Saturday, September 21, 2013

Put Your Shoes On or Take Them Off - Michigan Road Trip Part Tres

There are way too many photos here, but if I don't speed it up, I'll be posting about a two and a half day road trip until Thanksgiving, blowing my be here now philosophy to gone and back, so onward!

The weather was perfect. The first night was cold but not too cold, not crazy wrap up in 4 blankets and tell the Michiganders to just go on without me send my frozen bones to Culebra for scattering, thank you. It was cold enough to have a few layers on, but still go outside to see the stars and at one point, listen to what we guessed were at least 15 coyotes howling, somewhere not far out back in the woods. We kept Mack on a short leash.

Later that night, up in my little nest in the loft of the A frame, I heard them again. very briefly. And why not? Michigan, a lake that looks like a sea, with sand that looks like a beach, lighthouse capital of the US and now coyotes behind a perfect sized cabin on a small beach road. Of course. Maybe I dreamed it all.

Or maybe not.

One of the hardest things about writing a blog, for me, is remembering the names of places. I do try but wish very much I'd written this part down. It's a lake that is quite shallow and good for kids and Jeff swam here when he was very young, I do remember that part.. Ah well, maybe it doesn't need a name for now.

You have to really look on the far right to see the home tucked into the trees, but it's there, and whoever owns it is one very lucky person. This lake is on one side and the BIG lake is on the other.

That dark spot on the left is where the treehouse sits.

Sea oats, tightly furled.

Wide, clean (did I mention clean?) beautiful and empty. Thousands of footprints but no other feet on the sand but our own.

Karen and Jeff enjoying the view

The water, everywhere we went, was beautifully clear.

I was completely intrigued with this method of sand preservation, while still providing a more secure walking area. This one had just been put down recently. What happens is the wind blows the sand, which eventually fills in between the cabled together boards, creating a stair like effect while also holding the sand together and preventing erosion from the foot traffic. It works!

So long, little lake and big lake with ultra cool treehouse.

We drove along the water between the two Glen lakes. The homes were between small and not so small, but all unpretentious, with some score 10 lake views and access. Quite a few of the dock set ups had chairs and tables for taking in the day. It all just felt good.

We drove by this truck and Jeff was nice enough to turn around to take a look at it. I wanted to look inside for photos and the Universe said, sure, why not?
This guy drove up and just looking at him and the vehicle he arrived in I was pretty sure he owned this truck. He did and gave his permission for me to climb in. His Mom owned the gift shop it advertised but the truck was his. And it worked. Though he'd moved to Arizona years ago, he still comes back to see his Mom. And the truck.

Jeff was very excited as we turned a corner into another place he wanted us to see and then I was too. They have this recycling system here in Michigan that I mentioned before, and it really is incredible. Even this tiny town we were passing through had one. Oh and there WAS one piece of trash that had apparently blown in or off something. Jeff threw it where it belonged. One piece of trash. At the recycling center. Note to self. Get this image out of your head before heading home or it will all end in tears.

I can't help it, I'm a barn junkie.

There is so much strength in a barn, they exude stability in a life that is as full of risk as that of any high stakes backroom gambler in Las Vegas. The dichotomy of so much be here now and so much hard work based on hope for a favorable yet unknown and uncontrollable time ahead, plus regionally awesome architecture? Yeah.

Up ahead was a road side fruit and veg market, run on the honor system. I was reminded of being in Maine and the oyster place run the same way. What joy that places like this can still go on in America. The name of this place is the Ugly Tomato and you can read a bit about it here.

Yard art.

First I thought it was a washing machine but I'm guessing probably a fruit press of some kind. Anyone know for sure?

At the bottom it says this sign is from Woodstock, someplace in upstate New York where apparently they had a big concert sometime back in the 60's. I missed the sign completely and went in the front.

We can do that!

How great is this? With prices marked and a scale at hand, we scored some berries, peaches and tomatoes.
This barn was a must stop the vehicle, thanks, Jeff, no we won't get run over crossing the road. And we didn't.

There was a jewelery designer who has a few shop locations, but one of them is here in Fishtown and Jeff thought Karen, a jeweler (as well as a painter), might enjoy seeing some of her work.  Her designs were really unique, with local materials, but that wasn't really the reason we came to Fishtown. In case you want to know though, the name of her place(s) is Becky Thatcher Designs. She's one of many businesses worth checking out in Fishtown, but for us? It was all about another kind of shopping.

Getting closer to the center of our focus, we passed some really wonderful homes that said small town America loudly, in the best way. This one in particular said Key West to me.

The rock base of the porch posts at Becky Thatcher's.

I felt like saluting.
When I saw the bridge and the water below (and the boathouse and and and) I almost started laughing. Jeff knew exactly where to bring us. Again.

I'm not sure what is with the green water. The blue of the lake it runs into and from is not far away and it is moving constantly. Too bad I knew better than to try and bottle it, it was really beautiful.

On the other side of the bridge was this. And these aren't recreated buildings, this is the real deal.
There must have been some sort of car show going on, but these were the only two I saw.

A look into Fishtown

These boards, honoring some of the fishermen of Fishtown, were randomly placed about right next to the boats and nets these men actually used. It was very, very cool.

My favorite building.

This is for my brother.

The old buildings are used as gift shops, wine, cheese and one of them is all about smoked fish, which was one of the main reasons we were there. The air is full of the smell of racks and racks of a variety of locally caught fish, smoking their way to mouth watering perfection. Trust me, I know this.

Net drying racks
Falls under the bridge

Another bio of a man who made the sea his lifework. Check out the fashion of the late 1940's; they were stylin'!

And then we got to the place our noses had been leading us. I think if you scraped just one line of one rack and bottled it, you could take Fishtown home forever.

But because I am easily distracted, we got in the front door in a zig zag Family Circle fashion.

This is the ferry dock area. These ferries will take campers out to an island that belongs to the Nat'l Park Service (which means it belongs to YOU, if you are American) where the most basic of camping set up exists, which I think means privies only. Maybe.

Okay, on to the smoked fish place, Heaven, or Carlson's, as it is really named. Carlson's is the last working fish shanty in Fishtown, and the reason Fishtown still exists. You can read the story here, another story of a Michigander donating land to preserve it for generations to come. Seems to be a theme around here.

The smoke pit was cranking!

A wooden mast at the very end of the last dock made for another detour. This boat looked like it had just been put in the water out of the boatbuilder's. No growth, no stainless steel not shining brightly, even the anchor looked brandy new. It was beautiful but sort of odd. It was too nice and I wanted to step in water and leave footprints on the deck. At the very least.

Down in the clear water, lake ferns grow

There are all sorts of wonderful work boats around. As we walked near to this one, I said, this could be a whale watching boat but...oh, no whales in lakes.

It was from Alaska. It WAS a whale watching boat, now a sturdy boat for Lake Michigan.

One of the ferries.

Back on land with fish in hand, we found a table. Between purchases of bread, wine, and cheese to go with the fish selections of salmon, whitefish and trout, we had a perfect lunch in the sun.

Salmon, trout or whitefish? All three, please.

In keeping with the town, this is a bank. Really.

Yard art
 Heading back over the bridge, one more look down.

And we were off, past the orchards, beyond the christmas tree farms and down the road.

Until we got out to the Grand Traverse lighthouse. Grand indeed!

Inside, the house has been kept as a museum to how life was lived once upon a time. If you want, you can actually live there for a week! Well, after some training. But it's a free program and might be a fun thing to do. Watching people like me and answering questions all day. Sort of like being at the cart, but different.

Yes, it's a steep climb and don't bang your head. Or your butt.

Down by the water.

One of those poignant pieces, terrible poetry but heartfelt sentiment of a history gone forever. I can't read them in public so I take photos to read them and get teary at my own leisure.

This was made by one of the lighthouse keepers. I guess that's what you do with lots of time to pass. The pumpkins are for an upcoming Halloween event.

Because of the height of the land it sits on, the lighthouse didn't need to be too tall. That guy is a volunteer, painting the base of the flagpole.
Next stop? A distillery of course, Northern Latitudes Distillery to be exact. We'd heard about this place and their horseradish vodka and lavender infused gin. While Jeff isn't much of an imbiber, Karen and I were determined to check this out. Horseradish vodka? Oh my!

As you walk in, there is a big bar, making an open square in the center of the building. A couple of guys are giving mini lessons on gin and vodka and more. Karen and I bellied up to a man just starting and got in on the gin. Too piney for my taste, even though the lavender was evident, one of about a dozen botanical infusions. Where's the vodka?

In my bag, of course. After a taste of the vodka, the devil oh so helpful man poured in a bit of mixer. The vodka alone was amazing; they actually buy and prepare the horseradish themselves, mixing it into the vodka leaving a product looking somewhat cloudy but uniformly cloudy, blended into the perfect balance of vodka and horseradish. Perfect to me and Karen at least. Karen's husband later agreed after a healthy dose of skepticism. Wonder if that vodka ships?
When Jeff saw this sign, he somehow alluded to present company in his vehicle. We got the photo on the way back and according to the tire tracks, we weren't the first or the only.

Back at our temporary home, the sun was setting. It had been a long day and plans to go out to a very nice place for dinner were, with no reluctance, traded for a bit of fish, cheese and crackers and a wonderful fruit salad Karen made from our Ugly Tomato purchases earlier in the day. The sunset and moonrise were dessert.

In the morning it would be time to gather our goods (of course we forgot things) and head south. But for now, it had been a full day full of beauty and surprises. For an island woman far from home, it was like slipping into an almost familiar skin, a good fit for a little while. Tucked into my bed with Mackey at my feet, dreams would be good ones.

Have a savor the small stuff Saturday. Do something smiling with sighs.

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