I'm sad that my annual fall vacation to Door County is over. It was one of the best visits I've ever had. I feel refreshed, relaxed and have made a lot of wonderful memories this year. Door County always does this for me.
If you have never been, I highly recommend a visit. I've been there in every season, but autumn is always my favorite time to visit. Newport State Park is at the top of the peninsula, and if you get there when it opens, you might have the whole park to yourself. The Europe Bay trail is a nice long hike with plenty of surprises along the way. Whitefish Dunes State park is another favorite of mine. Make sure you take the hike over to Cave Point County Park. It's absolutely stunning. You'll want to sit along the rock formations for hours and just take it all in. (I took the picture you see here at Cave Point.)
Take a tour of any of the lighthouses, or all of them. The views are incredible. I also recommend wandering off the main roads and just driving around. The colors in fall are beyond words, and you'll be able to get fantastic photos. Horseshoe Bay Drive is an excellent place to start, or try to road to Kangaroo Lake.
If you like antiquing, you'll find plenty of little places along Highway 42. Egg Harbor has a couple of fabulous antique shops also. I always seem to bring home a treasure or two every time I shop. But do your research, because Door County is just full of boutiques and quaint little shops of all sorts.
And when you're ready to eat, I recommend a fun stop at JJ's La Puerta in Sister Bay, with a super-friendly staff, great margaritas, and a fun atmosphere. Another must try is Wilson's in Ephraim. They offer some of the best home-brewed root beer you'll ever taste, fantastic burgers, and a super-cute place to sit and watch the water.
I have a long list of favorites. You can try these places or discover your own. Either way, you'll make some fabulous memories.
Growing up, I lived about seven minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan. We have a lighthouse in my hometown. It’s one of the prettiest in Michigan. (It's in the picture above.) My friends and I would go walking out on it Friday and Saturday nights and let our legs hang off the side of the walkway and watch the sunset and talk about life. Some of my favorite memories revolve around that lighthouse. I think it's magical.
Maybe that’s why I have such a fascination with them. I have a lighthouse calendar, a lighthouse puzzle, lighthouse photos, lighthouse art, and lighthouse figurines, so one would think I have toured several of them over the years. Oddly, I have not. Besides the St. Joseph, Michigan, lighthouse, I’ve toured only the inside of the Eagle Bluff lighthouse in Door County. I was mesmerized by the stories and the history and the lifestyle of its keepers.
I have my next trip to Door County planned, and this time around it includes a lighthouse tour. The Cana Island lighthouse is first on my list. Keep checking back for photos from my trip.
It’s something most everyone will go through in their lifetime: having to deal with aging parents. I have now entered that realm with my father, who has been dealing with cognitive issues for a few years now. Recently he had some major health issues which required surgery. Unfortunately, the anesthesia from that surgery caused an even greater state of mental decline, so my family is looking for different living options for him and my mom. They still live in the house I grew up in, and now it’s just too much to take care of. Most people in their 80s don’t want to worry about lawn care anymore. But it's hard for people of that age to let go of the way of life they’ve known for decades.
I was home in Michigan for a few days last month while my dad was in the hospital. He then needed to be transferred to a multiple care facility so they could make him physically stronger to go home and monitor his mental state. Since my brother lives close to my parents, he and my sister-in-law have been the ones who do most of the work for them like laundry, lawn mowing, making major decisions. That brings on tremendous feelings of guilt for me, since I wish I lived closer to help with all of those things and spend more time with them.
When I came back to work, two colleagues came to talk to me about how my dad was doing and to let me know that they too were going through similar circumstances. It was then I realized that there might be dozens more people I work with who are going through the same thing. When you reach your 40s, 50s, and 60s, you’re going to have to deal with aging parents. It’s a fact of life. And it can be very hard.
If you are dealing with aging parents with an illness, you are not alone. You will feel all kinds of emotions, from guilt to frustration, anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, and complete exhaustion. It’s OK to feel all of those things. I have found that talking with others who are going through the same thing really helps. Whether you are dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia, cancer, monetary concerns when it comes to assisted living, or just making sure your elderly parent is safe living in his or her own home, it all can be overwhelming.
Here's a list of links where you can start to get the help and support you need as a caretaker. This is a topic not a lot of people openly talk about, but they carry it around with them every day. I know because I’m living it. Just know you are not alone. Start here: