Tag Archives: Outdoors

Summer TBR Pile

I love to read year-round, but summer is really my reading season. Call me lazy, or just un-athletic, but since I hate physical activity and can’t tolerate much heat, I enjoy the warmer weather by finding a shady spot and diving into a good book. Here are some of the books I’m hoping to read this spring/summer. If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts (but no spoilers, please!).

He is Risen Indeed

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Good Friday is a solemn celebration, a reminder of how bad things were—how bad things are. It’s a reminder of what life is like without Jesus. Most years it rains, or at least clouds over with darkness.

But Easter is bright and hopeful. A celebration of grace and love and life and mercy, a reminder that we’re loved by an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator who became flesh and died so we could spend eternity with Him.

Spring (at least in the Midwest) is the perfect time to celebrate the juxtaposition of life and death that holy week brings—bleakness and bright hope.

The seasons mirror the work God does in our lives, in our world. It’s a cycle of life and death. A reminder that good things come to an end, but for a reason. It’s not senseless. It’s not the last word. Death is required for new life to break forth. The leaves must turn crisp and fall, the peaceful white snow must cover the land, hiding that death and ushering in the new life that comes with spring. The birds start to sing again. The flowers send shoots up out of the soil. The air embraces you with a warm breeze. Summer is coming. Sunday is coming.

As I’m preparing my heart for Easter, I’m remembering just how bad it was before He came—how bad my life could have been without Jesus—and I’m praising God for the new life He brings.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

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Finding God at the End of the Path

trailIt’s no secret that I don’t like where we live. Our apartment is great, but the area leaves a lot be desired. At least for me. When Jonathan took his new job a few years ago, we had to leave St. Louis Park, a lovely suburb where we had a great apartment just blocks from the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. We could walk to Trader Joe’s, Target, the gym—even Lake Calhoun was just a mile away if we took the Greenway. Then we moved here. It’s not walkable. And I don’t feel safe when I’m outside by myself. I never go anywhere.

But then I started reading a book (Worry Less So You Can Live More by Jane Rubiettathat contrasted worry with delight. The author asked the question, “Where have you encountered God’s delight through creation?” The answer was easy. I love walks that give me the chance to think and observe details—everything from picker bushes to perfect leaves to the eight-point bucks that like to hang out in our neighborhood.

I decided to get out and go for one of those walks, to put aside my fears—because really, they’re unfounded—and venture out by myself. Well, I only kinda put aside my fear. I told my husband where I was going and walked with my hand around my phone in my pocket. My bluetooth headset was in my ear, and I was ready to click it twice to call Jonathan if I got in trouble. I even debated whether to wear the hood of my puffy winter jacket up or down because, what if someone snuck up behind me and I couldn’t see them because of it? How far around the lake should I go? Should I stay away from the wooded parts of the trail where I was less visible from the road (but still able to be seen because the trees are bare and my coat is a bright color)?

trail2Then I came across a non-paved path that wound down a gradual hill and disappeared into the weeds along the lake. A path I had never noticed before. Spurred on by the idea of delight, my curiosity got the best of my anxiety. You only live once, right? What if I could meet God at the end of that trail, wherever it led? But should I text Jonathan to tell him exactly where I was? What if I unknowingly ventured out on to the ice? What if I fell through? I’m not a yeller. No one would hear me. Should I just turn around and go home?

I didn’t, because I was determined to do something scary, to take a risk, to ask God to use the experience to chip away at the wall of fear I’d put up between us.

You know what? I didn’t get attacked from behind. I didn’t get kidnapped or raped. I didn’t fall through the ice. (I did get the poop scared out of me by a fairly large bird that flew right in front of me, however. Not actual poop, since I know some of you are wondering. Geez.) You know what else? I told God I was afraid, and He told me it was okay. I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or see any awe-inspiring views, but I started to see my fear melt away as I took a risk and took God at His word. He’s always with me and I don’t have to be afraid.

lakePerhaps it seems silly to you that I was so afraid to go for a walk by myself. I wasn’t terrified, I wasn’t shaking, I wasn’t convinced I was going to die. But I did ask a whole lot of “what-ifs” as I jumped to the worst possible conclusions and imagined the scariest scenarios. This is just a small glimpse of what it’s like to live with anxiety. This wasn’t even the crippling kind. But I’m hoping I can keep having experiences like this that expose my fears and allow God to chip away at them with His love and kindness and care for me. I don’t want to spend my whole life surrounded by “protective” walls of fear that don’t let me see or experience the world around me. What kind of life would that be?

Actually, I know what kind of life that would be because I’ve been living there. It’s a pretty lonely, boring one. I want more than that for myself.

(Check back in a few days for a full review of Jane Rubietta’s book, Worry Less So You Can Live More.)

Where It’s Snowing All Winter Through

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It’s been a little wintery up here in the “Great White North” (that one’s for you, Anne-Marie). We got our first snow of the year and it was NOT flurries like it usually is. It was a full-blown storm. Think inches of snow (some places got over 16!) and school closings and slushy roads and 90-minute commutes. Yep, that’s how long it took me to get to work yesterday.

But today I was prepared. Rather than sit in traffic for two hours, I worked from Caribou. And when I did head to the office, the roads were traffic-free and it took me 30 minutes. Success.

Here’s a tribute to the lovely snow from one of my favorite movies.

 

Collecting October

October in Minnesota has been beautiful. We’ve had several opportunities to enjoy the fall colors—a quick stop in Stillwater, a family boating trip down the Mississippi, a walk through William O’Brien State Park, and even a few walks around the block.

Stillwater

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Redwing & The Mississippi

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William O’Brien State Park

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Close to Home

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Here’s to hoping November is just as lovely!

Ten Things to Do in Copper Harbor, MI

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  1. Hike Estivant Pines. It’s a virgin white pine forest with two loops you can hike. I think it was less than 4 miles to hike the whole thing. It was a little  tricky in a few places, but if I could do it, you’ll be just fine. You may not know this about me, but I really, really love trees. I was in heaven.
  2. Eat at Harbor Haus. Yummy yummy fish and au gratin potatoes. And potato pancakes. A little on the pricier side, but it
    was some of the best food we had while we were there.
  3. Read on the beach. (And if you need a good book, Grandpa’s Barn.) I wish we had done more of this.
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  4. Visit the Thimbleberry Fudge Shoppe. It’s inside the Country Village Shoppes. We bought half a pound the second day we were there and went back on our way out of town for another pound to take home with us. The Maple Bacon and Mocha are the best, but I there wasn’t anything I tried that I didn’t like. It was so good that I suggest you call them up and have some shipped to you, even if you don’t make it to Copper Harbor :)
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  5. Eat a Pastee. It’s basically a requirement when you visit the UP. It’s basically meat and potatoes wrapped in a pie crust calzone-style. Most people eat them with gravy or ketchup. The ones we had weren’t fantastic, but they were nice warm comfort food on a rainy day.
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  6. Take Brockway Mountain Drive. If you only do one thing on my list, do this one. It’s a four-mile drive from “downtown” Copper Harbor with some pretty steep grades, but there are gorgeous views the whole way. Once you get up there, you can see the whole town, two or three other harbors, Lake Superior, and gorgeous tree-covered rolling hills. If I were you, I’d head up early enough to see it in daylight, watch the sunset, and then hang around until it gets dark to see the stars. And bring some blankets—it gets cold up there. We were lucky enough to be up there to see a meteor shower. Amazing.
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  7. Tour the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Not only do you learn all sorts of history about the area, you get a boat ride across the harbor. If you’re luckier than we were, it won’t be raining the whole time. At least we had ponchos.
  8. Kayak Lake Fannie Hooe. I learned kayaking is a lot harder on a lake than a river. But it’s a gorgeous lake. We took about 4 hours to kayak the whole lake. Thank you, Keeweenaw Adventure Company, for a great deal on the sit-on-top kayaks we rented!
  9. Visit Brickside Brewery. I don’t like beer, but Jonathan likes a good craft beer, and he enjoyed our trip to the brewery. I did too, actually—they also brew yummy root beer.
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  10. Hike Hunter’s Point. So so pretty. Two trails, lots of beach and trees, and great views of Lake Superior and Copper Harbor.

Click here for more about our trip to Copper Harbor.

Camping in Copper Harbor

Last week was glorious. We set off on Saturday for six days of camping at Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan. I’d always wanted to go there. It’s the northern-most city in the Upper Peninsula. According to one of the locals we talked to, there are only 80 full-time residents.

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One of the best parts of the trip was being forced to unplug. We were already planning to “forget” our phones in the car, but when we got up there, we had no cell signal. At all. On the way home, we had to buy a map and navigate the old-fashioned way because we couldn’t even use the GPS on our phones. With the exception of a few reservations, we didn’t even pay attention to what time it was. We got up when we wanted, went to bed when we wanted, and basically did whatever we wanted. All week. So, so lovely.

I apologize in advance for the picture overload. I can’t help it.

Most of the week was in the mid-sixties and we had a few days of rain. Not exactly summer weather, but nearly ideal for camping. The first night was so rainy we got dripped on while we slept and ended up covering the tent with a tarp. Of course it didn’t rain much after that.

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When it’s chilly, you do what you have to do. Like make fashion faux paus you swore you never would when you were eight and you saw your relatives do the same thing.

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Notice the pjs.

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When you wake up on a rainy Sunday, of course you find a local place to get some warm coffee, hot chocolate, and pasties. We went to the Tamarack Inn. So charming.

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Nothing like reading with Lake Superior waves crashing in front of you. Way more comfortable on sand though. I got bruises from sitting on those pokey rocks.

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We came across this little guy in the middle of the trail. He didn’t move when we got close.

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All these tree pictures are from our hike through Estivant Pines, a virgin white pine forest.

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Our campground was on Lake Fanny Hooe.

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Brockway Mountain Drive was my favorite scenic part of the trip.

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Those green spots are copper.

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The bell buoy. We could hear this from our tent. Every morning. Every night. All day.

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I wish I could take credit for this photo. But it’s so good I have to tell you Jonathan took it.

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The Copper Harbor Lighthouse

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We found copper!

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A view of the town from the harbor

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This was an adorable book store. I would have bought half the store if I didn’t already have a stack of books to read.

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So I think one of my aunts taught at this school. But maybe that’s just family legend.

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We left the campground on Friday morning and headed for the Porcupine Mountains, which was another part of Michigan I’d always wanted to visit. There were some pretty podunk little towns on the way. We spent the night at a cute little motel in Ironwood, Michigan.

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Lake of the Clouds

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This trip ended like most do—we were content and crabby and full of happy memories. If I have anything to say about it, we’ll be going back.

Click here for my list of the top ten things to do in Copper Harbor.

Unplugged (And Some Upcoming Book Reviews)

I’m not sure how we’re going to fit all our crap in my car, but once we figure it out, we’ll be off for a week of somewhat posh camping near Lake Superior. We’re borrowing a huge tent (Jonathan can stand up in it) and we bought a super comfy, memory foam-topped air mattress.

However, as ridiculous as it is that the campground has wifi, we’re unplugging for the whole trip—no computer, no phone (except GPS and trip-related research and maybe the long drive there and back), no work. That also means no blog posts because I’ve been so busy I didn’t plan ahead enough to have some extras scheduled while I’m gone. Sorry. I’ll repay you with beautiful pictures and some book reviews when I get back :)

One of my favorite parts of camping is reading by a campfire, and I fully intend to do that A LOT in the next week. To start with, I’m going to work on a few books I’m really excited about . . .

Camping Trip Reviews

I’ve already listened to an audio version of Packing Light, but I loved it so much I bought a copy to read. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.I haven’t read the others yet, but the first few pages seem pretty promising!

If you’re interested, you can get a 20% discount on Interrupted if you order through Tyndale by next Thursday, July 31. They’re currently out of stock online, but I spoke with a customer service representative who said they should be getting more in early next week. He also said you can call and reserve a copy over the phone to get the discount.