Tag Archives: relaxing

Nature’s Palette

As you drive to the north end you encounter drifts of sand on the road, then a small sign points to Beach Access #6.  This access is outside the city limits and not maintained, but people use it every day.  The sand is thick, so a 4-wheel drive is necessary.  You maneuver through sand piles that will make you think of maneuvering deep snow if you are from the north.  Once you break free you are on a beautiful beach that you can drive for about 3 miles south and 26 miles north on the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the north drive that has the most to offer.  Every day is the same but different.  Nature creates an ever changing palette intermixed with human elements.   We enjoy driving in the edge of the water, but there is always a possibility a larger wave will come in and leave you a bit wet.  That is what happened to us one day when we had top off the jeep.  A wave hit the side coming in the driver’s side window and splashed so high it came down through the roof opening.

A trail of shells leads you down the beach, not only on the water’s edge, but also up near the dunes.  This is because during high tide the water is considerably higher on the beach, and high winds bring it in even further.   If you are lucky enough to be there on a high winds day not only will the waves be higher, but there will also be sand swirling off the dunes and flowing across the surface of the beach until it meets incoming waves,  giving a soft, mystic feel to everything.   The pounding waves provide a rhythmic music of nature as you drive.

Fishermen line their poles up along the water, sitting in lawn chairs waiting for their catch. some with BBQ grills set up to cook up their meal fresh.  We stopped to watch one bring in his catch, but it was soon discovered he had hooked a sting ray, which he cut his line from so that it could work its way back into the water.  Herons, gulls, pipers and pelicans congregate along the water’s edge, satisfying their hunger with the offerings of the water.

Visitors walk along with a bag in hand, searching for the perfect shell.  On occasion you will see a group of horseback riders from a nearby stable.  We came upon a driver in a car who was stuck in the soft sand along the surf.  We pulled him out with the Jeep’s power wench.  You may sometimes encounter nude sunbathers or swimmers.  Everyone is friendly, everyone waves.   The beach is a relaxing, fun place to be.

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Landmarks, both natural and human-enhanced, mark your way.  Mile marker signs are mounted on the edge of the dunes so you know how far you have gone.  Some of my favorites include a log decorated to look like an alligator, a log with an upside down boot on it, a buoy that washed ashore, a container anchor that has been covered in graffiti, a piece of driftwood shaped like a sea serpent, and even a water rescue pod that has been decorated.  These items are constantly changing, impacted by nature and man, so each day brings a new look.  Sands drift and cover parts while winds uncover new discoveries.  The sea serpent log that was open and clear on our first visit now has sand over parts of it.  The water rescue pod was moved further onto the beach by the US Fish and Wildlife workers as it was sitting on the edge of a wildlife preserve.  A buoy that had drifted ashore was complete one day and missing its top a few days later.

I have enjoyed the time spent on the beach of South Padre Island, Texas.  I will miss nature’s palette of beauty and change when I have gone.  It will be interesting to see what items remain the same, what has disappeared, and what has been added by the time I return next year.

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Filed under Activities, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, time, tourism, travel, vacation, Weather

My First Week as a Nomad

My first six days as a Nomad were interesting, fun, and sometimes frustrating.  In many ways it feels more like a vacation rather than a lifestyle change.  It is relaxing and interesting, and sometimes not at all what is planned.  If I can experience all this in six days, I can’t imagine what the future will bring.

On Monday we left Port Huron, Michigan and traveled to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.  Our original plan was to stay only two nights, but after reviewing travel information about the surrounding area decided to extend our stay to a total of four days.

On Tuesday we visited the Bush Pilot Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.  Paul was a bush pilot when he lived in Owen Sound, Ontario as a teen so this was on his “hit list.”  The museum was interesting, with several planes on display inside the hanger where the museum is located.  We viewed two movies, the first was an “on board” experience with a bush pilot, and of course took the rider through a series of mistakes and mishaps that can happen on a plane, including an unexpected storm, dozing off with the plan on autopilot, and more.  The second movie was in 3D and took you into the heart of fighting forest fires.  You experienced time in flight with the commander of the entire firefighting operation, in flight with a pilot doing water drops, and on land with a ground firefighting crew.  Both movies are well worth the time it takes to view them.

A small town about four hours northwest of Sault Ste. Marie is the home of Winnie-the-Pooh, and houses a statue of Winnie, as well as a Winnie-the-Pooh and Railroad Museum.  I wanted to go there so a day trip was planned.  Part of the trip goes along the shore of Lake Superior, and we figured we would find photo ops along the way.  A visitor guide worker had told us about an off-road trail on that stretch which Paul wanted to check out.  We didn’t locate the trail she used, but did access a logging trail, which about 20 minutes in we decided was not offering any photo ops so turned around and continued on our journey.

We did find a couple spots to stop and take photographs of Lake Superior, and a small rapids and river we walked in and photographed.  It was interesting that this entire route had very few towns, gas stations, or any other type of business or rest area to stop at.    So scarce they were practically non-existent.  We saw a rest area/visitor center which made a good stop for a few minutes.  They had a small gift shop where Paul decided to pick up a couple energy bars to tie us over until lunch, which we planned to eat in White River.  That purchase turned out to be a very good decision.

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We munched on our energy bars, and decided to stop for gas as we rolled into White River, because we would need it to make the full journey back to Sault Ste. Marie.  There were barriers up across the gas pumps and an attendant walked over and informed us that the pumps were not working because the entire town of White River had lost power and nothing was open.  We drove through town and took pictures of the Winnie-the-Pooh statue.  The attendant was correct, absolutely everything, including the museum we had just driven four hours to visit, was closed so we started our journey back.

Not too far south of White River was a small gas station with full-service pumps.  The attendant there shared that the last time White River lost power they were out for a week.  He also let us know that there was a restaurant on Hwy 17 just south of Wasmus where we could get lunch/dinner.  By now it was after 2:00 pm and we were definitely getting hungry.

We drove the two hours south and located the restaurant.  Our luck had not yet changed; on the front door hung a sign that they were closed until 5:00 pm.  It was only 4:30 so we decided to drive on.  We were not far from our campground when we found The Voyageur Lodge, which included a small restaurant.  The menu was limited, but the food very good.  Paul had an open face hamburger, which had gravy to which he added mushrooms and onions.  It normally included fries and coleslaw, but he switched the fries for onion rings, which he said were very good.  I opted for a fish sandwich which also came with fries.  The sandwich was made with whitefish which was lightly breaded and very nicely done.    We shared a butter tart for dessert, also very tasty.

Our final day in Sault Ste. Marie we drove into town and visited the historical canal sight.  At the end of the island was a swing damn, one of only nine built and the last in existence.  It is used in emergency situations if there is a problem with the lock.  This is also where the lock is located for small boats, and we were lucky enough to see two of the Soo Locks Tour boats use the lock at the same time.  The difference in elevation between Lake Superior and Lake Huron is 21 feet, so quite interesting to observe the lock in operation.   A nice way to finish out our stay.

Friday morning we said goodbye to Sault Ste. Marie and drove east through Ontario, stopping at a small campground in Lavigne, Ontario.  We are here only for two nights.  One day of rest and computer work before continuing our journey to Ottawa, the capitol of Canada, where we plan to spend four days.

We did take some time from our paperwork to photograph some very decorative scarecrow displays around town.  These have been prepared as part of a plowing competition in September. I finished out our last night in Lavigne with a walk around the park, taking a few photographs of Lake Nippising, which the campground is located on.

So far my life as a nomad has been interesting and relaxing, even if Winnie-the-Pooh’s hometown did leave me a bit frustrated.  I guess in this lifestyle you simply have to go-with-the-flow when rocks appear in the river.

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Filed under Activities, Canada, decisions, Discoveries, education, exploration, impressions, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Michigan, nature, summer, tourism, travel, Upper Penninsula, vacation