Monday, June 27, 2011

House Buying and Business Starting

Arguably two of the most stressful projects one can undertake in their lifetime... and we've decided to tackle both of them- head on- at the same time!! Crazy? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely!!

The house buying came about when we checked the calendar, saw that our apartment lease was mere months from ending and we knew we needed our own place. A space just for us
Great Lakes Adventures has been five years in the making (well,... technically 25 since this is something we've both wanted to do since we were kids!). But the actual STARTING of the business is a lot easier said than done.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Manitou Day Three

Alas, our short lived adventure was coming to a close.

After breakfast of bananas, hearty granola oatmeal with dried berries and slices of fried summer sausage with instant coffee, we took one last walk around the island to purify water for the trip back and take some last snapshots of our beautiful, private island.

The beauty of the water ahead held promise for a smooth, safe ride back. We loaded up our kayaks one more time...

The bright blue skies and calm waters were the perfect was to say goodbye. Friendly waves pushed us toward our destination, which took less than three hours this time. We paddled into shore, all smiles! Tourists walking the beach couldn't believe we'd just come from the other side- now a faint blip across the water.

As we loaded up Lola (our yellow Jeep) for the trip back, never have I felt so calm and accomplished. My only regret being that I wish we could have stayed longer (and brought our puppy!). But maybe next time. 

 Oh, and since we were in one of the best places in the world for food... we couldn't resist...
Cherry Republic Chocolate Covered Cherries...

and Leelanau County fresh roadside asparagus...

It's good to be in Michigan. :) 

Manitou Day Two

The next morning, we woke up to the most beautiful blue skies. Friendly temperatures kept it comfortable and the breeze from the lake made it just heavenly.

After a breakfast of  Pop Tarts and instant coffee (don't judge me!), we threw some items in our knapsack, grabbed our cameras and took off to explore.

This island is INCREDIBLE. Not only is it a backpacker's paradise, it is full of such rich history. It had it's own people, way of life; farmers, schoolteachers, families, fishermen... the remains of a life lost still linger in every corner.
The scenery shifts so beautifully, from mock-tropical beaches to lush forests to wheat filled farmlands.


We made friends with the locals...

And explored the shipwreck of the Francisco Morazan...

The long road connecting farms, homes and the beach...

We took in the sights at the top of a bluff, with a hot lunch of pizza wraps (hot sauteed peppers, onions, gouda cheese, pizza sauce, pepperonis wrapped up in tortillas). With an apple and two bottles of water each, nothing tasted better.

As the sun started to lower in the sky, we watched the last ferry leave for the mainland. There's a certain calmness that settles over you when you realize you are the only ones on the island. Obviously, a ranger was there, as well as some maintenance staff and there may have been a couple campers- but we would never know. We never saw a single person after that ferry left.

That night, we settled in with a tiny campfire to watch the stars come out (10:15pm before it was actually dark enough to see them!)

Our dinner was Teriyaki Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Whiskey Sours. Let me just say, this was not one of my finer moments. I actually bought the prepackaged marinated salmon steaks (next to the canned tuna). But hey, everything deserves a chance, so we went for it!
One bite later, we were downing whiskey to desperately get the taste out of our mouths. Two words: Cat Food.

So we may or may not have gotten a little tipsy that night, with our stomaches holding only mashed potatoes, some starbursts and homemade beef jerky. But at least I learned my lesson about packaged salmon...


Manitou Day One

Apologies for taking so long to post this!! Life has gotten crazy since we've been back! In between Ann Arbor Summerfest, buying our house and raising a well balanced puppy, I've barely had a chance to think!

So let me tell you a bit about Manitou Island...

Day One
We drove from Ann Arbor up to Glen Arbor and camped out in the car. Not on purpose, we just left too late and didn't feel like checking into a hotel for a couple hours.
Much to the dismay of Camp Dog, we couldn't bring him to the island with us. (Although, I will say, we definitely saw some puppies on that island!) 

Taking off was a bit of a trip. 50-some degrees, swarms of stoneflies everywhere and our gear was soaked from the downpour we slept through overnight. But we were determined! (Although, if I'm being completely honest, we both had a moment where we looked at each other and mutually thought about a nice warm hotel and some tourist shopping in Traverse City for the weekend...)
We prepared our trusty steeds for a rough ride on the waters.
It should be noted that our kayaks are NOT sea kayaks. And before you pummel me with "OMG!"s and "You are crazy and could have been lost at sea!"s... we survived just fine. In fact, I am convinced it was the way to go.

Moving on- as we started across, it was exhilarating! The freedom of backpacking with the nautical bliss that only kayaking can bring.
Suddenly, in the middle of Lake Michigan, just as we were getting into the stride... the skies opened up. In the middle of the rain, our destination started to get hazy. Until suddenly, the clouds moved in and it disappeared entirely.
I'll admit, I started to panic. We're in the middle of the lake who's fatal shipwrecks mimics that of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by nothing but water. Luckily, Bobby was prepared with his compass and directions (I was about to whip out my cell phone's gps!). We talked about it for a minute and decided to skip North Manitou and head for South. It was closer, we were exhausted and hypothermia was starting to set in (no joke).

Finally, after four hours of open water, we banked on the east side of South Manitou Island. Shivering and tired, we changed out of our wet clothes as fast as we could and chowed down some granola bars and water.

After setting up camp on a bluff about 300 feet from the water, I quickly whipped us up a yummy dinner of chicken fajitas. Packaged chicken breasts, taco seasoning, red and green bell peppers, onion in a tortilla wrap with queso dip... it was beyond delicious!

We explored the island for a bit and decided to make it an early night. Wrapping ourselves in our Cats Meow sleeping bags, we played a few hands of Yahtzee before passing out until morning...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nature Calling

Do you ever just find it hard to focus? You know what work you should be doing, but you just can't seem to actually DO it?

Yeah, iI'm in that place right now. Since we're still working second jobs while building Great Lakes Adventures, it's difficult to focus on my other job... all I want to do is be out hiking, swimming, canoeing... I'm so not an office person.

Getting back to nature is where it's at. I crave that feeling of outdoor bliss. Of the breeze flowing in the trees and the icy cold rush of a dive into a lake. We took the pup hiking for his first time yesterday. Too much fun! He couldn't get enough- diving through the trees and flowers, leaping in and out of the Huron River... A few times he tried to lead the way, but since his directions weren't that great, we decided to have him fall in line. (photos and video to come soon!)

This weekend cannot come soon enough. Kayaking to North Manitou is going to be a blast! I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, here's a recipe I'm working on as we speak (as in... it's in my oven right now.) Enjoy!

Asian Beef Jerky
1.5 lb flank steak, trimmed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sake

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trip Plans: North Manitou Island

We're planning our first official trip of the season- to North Manitou Island. It's a small, remote place off the cost of Leland in Michigan's northern lower peninsula. 8 miles long by 4 miles wide with 20 miles of shoreline.

There is a ferry that takes you straight to the island, and we'll be bringing our kayaks with us to paddle around. Since it's so remote, this week will be spent double checking our gear list and figuring out how to make everything waterproof.

Bobby decided to test out his beloved kayak in the pool...

And, for scientific purposes, also wanted to find out what would happen if he flipped in Lake Michigan...

As you can see... we'll have some waterproofing to do... But I'll leave that up to him while I focus on the food and fun!

Still making menu decisions (after all, we're all about the gourmet backpacking!). It will definitely involve fresh caught fish, if we're lucky. If not, a backup plan is necessary.
My only regret about this trip is that Scout can't join us. The island doesn't allow dogs, since they feel it disturbs the wildlife (fair enough). He's definitely coming on the next trip, though!

Will keep you posted with trip updates! Can't wait to share our photos and thoughts after next weekend!

Happy Thursday!

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