Assateague National Seashore and Ocean City Sunrise

On Sunday, Mark’s Lover, a friend of his, and I went to Ocean City to watch the sunrise on the beach. Unfortunately, it was more a sky lightening than a sunrise, but it was still nice to watch.

Sunrise in Ocean City

At the Shore

Waves

Final Minutes

I dropped off Mark’s Lover and his friend and then headed to Assateague by myself to take some early morning photos. I played around with my new camera’s HDR setting. I thought maybe that would help me learn to like it.

Nope. Still dislike HDR.

Without HDR

With HDR

At the North Beach several people were stand-up paddle boarding, which made for some interesting pictures.

Coming In

Silhouetted

Spray

In the Distance

Waiting

Getting there early enough to see the animals was another benefit of waking up early, even though I was tired.

Skittering Along

With the Waves

Strutting

Surveying the Scene

Raspberries

I went to the clam digging spot and found some wild horses off of the road.

Clam Digging Site

Assateague Ponies

More HDR. Still Don’t Like It.

I then did the short hike along the Life of the Dunes trail. It was hard because of the sand. It was also starting to get hotter, but the trail was deserted and interesting. Along the trail was bits and pieces of an old road, which was taken out by a storm in the early 60s. According to the interpretive sign, the storm basically took out the community living on the shore and that was the basis for founding the National Shore.

Life of the Dunes Trail

Road to Nowhere

North West Company Fur Trading Post

The rest of our visit was full of family. We attended a Fourth of July party, where Good Man got to remeet family he’d met years ago. We hadn’t told anyone we were coming (although Mom spilled it to a few people) so we got a lot of “Oh! I didn’t know you were coming!” looks.

Before we left Minnesota, we took my sister-in-law and the kids to the North West Company Fur Trading Post in Pine City. I’d never been there before, which is surprising since we have extended family in Pine City and visited them often while I was growing up! (Unfortunately, they had bad colds and we weren’t able to see them on this visit.)

The Trading Post had a small museum. Nephew mainly hung out with Good Man and Niece mostly hung out with me. As I was pointing things out in the museum, my sister-in-law said I was “such a teacher.”

I guess it comes out even in the summer!

We took the tour with the reenactors, and the kids had a blast although it got a smidge too long for them. At the end, our guide showed us how to start a fire with flint and steel. That was really neat!

Almost Got It

Feeding a Spark

On Top of the Lookout

In a Wigwam

It was really nice to get to spend time with our niece and nephew, but it did reinforce that we have no interest in having kids, even ones who are well-behaved most of the time. I’d rather be “Aunt” than “Mom.”

Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls State Parks

Good Man and I slept very, very well after our hikes at Temperance River and Tettegouche State Parks.

The following day, we checked out of our B&B, Superior Gateway Lodge. The B&B was incredible, very romantic! It was not right on the water, it was off in the woods. The hosts, Joe and Pat were full of wonderful information (we followed our travel rule and followed their advice), interesting stories, and their breakfasts were amazing! If we ever make it back to Two Harbors, we will stay there again.

Superior Gateway Lodge

Mushrooms

After breakfast, we went to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I asked the ranger for a shorter hike, since our legs were sore from the nine miles we’d done the day before, and I was a little worried about my plantar fasciitis kicking back in.

“You like hills?” The ranger jabbed her finger at the map.

I hate hills.

“Sure!” I said, “I love hills.”

(If I always avoid hills, I’ll never get good at hills.)

So Good Man and I headed up to Day Hill. On the way there we passed an island with a land bridge. I pointed to it and proclaimed we’d go there first.

Then we saw this sign.

When it comes to rules made to protect nature, wildlife, or a park, I am a rule follower.

No Access

Happy Good Man

We made it to Day Hill, admired the fireplace, took no photos, enjoyed some trail mix, and then walked along the shore back to our car.

I wanted to dip my toes in the water,

Driftwood

Split Rock

Large Rocks

Edge of the Lake

Cold Feet!

After we finished with Split Rock, we went to Gooseberry Falls. It was so busy! It was too crowded, and we were happy to escape the crowds by moving away from the main falls. We went on a rather nice hike, but I didn’t take many photos.

When we rounded a bend, we saw these plants and I wondered if my vision had suddenly gone haywire. The plants were waving in the wind and my vision couldn’t focus well. I felt like I was in a lenticular image.

Lenticular Plants

Tired, but happy, we finally headed back to my parents’ house for the rest of our visit.

Tettegouche State Park

After Temperance River, we headed south to the next state park, Tettegouche State Park.

We went on a shorter hike at this park, about two miles long to a few different waterfalls.

Forest Floor

Good Man

Over Baptism River there was an extremely rickety looking (and feeling) bridge.

Water Under the Bridge

Baptism River

Bridge Over Baptism River

With Good Man

Two Step Falls

Rainbow Spray

By the end of our hike, we’d hiked nine miles total. I know other people hike a lot more than that in a day, but for us it was a record, and I felt like I had “won.” I felt like I’d beaten the lingering pain from my tailbone injury.

We went to a restaurant recommended by the B&B owners, the Rustic Inn Cafe. While everyone else around us was chatting and laughing, Good Man and I just sat and stared at each other. We were bone tired, but it felt so good.

Temperance River State Park

Our full day along the North Shore, we started off by heading north to Temperance River State Park.

Our hike followed the river at the beginning and was very crowded for the first half mile or so. Once we got past the major waterfalls though, the trail was mostly empty.

Yellow Swallowtails

Temperance River Waterfall

Good Man

Wild Roses

Before we started the hike, I’d asked the ranger about the distance to Carlton peak. He said it was about 2.5 miles to the peak. I wasn’t sure if my back could handle that, but I had my hiking poles with me and wanted to give it a shot.

It was much harder than it should have been. And I whined. Good Man said we should turn around, but I refused to. This would be the longest hike post-tailbone fracture, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

We got to the peak, rested, ate some snacks, and then…Good Man checked his work email.

At Carlton Peak Lookout

Muddy Boots

Resting at the Peak

Checking Work Email

Sap

Bending Birches

Up the River

Before heading off to another state park, we paused at an outlook to take some photos.

Slow Shutter

Fast Shutter

Happy to Have Reached the Peak

Last View

Hiking Along Minnesota’s North Shore

Good Man and I took a few days to spend some time on the North Shore (of Lake Superior) together. Our first night in Two Harbors, we walked along Sonju Trail, a walking path along the shore.

It was so cold! There was a stiff wind coming off the lake and I had to borrow Good Man’s jacket because I left mine on the farm. I was worried the rest of our visit was going to be just as cold, but I had a long-sleeved shirt, so I knew I could layer during our visit.

Good Man

Lake Superior

On the Shore

Driftwood

Amanda

On the way down to the lighthouse, we came across two deer just off the trail. They were both about 20 feet away. They saw us, flinched, and then went back to eating. (I know the last picture is out of focus, but I just love the look on its face.)

Young Buck

What Are You Looking At?

We walked down to the lighthouse, the ore docks, and found the old railroad tracks.

Railroad

Ore Docks

Good Man

Lily-of-the-Valley

We headed into Duluth to see if we could find a lightweight coat and to have dinner. We were unsuccessful on the coat front and very much looked like visitors since we weren’t running around in shorts! I guess living Not In Minnesota for the past 14 years has really made me lose my cold-weather roots.

Suprise!

Saturday, June 29th

Stretching myself into downward dog, I heard my sister-in-law speak quietly behind me. “I have a surprise for you,” she said to my nephew.

I changed to a seated position while nephew eyed me shyly from the doorway. “It’s been a long time since I saw you,” I said. “Do you know who I am?” He shook his head and I said, “I’m your dad’s sister.”

His face brightened and he ran to give me a hug. “Auntie Amanda!”

Shortly, Nephew was pulling every toy out of his room one-by-one to show me. While he was doing this, my sister-in-law told my niece I was in the living room. She ran out and hugged me, even though we’ve never met.

“Surprise!” I said. We hadn’t told the kids we were coming to visit.

“Are you sleeping here tonight?”

“Yes, for a few days, and I have another surprise,” I said. Good Man was showering and appeared a few minutes later.

“Uncle!” Nephew shouted. Niece, however, hightailed it back into her room.

“You’re scaring small children,” I said. The dog growled. “And the dog, too.”

Good Man shrugged.

It took nephew a few minutes to warm up to Good Man, but soon he was showing us his toys again.

From the bedroom, a small voice shouted, “Is the strange man gone yet?”

***

We spent that afternoon at Interstate State Park, exploring glacial potholes. Niece wanted to hold my hand, and Nephew wanted to be with Good Man the whole time.

Conquering the Big Rock

Fifty-Cent Trinkets

Glacial Pothole

A Lesson on Leave No Trace

Butterfly Toy

At one point, Good Man took the (slippery, uneven) rock stairs two at a time. “Don’t do that,” I yelled, “Your nephew is going to co—”

Too late. He was also bounding down the stairs two at a time.

Satisfied Grin

Trying for One Last Shot

Try Again…

Finally?

Good Man Disagrees With Me

“I’m going to buy this house one day,” I said, pointing to a house while we were taking a walk. “It’s in a trust right now.”

“How do you know that?”

“I looked up the tax records.”

“Stalker,” he said, shaking his head.

“Or the one the sex offender lives in near the school. That’s a great house.”

“Oh my God. You are like a Lifetime movie.”

***

Good Man and I just got back from a trip to the Badlands/Black Hills. We drove there. It was my idea…

“I hate driving. Why is Ohio so wide? This was not my best idea, but I wanted you to see how big America is,” I said while rocking back and forth in my seat.

Good Man nodded, “I knew it was not your greatest idea. A good one, but not the greatest.”

“Then why didn’t you argue with me? Why didn’t you talk me into flying and renting a car?”

“Sometimes you win by losing.”

Early Spring

We’re having a very, very early spring, which makes for a lot of pollen, a screwy growing season, and some great photography opportunities.

It also means Sister got to see nearly-peak blooms over two weeks early at the Cherry Blossom Festival today.

I, however, did not get to go to the festival today since I was at work. These photos are from Williamsburg.

Magnolias

Pansy

Early Spring


Blooming

Purple I

Purple II