13 September 2014

Lake Michigan Trip

As I've mentioned here, our youngest daughter, Molly, left in June for six months in South America. She spent one month in Ecuador, two weeks traveling through Argentina and Uruguay, and then a little less than five months in Chile.

We've been planning and saving for some time, with hopes to go to Chile to visit her while she's there. October looked like a good time.

So back in late July, a good friend asked if I wanted to make my way to the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to spend a week with her at her family's lake cottage.

Would I??

It seemed like the perfect time and I found a cheap flight on Southwest for the second week in September. What a great way to end the summer.

Within days of buying that plane ticket, our dear daughter messaged us to say that the THIRD week in September would be the best time for us to visit her in Chile.

Wait, what??

I could picture the whole thing. I get sick nearly every time I travel, and if I left the Michigan trip "as is," I'd have a quick weekend turnaround to go from the rural shores of the upper Midwest to an international flight to Southern South America.

And then I thought, "Oh what the hell?"

So this past Sunday I flew from Portland to Grand Rapids where my friend, Barb, met me. We drove the hour and a half north through flatlands, farmlands, fruit stands, and dairy shops to her cottage on a hill.

And as we approached the most remote area, just before arriving at our destination, my cell phone stopped working. Zero cell service at all. Not even a hint.

We walked up about 70 steps (no, I'm not exaggerating) to get up to the cozy cottage. It had a screened porch that looked down toward the water's edge, about 50 feet below.


And once inside, it turned out the cottage had no internet. Only a landline.

Suddenly it was as if I'd been transported back in time about thirty years.

I liked it.

Getting from cottage to lake required going down a different set of steps through the woods, walking across a narrow bridge, and then down, down, down more steps to a trail leading to the beach. This photo was taken after having gone down the first set of steps and a short trail that led to more steps.


After the next set of steps, we walked across the bridge that went over a narrow road far below. This shot is looking back up at the steps we just came down.


The bridge was creaky and charming and scary and cool. Notice the foreboding sign. I was told, "The bridge is safe, but make sure you walk in the middle. And go slowly."


This was the scene at the end of the bridge. Yes, still a hike to get to the water.


And then the last set of steep steps.


And oh, what a magical trek it was to the staggeringly huge expanse of Lake Michigan.

That first evening, we walked the narrow beach and were treated to a spectacular sunset.


As this trip was something of a retreat for both me and my friend, the next day we spent a bit of time alone. I walked the deserted beach for nearly two hours without seeing another soul. And without my phone. It slowed down my brain and probably my heart rate.


Then I sat on the steps near the bench and read one of my favorite books on prayer.


If you ever have trouble finding God or hearing his voice, take a trip to the rural shores of eastern Lake Michigan. Because, without cell service, internet, or the voices of day to day life, lo and behold, there He was. :)

One day we strolled far up the beach to the Little Point Sable Lighthouse.


Another day, a storm blew in and kicked up waves that rivaled those I see on blustery days at Popham Beach.


Each day we had tea, read books, had deep theological and philosophical discussions, and each day our friendship grew. It was restful in the best sense of the word.

On my last night there, a cold front blew through and the temperature dropped into the 40s. Uninsulated and used only during warm months, the darling cottage feebly tried to keep the cold out. We huddled next to the fire place and my friend put warm blankets on her two dogs.


The next day (yesterday) I flew home to Maine, my body rested and my mind filled up with old thoughts, new thoughts, hard thoughts, warm thoughts.

Now I am in the thick of laundry and re-packing, as my daughter, Sam, and I leave for Chile on Monday morning.

I do believe walking up and down all those steps might have prepared me for some of the walking I'll be doing in Santiago. Adios!

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes

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