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Pictured Rock

Tuesday, 07 Nov 2017, 21:27 UTC

1. Garnet Sand

In Munising, we stopped at a grocery store to stock up on provisions. And we stopped at the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore and Hiawatha National Forest Interagency Visitor’s Center (quite a mouthful) where the ranger suggested Sand Point — that there was a little bit of a trail there that we might enjoy in spite of the rain and wind, and that we should go out onto the beach to see the red garnet sand. 

That beach is a top summer beach by some estimates, but on this day, the weather was blustery and gray and rainy and… Wait. What? Garnet sand!?

We saw it with our own eyes.

Red-pink garnet sand washed onto the shore by the wind and rain and waves that over the years have eroded the sandstone cliffs of Pictured Rock.

2. Deciding on a Hike

On that day, we could see how the weather might erode those cliffs. Because there was much wind. And because there was rain. And waves.

Enough to keep tentative tourists at bay. But…

The Smiling and Patient Ben was unfazed by the wind and rain and waves.

The Fair and Industrious Trudy was (as she always is) in the mood for something fun.

And so we went instead on a hike into the woods along the ridge on the top of the cliffs along the lakeshore…

…into the haunts of nature.

Souvenirs From Lake Huron

Sunday, 05 Nov 2017, 09:07 UTC

Je me souviens notre jour au bord de Lac Huron. Et voilà quelques souvenirs qu’on a trouvé là.

A Reflection on Summer

Sunday, 05 Nov 2017, 08:30 UTC

I know it’s not summer in Michigan, anymore. I’ve seen reports of the color. And I know even months ago there were preparations underway for the coming cold.

But having been in catch-up mode, writing about our travels in July and August, my head is still stuck in summer.

So there you have it.

Along the Shores of Lake Huron

Saturday, 04 Nov 2017, 19:59 UTC

1. US 23

As the Mackinac Bridge descends onto the Lower Peninsula, is passes over Machilimackinac. To the west is the fort. To the east is the old light house.

From behind the steering wheel, I gazed longingly at the park and asked my fair and patient companions if they were up for another stop. It only having been 20 minutes since the last one, they immediately vetoed the proposal, and so we continued on to US 23.

US 23 is to the eastern side of the Lower Peninsula what US 31 is to the western — a scenic drive thru wooded forests and along sandy shores. There were cottages looking out on the water between us and the lake. We would peer down wooded driveways and sometimes see small cottages on the water.  And there were of course many big houses on the water.

Big or small, there seemed to be a tradition of each place having a unique name and a sign to proclaim it. Mile after mile, driveway after driveway, there was a seemingly infinite sequence of fascinating one-of-a-kind signs hanging out by the road.

The blue water was tantalizingly close. But sometimes the highway would turn inland.

After one such turn, we came to Cheboygan where our hunger got the better of us at the Yeck Family Drive-In, where we sat in the car eating burgers and fries, happy that we had found a real place instead of a plastic one. But we didn’t dally long, because we still had miles to go.

2. More Roadside Parks

Miles to go or not, there were still roadside parks beckoning from the side of the road. I couldn’t resist; the water looked so inviting.

At Huron Shores Roadside Park, there were picnic tables. And there were stairs leading to the water.

Gentle waves lapped against rocks and reeds, making this shore quite different from the western shores that I know so much better.


Trudy found a rock.

Ben pumped some water to drink.

3. Vacation’s End

We got back on the road, stopping one more time (was it at Oscoda Roadside Park?) as the sun was lowering in the west. 

And that was goodbye to Lake Huron.

We only had a few more miles to go before we could sleep, although as it turned out, there was a complication at the hotel and the sleeping part ended up being delayed even as the mile-counter dropped to zero. But sleep we eventually did, and we caught a Southwest flight home the next morning.

One Last Upper Peninsula Stop

Saturday, 04 Nov 2017, 08:55 UTC

On that last day of ours, our route took us from Munising on the southern shore of Lake Superior across the Upper Peninsula to the northern shore of Lake Michigan, across the Straits of Mackinac to the Lower Peninsula, and from there down the Lake Huron coast to Detroit where we’d spend the night and catch a plane home in the morning.

We had been on the road for a while and had succumbed to the siren calls of refuges and roadside parks. So we were still in the Upper Peninsula with miles to go before we could sleep. (I think you’ve heard me say this, already.)

Here we were, driving the last few miles of US 2, when another park appeared on the right. There were groans from my fair and patient companions as I pulled off the road. It would only be a brief stop, I promised. But when were we going to come this way again? In any event, how could I not?

The sun was shining, as it had been all morning. Lake Michigan was blue, as it had been, too. 

I confess, poetical waxing aside, when I see the sun and the green and the blue in Michigan in the summer, I find it impossible to shut out imagined images of the place in winter. Gray skies with cold winds. Snow covering the ground. Ice-topped lakes. Broken, brown wildflower stalks poking out of the drifts. Pine trees standing valiantly with winter moaning in their branches.

Still, it was summer — the best kind Michigan has to offer. There were purple-topped thistles rocking in the summer breeze. And there were Pines standing proudly against the summer sky.

And there was a ferry kicking up a rooster tail as it made its way across the straights from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island.

We stood and took this in. It was just a brief stop (as a concession to my companions), and then we got back in the car, where we soon found ourselves crossing into the Lower Peninsula.

The Northernmost Shore of Lake Michigan

Saturday, 04 Nov 2017, 03:15 UTC

You might know that Michigan has gorgeous rest areas. These are wonderful places to stop. You will find artesian wells at some. You will find hand pumps for fresh drinking water at others. 

Along US 22, just east of Naubinway, we came upon a rest area near of the northernmost shore of Lake Michigan.

We stood for a while and looked out on the blue water,

on the waves washing up against the sandy shore,

on Yarrow growing just beyond the shade of some trees.

And we watched Monarchs. (Imagine that!)

And then we got back into the car and continued our drive, because there were still many miles to go.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, 04 Nov 2017, 02:41 UTC

1. An Unplanned Stop

Our long last day had just begun, and I was already proposing a detour in what would be a day filled with detours and unplanned stops.

There had been signs along highway 28 as we drove east — wildlife refuge signs hanging from the fence. There had been tantalizing roads with wide-open gates. And now as we drove south and began to cross the Upper Peninsula, leaving Lake Superior behind and heading toward Lake Michigan, we came upon Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

“Shall we stop here?” I asked.

With an assent from the Fair and Industrious Trudy and the Smiling and Patient Ben, under the watch of blue summer skies,

we pulled in.

2. Driving Tour

The couple volunteering in the visitors center, suggested the Marshland Wildlife Drive, a narrow gravel road that wound through the refuge on dikes separating the pools.

“The Fishing Loop is open this time of year,” they said. “If you want a longer drive.”

There were wildflowers scattered in the sun and shade beneath White and Red Pines. There was sunlight glistening on the water.

3. Wildlife

And there was indeed wildlife there.

We heard the lonely call of a Loon. (I am sorry to sound cliché, but it is a lonely sounding call, even though these Loons were in a group.) We saw them swimming. We rolled to a stop and watched them. They warily watched us back.

And (this being Michigan) there were swans.

We found ourselves stopping, walking along the road on foot. Enjoying the Michigan summer. Enjoying the color.

Enjoying the snags silhouetted against the wilderness.

We were there two hours or more. We regretted the diversion not a bit. But we literally had miles to go before we could sleep. So we pulled back out onto highway 77 and continued our drive.

Opening Day

Monday, 30 Oct 2017, 20:51 UTC

Thousands of people showed up for opening day. Bert, Trudy and I took the bus to get there.

A new building looking out on the river under blue skies and a shining sun. A line winding slowly up the stairs. Kids with smiles dashing here and there. Groups gathering in conference rooms behind tall glass walls. People lounging around on the sixth floor terrace on colorful couches.

And people carrying books.

Austin Public Library opening day

The new main branch: Austin Public Library.


Sunday, 29 Oct 2017, 17:11 UTC

On the way out, we passed our street address hanging against the house.

Bert turned and pointed and said, “Nice.”

“Yeah,” Trudy said. “Isn’t it? David made it.”

“Who!?” Bert said.

My reputation precedes me.

Harvey 3

Wednesday, 25 Oct 2017, 19:33 UTC

It was late in the day. We were standing in the driveway leaning against the dumpster that was filling up fast because it was closer to the house than the piles along the street.

A pickup drove slowly by, the driver leaning out of his window looking for cast-off things to scrounge.

He looked up and waved. Bert waved back. 

“You getting rid of this?” the man asked, pointing to an antique trunk that previously held family heirlooms but had been immersed in the brown stink water. Virtually everything in it had been a loss. The marbles were salvageable. Some costume jewelry. Trudy and I had sifted thru the contents, setting aside a few things and wheeling the rest out to the curb. When we’d gone thru it all, I picked up the trunk, tipped it over to let the water drain out and took it out the the curb. The man in the truck had his eye on it.

“How’d that get there?” Bert said and glanced over at me.


“I put it there,” I confessed. “My bad.”

Bert walked out and explained that the trunk was there by mistake. The guy smiled and nodded and rolled on.

Bert carried the trunk back to the house and set it in the sun to dry.