Our Favorite Dog Beach

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 😂

Photos taken on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Empire Bluff Trail

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 😂

Old Mission Point Beach & Downtown Traverse City

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 ☺️

Photos taken Friday, June 18, 2021

West Side, Best Side!

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!).

Photos taken on Saturday, May 29 & Sunday, May 30

Memorial Day Memories

For those of us in the United States, Memorial Day weekend can mean a variety of things, even though its main purpose is to celebrate those we lost in service. I strongly disagree with the reasons why we enter into war, but I support those who defend our nation for the right reasons, and heavily reflect on my family members and friends who have served overseas.

With that being said, I’m not only reflecting on my loved ones who have served today; I’m also relishing in past memories with others who I’m not as close with anymore. For some reason, I’ve traveled somewhere on or around Memorial Day weekend in recent years and cannot stop wishing to be back in those places, with those individuals, during those exact moments in life.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (May 2018)

One of the happiest days of my life

Empire, Michigan (May 2020)

One of my favorite days last spring

I wish things were different with my loved ones. Maybe things will be better again or maybe they never will be, but either way I can cherish these memories and plan future adventures with friends.

I wish all of you a safe, healthy and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!

Continuation of Gratitude Journaling

Whenever someone says, “You know what would help? Journaling,” I cringe. Turning something I love (writing) into a chore, a “must-do,” is really difficult for me to overcome. It reminds me of high school: I loved reading until the teachers told me what I had to read, how to interpret the literature, and how many chapters to complete by the next session…

I digress. But my point is that journaling can feel daunting and forced if it becomes something you have to do as opposed to something you want to accomplish.

Gratitude journaling, however, feels different to me. I simply reflect on people or moments that brought me joy a few days per week, then I’m done. It reminds me to focus on the positive and feel gratitude toward the people and situations that truly matter.

1. My former and new teams

I started a new position at a different company last week, and I’ve been emotional about it on many levels. My former teammates put together a touching “see you later” video for me, and it moved me to tears. Even through screens miles apart, I grew very close with my team-turned-friends and will miss them very much (I already do!). The same day, I received a welcome kit, a box of chocolates and a gorgeous bouquet of springtime flowers from my current teammates. I was moved on many levels last week, and am incredibly grateful for the lifelong friendships from my Asheville team, and the newfound relationships to be established on my Chicago team.

2. Midweek dinner and drinks with one of my best friends

Jaclyn and I always know how to have a great time, even on a Wednesday! We tend to work very different schedules, and we’re good about making time for each other regardless. Detroit is the perfect midway point for both of us, so we grabbed dinner at the Basement Burger Bar in Greektown. The two of us had a lot to share with each other, which led to us enjoying some Long Island Iced Teas on Old Shillelagh’s patio (a staple of late-night adventures!). Jaclyn and I have lived far away from each other before, and have continued to remain close and make time for each other despite the distance. Who knew a random college roommate would turn into a lifelong friend 🙂

3. Saturday brunch with Dani in Ann Arbor

As much as I love Detroit, Ann Arbor is my go-to place in Michigan. Dani and I enjoyed a lovely meal at Café Zola, followed by some spicy cocktails at Vinology. We met in 2018 when we worked on the same team, and become even closer ever since. The two of us are planning some summer/fall vacations together – I’m very excited to travel with her soon!

4. Getting the best seat in the house at Cliff Bells jazz club

If you know me, you know how much I love going out to eat at funky places, and how much I love live music. Detroit is known for its history with motown and jazz, and Cliff Bells is the prime place to experience both. Juan and I have been to Bells somewhere between five and ten times since moving to the Detroit area, and were finally placed at the booth closest to the band. The Rodney Whitaker Quartet performed on Saturday night and let me tell you: THIS was the show to have the best seats for. I can’t wait to go back!

5. Kayaking with Aniya in Bay City

Yesterday was full of adventure when my Little Sister and I went kayaking on one of the windiest days. We had no idea the weather would be as extreme as it was, but we were able to share some laughs and still enjoyed ourselves through the struggle of getting back to shore. The owners and employees at Float Paddle Center in Bay City were beyond kind and truly cared about our wellbeing during the storm; they called me while we were out on the water and took great care of us while we were soaking wet, getting out of the kayak we were sitting in for nearly three hours. Aniya high-fived me afterward, I hugged her and we headed home with the heat cranked all the way up in my car.

Not to sound negative, but life sucks sometimes. I’ve been on a rollercoaster with people and situations that life has thrown me, but focusing on what’s going right will hopefully help me overcome what is going wrong 🙂

National Rescue Dog Day

…was yesterday and I wanted to thank Compass Dog Rescue of Michigan for bringing Linley and me together 🐶

Here are some of my favorite photos of the little guy!

Please contact me for more information on Compass Dog Rescue, or if you have any rescue-related questions 🙂

Another Outdoorsy Day

Last Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. As dramatic as that sounds, I mean it.

What could be better than spending over seven hours in one of your favorite cities with one of your favorite humans? Not much. And on top of that, my friend and I even brought our fur babies along.

Cass and I met at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor a little after 12:00pm, and took Meadow and Linley on a long walk. They were as happy as can be when they reunited (it’s been a couple months since the four of us spent time together) and continued to act excited on the trails. While Linley and Meadow sniffed around and took some potty breaks, Cass and I caught up on all things work and goal-related, and shared some profound words of encouragement.

After spending some time at Gallup Park, we ventured over to Zingerman’s Roadhouse for an outdoor lunch. Aside from some excitement from the pups, they were on their best behavior and the four of us enjoyed sitting outside as we chowed down on some delicious food! Once the wind made it too cold to tolerate, we returned to the car for some more hiking at the Nichols Arboretum.

During quarantine, I discovered the arboretum as a plan B birthday destination. I’ve been there several times now – with and without Linley – but there’s something special about this place that makes it feel brand new every time I’m there. We were hiking in and out of the deep woods for another couple of hours at minimum.

Cass and I both LOVE being on the water and wrapped up our day kayaking on the Huron River. Meadow had never been kayaking before, but she did a great job and I never would’ve guessed it was new for her (Linley, of course, was acting like he owned the river)! We barely made it back to the park for kayak rentals in time, but we loved how our spur of the moment decision paid off. After another two hours well-spent, we returned to shore, returned our kayaks and returned to our cars.

I was tearing up on the way home (as was Cass). We’re both going through a wide variety of changes and turbulence right now, and being able to support each other unconditionally and spend the day bs-ing was something we desperately needed. We always pick right back up where we left off, and we’re already looking forward to our next adventure 🙂

Photos taken on Saturday, May 8, 2021

P.S.: Ann Arbor is so good, that I took Linley kayaking at Argo Park this past weekend!

Friendship in February

I immediately thought of the infamous Spongebob song “F is for friends who do stuff together…” when I typed the title of this post!

In all seriousness, February has been one of the best months I’ve had in a LONG while. The quality time my friends and I have given each other is one of the best gifts 2021 has given me. I’m grateful because I know for many, February wasn’t as easy and giving for those in other parts of the country and world.

We can all (or at least mostly) agree that it’s hard to imagine that our lives were almost turned upside down one year ago; we’re still experiencing the whiplash of COVID-19, the restrictions and uncertainties of the pandemic, and the lack of normalcy in our lives overall. Any bit of sanity and time well-spent with friends is exactly what I’ve been craving and desperately needing!

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy!

Cate

Getting Christmasy During COVID

For many of us the holidays not only feel different, but look different. I haven’t been in much of a Christmasy mood this year and have done just about everything to get myself out of this funk. It’s been wonderful to see some bright lights with my husband, dog and friends in safe ways this month.

Home

Our tree has been a much-needed focal point of our home. This will likely be my last Christmas in Michigan for the foreseeable future, which makes our tree even more meaningful. At the end of our neighborhood lies Linley’s doggy daycare, and Santa put him on the nice list this year 🙂

Campus Martius, Detroit

There’s nothing that screams Christmastime more than the tree and lights in downtown Detroit! Juan, Linley and I had a wonderful time exploring and grabbing some dinner in Campus Martius park (even if our glasses kept fogging up!).

Big Bright Light Show

Each year, downtown Rochester knocks it out of the park with their big bright light show. Every business has their own colorful lights outside and not only is this absolutely whimsical, but it’s also extremely helpful for local businesses. My friend Ter and I ordered some pouches of Bright Light Cosmos and enjoyed ourselves a little too much!

Drive Thru Light Show

I actually drove through this light show twice: once with Juan and Linley, and another time with my friend Ter. Both times were fun and full of cliche holiday music.

Outdoor Drinks

My friend Donna and I definitely took drinking in public for granted! We each enjoyed a cosmo mule on a heated patio recently and had a great time.

I hope you all have happy and safe holidays this year! ☺️

The Arboretum, Again…

I took my beloved pup to the Ann Arbor Arboretum again for a multitude of different reasons.

1) It’s getting colder and the leaves are falling like crazy here in Michigan.

2) COVID cases are spiking and yes, I do believe in science and that staying home slows the spread!

3) There’s a likelihood that I’ll start a new job next month and won’t have the same amount of free time as I do now (stay tuned!).

4) There’s also a likelihood that we won’t remain in the area next fall and wanted to soak in the Michigan foliage (again, stay tuned!).

I believe every fall color makes an impact in its own way…

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue…?

Linley’s sweater counts, right?!

I invite you all to take a seat and enjoy nature 🙂