Not bad for a parking lot view.

So. Much. Rain.

Only in the afternoon and evening these last few days. That's something to be happy about, I guess.

Looking forward to the weekend and the prospect of sunshine.

Chris's computer took a dive and wouldn't turn on this evening. That meant I briefly got to play inside with the guts. And that's always fun.

A co-worker and I headed on our lunch break to walk around and take in some sights. We were both looking to take a break and enjoy the weather before it started to rain. So we wandered around and looked at a few Art Prize venues. Specifically we stopped at SiteLab, which is using a building that, for as long as I have been working downtown, has been empty. Three floors of stuff.

Interesting. But I'm terrible with Art venues. Hell, half the time when I read comics I'm literally just reading them - not looking at any of the art.

Weird, since I get fussy with what video games look like.

Anyway, looking forward to walking around a bit more downtown later this week and this weekend with my parents. Fingers crossed it doesn't rain much the rest of the week.

It was a long day. Came home and played some Guild Wars.

I could be developing a gaming habit again.

I played quite a bit more Guild Wars today, which is ok by me. I pretended that it rained all day (instead of just in the morning) and did a few missions. It's been ages since I've really played the game and with the online play free, there's no reason not to pop in and out of it.
I also ate a lot. For no reason other than it was there. I attempted to make a breakfast pita which ended with some charred spinach. So later I thought I'd try again with the pitas but this time with just random stuff from the fridge. So tomatoes, spinach, feta, beans, mushrooms, etc. I made a regular pizza pita for Chris and two veggie pitas for me so I'd have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

I still want to cook things but I don't really have anywhere to put anything and we're pretty well stocked on everything. I suppose I should start eating some of the pierogies from the freezer. Even after giving my parents a bag there's still a ton. And then there are also those cookies I made the same day as the pierogies, and blueberry muffins from earlier this week, and a few more pieces of beef jerky even.

I still want to cook something. Like a giant lasagna or something and freeze it into meal packets. Or tuna casserole. Or even start trying to work with fondant again to attempt something Green Lantern-themed for Chris's birthday. Even though last year was a disaster.

The only thing I knew we needed to do was laundry, so I was determined to make the rest of the day a lazy one, especially after being dragged out of bed by a frustrated cat.

I played Guild Wars, took a nap, started reading The Walking Dead, and finally went out to do laundry after the cat coughed up a hairball all over the bed. Thanks.

Aside from the cat's crazy antics today (including separating the carpet from the floor in a fit of frustration) it was a good day. Hooray for naps!

Some nice looking clouds started to roll in while I was out and about on lunch downtown. A nice, quiet way to end my lunch after slogging through packs of roving kids downtown to see Artprize. I suspect every school in the area decided to make it a field trip day...

By the way, if you want to see some amusing Artprize entries you should check out Artprize Worst.

My birthday was so awesome I'm still recovering and haven't had a chance to clean up the balloons.

Or maybe I just like them and am thinking of adding them as a permanent living room fixture.

Or maybe I'm just lazy.

I'll take care of them tomorrow. I swear.

Hooray for birthdays! Chris took me out for a tasty dinner at Bombay Cuisine. When we arrived at home the apartment had been decorated with festive balloons and signs.
Including this adorable little guy.
Leki was super excited we didn't spend the whole evening out, and decided to get in between me and my chocolate.

All in all a good birthday. Even though Chris and I have a great day virtually every day together, he still manages to make special days special. And that's all kinds of special in and of itself.

Now off to cake!

It was very foggy this morning, which was ok by me. Always a gloriously spooky look and always welcome!

Chris bought the Nyko Zoom online the other week and it arrived today. This little device is designed to snap onto the Kinect and magnify the lenses, essentially letting you use a slightly smaller area than required normally when playing.

Will be interested in trying it out over the next few days to see if it really does just that.

Mini-muffin pans + pizza batter (flour, cheese, milk, pepperoni, baking powder) = yum!

The Eastown Street Fair was happening today so Chris and I popped over to check it out. Eastown itself is a small pocket in Grand Rapids and the fair was just a portion of that so it was only about a few blocks long. But there were a lot of people and the streets were stuffed with white-tented booths, selling various crafts and creations. It reminds me a bit of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, but much much smaller and with a lot more crafts  instead of such a heavy focus on fine art.

I also went into Yesterdog for the first time ever. It's a hot dog shop in Eastown that specializes in hot dogs. Since I don't really like hot dogs, I never had a reason to go in before. But Chris is a fan so we went in and the place is certainly a different feel. The staff were amusing and friendly, the store is decorated with retro signs for coca-cola and other things.
We weren't the far from East Grand Rapids so when we were done at the street fair we headed over to see if anything was going on and to check out Jersey Junction for some ice cream. Its a cute little shop with ice cream and a candy store designed to look like the old fashioned candy shops.

They also have a train that loops around the store up by the ceiling, though it was not running when we stopped by.

I met with Shelly and her son Maverick for dinner after work today. It's been awhile since Shelly and I have had a chance to catch up and it's been over a year since I've seen her son. He has grown! But I suppose that's what kids do.

It was a good evening and I had a good time catching up. I look forward to the next get together!

Chris asked me late in the morning if I'd like to do lunch today. Yes please! (see you later, crappy random foods I bagged for lunch this morning.)

We had a tasty lunch at Brick Road Pizza, although I'm kinda bummed they no longer offer my absolute favorite thing there: veggie burger. Suppose I could always order pizza...

Their black bean burger was tasty though!

Slowly but surely the leaves are starting to turn. The photo isn't the greatest, but toward the center there's a patch of yellow leaves on the tree outside of our apartment.

Soon it will be fall. Yay for apple cider and hoodie weather!

Inside temp: 80 degrees
Outside temp: 64 degrees

Windows have been open all evening and the temperature has slowly risen since we've been home. I think my apartment is trying to cook me.

Ignore the 179 degree read out. The sensor is stuffed in a drawer which works similar to the wardrobe in Narnia, except instead of taking you to a magical land with fauns, the drawer opens up to one of the circles in Dante's Inferno.

Or it's broken. You decide.

Peppy was out and about a chunk this evening, trying once again to entice our lazy cat to play with her. Normally this is what happens. He ignores her and she gives up, bored. Just look at his indifferent expression and her sad, dejected eyes!

But today was different! After we finished eating dinner things livened up. She ran back and forth through her tunnel and a little bit later I pulled out some toys for her to play with, which she quickly got to stashing!

Although...I'm honestly baffled as to why she thought in front of the slider was a good place to stash things. Weird.

This little 6 1/2 year old is still able to race around like a hyper kit (baby ferret) for small bursts at a time, which is all kinds of awesome.

So while my parents were in Grand Rapids yesterday a package was delivered. Delivered early, in fact. And in the box was an iPad they'd ordered for their upcoming annivarsary.

And what do you do with an iOS device when you first get it? Try out all the pre-installed apps, like FaceTime.

I'm excited to hear how things change and adapt in their household over the next few weeks and months as a result of the tablet in lieu of a new laptop.

Hi mom and dad! Welcome to the wonderful world of tablets.

Hope you had a fantastic birthday today! Love you!

What better way to spend the day then wandering around from park to park? Ok, that's not exactly what we did, but close.

We drove over to East Paris Park after we hit Horrocks to pick up a few things. This park is small and pretty open. In fact, there's now a portion the trail that is akin to walking in several people's backyard, now that brush has been cleared away.

That feeling is in pretty stark contrast to the Paris Park Nature Preserve just down the road. Since we were in the area, we drove over to the reserve and walked a bit over there as well. It's my favorite of the two, but it does have a lot more mosquitoes.

Out last stop was Heritage Park. It's a cute little park with a large pond that attracts a lot of ducks and geese. When we arrived it appeared to be their nap time, which meant we could read in peace and not get stalked. These guys get fed a lot and they will stalk you if they suspect you're hiding tasty treats.

We started our trek home early in the morning so we could fit in as many random pit stops as we liked, if we liked. It was foggy in Newberry and along most of the drive through the Sault Ste Marie State Forest area. The fog gave the forest and awesome creepy haunted forest feel.
Among the parks I kept pulling over at was the one at Cut River Bridge. There's a roadside park and trail on either side of the bridge that connect and go down, giving visitors a nice view. We started to hike the west side of the trail but stopped after encountering fallen tree after fallen tree blocking the path. We also encountered early on a discarded guard rail, tossed into the forest.
We continued to randomly stop places, including an awesome and secluded (at least for this time of year) picnic area at Brevoort Lake. Also, I dont know why, but I love this sign. It's so...retro. It makes me think 60's but I'm guessing it's older than that.
I played around up and down the small beach area, poking at these little jelly globules (I though the were glass at first). After poking around on the internet, my best guess is that they're bryzoans. No idea if that's correct though. If you know, let me know!
The picnic and mini-beach area were empty so we hung out for a bit. Chris mostly read his book and I alternated between taking photos and reading short stories I had on my kindle.
By late morning we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge back into the lower peninsula. We were promptly greeted with orange barrels.
We spent awhile parked in Mackinaw City. We wandered over to the fort, decided against paying and going through, then wandered around the only other main road which is packed full of gift shops and fudge stores.

The rest of our drive back was less eventful. We stopped at several stores and Chris did toy checks, but he didn't find anything he was looking for. By the time we got close enough to some forests and parks I wouldn't have minded stopping at, I was just ready to be home and see the cat.

The cat was, as usual, insanely excited we were home. He insisted on someone sitting with him while he ate, he insisted on being in front of everything you touched, and most of all he insisted on touching his two favorite people. He's a little guy. He makes coming home worth it. And the ferret - she held no grudges either. She spent a bit bouncing around with more energy than a 6 year old ferret should have.

A full day of hiking and wandering through Tahquamenon Falls State Park was before us. I had maps printed of the trails and home-made beef jerky stuffed in my camera bag. I was READY.

So we drove clear past the Upper Falls and hit the Lower Falls first, which in hindsight I think was a better decision than hitting the Upper Falls first. The Lower Falls are smaller, and the area was much quieter.
We decided to try and hike the Tahquamenon River Trail, which is 4 miles to the Upper Falls (and then 4 miles back since the shuttle service isn't running anymore). I had beefy jerky. I could do this.
We got about a mile and a half in and I wimped out. It was a lot of going up and down rocks, trees and brush, all the while making a slight, but steady, trek uphill. There was no way I could make it 4 miles there and 4 miles back. Magic of beef jerky be damned.

So we marched back and drove to the Upper Falls.
The Upper Falls, as you can imagine, are larger than the Lower Falls. They also appear to get a ton more visitors. There's a much more elaborate gift shop, restaurant with air conditioning, fact shack, huge bathroom, plus wide, paved walkways. And there were a lot more people milling about.
Where there wen't paved walkways, there were boardwalks. Both ends of the trails had a flight of stairs (116 and 94) that lead down to scenic views of the falls and Tahquemon River.
We spent a good while enjoying the boardwalk down near the river, then we finally headed back to the parking lot via a nature trail.

I can't help but laugh every time I see that sign.

Here's a few of the shots I took while at the park.

Chris also did a nice recap with his photos. He's so much better at composition than me, so I stole his photo and put it here!

So we're both on vacation this week and what better way to enjoy it than take a road trip up north?

We left the Grand Rapids area mid-morning, leisurely driving north and eventually east toward the bridge.

We stopped and had a bite to eat in Kalkaska. We hit a McDonalds, not thinking there was anything else around. We discovered that wasn't exactly the case after we'd had a bite to eat and driven a few more miles down the road. But that's ok. I wouldn't have met the adorable fountain drink mascot if we'd stopped somewhere else (raccoons are just adorable, I can't help it).

We continued onward and made our next pit stop in Mackinaw City. It's been over 10 years since I've been over here and I forgot just how many freaking fudge shops there are. Wow. And we weren't even on the island.

We took a little stroll down one of the main roads and stopped at a very small city park that provided a nice view of the Mackinac Bridge.

Across the bridge is a toll both you need to pass through to enter the Upper Peninsula. If you're traveling with any livestock or anything they do pull you off for inspection. It feels similar to crossing into Canada (at least 10 years ago, I haven't been to Canada recently so maybe it's more of a hassle now) except there's no awesome metric system in use on the other side.

The road to Newberry is nothing if not full of colorful trees and wildlife.

We arrived at our destination a little after 4pm. So not quite dinner time and not quite enough time to hit any of the places I wanted to hike at. So we decided to head out and check out the area. There's a lot industry here built up around tourists (motels, cabins, etc) so I'm guessing the downtown was more quiet than perhaps it is on a weekend or during the peak season. We tried to eat at a local pizza joint that had a good review, but it was closed so to Pizza Hut we went.

Tomorrow should be fun, hiking around Tahquamenon Falls, blowing through the jerky I made a few weeks ago and just enjoying the outdoors.

And ready to go!