Summer part 2 – home, Frankfort and Lelenau – July/August 2023 (updated 1/1/24- bear encounter)

Writers Block, 808 Day and a massive tragedy

I have been really behind on this blog (the post dates are aligned with the dates we traveled, rather than actual date I posted). I have been having a sort of writer’s block, due to a tragic event that occurred on August 8. I always celebrate August 8 (I call it 808 Day) for a couple of reasons. One reason is that 808 is Hawaii’s area code and another is that it is my birthday. That number seems to show up in my life on an almost daily basis. It started happening while I was deciding whether or not to retire from my corporate job. Since then, I have seen it as a sign from the universe that I am on track with what I am supposed to be doing.

August 8, 2023 was a great day in the Eastern Time Zone, though not in the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone. We spent the day doing our favorite things in Frankfort. Dave didn’t tell me, but he had read that a fire started in Lahaina, but it had been put out before we went to sleep. The next day we learned the entire town had burned. We were scheduled to head downstate to restock and catch up on things around the house. All the way home I was on my phone looking for updates or news. We were sick with worry and many other horrible feelings, including loss. It took quite some time to learn anything because of the power outages there.

By that evening we confirmed that our friends, Ron and Rhowenna were home and okay. We also got a text from our friend Dave describing how he drove himself, Charlotte, her sister and the dog and cat out, barely escaping with their lives, by speeding over sidewalks, with the girls screaming and shouting the whole time. The next few days we would be searching online for any news of people we know. We have been going to Maui together for about 25 years, usually going twice a year. We have some close friends there and many casual friends. We belonged to the Lahaina Yacht Club for many years, where we met a lot of people. We have many wonderful holiday memories in town. It really is a small town, where everyone knows everyone. Since most people are not from there, everyone is like family (ohana, in hawaiian). There were so many people we were worried about.

We would learn that dozens (or more) people we know lost their homes and/or their place of work. There were countless stories about people we know and don’t know, running for their lives, as I’m sure everyone read about in the news.  There was one guy we knew from the yacht club who was missing and confirmed dead, weeks later.  The loss of life, pets, people’s homes, historic buildings, wonderful waterfront restaurants, art galleries, cool shops, the harbor, and boats is just gut-wrenching to think of.

I spent the next 2 weeks scouring the news, looking for updates, and worrying about where people would live. We donated and helped raise some money for some friends there. Eventually, I had to cut back on the news searching and get on with life. Heading north again and planning our fall trip really helped take my mind off of it.

Until now I have just been at a loss for words.  I have not wanted to write about how great my life is, while so many people I know are suffering (At this point many are still homeless or jobless). The need to wrap up my posting for the year is the only reason I am writing. It is nice to review all of the fun times. I am not sure what I think of 808 Day, at this point…..


I am updating this post on New Year’s Day, as I just recalled a highlight of the summer.  One morning, I was in the outhouse at the northern outpost. I looked out the screened window and saw a bear. It was roughly 2 feet away from me, with only the outhouse door between us. I  immediately gasped, which startled the bear. It quickly turned and bounded off into the woods. It was pretty small, so I assumed it was a cub and I was terrified that the mother was nearby. I did not have my phone with me. Dave was in the RV and the generator was running. I knew if I yelled, he would not hear me.  I stood, shaking in the outhouse for about 15 minutes and finally hurried back to the RV.

Later, I did some research about black bears. Based on the bear’s size and the time of year, it was likely a juvenile that had just started off on its own. We have been aware that there are bears in the area. They are likely in the area because of all of the orchards. Our neighbors had to get rid of bird feeders because of a bear. Our friends nearby, in Benzonia had recently seen a bear near their house. We also saw a bear one morning, while riding our bikes on the Betsie Vally Trail. It was crossing Mollineaux Road, near Crystal Lake, its massive size covering an entire lane.

Dave saw a bobcat near the outhouse a few years ago. I saw what I think were juvenile bobcats a couple of years ago. I no longer ever go to the outhouse without my phone!

Leelenau State Park, Northport, Leland and Frankfort

We continued the rest of summer, alternating time between up north and home every 7 – 10 days.

We went to Leelenau State Park for some car/tent camping. We had a beautiful lake front site. We enjoyed time in Northport, first at a microbrewery, then at a restaurant for great tacos. It’s a very cool town. We hiked a beautiful trail in the park, on our way out the next day.  On the way home we stopped at Leland where we went to the beach to look for “Leland Blue” stones. We had no luck but enjoyed walking around historic Fishtown and had a great lunch.

In Frankfort we rode our bikes or hiked nearly every day. We spent time time at our favorite beaches and went to our favorite microbreweries. We met up with several sets of friends in the area. We listened to live music in Beulah, Traverse City, Benzonia and Frankfort and ate at our favorite Mexican Restaurant. I spent time identifying birds, trees and butterfies and picking wild raspberries.

Our last night at our Northern Outpost was September 2. It was our 44th night in northern Michigan, this year, and 97th night camping since we headed south on March 23. No, we were not finished yet! We headed home to do our annual RV maintenance and prep for our fall trip to Finger Lakes, NY and Shenandoah National Park.

Our deluxe, top-of-the-line outhouse at the northern outpost.  The bear was right at the “porch” and appeared to be coming closer. (The angled board in back and trench on the side direct rain and snow away from it.)
I might as well take this opportunity to share some details, as we are both quite proud of this structure. Dave designed and pre-built most of it in our garage downstate. I made the sign and designed the closeable window with screen – perfect for light, ventilation, keeping the flies out and for wildlife viewing!
View from inside the outhouse. We often see Indigo Buntings, as they like to nest in the area.
The structure is quite roomy, so we can use it for tool and lawnmower storage.
Slushie at our campsite at Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
Slusie’s first time in a tent
Morning coffee on the beach, Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Leelanau State Park, Northport, MI
We hiked a beautiful trail in Lelenau State Park that led to this beach
View of the waterfall and Falling Waters Lodge from the docks in Fishtown, Leland, MI
You can’t go to Leland, MI without getting a gourmet sandwich at the Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown, Leleand’s historic district.
Enjoying a Green Pepper, Onion, Spinach, Cucumber, Olive Spread, Tomato, Dill Havarti and Guacamole on pretzel bread sandwich in Fishtown. The cheese and spreads are phenomenal.
Campfire at the Northern Outpost.
Peanut butter s’mores!
This year we bought a 100 watt solar panel and new 100 ah AGM battery. We didn’t upgrade the converter, yet, so the battery only runs lights, the pump and the refrigerator. The panel keeps the battery charged. We no longer have to rely solely on the generator to charge it or to haul it back to the grid for charging.
There are butterfies gallore at the Northern Outpost. This American Admiral is checking out our stickers and taking a shade break on our RV.
The view from Arcadia Scenic Turnout, off of M22 in Arcadia, MI. It’s no wonder I love this area so much. One of my favorite memories as a kid, was spending a week at Camp Arcadia with my church confirmation class (I had known many of the kids since kindergarten)
Checking out the Bassmaster fishing tournament at the park near our house in SE Michigan
This cabin was built in 1932 and is now ownd by the National Park Service. It is located on one of our new favorite trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Point Betsie Lighthouse, Frankfort, MI. We have been there countless times, yet I still feel the need to take photos every time I go.
Morning walk on Elberta Beach, Elberta, MI
Hiking Platte Plains Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Upper Herring Lake near Frankfort
One of many hiking trails through the woods near Frankfort
The fishing dock on Betsie Bay in downtown Frankfort
View of Frankfort Michigan, across Betsie Bay. We had been out watching the sunset and stopped at the Elberta Waterfront Park to take a look. When I took this, I was remembering the view of Front Street in Lahaina, from near the old public library. I was thinking I should seer this image into my memory because at any moment it or I could be gone.


View of Front Street from near the old library in Lahaina. Gone forever, but forever in our hearts.