It began yesterday, with a shuffling of plans from what was scheduled weeks ago. Life got in the way of getting away. At first I was very unhappy about it; terminating plans that I was looking forward to. I put up a fight, kicking and screaming. When will I learn to go with the flow and that plan B or C usually are just what my soul needs instead? We would have been soaked on a camping trip bound for the storms track. Instead, I took advantage of the July day and felt the cool breezes of Lake Michigan and the 90* sun on my back! In my opinion, the perfect weather within a stunningly beautiful backdrop.
Please allow me to remind you of my disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or form someone to be considered “experienced or knowledgable” in the area of outdoors or hiking trails. This blog is not designed to compare, contrast or criticize but rather just appreciate the atmosphere and give a tiny glimpse into the inner workings of my mind during the discovery period of both mind and surroundings.
Kohler-Andrae State Park comprises two adjacent Wisconsin state parks located in the town of Wilson, a few miles south of the city of Sheboygan. They are managed as one unit. Terry Andrae State Park, established in 1927, and John Michael Kohler State Park, established in 1966, total 988 acres. The parks contain over two miles of beaches and sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan, with woods and wetlands away from the water. The Black River flows through the parks. The park protects threatened plants.
This is a park that turns my thoughts back to childhood. My grandfather would frequent the Terry Andrae campground portion of the park multiple times per summer with his tow-behind trailer and myself also in tow behind him! We would walk to the beach but I don’t remember if there was the pathway there at the time, or if he never ventured to show it to me. Regardless, I took a small trip down memory lane while enjoying the park.
The trails wind in, up and over the dunes and nearby protected fields of plants and groundcover. Trails are divided up in to smaller loops that conjoin into one long walkway parallel to the shores of Lake Michigan. I chose to start at parking lot 2 and walk the length of 3 conjoining paths to lot 5 and then back. This totaled about 5 miles. Most all of the pathways were designated with clear markings by planked run “cord-walks” that are placed on top of the sand dunes and grassy areas as means of leveling. Like any dune area, in some location the sand has blown over the walkway, but never to the point of becoming a hindrance or disorientation. The level of difficulty ranged from moderate to difficult wherever steep climbing was necessary.
My trip was on July 6th, so I’m sure many families and naturist were there on their holidays and it was nice to run into so many families. Sure, there was a range of ages and along with families come the teenager getting yelled at for misbehavior. My favorite was the 5-6 year old who when peaking the crest of the dune exclaimed “Daddy, this is Awesome! I looks like Boston!” (I’ve never been to Boston, so my mind had difficulty with the comparison, but I’m happy that little girl remembers her travel experiences enough to comment on them!) Volley ball players and dog walkers. Sunbathers and gawkers. Everyone was happy to enjoy the day, the beach and the surroundings. And many of us welcomed the cool breeze corridor that was a welcome surprise, or a nice bench in the shade affording some peaceful reflection time.
But returning to the thought of change…. my mind was led along with my feet, through the hills and valleys of the dunes and of life. Just as in nature, our walk in life has its ups and downs. We are lead along a path and there comes a fork in the road in which we need to make a choice. Or maybe the path is invisible due to the blown over sand upon it and we need to use our discernment and navigational skills to be sure we are not lead astray. Some areas and times in life require sure footing when a stable foundation is loosened and worn.
Some people see walking the pathway begins with point A and ends at point B and they push hard and quickly to reach point B in the quickest amount of time. Others know that point B is still kept in view, but are led to enjoy and wander around the loops and excursions along the way. They may appear to be distracted, but in reality they are very focused on the enjoyment of the here and now, without rush to see the end. The difficulty is when walking partners exhibit both of these mannerisms, adding emotional or mental difficulty to the encounter. The same can be said of friendships in life..
I’ve observed my family and their ever-changing lives as well. A newly married daughter and settling-into-retirement parents. Cousins with small to adult children, still contending with sibling rivalry. drivers permits or college prospects. All these lives in many various stages. We intertwine, overlap and frequently diverge away from each other. Each on our own path, trying to find the intersection when we can meet again. Sometimes our gait is easy when walking with each other. Other times the stride of one is to quick or large for another to keep up. And in the meantime the wind blows and the landscape around us changes; blocking or prohibiting passageways. Detours abound and offer distraction from point B.
I reflected today on my journey. It has been 27 years (ugh! I’m dating myself) since I have been an adult. Having started adulthood with a bang and fulfilling my only 1 big goal in life right away at age 19: married! Point B accomplished! But after that, like many other parents out there, family became the goal, putting your own priorities (if any) on the back burner for that empty-nester phase. I would have never guessed 10-15 years ago that I would be living in such solitude and isolation as I am now. Emptiness is never a goal, but without a plan or clear direction, one can be lead astray and alone in the wilderness if caught unawares. There are dry periods of life without stream or lake that we just have to keep plotting forward and through, hoping the thirst-quenching sustenance will be there on the other side of the current hurdle.
Todays path and pondering was amply fitting for my current moment in life. Yes, I may be distracted by the blooming flower or the cool breeze, but I feel my feet surely set on my own path. I have direction, but I’m not in a hurry to score the accomplishment. There are times my heartbeat will drum in my ears from the elevated climb required and the unstable sandy grounds that require energy and endurance.
But I can do it. I can do it alone or with loved ones when our paths intertwine. Changes are inevitable; but remember plan B or C is often the best for your soul and should be enjoyed!