Dogs beaches are a pain in the butt to find in southeast Michigan – mainly because there aren’t any. I’ve ‘broken the rules’ by taking Linley to a few beaches in the Detroit area before, but I would rather hit up the west side of the state for the best views (and to avoid the risk of getting in trouble!).
For three years in the row, either with my husband or with my mom, we’ve taken Linley hiking on the Empire Bluff Trail followed by lounging at Empire Beach. The beach is smaller and the water is choppier, but it never impacts the amount of fun that we have here. And yes, the water was freezing – which never stops me from swimming underwater (so exhilarating!) It also doesn’t stop Linley from trying to eat the waves 😂
Last weekend, Linley and I hiked Empire Bluff Trail (a woodland trail to amazing views of Lake Michigan) for the third year in a row. Pulling up to the parking lot with Juan and Linley hit me pretty hard this year, because the last time I visited was with my mom. All of our memories together flooded through my mind – which left me feeling both grateful and depressed during my nostalgia. We no longer had the relationship we once did and as badly as my heart is breaking, I wanted to return to the bluffs once more before the summer ends.
Linley was smiling, panting and pulling his way uphill on the trail. All the passersby were awestruck by his cuteness! Linley was kicking back in the dirt once he marked plants and trees, mostly on Juan and myself. He was refusing to act tired in the woods, but plopped down in the sand as soon as we got there. I smiled and laughed more at his shenanigans than I have in a long time! No words can express how much joy this 15-pound pup brings me ☺️
The three of us lounged in the sand as we enjoyed the breeze, sunshine and incredible views before heading to the beach.
Here are some videos of Linley getting comfortable in the sand 😂
Our weekend was going to be perfect: leave the house around 8:30am on Friday, get to Traverse City by lunchtime, have a nice afternoon and evening exploring before heading to the cabin in Evart… but things didn’t go as planned. Juan had to pull an all-nighter for work Thursday night into Friday morning, so he didn’t arrive up north until Saturday morning; it was just Linley and me for the first full day, and we still had a great time ☺️
Our first stop was Old Mission Point Lighthouse, which sits on the tip of a peninsula and provides visitors with amazing views of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Since it was a Friday afternoon, the beach below wasn’t crowded whatsoever and we essentially enjoyed what was a private shoreline. Linley had fun jumping in and out of the water, and I indulged in a dip or two myself!
After a couple hours on the beach, we decided to head into Traverse City. We hiked the surrounding trails a bit more and I snapped a couple quick photos before getting back into a hot, sandy car.
It was a toasty 88°F on Friday – which made for a good beach day but not necessarily optimal for walking downtown! Linley and I still managed to enjoy a couple hours of exploring prior to arriving at our Airbnb for the evening.
Our cabin was about an hour and a half away from Traverse City, and was the perfect size for the three of us (or the two of us that night!) Linley was a happy camper! I brought four of his favorite toys that he could play with before bedtime ☺️
If I were to tell you that I had the perfect holiday weekend, I’d be lying to you; seeing happy families – especially parents with their daughters or siblings playing together – hit my heart like a boxer punching their opponent. BUT it did make me smile when I was able to remove myself from my emotions, and I had a pretty great weekend with a dear friend and our pups!
On Saturday, I drove to Kalamazoo (on the west side of Michigan) to visit my friend Cass and their dog Meadow. I would visit them wherever they were located, but the west side of Michigan is quite beautiful and special in more ways than one. The four of us went to the dog park before Cass and I grabbed dinner and drinks at Taco Bob’s downtown.
Sunday was a lazy morning (at least it was by my standards!), and we headed for Saugatuck Dunes State Park for some hiking and beach time. Linley and Meadow enjoyed running through the woods and frolicking on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. As our dogs were smiling and living their best lives, we were too! Watching Linley jump in the waves and attempt to drag large branches out of the water and Meadow’s first time at the Great Lake put huge smiles on our faces. The little boy who kept coming back to pet Meadow and Linley while they were splooting in the sand also made our days! Feeling the sand between my toes, the sun kissing my face and the wind in my curls was the best combination of peaceful and whimsical.
Even though we all could’ve stayed on the beach for the entire day, it was time to explore the downtown area. Saugatuck is a charming beach town that screams quintessential Michigan: local cafés, boutiques and homemade ice cream galore. The best part of our downtown exploration was when the fire truck came by and Linley howled in unison (it was adorable!).
The last stop on our day trip with the fur babies was South Haven, because we had to see the lighthouse and have a little more time on the beach. We walked the pier, enjoyed time playing in the sand and grabbed some ice cream before returning to Kalamazoo.
The pups were tired, so Cass and I dropped them off and met our friend KayLee at One Well Brewery. The three of us used to work together in college, and I’ve been individually close with both of them even though they haven’t really hung out without me. We all relished in past work memories, exchanged profound conversation and shared several laughs! I love them both dearly and being around two of my favorite people meant the world to me. I hope us getting together helped KayLee and Cass feel better about hanging out more often (which I’m sure it did!).
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 😊
After a (shockingly!) restful night’s sleep in the Jeep, we hit the beach for a morning walk. Lin and I were the first ones there, and we allowed Juan to get s’more beauty sleep.
There was a small creek flowing into Lake Superior that Lin and I wanted to explore (and by ‘explore,’ I mean dig around in for hours!). We obviously had Juan on photography-duty!
Watching Lin dig, sniff and mark his turf in and around the creek was thoroughly entertaining! Juan and I walked and sat with him for about two hours while he went on this little adventure. If only we could see the world through our pup’s eyes…
…and no day at the beach is complete without a nap!
Al and I took a bus from Portland to Cannon Beach early on Friday (that way, we could spend a full day at this gorgeous place)!
We ate a great lunch at the Pelican Brewery in town then went straight to the beach. The air was fresh, the water was freezing, and there were dogs EVERYWHERE! I was in heaven!
We had both been to California on separate occasions (Al in San Diego, myself in San Francisco), so being back on the West Coast meant a lot to us.
I was worried that everyone was going to think that Al and I were a couple (especially because 1. I have an engagement ring on and 2. we were talking a long walk on the beach together…), but no one did! We still wanted a picture together though!
I prefer the photo that the kind stranger took as opposed to our poorly-attempted selfie!
On our walk, we were remembering some of our favorite family trips from our childhood (Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Florida…). Exchanging those memories and funny stories was something I’ll never forget. We also found some interesting wildlife along the way…
Full disclosure: I thought I was stepping on a plastic wrapper filled with water, when it was actually a piece of a washed up jellyfish!!!
Aside from the jellyfish scare, our time at the beach was perfect!