daily walk: sugar maple drive

Dear Internet,
I’ve long known I’ve had a fairly flat ass. It is not so flat as there is no shape, but the shape of my ass does not match the width of my hips. This became even more obvious this week as I found myself, after sitting in one place too long, walking around the cabin doing high knee bends and massaging my bottom. Today I had been inside all the day, working on my book, and around 4PM decided to do a walk around the neighborhood to get some muscle tone back.
Throbbing Cabin is situated in the old chalets that were used to support Sugar Loaf, a ski resort that was one of the best skiing areas in Michigan but has since been shuttered since 2000 due to bad property management and unpaid taxes. About 65-70% of the homes in my neck of the woods are seasonal, mainly trunk slammers, who come in the summer months for the views, wines, and beaches. With the area being named one of the most beautiful in the country, and Traverse City within spitting distance, we know how fortunate we are to have landed this place at the time that we did. Even more poignantly without the ski resort for support, many of the chalets have gone vacant and  were falling into disrepair.
So while we’re in a tiny, sparsely populated subdivision, it’s insanely quiet here. The sub is surrounded on two sides by cherry orchards and forests, the third side is the old ski resort, the fourth is wide open field that is used for  crops.
It’s a strange juxtaposition of seasonal and yearly homes that make this place unique. You’ll have places like ours, A-frame or similar cabins built to mimic Alpine styling, then WHAM! A more modern home shows up in your view complete with paved driveway, satellite dish, and siding.

sugarmaple
Sugar Maple Drive

Distance: 1.07 miles
Walk time: Roughly 22 minutes
Pace: 17:14/mile
What is most remarkable to me is the stillness. I can count on one hand the number of cars I hear drive by every day and at night, the stillness is broken by the creatures of the forest. So I admired the tree tops, and the odd mailbox, and thought how can you capture silence in a picture? Can you capture silence at all?
(I will not tell a lie, I close the windows at night not because I think there may be a Jason Voorhees hanging around, but that a curious bear will rip off the extended panes, rip through the screens, and somehow squeeze their body through an area 3 feet high and 1 foot wide.
Yes, I do have an overactive imagination, thank you for noticing!)
The sub’s diameter is exactly one mile, which makes it perfect for my walk. I came across some people doing yard work but most of the homes sit closed up, as evident by the piling of old newspapers and weeds in their drives. I saw whom I assume to be a young father taking his dog, a toddler, and a baby out for a stroll. He seemed more startled to see me power walking with my earbuds in and determined face than I was of him —  but I had seen him yesterday around the same time doing the same walk.
Slowly, as I continue to observe, I get the feel and the rhythm of the place.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998

daily walk: the floating head tree

Dear Internet,
Last night I was utterly exhausted when I crawled into bed around midnight with the hope that by reading, I’d be able to nod off and get to sleep. My brain had other things on its mind because I finished the book around 1:30A, and still wide awake at 5:11AM watching Bob’s Burgers.
I took half a Klonopin around 4ish, which I think finally drove me the edge into wonderland of sleep. However, I bolted upright in bed at around 9:30AM as if I had slept for days.
TheHusband, who was appreciative of me being quiet as a mouse while I watched terrible television last night, tried to cajole to go back to sleep but I was BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED. LIke a squirrel on speed.
I decided to harness this extra energy by walking to the Downtown Market for their Saturday Farmer’s Market since we needed an assortment of veg. The round trip is about a mile and would also count as part of my daily walk series, PLUS getting some kind of exercise should help with the mania.
Win-win all the way around.
floatingheadtree
As we walked to the market, I had forgotten the house with the floating heads was on our way, which marked the perfect beginning of the journey.
downtownmarket
Because of some dilly-dallying on my end at home, we didn’t get to the market until after 12PM, so most of the fruit/veg were picked over but we still ended up scoring us some great finds. We were hoping to have lunch at Grampas’s Pasty Co., because goddamn their Conrish influenced pasties are delicious, but they were down to two flavors we weren’t rather fond of so we skipped them this week.
After loading up our messenger bags with our finds, we walked the Market’s inside hall to see if we were missing any else and to get lunch ideas. We ended up with a few treats from Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe for later, but still no lunch options were tempting us. Since we’re right downtown, we decided to see what was open.
stellas-2
Stella’s is one of our favorite spots to eat in the downtown core. They have awesome burgers, great fries, and metric fuckton of old video games to play. But we weren’t in the mood for Stella’s so we kept walking and ended up at Meena’s Joint, which serves stoner food with a Rasta vibe.
TheHusband might looks like he partakes but we are aging alternative hipsters and coupled with the Coheed and Cambria on the stereo, we were definitely not the clientele they are catering to. The food is basically anything that could constitute a sandwich filling packed into a grilled tortilla and the taste was merely, “meh.”
With our bellies full, I was ready to keep on walking around downtown, maybe do a stroll through GRAM or a saunter down Monroe Center,  but the threatening rain finally decided to open up the skies.
We decided to just walk home in rainy, companionable silence.
fitbitwalk-july12
Distance: 3 miles
Walk time: 1:00:54 (This is total walk time, does not include time we shopped at the market or lunch)
Pace: 20:17/mile
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010

daily walk: Bear Paw Pizza

Dear Internet,
Our story begins last night when TheHusband and I decided to head up to Northport, a village 20 miles north of Throbbing Cabin in the tip of the peninsula accessible by the lovely twisty turny M22, where we went for dinner and to catch the Fourth of July fireworks.
Last year we showed up when the fireworks were beginning and parking was near impossible, so this year we thought we would be slick and go super early, get a good spot, have dinner, and wander around town before the show began at dusk.
Aren’t we a clever lot?
We arrived sometime after 6PM and found parking easily in the downtown area, which was a few blocks from the marina where the fireworks are held. People were already picnicking and saving spots four plus hours before the show was to begin, so you know this event is legit.
Dinner was pulled pork sammiches with sweet potato chips at the Garage Grill & Fuel Lot, which had all the makings of becoming a favorite of ours. I thought the pulled pork was heavy on the grease and less on the BBQ, while TheHusband raved about how great the pork was smoked. The sweet potato chips and coleslaw were divine, so I didn’t trouble myself much over the greasy BBQ.
All of this washed down with the nectar of the gods, Labatt Blue.
labattblue
We walked around town for a bit after dinner, having a drink at Northport Brewing, before heading over camp our spots at the park for the night.
Sometime after we finished dinner, and around the time we got drinks, I started feeling not so hot. My period started that afternoon before we left, so I put the blame on it even though I kept feeling like I needed to throw up which was NOT a typical period accoutrement.
The rest of the night alternately crawled and sped on by while I struggled with brain issues, stomach issues, and period issues. Plus, the weather had turned decidedly cooler, dipping into the 50s before the evening was over.
Last night would be the second night in a row I would need to use a heating blanket. Pure Michigan, my arse.
TheHusband and I played Words with Friends during the wait for the boom show, but the battery life on my phone was draining insanely fast and when it hit 23%, immediately depleted itself to 0%. I managed to catch a vague sharp picture of floating lanterns being released into the sky but not a single image of the fireworks show.

floatinglanterns
Floating lanterns before the fireworks show. The white blob is the moon, not aliens.

The crowd was pulsing as the night wore on. Drunk soccer moms and their families camped in front of us and became surly when we declined the cupcake topper American flags they offered us in their half-hearted attempt of friendly patriotism.
Every once in a while a drunk voice would yell, “‘MURICA!” and the crowd would laugh. Everyone around us seemed to be having a good time while my mood became darker, my stomach was in agony, and the temperature continued to drop.
We could see the fireworks show from down the bay in Traverse City and across the bay over in the Eastport area, both of which began at around 10PM. Northport advertise “at dusk,” but actually start their show at 10:30PM and at 10:30PM on the dot, the show began. After 20 minutes of their half-hearted fireworks show, TheHusband gave in to my agony and suggested we leave to beat the crowd.
On the drive back, I kept muttering, “I feel like I’m going to throw up” and “I don’t feel good” and YET, nothing was forthcoming. I drowned some Pepto when we got home, took a Klonopin for my mood, and went to bed.
Three hours later, I up in bed out of a dead sleep. “I don’t feel good,” I said to myself as I made my way down to the bathroom.
Literally the moment I flipped on the bathroom light, the heaving started. I knelt and clutched the toilet as dinner, beer, and Pepto all came back up. The force of the constant heaving turned my throat raw and my stomach into pin cushion.
Once everything was out of my system, I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and crawled back upstairs into bed. TheHusband rubbed my back while I fell back asleep, finally having relief in getting rid of the alien out of my stomach.
This morning was slow going.
I didn’t wake up until later, snuggling under TheHusband’s arms while he read Grantland or some other ESPN derivative on his tablet. Today we were going to go on a hike, then head to Traverse City for Cherry Festival and see Emili. None of those things happened. Instead, after a brunch of toast and OJ, we got dressed to run errands – like picking up a ladder and buying tampons. (The bloodwolves are devourous creatures.)
We crisscrossed Home Depot so many times, we actually got a mile in which means — hurray! Walk for the day completed.
Dinner was depending on if my stomach felt better (pizza) or not (burgers on the grill). I figured since my stomach was already all fucked up from whatever the fuck it is I ate the day before, eating cheese was going to be fair less painful.
I had been bragging to TheHusband for the last few years that when I used to come up to this area with TheEx, we would get pizza from Bear Paw and it was the best pizza I ever had.
bearpawpizza
Distance: A mile round trip through Home Depot
Walk time: N/A
Pace: N/A
Apparently my memories of the pizza are rose colored memories because once that first slice hit my mouth, I had to concede it wasn’t that great. I tentatively ate a few slices while we discussed the merits of good vs bad pizza. After dinner, we declared to the other now that dinner was complete, we would relax for a bit before doing some long overdue DIY around the cabin and putting our telescope together to take to the beach later in the evening.
stgeorge
The flag of St. George flies at Throbbing Cabin. ‘Murica.

Five hours later, I’m still on the chaise writing. TheHusband is still in his chair reading and we’ve been listening to a mix of Calypso, Mambo, and ’60s protest music while we did our individual things.
Fuck it. It’s vacation time. The gutters can wait another day to be cleaned; the hammock will get hung at some point. The stars will still be there tomorrow for our gaze.
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

daily walk: Pyramid Point

pyramidpoint-a
Dear Internet,
Today’s walk was actually a hike through one of our favorite areas: Pyramid Point. Last year when we did this hike, we meandered off the main trail and ended up more than 2 miles further from the trailhead than we were supposed to be and the 2.7 mile hike turned into 5 miles.
Then, after we figured out our location and were walking towards our car, I managed to have a massive anxiety attack and shut myself down. TheHusband jogged back to the car on his lonesome to come back and pick me up since it was clear I was refusing to not move an inch. After he had been gone for what felt like years, I somehow got myself pulled together and trudged forward, meeting him 1/10th of a mile from our where our car was parked.
Good times!
Now that I know the area better, and I’ve been steadily walking around the neighborhood these last few weeks, I felt much more confident going into the hike.
Plus it’s hard to not feel awesome when wearing a pair of sassy orthopedic socks.
pyramidpoint-b
Beginning of the trailhead.
pyramidpoint-c
After walking about about a half a mile to the split, you could either continue climbing up and to the lookout to view Lake Michigan or continue on the trail into the woods. The lookout is densely packed and with the large number of people hanging out today, we decided to go right into the woods.
pyramidpoint-e
If you did choose to up to the lookout, you can hike around the bluffs and come back down via this sand slide to the trail as an alternate route. TheHusband wants to get in shape enough to come up this route instead of the trail in the beginning since it will be less populated. I laughed in his general direction.
pyramidpoint-f
TheHusband is contemplating a tree that had half of its trunk neatly cut off by lightning.
pyramidpoint-g
There are loads of fallen trees over the trails and I love them. I feel like I’m hanging out in Middle Earth and these are seating for giants.
pyramidpoint-h
There is a side loop you can take through meadows, where last year I kept saying, “The Orcs are chasing us — run!” as we hiked. Why? Because Old Age Pensioners (or Orcs as I like to call them) were catching up with us and having the elderly more fit than you is embarrassing.
Anywho, that loop brings you back to this point, and this is where we fucked up. We started out taking the meadows and took a wrong turn somewhere and this is how we ended up 2 miles further than we were supposed to be. This year, we said fuck the meadows and just continued on the trail in the woods. Much safer that way. Plus — no Orcs!
fitbitcrash
Distance: 2ish miles (round trip)
Walk time: 40ish minutes
Pace: 26:32/mile
I forgot to turn the Fitbit on until after we had started the hike and there were also some hiccups, so the times is sorta of close? During bits of the hike itself, Fitbit kept crashing as evidence by the lack of red line connecting the beginning and the rest of the hike and I realised you could also “lock” the timer into place so if you navigated away from the screen, it wouldn’t put itself on pause.
Tomorrow TheHusband has found us another hike. Good times will be had whether we like them or not.
xoxo
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2011, 1999

video: Pure Michigan’s version of Grand Rapids

Kate tipped me off to this newish Pure Michigan ad of Grand Rapids that is so heartwarming and touching, you are beyond desperate to visit this magical place.

Except, it’s not quite 100% true. Shocking, I know. The biggest faux pas is that the lovely lake shots they keep interjecting? Lake Michigan is roughly 30 miles away. The art museum looks way more entertaining then it actually is, and the walk through the forest shot? GR is urban sprawl, that’s not even really in the city.
But hey! AMBIANCE IS EVERYTHING.
P.S. Rowster Coffee is a few blocks from Throbbing Manor. So there is that.

SnowMIGeddon 2011: 14″ and still falling

SnowMIgeddon 2011, Throbbing Manor
Drift and fallen snow on our front porch.

The argument about Michiganders and snow can run both ways – “OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE!” and “It’s Michigan. In winter. Of COURSE it’s going to snow.” While it has seemingly felt like it has not stopped snowing for the last month, we were caught in the snoMIgeddon of 2011, a storm front that ranged from southwest diagonally across the midwest and heading to the north-east. In Grand Rapids, coupled with the lake effect, we’re at 14″ and counting in the last 12 hours. Last night, when the storm started, TheHusband and I watched enthralled as the winds (clocked between 30-40mph) were bending some of the smaller trees nearly in half. This morning it was eerily quiet and the world was completely blanketed in white.
I have a small set onFlickr of the snow and our extreme shoveling from this morning. We haven’t attacked the driveway as of yet and that may wait until tomorrow.