My heartwarming week in Michigan

I was in Michigan for the week and returned to Chicago yesterday evening. My week didn’t go according to plan, but it went better than expected in more ways than one.

The original plan was to meet my team on Tuesday through Thursday, with team building dinners and activities in the evenings. However, our get together was postponed to next month, but I still wanted to visit the office—as well as friends and family.

I took Monday off and spent the afternoon on the river with one of my best friends, Donna. We floated down the cascades in Ann Arbor – one of our favorite pastimes – and exchanged deep conversation and support for one another. We have both been struggling with one-sided friendships and overall relationships in general, which made our quality time even more meaningful. We used to spend every Monday or Tuesday evening together, and I can’t wait to pick that back up sometime soon. We ended the evening with some dinner and gin cocktails near my parent’s house—our go-to routine.

A photo from our float last summer

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the office. I haven’t felt like myself at work in… probably ever… and being around new and some familiar faces was great. I met my boss Justin, my friend Ray, my teammate Jeff and others for the first time, and was able to see Heather and our CEO Jason in person—which hasn’t happened since 2019. My favorite coworker was William, Ray’s dog, who was my buddy the whole day!

What a good boy!

Tuesday evening was great because I grabbed dinner with Veronica, a new and quick friend from work. We both started in May and have quickly found that we have a lot in common. We both are obsessed with Whose Line, Seinfeld, Anthony Bourdaine, The Twilight Zone and so much more. We’re even going to see Whose Line live this November! It was awesome meeting Veronica in person and we’re both amazed at how quickly we’ve connected over these past couple of months.

Wednesday was just Justin and me in the office, but it was really nice because we were able to get to know each other a little better. Justin has been incredibly supportive of me – personally and professionally – and I have so much respect for him as a leader. We enjoyed a nice lunch together, and luckily he also laughed at my silly jokes throughout the day!

That evening, I was finally able to spend quality time with my brother from another mother Ter Ter B! We spent over three hours laughing, tearing up, and hugging at one of our favorite Mexican places in town. Seeing him again was much needed and even though we usually talk on the phone four or five days a week, being in each other’s arms and presence again was insurmountable.

Thursday was such a happy, heartwarming day! I worked from home but drove Linley down to his former doggy day care—his home away from home. When we moved last year, his favorite camp counselors were heartbroken to see him go, so seeing some of his favorites was fun for both Lin and me. When I scooped him up after my work day, one of his favorite employees Sam had given him/us a toy, some treats, Camp Bow Wow swag and wrote me a kind note. I teared up reading it on the way home! I love and miss that place for Lin as much as he misses it for himself.

The four of us wrapped up our day with a concert in downtown Fenton, which played all of our favorite 60s and 70s music. I absolutely loved dancing around and enjoying some vodka lemonades with my parents. It was the perfect end to a fulfilling day. ❤️

Clearly Lin enjoyed himself, too!

After work on Friday, my parents and I grabbed dinner and drinks at their favorite place in town. I enjoyed a gin watermelon drink and some vegan drunken noodles. We chatted about life and it was just nice to be with them again. Really the whole week had been nice, business and all.

What was really fun and surprising was hanging out with a coworker Ray in Ferndale (who owns our office dog!). We hopped around a few bars in the area and had a nice time together.

Saturday morning was spent with my Little Sister Aniya, who just graduated high school, and her mom Marcion, who just celebrated her 37th birthday. We grabbed breakfast in Saginaw and shared some tears and lots of laughs. I love them so much and they have truly been a second family to me. ❤️

My Aniya is all grown up!

The rest of my weekend was spent with my parents. We spent some time outdoors, watched some Twilight Zone and even shared some moments of profound conversation. As difficult as things are right now – and as confused as I may feel – I know I will be okay thanks to the support I have back home. ❤️

South Haven with Mom and Linley

“First my mother, forever my friend.” – Unknown

…this may not have always been the case for my mom and me, but all in all we have overcome some difficult times together. And despite whatever we have endured together and apart, we have always had deep love for one another. Boy did I need her last weekend!

A few weeks ago, my mom called me and left a nearly two minute-long voicemail (if you were born in or before the 90s, you probably have a parent or parent-figure who does this as well, haha!) about this dog dog-friendly “resort” in South Haven, Michigan. We love spending time together with my dog Linley, and we had the best weekend at the Sun and Sand Resort.

Friday was our busiest day with the nicest weather. We met at the resort, where my mom’s huge pieces of luggage exploded all over the room, then headed to Pilgrim Haven Natural Area for some swimming and relaxing on the beach.

Pilgrim Haven was quite rocky compared to other dog beaches we’ve visited together, but the three of us enjoyed it nonetheless. We strolled the beach which led to a cute “pool” and scenic river, found some cool rocks and camped out in a sandy, shaded spot for Linley. He spent the majority of the time in the water, but surprisingly splooted (what dogs do when they lay on their belly with their arms and legs stretched out) in the warm sand for a while. As simple and easygoing as our time was, we had so much fun and I really needed it – almost as much as Linley needed the stick from Lake Michigan!

The rest of our evening was spent in downtown South Haven and at the lighthouse. We ate at a cute local restaurant – where my mom even brought some cooked chicken for Linley. After some great cheesy bread, caprese salad, good conversation and the waitress giving Linley some love and attention, we quickly drove to the lighthouse to watch the sunset. This is where things got interesting…!

Without further ado, my mom face planted on a hill full of sand! She wasn’t hurt and is totally okay, but it was hilarious and had both of us laughing so hard we almost peed! Linley laid in the sand as though we were burdening him by making him wait for us to gather ourselves, which made the “incident” even funnier! Once we wiped sand off of my mom’s face and ears, we laughed our way to the ice cream stand for a much-needed treat. I continued laughing about my mom’s fall the entire evening, and my mom did too! I’m just glad she was okay and a good sport about all of it. A couple summers ago, we were walking Linley near her house and I completely wiped out – making us even now.

After the sunset and some scoops, we went to the front desk of our resort for some fire starters. We were craving smores and some time in front of a warm campfire. Of course we’re amateurs and didn’t use the fire starters correctly, so my mom grabbed a lighter from home. After smore laughs (see what I did there?) we called it a night.

The next day, we headed north about 20 miles to Saugatuck Dunes State Park – a place where I’ve taken Linley once before. It has a beautiful hiking trail to one of the prettiest dog beaches in Michigan, full of sand dunes and warm water. Although the weather wasn’t as sunny or warm as the first day, we enjoyed some our time lounging, hiking and people watching on the beach. After a few hours of that, we made grilled cheese over the fire for a later lunch, then repeated our first day by revisiting Pilgrim Haven and the lighthouse before the rain came in.

Instead of my mom wiping out again, we walked the pier and met some really friendly people along the way. Once we were near the car, it started to rain and we headed back to our resort for the evening. Even though it would’ve been great to see another sunset, we were content with calling it a day and playing cards in the room. The funniest part is when my mom wanted us to look at all the rocks we found from Pilgrim Haven. She pulled out this huge stone and said, “And here’s yours!” I, dumbfounded, said, “That’s not mine, it’s yours…” She used the rock to hold our sheet down in the sand, and had been carrying it around in her beach bag for two days! What a goof…

Sunday, our last day together, we pretty lowkey. It was another overcast day, but still nice enough to have a lazy morning and do some hiking. We found a nice trail nearby, where Linley made a new friend and peed on everything his heart desired. It was bittersweet because as nice as our walk was, I knew our weekend together was coming to an end. We wrapped up our two-mile hike with Linley not wanting to ride in his bike basket, and jumping out of it in the parking lot!

In 2020, we had taken two trips up north: Empire and Petoskey. In 2021, we had a falling out due to tension between my brother and me – with whom I still don’t have a relationship. Being able to spend time with my mom again this summer really meant a lot to me, and I hope we continue to navigate our relationship and a better path forward!

Cliff Bells

With heaviness in my heart, I reminisce about my times at my favorite Detroit jazz club. After moving to the Detroit area a few years ago, Cliff Bells instantly pulled me in with its allure and 1950s Art Deco. Now that we’re moving to Chicago next month, we won’t have the luxury of visiting every so often. I wish I could bring Cliff Bells with us, as selfish as that sounds…

Juan and I almost got married here.

Some of the better moments with my parents were shared over dinner and drinks here.

The best live music I’ve ever heard was played here.

Milestones were celebrated here.

Here, I laughed more than I’ve ever laughed in my life.

Here, I truly felt alive.

How can anywhere else compete with all that this jazz club has given me? Has given us?

I am beyond grateful for this incredible place, and hope to find something similar (not a replacement!) in Chicagoland 🥲

Finding Hope in Friendship

In the midst of a worsening global pandemic, a gut-wrenching American presidential election and the beginning of some painful family estrangement, I wanted to post about the people I’m especially grateful for these days.

♥️♥️♥️

Jaclyn and Dustin / Detroit, 2020
Carolyn / Washington D.C., 2020
Linley counts as a person too, right? / 2020
Saskia / Germany, 2016
Bethany / Colorado, 2020
Jacomijne 😂 / Sweden, 2016
And Bernie… always Bernie!

Friend & Family Breakups

I wanted to put a pause on my regular travel posts and write about something that’s been lingering in the forefront of my mind this year.

I’ve been struggling with long-term extended family estrangement and somewhat short-term immediate family drama, as well as some pretty upsetting friendship breakups. I won’t go into specifics in order to protect those around me, but I’ve been in a dark place for about a year or so now. As one can imagine, this has taken a toll on my mental health.

I recently heard a quote on one of my favorite podcasts that goes a little something like this:

“Depression is the greatest acting teacher. I can smile through anything even though I just want the ground to open up and swallow me whole.” If that doesn’t hit you like a semi truck, I’m not sure what will…

I’m not a therapist or licensed professional by any means, but I wanted to share some strategies I’ve been applying to help with the pain of broken friendships and family relationships. It’s important to note that all of these points coincide with each other and this is the “flow” as I see it. Remember: everyone’s journey is highly personal and individual.

1. Don’t change who you are for those around you.

I have a lot of people in my life – family members in particular – who will never be proud of me, no matter what I do. In the past and present, I have been laughed at or mocked for my dreams and ambitions. Family members have and will continue to make me feel small to build themselves up. About five years ago, I chose to let them go as opposed to clinging onto the gaslighting and the guilt (e.g.: “well, I guess it’s your choice if you don’t want to be here” comments when THEY were the ones hurting ME).

2. Create your own closure.

Oftentimes we find that friendship and family breakups seem abrupt, without true closure. I was best friends with someone for nearly 12 years and I’ve been thinking about our good times lately. But with that, I’ve also been thinking of the bad. The truth is that she was like an older sister to me, whereas I was her “plan b”/“second choice” friend for a very long time. Write a goodbye letter. Get rid of photos. Do something that allows you to create your own closure. Remember, don’t change yourself to fit others’ narratives of you.

3. Try not to hate the person on the other end.

It would be so easy for me to say, “She was a horrible person because of X, Y and Z.” Although there are times I’ve been hurt by family and friends (and honestly still am hurting from recent experiences), I try my damnedest to acknowledge that we all have flaws and shortcomings. I realize this is much easier said than done, but I’m hoping this will make me a better, stronger person in the end.

4. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings.

Conversely, it’s okay to be angry, hurt, frustrated or upset. As long as you aren’t taking it out on the other person, allow yourself to reflect on your feelings in the present moment. Thinking of a past memory you miss? Cry. Thinking of how good things were in the past? Smile. The more you hold back and shove your feelings into a corner of your mind, the longer it’ll take you to move on.

5. Focus on yourself and the great relationships in your life.

I may never have a best friend who reminds me of an older sister ever again, but I do have amazing friends in my life. I feel loved every day, even if it isn’t by a family member. I may never be close with my family, but I have several friends-turned-family relationships that fill my heart. Be around like-minded, supportive people who will always be there for you (and always be there for them, too!).

Every day of 2020 has felt like an overwhelming struggle, but I am much more resilient than I was before. “When life hands you lemons, they say to make lemonade, but you can’t make lemonade without any sugar.”

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me 🙂

Our Pup’s Birthday/Gotcha Day!

Three years ago today, three-year-old Linley was dropped off at my parent’s house. After a rigorous adoption application process consisting of filling out a packet and researching animal health problems, multiple reference calls, a meet-and-greet and a final home inspection, Linley instantly became my best friend!

September 9, 2017
September, 2019

I’ll be spending all day with our beloved pup, but I wanted to share some past photos and posts in the meantime 🙂

https://adventureinspades.com/2019/07/14/going-places-with-your-pup/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/01/02/everyday-resolutions/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/01/28/my-dorky-dog/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/05/28/lake-michigan-with-mom-and-linley/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/06/20/petoskey-michigan-with-the-pup/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/08/18/munising-falls-michigan/

https://adventureinspades.com/2020/08/24/back-to-the-beach/

Soo Locks Boat Tour

So dad and I spent Friday evening hanging out in downtown Sault Ste. Marie (“Soo Saint Marie”) and had an awesome hiking adventure at Tahquamenon Falls on Saturday: what else could we possibly fit into our weekend in the upper peninsula? Well, we certainly couldn’t leave Michigan’s oldest, historic town without taking a tour of the locks themselves. On Sunday, August 23rd, that’s exactly what we did…

If you don’t live in Michigan, you may not even know about this engineering technology; as a born and raised Michigander, this is something I couldn’t live without seeing!

Sault Ste. Marie sits between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, bordering Ontario, Canada. There’s actually a 21-foot difference in height here on the St. Mary’s Rivers, which makes the Soo Locks so incredible.

These are two parallel locks permitting ships to carry iron ore and other materials between Lake Superior and the rest of the lower Great Lakes. The locks are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have been around since 1855.

My dad has always been intrigued by ships. His great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in Michigan (and if you didn’t already know this, we’re very proud of our lakes here!). We loved learning more about the locks but our all-time favorite part was actually going through them! We headed west toward Lake Superior first (which raised us 21 feet). You couldn’t even feel the movement of being lifted. The only indicator was watching the wall disappear and seeing ongoing spectators.

Before…
…after!

After about an hour or so, we looped around through the Canadian locks and headed toward the dock. Although the Canadian locks were not nearly as large or as well-operated, they were cute nonetheless!

US/Canada Border
Canadian Locks

My dad and I had an amazing time on two and a half hour tour. It was the perfect way to end our time in Sault Ste. Marie. I was sad when we got to the car, but I highly recommend visiting, taking this tour and spending a weekend with someone you love (it’s good for the soul!) 🙂

Wear your mask!
Ignore my noodley hair!

Photos taken Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tahquamenon Falls: Round II

The evening of Friday, August 21st was relaxing: dad and I watched some ships pass through the Soo Locks and enjoyed some adult beverages across the street 🙂 As we were spending some long-overdue quality time together, we were planning on what to do the next day.

We headed back to the hotel relatively early (because we both like being in bed before midnight) and discussed our next day’s plan as we watched 100 Days Wild on Discovery.

“Hey Cate, did you and Juan visit Tahquamenon Falls last weekend?”

Why, yes we did! Although Juan, Linley and I enjoyed some epic views at the falls, we didn’t see both sets of falls, nor did we do much hiking there.

My dad and I decided that we would do the full eight-mile hike, which connects the Upper and Lower Falls through some rougher terrain. We enjoyed some crepes at a lovely place near the hotel, and arrived at Tahquamenon State Park around 9:30/10. Neither of us visited the Lower Falls in our lifetime, so that’s where we started.

The Lower Falls are very different from other falls I’ve seen in the upper peninsula; there are a series of smaller drops and there’s even a plateau that visitors enjoy for swimming! My dad and I had the opportunity of great viewing sports since we arrived before 10am.

Enough pictures, more hiking… this hike would easily take about two and a half hours one-way. Let me say it was well worth it! I didn’t take any photos during our venture to the Upper Falls because my dad and I were either chatting, soaking in the scenery, losing our breath when hiking uphill, nearly tripping over tree roots, or a combination of all the above! It was worth it once we hit the Upper Falls.

The two of us visited the pavilion for some tacos and rest (one of us needed to rest more than the other!). Dad made friends with a squirrel who befriended him during lunch, but we had to part ways and head back the other way. We already knew what to expect but were somehow just as excited to walk the other way.

As dad and I jammed out to his Bob Seger, Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel playlist on speaker, we survived another two and a half hour hike! We might have been a little more sore, but this was the perfect time to take pictures of the trail and to rinse my feet from all the mud (yes, I wore yoga sandals on this hike… don’t judge me!). We returned to the car around 3/3:30, making this a total of nine miles and about a six-hour adventure!

Our evening consisted of watching more freighters, enjoying a nice dinner with some whiskey sours, and peanut butter chocolate ice cream, as well as a great night’s sleep!

~

The truth is that I’ve been struggling to write posts of my daddy-daughter weekend due to some extended and immediate family drama. I’m beyond grateful to have had a wonderful weekend with my dad last month 🙂

Photos taken Saturday, August 22, 2020

Daddy-Daughter Weekend: Sault Ste. Marie

Juan, Linley and I returned from our adventure up north on Monday, August 17. I knew that my dad was planning a daddy-daughter weekend for later in the month, but I didn’t know any specifics. Coincidentally, he texted me that Monday evening, asking if I had any desire to return to the upper peninsula (to which I of course said yes!). I’ve only been across the Mighty Mac Bridge – splitting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas – four times in my life, and two of them were last month. Although I visited the U.P. two weekends in a row, the quality time with my dad was entirely different.

We left around noon and headed north toward Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie). This is the oldest town in the Midwest and is famous for its locks. These locks are an obligatory Michigander destination because this engineering raises and lowers ships between Lake Superior and Lake Huron (there is an approximate 21-foot discrepancy in water elevation here!). Visiting the locks was not only something my dad and I had never experienced, but important to him due to his heritage. My dad’s great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in the state, who transported iron ore and other materials for construction within the Midwest and northeast.

Since we arrived in town later on Friday, August 21, we walked around, ate at an Irish pub and enjoyed watching the ships at the local park!

China Cafe or China Cate? Coincidence? I think not…

Back to the Beach!

Our last evening at Pictured Rocks was by far my favorite. After some epic hiking, we returned to Lake Superior Beach to enjoy our final sunset and some good night’s sleep. Juan and Linley needed a quick nap in the Jeep when we arrived, so I re-explored where Linley was digging around the day prior. I was drawn into the creek and the way the light was reflecting off the water.

I went back to the car to wake Juan and Lin up from their nap, and we settled in to enjoy the sunset. We didn’t take many photos because we were living in the moment, but it was a wonderful way to end our time on Lake Superior!

I can’t wait for my next adventure with my little family 😊

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020

‘Falling’ for these views at Sable!

During our long weekend in Michigan’s upper peninsula, we couldn’t stop at one or two falls; we had to find more! Our favorite falls at Pictured Rocks were Sable Falls, which can be found on the eastern-most region of the lakeshore. Although there were some gnarly mosquitoes on this trail, the views were worth it; I hope you think so, too 😌

Find someone who looks at you the way Linley looks at my husband 😂

Stay safe, wear your mask and make sure to pack bug spray! – Cate

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020

Au Sable Light Station and Log Slide Trail

Another dog-friendly activity we participated in during our time at Pictured Rocks was visiting the Au Sable Light Station. There was a nice trail between this point and our next attraction that called for some great views – and photos!

The three of us relaxed and had some Gatorade (Lin did not…) as the waves below us crashed into the cliffs. No photos can truly capture upper Michigan’s beauty, but they can always capture Lin’s attitude(s)…

“First they’re sour,”

then they’re sweet!”

After our snacks, we hit the trail and headed East for great views of the dunes. To Juan’s and my surprise, we didn’t even realize the upper peninsula even had dunes to explore!

One main viewing point was along the log slide trail, where they literally slide logs to freighter ships. We didn’t dare go all the way down because it took people (even hyper children and cross fitters) over an hour to climb back up! The views were worth the trek though.

Photos taken Sunday, August 16, 2020