Fall Favorites!

For those of you who don’t know me…FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Like if fall could be 9 months out of the year (with summer being the other 3 obviously,) I think I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I’m not sure I can chose my favorite thing about it: the cool temperatures (hello jeans+sweatshirts,) the beautiful colors of the leaves, football games, outdoor activities or pumpkin spice lattes. Either way, the vibes of Fall are just something I look forward to all year long.

This year was especially fun and special; being that it’s Fitz’s first Fall experience! Does anyone else feel like Northern Michigan really lucked out this year with some warm, sunny and colorful days! Kwin and I definitely took advantage of this with lots of hiking, biking and “fall-ish” activities. Let me know if you enjoyed any of these too; or if we need try some new things next year!

Hiking and Biking

  • Vasa Single Track– HIGHLY recommend going here for an epic bike during the fall! NMMBA has done an awesome job recently of creating more trails for you to explore all over the state land in Williamsburg, MI. You can also hike or RZR on designated trails.
  • Electric Bikes on the backroads– We invested in some Electric bikes a couple years ago, specifically for bike rides like these! We are able to cover so much ground, and still enjoy the ride. Plus adventuring on back dirt roads is always so much fun with Kwin. Shoutout to Oma Jo for hanging out with Fitz so we could have a little day date!
  • Home Sweet Home– We’ve spent so much time over the past five years working on trails around our property. I’m not lying when I say they are my favorite trails to hike! The dogs can be off leash, so many different trails to choose from, and the beauty of the landscape makes it great too!
  • Mt. Holiday– A local favorite for skiing in the Traverse City area is also a favorite for hiking year round! Climbing to the top of the main ski hill really gives you an epic view of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay!
  • Marquette Trip– Our annual UP fall trip took place in Marquette this year. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend; filled with lots of hiking! Some of our favorites are Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Deadriver Falls and catching sunrise on Lake Superior. Fun fact… FOUR years ago Kwin and I got engaged on top of Hogsback Mountain; and look at us now with our beautiful baby girl in the same spot! This hike will always have so much special meaning to me.

Fall Treats

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes– I’m usually not for frilly drinks, I’m pretty lame and just prefer a good black coffee. BUT this time of year calls for all the frilly pumpkin drinks I can get my hands on. If you’re in the Traverse City area…. go to Espresso Bay and get their pumpkin spice latte (it’s made with REAL pumpkin, no fake sugary syrups) YOU WONT REGRET IT.
  • Third Coast Bakery– Donuts aren’t really my jam, and I usually only have one pumpkin donut a year. However, after trying one of there HIGHLY RECOMMENDED GF donuts… I was converted to a donut person. Lets just say we made it a Sunday tradition to get a few of these bad boys! If you’re in the Traverse City area and looking for a bakery that is Gluten Free and very allergen friendly (soy, dairy and some items even egg free) give this place a try! I haven’t had a bad bakery item yet!
  • Pumpkin Patch– Is it really fall if you don’t go to a pumpkin patch? Unfortunately with COVID, this wasn’t the “usual” pumpkin patch experience…but we still made the best of it!

Sports

  • Lions Games– Even though the lions let us down 75% of the time, we still spend our Sundays cheering them on!
  • Elk Rapids Sporting Events– I love fall because of all the sports! And with Kwin taking a break from coaching this year, we had more time to go support the other teams; like football, soccer and volleyball! Fitz is enjoying going to all these games too. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be a little sports star!

Family Fun

  • Sauna Season – I missed out on sauna season last year, due to being pregnant. But let me tell ya, I’m so excited the weather is cooling off and the sauna is being lit again!
  • Hot Tubs– Kwin and Fitz have some fun bonding time in the hot tub before “tubby time” almost daily! My heart melts watching her splashing around in there and interacting with daddy. She really is a water lover already.
  • HalloweenEEEEKKK, I was looking forward to Halloween so much! In fact, Fitz rocked three outfits and looked absolutely adorable in all of them. Dottie from a ‘League Of Their Own,’ A Polar Bear, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Writing this on our first wintery day -hello white stuff&40mph winds– and getting a little sad that fall has come to an end. We are lucky in Michigan to experience all four seasons, as it really makes you appreciate whatever season you are currently in.
So I’ll sign off hear and say: Until next year Fall!

Adventures With Our One Month Old!

It is no surprise that Kwin and I have welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world a month ago…man how time is already flying by! Miss Fitz has been a perfect addition to our family, and has already proven to be an amazing travel partner too! Here is a little look into the adventures we’ve been on as a family of three!

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

At just a whopping WEEK OLD, we threw Fitz into our Ergo baby carrier and made our way to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and Glen Arbor, MI. Thanks to our friends J and Lauren for letting us set up camp in their yard at their cabins (have to be COVID cautious!) Since I was still in “recovery mode” we played more of the tourist role; doing short and simple hikes…but still having great views!

Marquette

Every August Kwin and I spend a week traveling around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan(the bugs are usually less crazy then…not this year though!) Our first destination on this road trip was Marquette, MI. A favorite of ours! Marquette has awesome hikes for both sunrise and sunset, great food and overall is just a fun place to be!
Hiking- Sugarloaf Mountain and Presque Isle Park
Camping- Tourist Park
Food- Sol Azteca for dinner, Java Bay for breakfast and Contrast Coffee!

Porcupine Mountains

A definite MUST when going to the upper peninsula! We had two friends join us for this portion of the trip: Corey and Stephanie Adkins! It was so fun showing them, along with Fitz, the beauty of the Porkies!

Copper Harbor

Another favorite of Kwin and I’s. We love the primitive nature of this town…no cell phone service and full of so much Michigan history! We’ve never camped in Copper Harbor, but decided this time to stay the night at a cute campground just at the base of some awesome biking trails (so jealous that I wasn’t able to bike with Kwin!)
Hiking- Brockway Mountain and Estivant Pines
Camping- Lake Fanny Hooe Campground
Food- a local food truck and Jamsens for breakfast.

Boat Days

What a spoiled girl, spending so much time on the lakes!
This little girl has been in Elk Lake, Torch Lake and had her toes dipped into both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior!

Fun fact!
While hiking with our friends-Corey and Stephanie- Corey made a joke that I’ve breastfed Fitz is some crazy spots! So I thought it would be fun to list them out here!
-Pierce Stocking Overlook
-Lake Of The Clouds
-Miners Trail (Porcupine Mountains)
-Cascade Falls
-Lake Superior Shoreline
-Face In The Rock
-Elk Lake and Torch Lake

People call us crazy taking a newborn to all the places we have.
We call it living life to the fullest(:

Refreshing Weekend Getaway, North Country Trail Style

What do you do to escape from reality?

Do you go for a run or chill and watch Netflix?

Do you call a friend or just need alone time?

For me, I look to nature. Whether it be a nice walk or run; surrounding myself with fresh air and the sound of birds chirping is what I crave.

This past year has really been a year of self development.

Growing up my mom and dad always told me that time goes by fast and to appreciate everyday as it comes. But, like most young individuals I had a hard time understanding this concept. I would dwell on the little things in life and worry about silly stuff out of my control. Stressing for no reason on things that really WONT MATTER in the long run.

After much reflection I now understand that everyday is precious. I’ve learned to make my physical and emotional health a top priority, to make sure to spend quality time with those that I love and most importantly BE PRESENT!

This past weekend Kwin and I were lucky to escape to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula…which is nothing short of a nature getaway. While up there we hiked along the North Country trail, did some rock climbing, swam in creeks and had a cliffside camp out. JUST WHAT I NEEDED FOR A REFRESH!

One of the nicest things about the cabin is the remote setting of it and having no cell phone service at all! It forces you to unplug and be present with whomever you are with. Dinners filled with uninterrupted conversations and watching movies without the glare of someone’s phone are only a few examples.

My only complaint about this weekend was the BUGS! Ticks+ Deer Flies+ Mosquitos can definitely ruin a trip…luckily we were prepared with bug spray, bug nets, and had a bonfire every night.

I hope you all enjoyed the blog! Remember to LIVE IN THE MOMENT and appreciate everything around you.

Explore Michigan , UP Adventures

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, for those whom have not visited before, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Full of lush forests, fresh Great Lakes water, waterfalls, mountains, and so much more. It is a place to escape from the rest of this busy world. A place to unplug for the weekend. And a place to really experience what life use to be like back in the old days.

The Upper Peninsula is one of Kwin and I’s favorite places to go, as we try to make a trip up there at least once every season. We definitely have our favorites; like: Marquette, Porcupine Mountains, Copper Harbor, and Pictured Rocks, but we always try something new with each visit.

With how crazy this summer has been, we both needed a long weekend away to do the things we love: be outside, hike, bike, swim, paddle and just be carefree and active people. On this Michigan Adventure we hit up all of our favorite places!

Day 1:

Marquette

  • Went mountain biking at Harlow Lake Trails. This was a new trail system for us, out by Hogback Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain. It was full of wonderful scenic views, and definitely a difficult ride (I may have walked a good chunk of it….)

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  • Went Cliff jumping off Black Rocks
  • After spending our day in Marquette we made it back to the cabin just in time to hike up the Cascade Falls to catch sunset on-top of the mountain

    Day #2:

    Copper Harbor

    While in Copper Harbor we…

  • Went Mountain biking, yes we do love to bike, at the Copper Harbor Trails. I will say that this trail is hands down my favorite trail to bike EVER! It is definitely technical and not easy, due to its very rocky terrain.  Plus, the first half of the trail is riding up Brockway Mountain, which gives the most amazing view of Lake Superior!
  • Went Hiking at Estivant Pines- home of the oldest White Pines (Virgin Pines) in Michigan.

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 Porcupine Mountains

  • We hiked up to the Lake Of The Clouds for sunset. Such a beautiful place to relax: on a mountain side, with nothing but trees and water in site.

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  • Once the sun was no long visible over the mountains we hiked back down to catch the remainder of the sunset right on Lake Superior. This night was perfect!

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Day #3:

Marquette

  • Went Mountain Biking at South Noquemanon Trails which is another favorite trail system! There are a bunch of different trails to choose from with different difficulties; but my favorite is the ‘Green Trail.’  You get to ride right along the Carp River, see the beautiful Morgan Falls and is all around just a fun ride.
  • Paddle boarded to a secret beach where were swam and enjoyed the beautiful 80 degree Northern Michigan Summer day.

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  • To finish our time in Marquette we obviously had to go to our favorite Mexican Restaurant-Sol Azteca!

 Munising

After Marquette we made our way to Tourist Park in Munising where we set up camp. Once settled in we decided to jump on our paddle boards and paddle across to Grand Island to catch another beautiful sunset! (we really did luck out with the sunsets this weekend). The water was beyond calm, and could not pass up the opportunity! After sunset we had a nice fire…until the bugs got to bad.

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Here is Kwin’s Video of the weekend!

Weekend Adventures are what keep us both sane! It allows us to unplug, get away from the go/go mentality of life sometimes, and enjoy time with one-another. I am definitely lucky to be able to experience the Upper Peninsula and adventure as often as we do!

 

 

Winter Weekend in Marquette!

 As we cross the Mackinaw Bridge from Mackinaw City to St.Ignace there is an instant feeling that you’re in a whole new world. Something about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that separates it from anywhere else I have ever been. Picture this: Virgin White Pine forests along one side of the road with a view of Lake Michigan on the other. Traffic is nonexistent. No billboards advertising the nearest McDonalds or skyscrapers in site. Now at this time of year add about 3 feet of snow plowed up along side the road and you’re set.

Northern Michigan in the winter can be pretty brutal: you get the intense lake effect snow from Lake Michigan. The brutally cold winter days and nights, barley getting above freezing; and the majority of the days are cloudy with a peak of sun occasionally. So why do I love it so much up there? Well that’s because the snow, coldness and peaks of sun are what make winter beautiful. When I think of winter I don’t think of 75 and sunny. In fact, weather like this makes me enjoy the other seasons so much more because I appreciate them so much.

Growing up I use to hate winter. I felt like all I could do was stay inside and do nothing. Well I sure was wrong! As I’ve gotten older I have started to expand my horizons (thanks to my wonderful Fiancé, Kwin) and gotten out to enjoy the beauty of winter. I look forward to snowshoeing, skiing, fat tire biking and all the other activities there are to do.

This past weekend in Marquette, MI was possibly one of the best winter weekends I can think of. It was one of those random sunny weekends (and lets be honest sun makes everything a little bit better). Kwin and I do not like to waste a second in a day, so here is a little rundown of what we did this weekend.

Saturday: 

  • Woke up before sunrise to get to one of our favorite hikes, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and were able to hike the beach and mountain to catch a beautiful sunrise.

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  • Went fat tire biking at the Marquette groomed winter trails. This was quite a challenge for me. See, I am still new at this Fat tire biking stuff and the beginning of the corse was NOT EASY! However, I never give up to a challenge and kept going. It ended up being such a beautiful, relaxing and fun ride too!
  • Went Skiing at Mount Marquette. This ski resort was absolutely breath taking. At the top of most of the hills you had this amazing overlook of Lake Superior, plus the skiing conditions were absolutely perfect!

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  • Took our dog,Kanyon, for a hike along the pathway that goes for miles along Lake Superior.  We love this pathway for many reasons: It’s perfect for biking and walking along, you’ve got a great view of sunrises and sunsets, and it’s right along Lake Superior!
  • We ended our day by going to one of our favorite restaurants in Marquette, Sol Azteca (this place is a must!)

Sunday: 

  • Woke up, again before sunrise, and drove to Pictured Rocks to catch the sunrise there.

-Our plan here took a little bit of a twist. We thought that the road was plowed all the way to the coast line, however when driving down there we soon found out that it was a season road (meaning not plowed!) This did not stop us, instead we hopped on out Fat Tire bikes and rode the remaining three miles back.

  • Our first stop was Miners Castle. This was absolutely beautiful with the sunrise hitting the colorful rocks and the crystal blue water.

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  • Second, we rode an additional one mile to the Miners Falls. This is a waterfall hidden in the Pictured Rocks National forest. This was my favorite stop of the weekend. The waterfall was breathtaking. 80% of it was frozen solid, but being how massive it is there was still some flowing water. When we got there the sun was hitting it so perfectly!

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  • We then finished our Fat Tire bike back and started our voyage home.

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Marquette and Pictured Rocks are two of my favorite places in the Upper Peninsula, and maybe even Michigan in general. The rustic, wooded, outdoor feel that you get when you’re in the Upper Peninsula is something you can’t get anywhere else. If you are willing to endure the cold temperatures and snowy terrain, I would highly suggest going up there for a winter adventure!