A large braid of sweet grass perched on the dashboard by the air vent scented the interior of the car as we cruised along the shoreline of Lake Superior. It was a rare, perfect autumn day: the sky was blue, a crisp and breezy 43° F and the colors were at their peak.
The trip began with a stop at the Dancing Crane in Bay Mills. My husband went for the heavy-duty coffee with a dab of cream while I indulged in spiced chai. The purchase of the sweet grass braid added the aroma of fall and the outdoors to our adventure.
We stopped at a variety of locations along the route to take in brisk views of the shoreline and let our dog have a day of new scents and sights. Even though there were only a few cars at favored pull-outs, we found one all to ourselves at Pendill’s Creek.
Being in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, traffic is fairly sparse. My husband recorded sounds of the wind rustling through the leaves, close-ups of the brilliant colors and playing with settings we discovered on our iPhones.
We visited Avery Lake and enjoyed listening to the sounds of wind, water and creatures scurrying through the leaf matter. The smell of damp reminded me of times spent walking the woods in the late fall along the Platte River, fishing for steelhead with my Dad.
I greedily took pictures of anything with color. Hubby was in his bliss as he teased out filtered light through the leaves. It was such a beautiful day after a week of overcast skies and rain that the yellow and reds almost hurt the eyes. Of course, viewing the world through polarized lenses was even more magnificent than what my meager phone lens could digitize.
Common grouse scooted across the Avery Grade as we rolled along the forest road. We drove through tunnels of yellow maples, birch and aspens, brown oaks and dashes of dark green pines as we navigated our way to Tower Road.
The afternoon was wearing on and traffic was beginning to pick up. We passed a whole five vehicles on the back roads until we reached the Mission Hill overlook. A crowd of bikers and the curious were parked to take in the view. With nowhere left to stop and gawk, we continued down the hill and back to the Dancing Crane for one last stop before home.
Of course, the skies grew overcast by evening, and the next day was wet with periodic rain showers. But we have our sights, sounds and smells to remind us of why we love autumn in the U.P.