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Wayne and Evelyn

Sun, 30 Jul 2023, 08:49 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

Here is a snippet from the second day of my drive from Michigan to Austin. 

Today’s drive was mostly in Illinois but ended in eastern Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest. Wayne and Evelyn were the camp hosts at the Silver Mines Recreation Area and were sitting around a campfire when I arrived in the early evening. Here are three stories about them. 

1. Being Brave

Life as a camp host in the middle of wilderness must be … an adventure. Wayne and Evelyn talked about dealing with freeloaders camping without paying, about blaring music, about people dragging fallen tree trunks out of the forest to burn, about bonfires with flames leaping into the air and bags of household trash thrown on top. The two of them are clearly patient. And very brave. 

“We’ve had to call the county sheriff three times so far this year,” the said. 

I was puzzled. “How do you call? I have no cell signal.”

“They got us a land line!” they said, pointing to the shed.

Good thing.

2. Cowboy Coffee

Getting on the road by 8:00am was key to success on this trip. Before I left Silver Mines, I came over to say goodbye to Wayne and Evelyn who were already sitting beside their fire.

“Wow,” I said, pointing at a coffee pot sitting on the grate over their fire pit. “That is huge!” The old-fashioned metal pot must have held two gallons.

The two of them like their coffee cowboy-style. They took turns explaining their process — how they grind beans every morning, boil the coffee, and then use cold water to get the grounds to settle.

“It’s the smoothest coffee you’ve ever tasted,” Evelyn said, tapping her cup and smiling.

3. Photography in Palestine

“If you drive thru Palestine on your way home, stop in at the Gallery at the Redlands,” Wayne said. “I have some photographs on display there.” (I later found out that he also sells them online.) 

I was originally going to drive that way, but my plans changed. But when I got home, I called the gallery and left a message. A few minutes later, David called me back. I explained how I had been camping in Missouri.

“Do you know Wayne?” I asked.

“Yes!” David said. “He and I went to school together from second grade thru high school.” 

“And what about Evelyn?” 

“Oh yes,” he said with a chuckle. “She and I knew each other in fourth grade. Can I tell them I spoke to you?”

“Of course,” I said. “But they might remember me as Charlie.” 

The “Charlie thing” is another story, but I promised to stop at three. 

Plain Joy

Sat, 29 Jul 2023, 05:47 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

Here is a snippet from the first day of my five-day drive from Michigan to Austin pulling the trailer, with four campgrounds along the way.

Driving thru northern Indiana was a joy for so many reasons. The slow, two-lane road. Blue sky and sunshine. Expanses of corn and soybeans. Cool air blowing in the open windows. Really, sheer joy. Here’s one detail.

Northern Indiana is Amish country. I did not know this, but the yellow horse-and-buggy “Share the Road” signs along the side of were an obvious hint, quickly followed by a black, square buggy ahead of me. And then another one. And then an open buggy with a neatly dressed boy and girl sitting close but not close to each other as they rolled up a dirt road into a field.

And finally there was another black, square buggy driving towards me. I pulled over and slowed down.

A girl was at the reins, and several other children sat next to and behind her. As we got close, she looked straight at me, smiled, took the reins in her left hand, and waved with her right. Maybe because I had slowed down? Or because I too was pulling a trailer? Or maybe smiling and waving is a thing for them, just as is dressing smartly for the day or planting flowers in front of their houses. 

A Theory of US-131

Fri, 28 Jul 2023, 03:22 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

1. Going Home

After Sandy returned to Ohio. After Lexi came and went. After Colin returned to the political grind. After Betty disappeared in her flash of purple. After Burt and Jenny lashed the kayaks and stashed the dogs. After Jasper’s serenades were done and his kitchen closed. After VJ and Jenny Bea and Julia and Katherine returned south for a big school year. After Ben and Vicki had returned once more to their patients in Chicagoland.

After all the cars were gone. After the tents were stowed and the trailers locked. After the waterfront was secured and the cottage windows shut.  After all that, I too turned at last to home afar.

Down the two-rut drive thru the forest right onto Morgan Mills Road and again onto Macclain. Then Lincoln Lake Road. And then west on M-57 and eventually south on US-131. Home lay somewhere far out there.

2. US-131

This summer, I drove the full length of US-131. It’s an odd statement, isn’t it, that one might drive the full length of a US highway? Yet from its northernmost terminus in Petoskey to its southern end just beyond the Indiana state line, I drove the whole thing, the second half of which I covered on this return home.

“Wait,” you say. “The highway stops at the state line? It ends? The US highway runs only thru Michigan?”

Yes, well except for a valiant incursion into Elkhart County in northern Indiana where it extends to the Indiana Tollroad, US-131 ceases to be. The wide, controlled access highway becomes instead two-lane state Indiana 13. It seems that over many decades, Indiana has consistently declined to extend it further. And so, US-131 just stops.

I have a theory for why this is. It is based only on anecdotal evidence consisting of the joy of a narrow, two-lane road under blue sky amid the fields of corn and soy beans and well-kept farmsteads always with flowers out front in full bloom and laundry hanging in the breeze and slow-trotting horses pulling narrow-wheeled buggies. You see, Elkhart County is Amish country.

There is evidently no need for great highways with multiple swift-moving lanes. Here things move at a saner pace. And for that, there is no need for US-131.

At least that’s my theory. Because I was there.

Goodbye Lake

Sun, 23 Jul 2023, 05:06 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

Goodbye Red Oak. Goodbye Pine.

a Red Oak tree sihouette against late afternoon sun glistening off the water a White Pine tree sihouette against late afternoon sun glistening off the water

Goodbye Michigan summertime.

crescent moon reflected in the still water of Half Mile Lake

Sunny Spots of Greenery

Sat, 22 Jul 2023, 05:52 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

The Jumping Fish by Janet’s Dock

Fri, 21 Jul 2023, 07:59 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License


There was barely a breeze, and the lake was glassy-still when a young couple came trolling by. He was shirtless and wore long swimming trunks. She had long hair and was bikini clad. He was standing on the bow of his boat casting. She was sitting in the back reading. They looked quite comfortable.  

As I looked up, the guy got a bite on his line. He turned and said something to her, and she came to the front where he gave her the pole and began taking pictures of her reeling in the line. She stood pole in hand as the fish slowly pulled their boat thru the water. After a few minutes, I saw her holding a very large fish as he took more pictures.

With that, the big jumping fish by Janet’s dock was caught. 


He must have thrown the fish back, because a few moments later, he was trolling the same spot again.

As soon as he cast his line into the water, it went taught and his pole bent over. He turned to the woman and said something. He reeled the line in. The woman picked up a net and held it over the side. He reeled some more and then some more, and then she bent over and scooped up a very large fish. 

And with that, the big jumping fish by Janet’s dock was once more caught. 


This time he held up the fish, and she took the pictures. He turned away, and I couldn’t see what he was doing. He bent over for a moment, stood up, and then threw the fish back. The two of them sat down, pulled the trolling motor up, and drove their boat away from the shore.

I guess the fish will live to jump by Janet’s dock another day.

A Morning Visitor

Fri, 21 Jul 2023, 07:45 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

In the waning days of this escape from of the sweltering Texas heat, it’s nice to have a morning with sun and blue sky and cool Michigan air and a visitor like this.

a loon on Half Mile Lake


Wed, 19 Jul 2023, 11:45 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

Much to the chagrin of the girls I am sure although they were far too polite to say anything, I sat in the cottage for a long time before finally walking out to our teardrop trailer.

It was late, and the woods was dark for eyes accustomed to being indoors. Still, there was a slight glow from inside the trailer, so I managed to find my way without tripping over the various minor hazards along the way. Once inside, I arranged the blankets and sleeping bag (yes, even in summertime), shut the door, and turned out the light.

When I had laid my head on my pillow, I heard some loud voices. Distant but not distant, it sounded like two people arguing. I opened the door, stepped out, peered into the darkness and listened. There was indeed some sort of argument — two or more agitated people yelling very loudly.

Then there was a loud Bang! 

I peered in the direction of the shot (for a gun shot it clearly had been). There were lights at a cottage that I had never noticed you could see thru the woods. And the yelling got very loud and very, very frantic.

“Get into the car,” a woman shouted. “GET INTO THE CAR!” 

I heard a door slam shut, and then there was another Bang! 

I could see red tail lights light up thru the trees and hear a motor revving and tires spinning. The revving and spinning would stop and the then restart. I heard the sound of kicked up gravel. This went on for a few moments, and tail lights moved forward and back a few times and then finally disappeared into the woods. The sound of the engine roared down what I knew to be a long driveway to the road. 

Just then there was another Bang!

I could see a second set tail lights and hear another engine which also raced down the driveway. And I could clearly hear first car turn onto the road and speed towards 16 Mile Road, where it must have spun as it turned northward, tires squealing loudly. The second car went in the same direction. A few minutes later I heard sirens, but they never got close. And then there was silence.

Back in the trailer, I rearranged the blankets and sleeping bag, shut the door, turned out the light, laid my head back on my pillow, and fell fast asleep.

Black Smudges in the Woods

Wed, 19 Jul 2023, 09:21 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

A squirrel complained at twilight from somewhere in the woods. You might know the growling-whining complaint of a squirrel. It would serve perfectly as a sound effect of some lurking creature in a sci-fi movie.

I turned to look. The noise stopped. I looked away, and it resumed. Then another squirrel joined in. I turned to look. Their noise stopped. I looked away, and they both resumed. This went on a few times, each round louder than the last. I imagined them slowly approaching me and at their loudest, expecting them to be glowering at me in the dimming darkness from margin of the woods.

The growling and whining no longer sounded like squirrels. The hair stood up on my arms.

I walked to the edge of the deck and stared into the the forest. There I waited, determined to force the creatures to make the next move, which they did. At the top of a topless tree there were two black smudges of shadow moving only slightly, growling and whining. 

“I see you there,” I said. Silence. They stopped moving, and I was no longer certain that they ever had.

One of these smudges was on the side of the topless tree, silhouetted by the twilit woods. The other perched atop the shattered trunk where the rest of the tree had snapped off some time ago. I stood motionless and waited. Then the top smudge moved toward a hole in the tree that I had not noticed and disappeared inside. 

Even as the other black smudge on the side remained in place, there came a commotion from inside that hole. And after some time that seemed to go on forever but was likely only a few seconds, two black smudges emerged from the hole, one chasing to the other, spiraling around trunks and branches as the first one leapt to other trees and raced away into the canopy. While those two were chasing each other, the third moved slowly around the topless tree to the hole and went inside. 

Now all was quiet. There was no more growling. No whining. And soon the chaser of the two returned to the tree, perched on top, and eventually climbed into the hole.

I never saw the third smudge again.

On the Far Side of the Lake

Mon, 17 Jul 2023, 01:10 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

The early morning fog had just risen, although there were places in the reeds on the far side of the lake where a few wisps remained. The water was as still as glass. The forest on the western shore was reflected perfectly on the surface.

A small dog barked somewhere over there — just one small yip followed by a few more that sounded as if the dog had turned away and was barking into the woods. This then grew louder and became frantic. The barking echoed as if the dog had descended into a cavern. 

Then all was quiet. And moments later there was a splash on the far shore. Ripples radiated into the otherwise still water.

The splash and the ripples are unrelated to the silence, right? The dog will be yipping again this evening. Right?

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License