Thursday, June 27, 2019


I’d been watching the weather forecast for a clear night where there might be a good sunset.  But the kinds of sunsets I’ve been used to over the years have been on the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula.  You know, the kind where the sun dips right into Lake Michigan, or so it seems.  Peterson Park. Empire Beach.  Real sunsets, or so I’d thought.

Now that I live on the east side of Traverse City, it’s a long drive to the western Leelanau shore at that time of night.  I decided to drive out on Old Mission instead.  I remembered a scenic turnout off Center Road that might yield some good vistas.  I could see right away that the view was spectacular with vineyards, West Bay, and the sky all in perfect position for the sunset.

 Turns out I wasn’t the only one with that idea.  Sunset was supposed to be at 9:33 p.m. and Gracie and I arrived at about 8:20.  We were the third car lined up to catch the view.  We parked parallel to the outlook edge and prepared to wait.  There were a lot of clouds, and I wondered if they would occlude the sunset.  Regardless, the golden hour was setting in, and the view was lovely.

Over the years of taking pictures, I’ve learned how people are drawn to sunsets.  That was true this evening also.  Cars began arriving and soon the narrow overlook was double deep with cars.  People were jumping out of their cars and taking selfies with their mobile phones, using the deepening colors in the sky as a backdrop.  I soon could see that I was the only person using a “real” camera.

As the sun continued its descent downward, the clouds, sun, and sky interacted to create a lovely palate of gold and yellow hues.

As full as the overlook was becoming, people continued to pull off the road on both sides.  It was now three cars deep on the overlook side.  One young couple pulled out lawn chairs and plunked down to watch the view unfolding.  I’d obviously found the place to be for sunset watching on Old Mission.

The sunset was nearing its completion, and the view was becoming more spectacular by the minute.

As the sun went behind the land on the other peninsula, the crowd gasped and murmured at the beauty of this sunset.  I guess they all agreed that the wait for a summer sunset was worth it.

Once the sunset was complete, most watchers stuck around as the afterglow began.  And the atmosphere had turned quiet, as people watched the awe unfold before them.

With the afterglow starting to dull a bit, on my drive home I mulled over whether this sunset was as beautiful as ones I’ve seen over water and I decided it was.  Just different.  After all, a sunset is a sunset.