My mom passed away on Tuesday. I can’t bring myself to say the “D” word yet. I haven’t had a good nights sleep in over a week, even with sleeping pills. It doesn’t seem real yet.Mom was in home hospice for 3.5 weeks after leaving the hospital. Despite all the nice, comforting things you hear about hospice, it is brutal. We watched her get weaker and shakier day by day.

At first we had some good conversations and talked about happier times. But all to soon came talk about “after”. Mom helped plan the funeral, she wanted to make some decisions herself. I spent a whole afternoon listening to her go over funeral arrangements, double checking the paperwork for them, listened to her talk about her urn. That was the first night I couldn’t sleep. And it just got worse from there. Watching her struggle with her failing body, having to have help with the most basic functions. Watching her cry. Thinking every time I left that this might be the last time I see my mom.

No matter how prepared you think you are, how many times you say goodbye, it still hits you like a truck when it actually happens. How can I live in a world that my mom doesn’t? She has always been just a phone call away. How is it possible she is never gonna pick up the phone again when I call? I hear her voice in my head so clearly. It doesn’t seem real that we aren’t going to talk again.

I’ve been trying to keep busy just to keep going. I wrote my part of the eulogy as request by my mom. I went through thousands of pictures I’ve taken finding ones I hope will be able to show people the mom I knew. When she is smiling and happy and surrounded by family. I want to put together a slideshow and somehow sear it into my brain, making me forget the images of mom over the last months and think of her when she was full of life and excitement. Always up for an adventure. Watching in awe as whales breached 40 feet away from us in the Alaskian waters, collecting shells on the beach in Florida, driving through the tunnel of trees in the fall. Laughing while riding in a scooter on the Silver Lake sand dunes, and then getting soaked by waves and laughing some more. So many fun times together.

My face is blotchy and my eyes red and swollen. My husband and kids keep checking to make sure I am ok. I’m not, but there is nothing they can do to help, though I appreciate their efforts. This is what grief looks like and its not pretty. The funeral is tomorrow. Somehow I will get through that day, and the next, and the next. I will get to the point when I smile when I think of mom instead of cry. Someday.


“What is the weather REALLY like in Northern Michigan?”

I get this question quite a bit from people who don’t understand the appeal of moving farther north in a state that many people think is “cold” to begin with.  I guess it’s just what you are used to.  Someone from Texas may think 60 is cold and need a jacket.  While here in Michigan we are walking around in short sleeves.

So to begin to tell you what the weather is like in the Tawas Bay area we have to first consider what region it is now.  Now there is a long standing debate in our beautiful state of where exactly “Up North” begins.  The answer is subjective.  We all agree that the Upper Peninsula is hardcore “Up North”.  We Michiganders all have our imaginary line whether it is the Mackinac Bridge, Midland, the Zilwaukee bridge, the 45th parallel, etc.  You can look at 10 maps and see 10 different ways the regions are divided.  For all intents and purposes though, Tawas Bay is considered part of the Northern Lower Peninsula.  Specifically the Northeast Region. The Northwest regions gets heavier snow and wind from the lake.  As we are on the east coast and protected in the bay, our snowfall amounts are not much heavier than they are back in Southeast Michigan.

The following information is purely my observations and research over the last few years.  This is how I look at the months and their temperatures.

cold:  Below 40 (heavy coats- bundle up!)

cool:   40-60  (mid weight jacket, dress in layers)

warm: 60-75 (bring a sweater just in case)

hot:   Above 75 (short sleeves, sun screen, when the sun is high jump in the lake)


January- cold

February- cold

March- cold

April- cool/warm  (put out deck furniture and take mustang out of storage at the end of the month)

May- warm


July- warm/hot

August- hot

September- warm/hot

October- warm/cool      (put away outside stuff and store car at the end of the month)


December- cool/cold

I don’t mind living somewhere where we only use most of our outdoor stuff half of the year.  There are other things to do in the cooler months and the anticipation of spring makes the flowers smell that much sweeter! I have always loved the fact that just when I get tired of one season, the next is right around the corner.

“Why live in a beach town if the water is so cold?”

This question usually comes from my Southern state friends.  Sure, boating and swimming are great, but there is something inherently peaceful about being so close to the water.  While I DO love to swim and be in the water, I also love just sitting on a bench watching the sunrise/sunset over the water. And if fishing is your thing, you can fish year round in Tawas Bay. Besides, our Great Lakes are salt and shark free!

As for swimming, we do enjoy plenty of beach days.  The average water temps in Tawas Bay near the shore in the summer are in the low 70s.  Too cold for some, but refreshing for others.  It is much colder outside of the bay when you go straight out into Lake Huron!  We usually wait until close to the end of June to venture into the water. The best months for swimming though are August and September when the water temp is at its peak!

All in all, the weather in Northern Michigan is not much different than anywhere else in the state, it fluctuates like crazy! We get 6 inches of snow one day, and then the next it is 52 degrees!  It’s all part of the charm of our beautiful mitten state and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Drummond Island- Book your trip TODAY!

As a Michigan native I like to think I am pretty familiar with our beautiful state.  However, If you had asked me 2 years ago where Drummond Island was, I would have had no idea! I was looking for a place for a group vacation. We needed 4 or 5 cabins, ideally on a lake and someplace that “felt” like a vacation.  We wanted peace and quiet.  A chance for our families to be able to catch up with each other.  I never expected to find something so PERFECT!

I stumbled on Drummond Island when searching online for rental cabins in Michigan.  It is one of the farthest points north in Lake Huron that you can go and still be in the USA.  To get there you need to take a ferry from Detour. The ferry ride is pretty quick and inexpensive.  Click here for info: Drummond Island Ferry

The island is like a giant nature preserve with deer, bear and an abundance of birds. There are a lot of ORV trails which are popular with Jeep clubs and off roading enthusiasts.  While there are a couple of beaches, this is not a place I would consider going if you want a beach vacation.  We were there for a week at the end of July and it was in the mid to upper 70s every day.  Perfect for fishing, reading on the porch swing, kayaking, not so much for the chilly waters of Northern Michigan.  Though we did venture in a couple of times.

The resort we chose was great.  The only negative part was that the reservation process is tricky as they only book out a year in advance and they give preference to their regulars.  So it took some work to find a week that would work for everyone…but it was worth it in the end.  We ended up with 4 cabins right next to each other on the water.  Our hosts were very helpful, the cabins while older were clean and stocked with the essentials.  We would have booked again for this coming summer but there was a conflict with someone in the group and the cabins were not available when we needed them to be for this year.  So our loss is someone else’s gain.  Click here for more info about the resort, Papin’s Resort

The week was exactly what we needed.  Away from people, traffic, computers.  We rented a pontoon boat for the week, had access to kayaks and rowboats.  We went out of a couple of fishing trips every day and every night ended the day around the campfire.  Life doesn’t get much better than this!

We did some exploring too.  We took the boat around the islands and found a couple of places to swim.  The “kids” in the group had fun chasing snakes and turtles.  There was a swan family that made several appearances around the dock.  We also spent an afternoon renting ORVs and checking out the trails.  I’m pretty sure this was our son’s favorite part of the trip!  It isn’t cheap, but it is a lot of fun and we felt it was worth the money.  Beaver ATV rentals.  The owner was very helpful.  We talked about what type of ride we wanted to take and he gave us maps and pointed us in the right direction.  He even sells goggles and masks…which you will need!

There are a couple of small restaurants and a grocery store in town.  If you are looking for specific non perishables you may want to bring them with you. I didn’t have much luck finding my berry flavored Propel or diet wild cherry Pepsi!  They have the basics though and the people were very friendly.  You can also buy firewood there as well.

If you are looking for a new place to explore on your next vacation, I would highly recommend giving Drummond Island a try.  If you have a favorite Michigan place you think would work for my group please let me know and I will put it on my list of places to check out.  We are booked at a place near Munising for this summer.  Stay tuned later this year for the details of that trip.  If it goes as well as our trip to Drummond Island did I will be a very happy girl.


One Foot in Front of the Other

As today is National Walking Day, I thought it appropriate to write about walking.  I know….you are blown away by my originality huh?  But teasing aside, deciding to commit to a daily walk this year was one of the best decisions I have made all year!

(some of my favorite pictures from my daily walks so far this year)

I had knee surgery in December for a torn meniscus.  Then I did a series of 5 injections in that knee because they discovered arthritis while they were in there and the injections may help buy me some time before I have to address that issue. Prior to my injury and surgery, walking was my favorite form of exercise. I even participated with a variety of fundraising walks over the years.  But last year I wasn’t able to comfortably do stairs, let alone do much walking.  I was determined to change that this year and not let a sore knee keep me on the sidelines anymore!

The challenge: 

I committed to going for a walk every single day this year.  No matter the weather, no matter how I was feeling.  I would find time to walk.  Walking around for normal activities doesn’t count.  It had to be a purposeful walk.  And I’ve done it so far.  Other than when dangerous wind chills and a sprained ankle forced me to walk indoors, all of my walks have been outside.  Ice, sleet, rain, wind.  I’m from Michigan, I can handle crazy weather!


1- Time to Decompress. My daily walk is MY time. It’s a little piece of my day when I can clear my head.  Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I prefer the quiet.  Often times I find myself on a bench by the water just breathing in and out.

2- Discipline. Since I am no longer working outside the house it was VERY important to me to establish a routine.  I didn’t want to sit around in my pajamas and watch daytime tv all the time!  By going for a walk every day it forces me to get dressed and think about what time to walk based on what else I have going on that day.  I wake up with purpose and a plan!

3- Fresh Air! You can’t put a price tag on this one folks.  It feels SO GOOD to breathe in fresh air.  It doesn’t matter if it is January and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground. Take a deep breath and let nature work her magic.  And by doing so you will notice how every week the smells change and how observant you are.  You can smell someone’s coffee as they walk by you, when the ground starts to smell like dirt again as the ground begins to thaw, when someone is grilling in their backyard, or making a bonfire.

4- Better Overall Health.  I’m not working with a time or distance daily goal, but it is nice to see how much stronger I have gotten in the first three months of the year.  The stairs are easier for me and each week I feel like I am steadier on my feet.  I’ve lost some weight and am less out of breath in general, although I have a long way to go on both of those counts! I feel healthier and throughout the year as I am taking longer walks and feeling better overall, I will incorporate more activities like bike riding, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding into my routine.


1- Invest in good walking shoes and/or inserts.  You are going to put a lot of miles on these shoes and you want to be comfortable.

2- Dress in layers.  Even on days when it was 20 degrees, I found myself shedding my scarf/hat or unbuttoning my coat.  As your heart rate increases so will get warmer!

3- Look at the hourly forecast.  I check for temp, wind and cloud cover and try to plan my day around that.  This time of year I find myself going in the afternoon because it is the warmest. It won’t be long though until I am going in the morning because afternoons are too warm!

4- Enjoy it!  Take the time to really look around you.  Smile and wave at your neighbors, take deep breaths, appreciate the beauty of the world around you.



You can get an app for your phone that will allow you to track your distance. Free Distance Apps

If you are looking for a weekend hike, check out these trails Michigan Hiking Trails

More information about National Walking Day


You can find me on Instagram at simply_shannone and Twitter @shannonebondie