2007.09.06 A few hours at the big lake

Written by David Green.


It was less than a month ago that I wrote here about a quick trip to Kentucky for a wedding. It was a great journey into beautiful country and I concluded: “Maybe I don’t need Lake Michigan this summer after all. Maybe I’ve had my fill of natural beauty.”

I saw some incredible sites in Kentucky that I could never find up here, but...there’s something about the color of Lake Michigan, about that view of the sandy beach and the dunes above and the way it fades off into a hazy horizon miles away.

Let me pull out one more line from that column: “How can a person go an entire year without staring at Lake Michigan for a while?”

I didn’t have to find out the answer to that question. Not this year. Colleen and I—kids gone, just the two of us—headed north for a quick look.

To write about this publicly means two sets of friends know that once again we’ve passed them by. Oh, the guilt.

We could have turned west and headed into Ludington, but we continued farther north. We could have made a little side trip into Tustin, but this was such a short trip—less than two full days—and we still had many miles ahead of us.

Going up north has come to mean only one thing in recent years—heading to Benzonia to spread out on Kate’s basement floor or grabbing an empty bed if available.

It’s a pretty complete respite from life-as-we-know-it when you hit Kate’s house. No newspaper, no internet, no television. I never laughed with glee about the University of Michigan football game until a day and a half later.

When we pulled up to Kate’s house—her wind turbine spinning away and her solar panel sucking up the rays—we encountered a bowl in her yard with a questionable-looking red substance at the bottom that seemed to be moving toward the disgusting stage.

Kate said she knew it should be tossed, but she wanted to take a look at it through her microscope. She has an appealing curiosity about her.

The red glop was a failed batch of kimchi, a fermented Korean food that she was trying to make with beets. She’s always looking for inventive ways to use beets. I’m sure if you questioned each of my children individually about beets, they would all speak of Kate’s beet-infested chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve fallen quite behind in newspaperland because of this trip, so I only have time to recount tidbits from the journey.

As always, we allow geocaches to take us to interesting territory. We sat on Kate’s couch for only a few minutes before she urged us to gather suits and towels and head for the lake.

But first, a geocache.

We failed in this endeavor, but it took us on a beautiful trail that led to a bluff overlooking the lake, then down a poison-ivy strewn path to a set of steps down to the water.

The coordinates on the GPS receiver never worked out right, but did it matter? No, of course not. And Colleen thought she saw a black bear cub crossing the road into the woods. That added a little suspense to the evening hike as darkness closed in.

The next morning we found a cache along the Benzie River before heading off to find one hidden up in the dunes. Old Baldy is the name of this particular sand dune.

It was a good three-fourths of a mile in, then another quarter mile along the top before we reached the “oasis” where the cache was hidden.

Then down to the water for a swim. Going down meant running/sliding along the face of the dune, down to where people looked like ants crawling on the beach.

We knew this journey would necessitate an uncomfortable climb back up where we would very slowly transform from ants back to humans.

Down we went, pausing to gaze at what we expected from this rushed trip north. The dunes stretching for miles. The sand beach nearly uninhabited. The large waves breaking in dozens of white rolls along the beach in both directions.

We were soon in the water, standing waist deep until an enormous roar of water crashed overhead.

Right then it was so obvious: This is why we came. This was the reason for the long drive.a

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
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  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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