increasing confidence. Needless to say she will be taking over my Madshus Cadence’s for the rest of the season. I really like those skis but if they help keep Chelsea going then they are hers!
Get out there. Enjoy the simple things with the people that you love.
Mankind constantly strives to create perfect items and moments. However, we will never ever be able to manufacture the level of perfection that is a wild Brook Trout at the end of a fly line. This feisty little guy whacked a nymph the size of his head and gave a fight that rivaled fish twice his size.
Cherish the little Brookies and let them go; they’ll be there when you come back.
Hello, my name is John; I am a lifelong Michigander and lover of most things outdoors. My current basecamp is Marquette, Michigan. When I am not working I can be found on the trails, lakes, and rivers of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My favorite activities include biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and fly fishing. Fortunately for me this area is ripe with outdoor opportunities! I have always thought that Michigan and the “Upper Midwest” boasted many of the same opportunities that other destinations have.
When I was growing up I read all of the standard outdoor-activity magazines: Outside, Dirt Rag, Bicycle Times, Climbing, Canoe & Kayak, and Fly Tyer. I always found it interesting and a little unsettling how very few articles in these publications mentioned all of the great opportunities for outdoor recreation found in the areas surrounding the Great Lakes. It seemed as if they were all promoting a lifestyle whereby you busted your butt working all year to have money to blow on a big 7-10 day trip only to come back to the same boring workaday life afterward. I quickly decided that that mentality made no sense in an area that is so full of outdoor rec activities.
The purpose of this blog is inspire, inform, just let you know what I am up to. I will also give readers a heads up on regional or topical events. I would really like to let other people know just how wonderful this area is.
Whether you call this area the “upper midwest,” “Great Lakes Region,” or “Lake States” I call it home and I would really like to show you how cool it is here.