“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
To me, just living is not enough. I need sunshine. I need freedom. I need landscape. I need adventure. And in Summer of 2018, I vowed to myself that I would watch more sunsets than Netflix. I told myself that I would go out, and explore something new. I don’t care if the exploration takes me 500 miles away, or just down the block, I just want to go. I want to see the world that we live in, and learn to appreciate new things, not just other cultures, but also my home. And that is why my main goal of this summer is to experience God’s Creation. I will see more. See more people. See more beauty. See more of this world from a new perspective. I will. And honestly, yes that is mainstream, typical, basic, whatever you want to call it, but it is something that I feel is necessary.
This past year has been filled with God leading me. As many of you know, when I first became a Christian and accepted Jesus as Savior I had Joshua 1:9 tattooed on my arm (but that is another story). Joshua 1:9 is a proclamation of trusting God in the unknown. Learning to hear His voice, believe His promises, and find your direction by following the path of the Lord. It is a promise that you will go when you are asked by the True Kind. And let me tell yah, the Lord has been calling me to get out of my comfort zone ALL. YEAR. LONG. And at first, I really did not know what this looked like. I tried Bible studies, devotionals, podcasts, the list could go on. I really was trying so hard to get to know Him, but what I was doing was completely opposite of what He had called me to do (shocker).
Long story short, I have learned that I connect with the Lord in nature. This past year, I have found myself in complete awe of what the world is compiled of. And every time I find myself admiring the beauty of His works, I write a short poem. I write a small poem relating whatever I am admiring at that moment to something that He has done in my life. For example, I have related the crashing waves of the ocean to me desperately falling into His love, and my troubles washing away. It has been a monumental revelation for my self-love, self-confidence, and self-worth. And that is why I am writing this article. I have found some KILLER places in the Mitten that won’t take you TOO far out of your comfort zone mileage wise, but will get you exploring and seeing more of yourself and your own beauty within the creation of this planet.
Therefore, you do not have to be a Christian to explore these 5 beautiful places I am about to list. I am simply telling you how I have found these places, and how I connect with them to find myself more. I highly advise checking it out, you might explore something about yourself you didn’t even realize was within yourself.
My Top 5 Mitten Hangout’s
Yankee Springs State Park Trail/Gun Lake
Now, granted I am a “Gun-Laker” and I have lived here for my 21 years of life BUT…. It is BREATHTAKING. There is so much to do around this area from hiking the 4 mile Hall Lake Trail, to hopping on Long Lake for some fishing, to boating on the big lake. There is “outdoorsy” activities for anyone to enjoy around Gun Lake.
Traverse City – The Bays
My family and I have been taking yearly camping trips to Traverse City for the past several years and we cannot get enough of the area. The bay has crystal clear water, beautiful views, and amazing kayaking/paddle boarding routes. Not to mention, there is a 40 mile trail that hikes all the way up to Suttons Bay – it is to die for. If you ever get the chance, take a trip up to Cherry City, USA.
Mount Pisgah – Holland
I have been, and always will be, obsessed with Holland. I love how I feel like I am at the ocean without the salt, LOL! On a real note, the landscape in Holland has been one of my favorites since I was a little girl. The lighthouses, the beach, the hike up the stairs that overlooks Lake Michigan (and gives you a killer workout)… My love for this city is endless, and it is the perfect weekend get away. It is not to far away, and the State Campground is cheap, kept up nicely, and in walking distance to everything.
Ludington State Park
I have only been here one time, but I am DYING to go again. First, I loved that it was an all day hiking adventure. The trail was long, there were a lot of different landscapes, and it was easy to follow. This trail wraps around Hamlin Lake, and then climbs the dunes to end on top of Lake Michigan (see the left picture). It was a very nice hiking trail, and had perfect spots for hammocking. I do not advise biking this trail, but if you are up for a HUGE challenge, GO FOR IT!
Arch Rock/Lake Huron Area
Ahhhh, the land of the Yoopers. I loved visiting the U.P. when I was a senior in high school, and I am missing it dearly. The views were the most picturesque I have ever seen, and the activities were endless. We bike the whole Mackinac Island, hiked several trails to see views like Arch Rock, and witnessed where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet at the bridge. It was like nothing I had ever seen, and if you have not taken the time to go U.P. there yet (get it???) I highly advise that you do.
With that said, you do not have to be a Christian to love nature, admire it, and connect with it. That is just simply how I found myself relating to it. However, I do think we can all stare at a roaring ocean, a frightful storm, or a gorgeous lookout over the beach and see ourselves in it. I do believe that we can find empowerment, love, acceptance, and worth within creation that is far off from perfect, yet still holds so much beauty. And that is why I challenge you to get out and go.
Go to that new spot you’ve been craving, go hammock on the beach by yourself, go drive 5 miles down the road to sit by the river. Just go. Bring a pen, a piece of paper, your camera, and admire the beauty that is right in front of you. Not only is beauty right in front within the trees, the water, and the sparkle in the sky, but also in the sparkle in your eye. You are so perfectly flawed that is amazing. Believe in yourself. Embrace your flaws. Explore your beauty. And go see something new. Say yes to adventure and say no to regret. The time you explore the beauty around you is never an adventure to regret.
With all that I am,