As most of you know, July did not go as planned in any way, shape or form. We’d intended to spend the month exploring the fabled beauty of Michigan, beginning in the Upper Peninsula and working our way down through Traverse City and along the coast of Lake Michigan.

Most of those plans were dashed when a deer collided with my car on July 1st near the Wisconsin/Michigan border, drove me into a ditch where I hit the side of a driveway that intersected the ditch, launched into the air and came to rest upside down in the ditch about 100 feet away. The car was completely destroyed and our giant new kayak had to remain at the crash site for the next two months until we were able to buy a new vehicle with a roof rack and drive all the way back up to retrieve it. I faired amazingly well considering the circumstances, but did sustain severe bruising that made normal activities – including walking – more difficult for the next couple weeks.

We scrapped most of our plans that were to involve biking and kayaking and we were simply unable to reach most of our destinations without a car (the RV is much too large to maneuver and park at many of the spots we’d planned on visiting). But there was one activity that we’d already purchased tickets for and wouldn’t require any crazy logistics: a scenic boat ride along the Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior. The tickets were for the July 2nd sunset trip but the company was wonderful about switching them to July 3rd so we would have a little more time to recover and make our way to the town of Munising, MI.

This experience came highly recommended by our native Michigan friends so we knew we were in for a treat. The sunset trip was about 90 minutes and we passed tons of interesting spots along the coast line – beginning with the East Channel lighthouse where the original lighthouse keeper lived with his wife and 12 CHILDREN. And no, it wasn’t bigger than it looks….

The rocks along the coast line created fascinating formations and it was hard to believe the colors were naturally occurring. The name “Pictured Rocks” comes from the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the cliffs. Stunning colors occur when groundwater oozes out of cracks and trickles down the rock face. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals.

It was perfect to have the sinking sun burst through the arches and keyholes along the coast and it made for some dramatic lighting. My love of photography originated with landscapes and nature and later shifted to capturing couple’s love stories, elopements and adventure sessions in national parks. As with any passion you start to do professionally, I am careful to never let it become solely for others and strive to do a little photography each month that is entirely personal. Pictured Rocks was a great chance to focus on some destination photography and remember where my world originated: scenic travel exploration.

The water, like many of the great lakes, was a lovely, clear green/blue. We couldn’t see very far down during the time of day we were out on the water but, the same lake also offers shipwreck tours in a glass bottom boat to see the remains of several downed vessels!

I called this our “We Survived” selfie. You can see the nasty seatbelt mark on my chest and my bruised lip. But at this point, we were so happy to have our minds off the accident for a much-needed scenic distraction that even the horrible sunglasses photo bombing in the background didn’t bother us too much.

The boat was very crowded so, be prepared for standing-room only if you want the great views outside. They did have a large indoor area with seats and windows but you felt very removed from the experience in that enclosed space. We quickly picked a spot along the railing and did not budge during the entire trip.

The final moments of sun. If you’re ever in the “UP” as the locals call the upper peninsula, I would highly recommend this boat excursion to get some fresh air on your face and wind in your hair.

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