Back on Monday night, after four straight days of sunshine, I spoke out loud what should always be kept inside: “Boy have we been lucky with the weather on this trip.” Sarah stared at me open-mouthed, then frantically scanned the area for the nearest piece of wood to knock on. (She opted for our campsite picnic table, thankfully, instead of my head.) Thirty minutes later we felt our first raindrop. We stood our ground, staying outside to eat dinner and finish our Scrabble game. It persisted for a few minutes, then soon lifted, never reaching beyond a minor drizzle. Bad luck, averted.
Until yesterday. We woke up to overcast skies and a gloomy forecast. The skies stayed rain-free for a few hours, opting to finally let loose once we were on open water on the top deck of the Shipwreck Tour, as if Mother Nature wanted to give our experience that authentic, stormy feel. Thankfully, our boat stayed on the air-breathing side of the lake surface, and we arrived back on land only slightly wetter, and slightly more educated, than when we left.
The rain stayed a drizzle as we tried out some fish sausage from Burt’s — an acquired taste, even when smothered in mustard — and a pasty from Muldoon’s — our third of the UP and the easily the best. We packed them up and headed out for Pictured Rocks to hike, tolerating the drizzle, even appreciating its cooling powers. As we were leaving our car to start the 1.5 mile hike to the Au Sable Lighthouse, another hiker spotted us and warned us to watch out for the black flies, evil little buggers that are like mosquitos, but bigger and swarmier. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the man predicted, as it’s likely the the rain abated their swarmitude, though not before two or three broke through our DEET-soaked forcefields and left us with a couple of welts.
As we stood inside the lighthouse talking with the lovely couple from Fresno who drive out every July to live in and run the place, the drizzle turned into a pour. While the path had given us a canopy, our walk back was along the beach, to see washed up pieces of shipwrecks. Again, the rain added to the mood; it just doesn’t seem right to witness the remains of disastrous wrecks under a sun-filled sky.
We had one more stop Pictured Rocks, rain be damned: the log slide. Near the northernmost park of the park, the woods turn into bluffs which turn into massive sand dunes. Back in the days of logging, they’d heave the lumber to the top of the dune and let them roll down hundreds of feet to the bottom, where the ships would be waiting to take them aboard. They don’t do it anymore, but the dunes are still there (and are only getting taller). We parked, hiked the .2 miles in our now-sloshing shoes and pants, and tramped up the wet sand to the peak.
So worth it. To the right, through the rain and mist, we could just barely see the dunes extend off, seemingly forever. To the left, we spotted the tiny little speck of the lighthouse where we had just been. Below us, sprawled out across the sand like tiny four-foot-tall Spider-men, were a dozen kids who’d chosen to ignore the Park District’s strongly-worded warning against using the dune as a toy, and were now very slowly, very deliberately, making their way back up the aggressive, sandy incline.
Back in the car we made an executive decision to give up the fight, skip our final planned hike at Tahquamenon Falls, and instead change into warm clothes and find a cozy place for dinner. Boy did we ever. (More about that later.) Sometimes it’s best to listen to what Mother Nature is telling you.