Somehow we’ve gotten ourselves neck-deep in house projects lately. We’ve lived in our home now for nearly a decade (crazy) and it seems this is about the time little (and sometimes big) things crop up: deck and porch boards need replacing — hey, maybe we should just re-do the deck and porch? Yes, let’s do it, ourselves! — the backyard/fire pit/trampoline area could use a do-over — commence a DIY patio-building adventure, oh boy — and finally, sadly, more than a dozen of our oak trees have been dying and needed to come down. And this is just the exterior of the house…

But because I’ve always been a big believer in working and playing (and running) hard, this weekend we threw ourselves into our to-do list on Saturday — and then hatched an escape plan for Sunday. OK, so I’m the one who is mostly all about the leaving-it-all-for-another-day idea and hatched said plan. But everyone else quickly got on board. With the weather ideal — mid to upper 70s along Lake Michigan — we packed up for a day at one of my most loved spots: Elberta’s Lake Michigan beach. (After an 11-miler with Katie on the trails earlier in the day. I couldn’t wait to soak my tired legs…)

The drive to Elberta is about an hour from our house. It’s a trek I’d love to make more often, but realistically it’s just far enough away that we often head to other, closer beaches on hot summer days. Elberta, therefore, feels like such a treat. We usually go at least once or twice a summer, and it’s an especially great little getaway on a weekend day when we all can make it a full-day excursion.

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One of the things I love most about this beach is how expansive it is — not far from downtown Frankfort, its soft sand stretches south for miles, with towering bluffs making the view all the more breathtaking. One early summer night a few years ago, after a friend raved about the serenity of camping on this beach with her boyfriend, Joe and I decided we’d give it a try and headed out with our tent on what ended up being a rather breezy evening. The tent-pitching was a disaster — we’d get the tent up, nestled between a few trees and small bushes as protection from the wind, only to have it topple a few moments later — but we made the best of it: we slept beneath the stars, the waves crashing and lulling us to sleep. It wasn’t the most restful night of sleep, and our sore backs confirmed we are in fact old now, but it’s a treasured memory. We spent the next day exploring nearby Arcadia Dunes, an area I’ve written about here given its gorgeous trail system.

Here’s a few photos of our day in Elberta and Frankfort (we had the most delicious, laid-back dinner on the patio at Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort).

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There’s so much Baby’s Breath growing between the sandy two-track where cars park and the shoreline. It’s beautiful.

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I attempted to use my SUP, but the wind picked up and the swells left me clutching the sides of the board — as I sat cross-legged on it, not standing. The clouds were rolling in, though it didn’t rain.

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I’d been wanting to check out Stormcloud Brewing Company in Frankfort for a long time. Sunday offered us the perfect opportunity to stop in — they were open until 11 p.m. — and grab a bite to eat and drink some brews. We loved the flatbread pizza — my boys ordered the kid-friendly option (pepperoni and cheese) and Joe, Emma and I shared the Rider on the Storm, with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, locally made sausage, brie, and sliced fresh apple and parmesan cheese. It was drizzled with maple cider vinegar reduction. So, so good. Joe and I also each had a beer — the Blueberry Saison for me and the Beachwalker Wheat for Joe. Both were delicious.

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Have you been to to the Elberta/Frankfort area lately? Tried Stormcloud?

What’s your favorite Lake Michigan beach?

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