It wasn’t a pretty, blue-sky day. No, the skies were cloudy and hazy. It didn’t matter, though, because I had come for the wind.
As I entered Empire Beach and looked north towards Sleeping Bear, I could see Lake Michigan was churned up. Waves and whitecaps. Just what I was hoping for.
A kite bobbing in the distant sky gave even more credence to the blustery conditions.
It was only 11 a.m. and Lake Michigan water temperatures hovered in the low sixties, yet people were already in the water enjoying the big waves.
And then I spotted what I’d come for. A surfer. Empire has become quite the surfing destination on windy days. The village even has its own surf shop providing gear and lessons to those who dare.
I parked and got out of my car to take closeup pictures from the beach. The force of the wind slammed the car door against my hip and I had bruises for days. I watched as the surfer paddled out towards the big waves and waited for the right one to catch.
I watched him slide down wave after wave, arms outstretched to maintain perfect balance on his board. Not once did he fall.
I stayed about an hour and took over 600 shots of this surfer. I could tell he wasn’t a beginner and admired his skill. His concentration was amazing. But there was another surf spot I wanted to check out so I left Empire Beach.
On the way out, I took one last picture, this time of South Bar Lake. Then I grabbed a burger and fries at Friendly’s, and headed south on M-22.
When I pulled into the parking lot at the Frankfort beach, I could see kites above the beautiful low dunes. This is a wonderful beach, made very accessible by concrete pathways and benches.
The kites I’d seen belonged to athletes who were kitesurfing, also known kiteboarding. This sport uses the wind to power a large kite which pulls the rider on a board across the water.
It looked exhilarating, challenging, and scary all at once.
There were also a few windsurfers on the water battling the wind and waves.
I found a bench so I could take in the whole scene. Waves were crashing around the red and white South Breakwater Light at the Frankfort Harbor entrance.
Farther out, the square pyramidal North Breakwater Lighthouse tower was getting slammed with waves too. Another beautiful scene added to the many I'd experienced that day. Such gratitude I felt for living so close to the natural world!