gooollysandra

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Tag Archives: goat farm

Time Out

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Man coming back from vacation is the WORST. It almost makes me wonder if it’s worth going on vacation because going back to your daily routine is just too hard. But I think it’s a reminder of how important it is to take time off and, if anything, we need to take more time off. What constitutes ample time off is relative to who you ask or where you live. In the U.S., if we compare our time off to most of Europe, it pales. Their standard seems to be 4-6+ weeks off, while we get 2 weeks off in the U.S (if that). But, if we compare the U.S. and Japan, a country that doesn’t seem to have much of a work/life balance at all, 2 weeks might sound like a luxury. In any case, I live in the U.S. and I wish I lived in Europe! If, for no other reason (which of course there are many), for their generous vacation time.

I went to Michigan for a week with my boyfriend over the summer and it was my first week off of work in a year and a half. I realize that complaining about not having enough time off is a luxury these days when I should simply be grateful to have a job. And I am VERY grateful to have a job (for the moment at least). But I think we still need to uphold the importance of time off for one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, if one’s job is labor-intensive.

The week in Michigan was very much needed, and fun and relaxing and all of the things that a vacation should be. We went to Traverse City, Beaver Island, and Mackinac Island. We drove to Traverse City and took ferries to the two islands. It felt quite safe, as everyone wore masks and all of the places we went to provided hand sanitizer. Each place was different and we stopped at some unexpected places along the way, which were lovely surprises!

The setting of Traverse City is beautiful, on a bay of Lake Michigan. It’s a great place if you like water activities – sailing, kayaking, etc., and maybe an even better place if you like wine! There are several vineyards and wineries where you can sample the fruits of the land. We also stumbled upon a cider place called Sutton Bay Ciders that has an incredible view of the bay! Back on track, we went to a winery called Mawby, which specializes in sparkling wine and is nestled in a rolling vineyard. Next stop was Hop Lot, a brewery in a forest-like setting. The beer and pretzel we got were delicious. We explored Leland, a small historic fishing town, and got some amazing smoked whitefish at Carlson’s Fishery.

Back in Traverse City, we grabbed dinner at The Little Fleet, which is a parking lot full of food trucks and a bar that serves very tasty cocktails. The food trucks offer a variety of good eats and it was a fun spot to people watch. There were also lots of dogs all getting up close and personal to get to know each other. We checked out Grand Traverse Commons, which is an old mental hospital that has been converted into shops, restaurants, and apartments. Trattoria Stella was a real treat – Italian fine dining in a wine cellar in the basement of the former mental hospital, with a high quality menu and excellent service.

If you like biking, kayaking, and beer, Kayak, Bike, & Brew is the activity for you! It’s a four hour tour to four breweries and you get to each one by bike and kayak. You get some exercise, try some beers, and meet people on the tour. It’s a fun time!

We stayed at a goat farm Air B&B one night just outside of Traverse City, which was my favorite place that we stayed at. It’s no secret to those who know me that I LOVE goats and that I dream of having a little goat farm of my own someday. So it was really cool to get to spend some time with the goats and run around in the pasture with them. I even got up at the crack of dawn in the morning to watch the milking! The guest suite in the farmhouse was modern, minimal, and clearly Scandinavian-inspired. It was perfect – the kind of place I’d like to call home in my future. The farm also had a couple cows, chickens, and vegetables. Oh, and we were greeted by amazing goat cheese, crackers and jam.

Beaver Island was an experience. It was quite remote, which we knew before going, but I think it was even more remote than we had anticipated. There are a few main roads that are paved and lit, but most of the island is made up of a forest with dirt roads throughout that are not lit at all. Driving on these dirt roads at night felt like we were driving towards our death in a scary movie. We had a very interesting and hospitable Air B&B host who gave us a tour of the island and told us about the island’s history, including its spiritual nature. He even made us breakfast one morning! I don’t know if I would have taken notice of the island’s spiritual presence had he not told us about it, but there clearly seems to be an energy of sorts there. I am not a spiritual person so I can’t say much about it, but there was a special feeling on the island. Our host owns a meadow, Tara’s Meadow, which, after discovering it, is what drew him to stay on the island after visiting out of curiosity for its history and spiritual nature.

The island’s shores are very pretty and serene. The water is crystal clear! The beaches are rocky though. There was plenty of social distancing on the beaches – two to five other people besides us at most. Having a beautiful beach to ourselves was amazing. We made our way from one beach to another around the island’s perimeter, and each one was more beautiful than the last. We went on a couple hikes, and visited Protar’s Home and tomb. Feodor Protar was an Estonian immigrant who became a healer on the island and is highly revered there even now long after his death.  The temperature was a little chilly, despite it being the first week of August, but our Air B&B host told us that it was unusual for it to be on the chillier side at that time of year. So unfortunately the water was cold, but the Beaver Island locals didn’t seem bothered by it. We watched the most beautiful sunset at Donegal Bay, and it was just so colorful and picturesque.

The ferry ride back to the mainland is a little over two hours, but it’s a nice and comfortable ferry. Charlevoix is home base for the ferry, which is a cute town on the harbor, if a bit touristy.

The charms of Mackinac Island stand the test of time. I had been there once before as a kid with my family, and it was mostly as I remembered it. If you haven’t been, or don’t know about it, there are no motorized vehicles on the island. So you have to get around on foot, bike, or horse & carriage! There is something refreshing and endearing about seeing everyone ride around on bicycles and ‘parking’ them to go into shops. I will say that seeing the horses truck along with a carriage full of people or luggage made me sad, but hopefully they are strong enough to handle it. We rented bikes and rode all the way around the island (which is 8 miles), as well as on smaller trails throughout the island. One thing I noticed this time that I hadn’t noticed when I was there the first time was the variety of the island’s landscape and vegetation. I didn’t realize how wooded and hilly it is! It’s beautiful. I wish we would have had more time to explore the island and take some hikes because the trails looked really dreamy. We visited a couple historic forts and Arch Rock.

We stayed at a bed & breakfast that apparently is quite haunted. My boyfriend likes scary movies and stories, so we bought a book about the hauntings of Mackinac Island. It turns out that our B&B is one of the most haunted on the island! Just my luck…I don’t like spooky stories and I couldn’t sleep. We played a really fun and beautiful game of mini golf right on the water at sunset with glow in the dark golf balls. The island was crowded with tourists, but not as much as it normally is. The crowds can be unpleasant, so I’m glad that it wasn’t to full capacity.

On our last day we stopped at Sleeping Bear Dunes as we were leaving northern Michigan. It was a rainy day, but we still hiked up to Pyramid Point through a beautiful forest full of birch trees (my favorite). Seeing them in all of their glory made me so happy. The rain and the fog made it all the more magical. The view of the lake from Pyramid Point is also quite stunning, with the vastness of Lake Michigan sprawling out before you. We were really lucky with the weather all week and the last day of the trip was our only rainy day.

Please remind yourself of how important it is to take time off, and unplug and recharge and adventure! I know that I’ll need to continue to remind myself of this.

Goat Yoga

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Most everyone who knows me knows that I love goats. I’m not quite sure how this love started, but like most loves, it just happens when you least expect it. I suppose my earliest recollection of my love affair with goats is from when I was in grade school and went to the 4-H Fair in the summertime. Among other animals, there were always goats. Adorable goats. And I started looking at pygmy goats for sale online, at a very affordable cost! It escalated when I lived in Massachusetts for a year about 4 years ago, where I regularly visited a goat farm, especially when they had babies. I’ve been dreaming of having my own little goat farm ever since!

This past weekend I got to do goat yoga, a craze that is attracting goat-lovers and non-goat-lovers alike. There’s something about it that is just intriguing. The hour of goat yoga was everything I thought it would be. Fun, filled with goats jumping on top of me (yay!), and light on the yoga.┬áIt was hosted by GlennArt Farm in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. I’ll let these pictures tell the story. Ignore my form though…it was hard to focus with a 20 pound goat on my back…haha

A weekend getaway in the Berkshires

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What is it about getting away for a few days that helps you put things into perspective? Getting out of your bubble, the space you occupy, and the actions you perpetuate on a daily basis to clear your mind and refresh…refresh in the sense of either confirming certain convictions, or taking a different path with a new mindset.

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I went to the Berkshires this past weekend with my mom, as the two of us often do, but this time two of my best friends drove in from Boston for a couple days. I absolutely loved getting to share a place that I hold so dear to my heart with two people that are also close to my heart. It was interesting to hear their reactions to Williamstown because they are city people and their main observation was how quite it is. Too quiet. But I love the quiet. I love the peace and tranquility and the smells. I guess it just feels like home. They definitely also recognized how nice it was to get away from the city though, and how different the pace of life is – like stepping back in time away from the modern world.

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The first thing I did early Saturday morning before my friends arrived was go to my favorite little goat farm that I used to visit when I lived there – Mountain Girl Farm. I’ve had a long-standing love for goats and it’s no secret to those who know me well that I dream of having a goat farm someday. I am completely happy when surrounded by goats. Hence the million repetitive pictures you’ll see below…

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I promise I did more than just frolic with goats while I was in the Berkshires. I got to take my friends to my favorite restaurant in North Adams, MA called Public, which is a tourist attraction and brings some urban flair to the country, both in ambience and food selection. We went for a couple walks in the fields because luckily it was sunny and warm. I took them to my favorite coffee shop in Williamstown, Tunnel City Coffee, where the baristas still remember me even though I haven’t been a regular in 4 years since I lived there. And I took them to the Clark Art Institute, which is a magnificent world-class art museum tucked away in the hills. We also had a meal, more like a feast, at home with a good family friend who happens to be a chef (among other things).

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It was hard for my mom and I to leave this beautiful place we love so much (and I didn’t want to go back to the city), and I think we came away from the weekend with an even greater love for it and sense of connection to it.