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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Going Up North

The drive up to the Cottage was uneventful. We got on I-75 towards Flint and had clear sailing the whole way. When I travel up north (anyone from Michigan or who has a cottage, never a "cabin", in Michigan knows that "Up North" means any place north of Flint, generally on one of the great lakes, though an inland lake will do) I look for all the usually signs that we are getting there. The first is the big sign on I-75 say we are going towards Flint, as opposed to Detroit. next is the sign for the Kawkawlin River and than the Raisin River (my favorite, I don't know why. The name perhaps). North of Flint there is a strange American flag made from bricks and mortar that has been on the west side of I-75 since the early 1970's, at least. After the flag I look for the Pinconning Cheese signs than US 23/Standish, MI signs. When I see these signs I know we are less than 1 hour from the bay and the Cottage.

So, we are driving and I am looking for the signs (and they are all there). We talk about politics and global warming/climate change during the drive (my family and I are in accord on such topics).

We see the turn off for US 23 and take it through Standish, Omer (Michigan's smallest City) and AuGres. At AuGres we take a back road towards the bay and soon we are almost on the shore and notice the water is way down. There are grasslands where, 2 years ago, there was shoreline. As we drive along the shore we get more and more alarmed as the wide beaches and low water. This ain't right.

Soon we are driving down Michigan Avenue to my Dad's. And than we are there. Dad greets us
at the door. Rebecca is in a bedroom cleaning.
Beers are offered all around and I take one and sit down and have a drink with my father while my sister takes several photos of the two of us drinking beer and communing. I cannot remember where Eugene wandered off to at this point in time.

We asked about the low lake level and are told it is down 4'. But my dad says this might not be a totally bad thing as it will give us a lot more land. Perhaps, eventually, a 60' by 5 mile strip if the bay decides to dry up completely. We could have a road to the Thumb, yay (she says with sad sarcasm).

Dad, Eugene and me soon wander down to the beach to have a look. You hafta say hello to the beach. If it were summer we would have donned our swimming costumes and dashed down to take a dip. Or maybe not, as the e-coli 157 levels are dangerous in the Bay most of the time now thanks to the Saginaw and Bay City storm sewer system. but it was not summer it was some sort of summery autumn and too cold to go swimming so we walked down and had a short walk on the beach.

The first thing I noticed was the trees were not turning. Normally, in this part of Michigan by mid October the colors would be at their peak. But not this year. A few trees had begun turning but for the most part they were still quite green. I also noticed very few of the docks had been taken down for the winter and few boats were still in their hoists. In a normal year the boats would have been put into dry dock soon after Labor Day and the docks removed and stored. I suppose, because it has been so warm and dry up North, that people are still doing water recreation. I did notice, when we went by the marina, that there were a lot of shrink wrapped boats, all tucked in for winter. So I guess not everyone is into fall boating.

So we wandered around our beach and the Kane's beach and sat on Bill and Joan's (our neighbors) dock for a while watching the waves roll in and avoiding getting our shoes wet. We noted that the grasses are really taking over the beach and stabilizing it. Dad pointed out there is a new grass which he thinks is an invasive. Another alien species to go with the zebra mussels.

After a bit it we all walked back to the cottage. Scott and Speranza had showed up as planned. Dinner was about 45 minutes from completion and so Eugene and I went for a walk in the woods while Maggie, Scott and Speranza went for a walk over to the North Shore.

While in the woods we noticed that someone was apparently pot hunting Indian artifacts. We found 6 badly dug "units" that should have been back filled months ago. We also found several informative plaques telling hikers about the Point Lookout woods. All in all the woods look to be in good shape, overall.

We went back to the cottage and found that dinner was nigh. The table was set, wine orders taken and soon we were all eating lamb, squash, a salad and windmill cookies and lemon custard ice cream for dessert. A classic Owsley meal.

I was exhausted so about an hour after dinner I went to bed. but not before going out for a smoke and seeing a spectacular night sky. I had forgotten how wonderfully dark it is up north and how many stars one can see. Soon after, I went to bed

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