The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a place where life overflows and positive energy prevails. It’s a fertile land, cleared by early settlers 150 years ago, yet now so dense and lush it seems to have always existed. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that the jungle, thick with mammoth trees I couldn’t see the tops of, were less than 200 years old.
Far up the freshwater coast, about four hours north of Detroit, straight highways start to grow graceful and curve into country roads. Past gentle slopes with horses grazing and pristine forests that stretch on for days, you’ll find the sleepy town of Harbor Springs. It’s a town where time catches its breath and releases the stresses of modern day. A hidden gem, it sparkles on the edge of Lake Michigan within a harbor on a bay. Settled along rich, teal-blue tones, the area is fed by natural springs and its cool waters make up the deepest harbor in the Great Lakes. This is a place to come back to, where Michigan’s summer shines best and families savor moments together year after year.
Seeing the first flaming red tree this year in Harbor Springs filled me with a sense of urgency. I wanted to capture the fall colors before winter snuffed them out. Like a cat rising, fall stretched out slowly with a graceful arch. The first golden flecks turned into forest and then suddenly the whole world was a patchwork quilt of stunning shades of the season.
On the northern coast of Florida lies a community reminiscent of the Greek Isles with a touch of southern Spain. A whitewashed village of homes transports you out of the norm and lands you in a realm of quiet and class.
If one ventures out into the wintry north, you can see the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes painted white. Wearing ice cleats to have a sturdy pace, we made our way to the Lake Michigan Overlook to view them in January.
My next trip to Nepal, Bhutan and India seemed so far away at one point, slowly edging their way into my present. Now the trip is picking up speed and soon I’ll be flying over snow-capped mountains. Back home it is fall in Michigan, I’ve been savoring the season I missed on my year long journey across oceans. It was also slow to appear this year with warm weather reaching far into October. I caught it earlier up north while exploring Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, and Tawas.
After wandering the world for a year, I yearned for home. The one place that tugged on my heart strings most was Mackinac Island and I planned a trip there months before I returned to Michigan. I have never lived there and the only thing it houses are memories. This magic island however, encapsulates the things I love most about the USA and the state I grew up in. It is a perfect slice of American pie that satisfies a soul searching hunger in me every time I return.
The small Alaskan town of Petersburg is a place where time is told by the tides. High and low will let you know when you can come and when to go. Water winds its way through the land from the narrow sloughs out to the sea where the latest catch is being brought home. A rain forest rests along these shores with lime-green lichen coating wet, dark stumps on shady paths. The contrast of color makes green life glow in the dim light that filters through endless tiers of hemlock branches. Moss grows thick underfoot and if you aren’t careful you might just lose yourself to the quiet.
There is a place of salt and water, age and algae called Mono Lake in California. It’s a place of strange shapes formed from mixing calcium and carbonate. Over the years, towers formed called tufa. Tan spires of all shapes and sizes bloom under the water’s surface and older ones fill the shoreline.
I thought I didn’t have a favorite place on my trip. Well, not a clear winner as there have been many beautiful places I’ve visited that I call favorites. Sitting on a boulder on the edge of Glacier Point in Yosemite changed that. A girl I met here, Lauren, compared Glacier Point to the Grand Canyon and now I see why. It opens up before you like a big mystery revealed.