Hike to the secret beach

Hawaii guidebook writers seem to have a penchant for enticing the reader to a spot so pristine, so secluded, that no one else could possibly know about it. “Imagine yourself slipping into your own private, secluded swimming hole,” or “here’s a beach so secret, so hard to find, that even native Hawaiians don’t know about it.” Or, at least they didn’t, until they read this book along with thousands of others. Best Husband and I are not so naïve that we’d fall for this hyperbole, yet, wanting a little adventure, we allowed ourselves to be seduced down the path to the so-called Secret Beach.

The first rule in following the path to anything labeled “secret” is that the journey must be somewhat difficult. If any ordinary traveler could just fall out of their car and stroll to said secret location, there would be nothing special about it, and said location would remain unworthy of the title “secret.” The guidebook’s directions to the secret beach almost seemed too simple for something so obscure, so special. “…turn right off the first Kalihiwai Road, then right on the first dirt road you encounter.” We had already had enough experience with Hawaii’s carefree signage to have just a bit of trouble with this part. Then, we had to interpret the Hawaiian definition of “road.” We’d already discovered that what we might call a path or two-track at home, might actually be considered a road here. Finally after managing this part, we had to tackle the issue of parking. Seems that everyone else who read our guidebook had also showed up that day, and parking was limited on the dirt track.

Next, the directions said: “…take the 10 minute path to the bottom. It’s slippery when wet.” It had rained a bit earlier that day, so we were forewarned.

And so we began. We spent the next 20 minutes or so on a steep vertical wall of red mud, slipping and grabbing on to branches and each other to stop our untimely slide all the way to the bottom. Fortunately, there were plenty of roots and large rocks embedded into the mud to stop us from sliding to our deaths.

At the end of Mudslide Trail, which we later dubbed it, the view was worth it. A long beautiful, sandy beach and surf surging up onto huge black rocks along the shore. Unfortunately, with the surf so rough we were unable to take the second trail along the rocks to the Secret Lava Pools – a trip we’ll save for next time.

© Huffygirl 2014


Ice Adventure

Ice floe, 2974,  https://huffygirl.wordpress.com, © Huffygirl

On a day so sunny that I felt like I needed sunglasses for my sunglasses, Best Husband and I ventured to Saugatuck, Michigan, for a winter’s day adventure. We ate lunch at  The Butler, a restaurant located in one of the original town buildings from 1892. We poked around in interesting little shops, ogling expensive kitchen knives in The Butler Pantry  kitchen shop, and admiring original artwork in the many art studios. We tasted exotic olive oils at The Olive Mill, and peered into windows of restaurants we had not seen before, hoping to savor them on another visit.

Then, the real adventure began. We left the downtown area and drove to the shore of Lake Michigan at Oval Beach. One never knows what they’ll find on the Lake Michigan shores in the winter. Often the water’s edge are encased in thick ice floes that may change daily with the weather. Other winters we’ve been to the Lake Michigan shores to find no ice at all. This day, we were not disappointed. The shore was blanketed with a massive ice floe, spreading out 50 to 100 yards from the shore. Not wanting to become an icy death statistic or an unexpected guest of the Coast Guard, we wisely kept to the water’s edge as we walked and photographed this amazing gift of nature.

© Huffygirl 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in pictures

What a year!

© Huffygirl 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

I caught this passenger waiting for the last boat out, through the doorway of  the Rock Island boat house, Door Peninsula, Wisconsin. Several passengers were actually waiting on the dock, but I waited until I could frame just one person in the limestone doorway.

Rock Island is the last large island at the end of the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. The island is fairly isolated, only reachable by boat. Besides this limestone boat house, which is so well-preserved that from the shore it appears to be a new building, there’s a rustic campground, a restored lighthouse and a few smaller old buildings. It’s a great place to hike and explore, but be prepared to bring your own food and water – there are no stores on the island.

To get to Rock Island, we took a car ferry run by pirates to Washington Island, drove across the island to the far side, then caught a passenger ferry to Rock Island. The waterway around the tip of the peninsula, with rocky shoals and strong currents,  was once so hazardous a passage that is was nicknamed “Death’s Door” which lead to the name for the area, Door Peninsula. The addition of several lighthouses and modern navigation tools have lessened the danger of sailing though Death’s Door, but the name was already stuck.

Rock Island Boat House from the shore. This is the first thing one sees when approaching the island. The limestone structure is so well-preserved that my first thought was “Why did someone build a new boat house on such a remote island?”

From the inside, the building better shows its age. Built in 1928, the boathouse, with its Great Hall atop, is one of the remaining buildings of the Chester Thordarson estate. Thordarson, a wealthy industrialist, built a large estate on the island to entertain visiting dignitaries. Only a few buildings remain.

© ♥ Huffygirl 2012

View from the end of summer

Two trees frame an azure pool,

One beacon guides us safely home.

One tree kisses the glowing sky,

And one moon rises over wherever we roam.

This is the end of my “View from the…” Michigan vacation photo series. I’ll be back to blogging my usual mix of musing, rants, photos, and satire by the end of the week. Meanwhile, I hope you check out this amazing photo story by fellow Michigan blogger,  White Pine Photo, of his once-in-a-lifetime climb to the top of the Mackinac Bridge. The photos are glorious – my heart was racing as I scrolled through, with palms as sweaty as if I were up there in person. This trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge is a great wind-up to a pure Michigan summer. Just click the link below, or visit White Pine Photo from my Blogroll.

Climbing the Mackinac Bridge (whitepinephoto.wordpress.com)

1. Mackinac Island, bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

2. Round Island Lighthouse, Mackinac Island.

3. Lone tree, Mackinac Island, Round Island in distance.

4. Moonrise over airport, Mackinac Island.


© Huffygirl 2012

View from the back: The Grand Hotel

A visit to the Grand Hotel would not be complete without a tour of the gardens. After walking through the public parts of the garden that anyone can see from the sidewalk, I took a stroll back into the woods at the garden’s edge and discovered what I had long suspected existed, but had been unable to find before: the secret geranium burial ground, the Grand Hotel private greenhouse.

Reserve geraniums, waiting to be called up to the majors.

After having little success myself keeping potted geraniums thriving for an entire summer, and wondering how the Grand Hotel gardeners managed to keep their geraniums so robust, I finally deduced that they must keep a secret greenhouse  supply of geraniums to replenish the sickly ones throughout the summer. Turns out I was right, although I guess the greenhouse is not all that secret, since I was able to stroll right in.

Grand Hotel carriage, from the back of course.

© Huffygirl 2012

View from the front: The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is one of the most lovely Victorian buildings in Michigan, and boasts the world’s longest porch.  The graceful porch with its light blue ceilings and yards of red geraniums is an inspiring  and relaxing place to sit on summer day, with a great view of the gardens, other island buildings, and the Mackinac Bridge. Although there are many fetching flowers  surrounding the property, the red geranium is the theme flower of the Grand Hotel, and is featured prominently on the porch and in the decor of the building throughout.

The iconic red geranium.

Looking up from the gardens below, guest room balconies and the Cupola Bar.

Wizard chess anyone?

© Huffygirl 2012

View from the bottom: The crack in the island

Visitors to Mackinac Island who are willing to venture off the typical tourist path, can see an interesting and isolated treasure – a 15-foot or so fissure in the  ground, deep enough for small to average-sized adults to walk through, though sometimes its more like wiggling through sideways. Commonly called “the crack in the island”, this fissure is the result of years of water erosion on the soft limestone surface of the island.

To get to the crack in the island, bike up the longish hill that runs through the middle of the island, British Landing Road. When you reach the back side of the airport, turn right onto gravel State Road, go about a quarter-mile or so until you come to a small woodland trail marked “Cave of the woods and Crack in the Island.” Leave your bikes behind and hike another  quarter-mile past the cave and up a small knoll to the crack. I sent best husband in first to make sure there were no snakes, then we both took our turns walking through this geologic icon.

Just make sure you don’t step in that one really deep part…

(This post is dedicated to my geology-loving sister. Happy birthday Linda!)