3 Islands Worth Visiting this Summer

With average temps in the upper 70s and low 80s, ample amounts of sunshine, and an abundance of freshwater coastline, you can’t go wrong visiting Michigan in the summertime. It’s my favorite season, favorite place to explore, and (if you aren’t lucky enough to live here) makes a great vacation destination.

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With our 3,000+ miles of coastline, Michigan has many, many islands only a short ferry or plane ride away from the mainland. Last summer, I explored three of the more remote ones, and had a great time on each trip.

To celebrate my 27th birthday, we hopped on a ferry and went to North Manitou Island, off the coast of Sleeping Bear Dunes. We were there for 3 days and 2 nights, and backpacked the perimeter trail. It’s a great first backpacking trip to test your mettle and/or get your body in shape for a longer trip. The views from the West side of the island can’t be beat! Next time we go, we’re making a beeline westward, hanging our hammocks, and staying put for the weekend.

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Later in the summer, I explored Beaver Island with two dear friends. We stayed at Saint James Campground, only a mile walk from the ferry. If camping isn’t your thing, there are a bunch of hotels and vacation rentals on the island. Several homes on airbnb.com look great!

St. James, the town on the North side of the island where the ferry stops, is very walk-able or bike-able. Alternatively, there’s public transportation and cars available for rental. Pay attention to hours of operations–they’re limited! If you’d rather have your own wheels, the ferry will haul your car for a hefty fee. One afternoon, we rented bikes (with baskets!). We pedaled to the beach to sunbathe, did a loop back to town, and then out to the lighthouse.

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Close to the end of summer, Bob and I took a week off, packed our hiking backpacks, and flew (on a sea plane!) to Isle Royale. What an amazing trip! After 7 days of backpacking our way from West to East, we arrived in Rock Harbor, and spent the night at Rock Harbor Lodge. If possible, get a room with a killer view of the water and a balcony. You won’t get bored. There are plenty of hiking routes around Rock Harbor, kayaks and canoes available for rent, and guided tours to different places near Rock Harbor.

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Have you ever explored an island? Where did you go and what did you do?

If you’re interested….Backpacking in Virginia and the Smokies.

Sunday Small Talk

I consider myself to be more of a summer person. I like water in its liquid state, I like beaches, I like camping and cookouts. Winter makes all of those activities more complicated.

To make things more exciting, this winter has been more brutal than normal. And that’s saying something, considering Northern Michigan is not known for tame winters. That aside, I’ve surprised myself by not hating this winter. I think it has to do with how much of our free time we’ve spent outside.

20140222_141435This weekend was no exception. We headed up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to see what one of our favorite summer spots has to offer in the winter. It turns out, a lot of wind! On an already windy and cold day, it only got windier and colder as we approached the coast. It felt a bit like we were on an arctic expedition. So much wind. So much ice.

20140222_150815There were several spots where the waves crashed through holes in the ice, creating geyser-like water spouts when the waves hit them.

20140222_152103When we were sheltered by the wind (thanks massive sand dune!), the icebergs in the lake were interesting to watch as they bobbed up and down with the waves.

20140222_153317 On our way out, we took a quick pit stop in Glen Haven. Even though it was bitter cold, you can’t beat the beauty of that blue sky!

What have you been up to this weekend? Anyone brave the cold and go on an adventure?