Moody Waters and Wild Flowers

And some other things….

This post will be mostly pictures…just pictures of pretty scenes I’ve noticed in and around St Ignace, Michigan.

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Like the blue and green I’m so fond of.  With a freighter , toooo….

Lake scenes really can be moody.  The one above is carefree and light….

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And this one of the same area but by the shore instead of on the hill, on a stormy day is so somber…sad…sorrowful.

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There are wildflower bouquets by the basket full….

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At the lake side…..

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At the roadside….

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Everywhere in between.

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Add some fog….

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And a rocky shore…..or….

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Morning stripes of pastels.  And a sailboat.

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Sometimes shades of gray.

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Wind….oops, that picture is crooked!

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Some rain…..

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Waves splashing on the rocky shore.

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Super blue with another sail boat!

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Beautiful boquet!

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Joy thought the flowers were beautiful too!

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Shiloh blends in with the sandy shore as he watches moody Lake Michigan.

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Seagulls!  Jonathan Livingston…is that you?

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Beautiful morning blues.

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Stand out in a crowd!  Dare to be different!  Bloom where you’re planted!

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Joy, sleeping it off.

Tomorrow we move again.  I’m unsure (as I often am), about if I’ll have decent internet or cellular connections.  So until next time…take care.

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Being A Temporary ‘Yooper’

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Folks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan call themselves ‘Yoopers’ and they call the folks in the Lower Peninsula ‘Trolls’…. under the bridge…get it?  😊

Popular food up here, at least for the tourists, are Pasties, which consist of some kind of meat, and veggies like carrots, turnips, onions, and potatoes, diced up inside a folded over pie crust.  You can find vegitarian ones too, without meat.  Also you’ve got your standard slabs of fudge, and there is the saltwater taffy ( though the lakes are promoted as salt free, shark free, always fresh, and sometimes frozen. )

All that touristy stuff, and yet the UP is even more laid back than the LP, with no big cities, and even more green and blue, if that be possible.

This peninsula is boardered by Lake Superior on the north, and the St Mary’s River, with Canada across the way.  On the south it’s Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  The east gives you the continuation of the St Mary’s River which becomes the St Lawrence Seaway.  On the west is Wisconsin.  Since the Mackanac Bridge was opened in 1957, you can see why, especially the old-timers up here, identify with Wisconsin more than Michigan…it was the only land connection for a very long time.

The eastern side of the UP has a strong French influence,and  the west side is more Nordic.  Overall, for me at least, there is still a Native American feeling, but I’m not sure what that means exactly….it’s a feeling.

We have been at this nice little RV Park in St Ignace,

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and this has been my view for the past week.

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When I passed through here in late May I reserved this site in the ‘front row’ for my return to St Ignace.  I wanted the view, even though I’d need help backing in.  The park is crowded now though, and the sites are fairly narrow.

IMG_5017There is no one in the site next to me in this picture, but you can see how close the one on the other side is.

Oh but the view…..

IMG_5016From my back window.

The park is across the road from Lake Michigan but they have lake access, so we can walk down the hill anytime and the dogs can take a little dip.

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While here we’ve been to the Museum of Ojibwa Culture,

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the Fort de Baudelaire Museum, the Mackinac Straights Photo Gallery,

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the Father Marquette Memorial, along with a slew of souvenir shops.  Also we visit many areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline to view the many moods of the lake, and we take the 50ish mile drive up I-75 to Sault Ste Marie to see the Soo Locks in action.

IMG_5169This is the freighter that I saw go through the locks.  It’s 990 feet long!

I find that dogs are not allowed in the viewing area at the locks, so Joy and Shiloh wait for me in JR, in the shade, windows open.  I put 2 quarters in the parking meter, giving me one hour, and in that time I am  able to see a tour boat, a barge, and a huge freighter go from the lower east side of the locks, to the higher west.  Lake Superior is 21 feet higher in elevation than Lake Huron, so they raise and lower the water elevation in the locks.  Three locks are used,and I saw two of them in action at the same time.  I was able to trot back to the dogs and get there before the meter ran out!  That was a lucky break, because often it’s hours between uses, according to recent history print outs.

IMG_5137Locks with low water.

IMG_5163Locks filled.

Freighters facinate me, but so do the Great Lakes, and so does the Mackinac Bridge.  Some bridge facts for you:

Total length of the bridge and approaches…28,195 feet

Height of main towers above the water…552 feet

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Depth of tower piers below water…200 feet

Number of main cables…2

Diameter of main cables…24 1/2 inches

Number of wires in each cable….12,580

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Total length of cable wires….41,000 miles

Weight of cables, wires and fittings….12,500 tons

Total estimated weight of superstructure….66,000 tons

IMG_4990Facing north, from close to the middle of the span.

So, I’ve got more pictures than words right now.  I am going to try to post another blog, with mostly pictures I’ve been taking…coming soon, if I’m successful!

 

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Using The “Allstays” and “Google Maps” Apps

There are a lot of ways to look for places to camp, and so far my favorites are the Allstays and Google Maps apps.  Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be without them.  I paid $10 for Allstays about 3 years ago, and Google Maps was free, but for me they are both priceless in my search for places to camp.

First I make a plan.

So I’m in Arizona and I want to go to Michigan, by way of North Dakota to stop and see friends in both places. I want cool temperatures if they are available, and I want to avoid tornados!  I’d like to see Canyon De Chelly and Mesa Verde.  I’d like to arrive at my friends home in Michigan around Memorial Day.  I’ll have the summer to spend tooling around Michigan, but I want to be back in Montana by September 1 for a Casita Rally.

There are a lot of ‘legs’ to this journey, and I can plan them at separate times.  I’ve found that I like to reserve ahead, when reservations are possible, because I like to know where I’m going, and when.  It puts my mind at ease.  I prefer to travel less than 200 miles a day, and I don’t like to travel every day, even when I’m ‘en route’ somewhere.

So, I go to my Allstays app and start looking for places that are less than 200 miles apart.

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I’m using the KOA where I am now as an example.  You can see that there are other options here.  You can filter what you would like Allstays to show you.

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Here are some of the filters.  You just check them off.

One thing Allstays doesn’t do well and that is mileage, so I go to Google Maps to check distances.

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You can bet I’ve got paper maps out too…and my notebook and a pen.

At first I’ll be clicking on icons for places to stay, to see if there is anything I like.  I might do this for a day or a week or more, making notes.  I might be looking at various routes, and looking to see what is nearby that I might like to see or visit.

When I get to the point of wanting to start making reservations, it’s because I’ve decided on a route and I have a pretty good idea about the distances involved.

When I click on an icon in Allstays, the name of the place comes up.

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Like this.  Now I know the name of the place, KOA Campground Gaylord.  If I want to know more, I can click on the ‘i’ in the rectangle, and then this happens:

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This box pops up.  This one gives a lot of info, some places don’t give as much.  What you can’t see in this picture continues on to mention this place has free internet, cable tv, it’s pet friendly, they have a pool, and it mentions other amenities.

Next, if I’m still interested, I can usually click on ‘website’ in the green box,

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And I’m there.  In the case of KOA’s, State Parks, National Parks and some other places, I can make a reservation right from that website if I choose to.  Other places require a phone call or email, and that info would be provided either in the box or at the website.

There are usually pictures on the website, but if I want to see more, I can go back to Google Maps, where people post photos and of course there are the photos from above, including the surrounding area.  Like this.  The blue dot is there because I’m taking photos on my tablet, with my phone, and that dot is me.

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I can look closer….

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I like that I’m seeing so many trees.

Even closer.

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Google Maps also has helpful reviews.

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So, say I couldn’t find a place to stay in the particular area I had hoped to stay in.  Then I’ll need to adjust my travel and go farther, or not quite as far as I planned.  Depending on what’s available this could change things a lot, so I like to make the actual reservation, or at least have some close by options, before moving on to reserve the next stay.  How long I stay in one spot might depend on when something is available at the next place I’m interested in.

It might take me a week or two to get a ‘leg’ of my journey in place.  That’s ok because I have time, and when I’m done, I have a plan, and for me that feels good.

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Aren’t they a beautiful green?

But what if I change my mind for some reason?

Most places are not set in stone.  Because I’m a VIP KOA member now, I can cancel without any penalty.  Every place has a cancelation policy.  It can range from, if you have the courtesy to notify them 48 hours ahead, or by noon of that day…whatever the policy…there is no penalty, to costing $10….or a full nights stay….to cancel even if you tell them a month ahead.  Checking the cancelation policy before you book is always a good idea!  When I’ve had to cancel at State Parks or COE’s, my money has been refunded.

I do almost all of this planning with my tablet, which receives cellular signals as well as wifi, which is very convenient.

So hope that gives you an idea about how the planning can be done.  I love the planning part myself, and I have the time, so it’s actually fun for me!

And now some doggie pictures!

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This is Big Lake.  It’s not very big really, but that’s what it’s called.  When I was about 8 years old  (Whoa!  60 years ago!) my parents rented a cabin on this lake and we spent a week here.  Now there are no cabins,  and it’s all private property around the  lake except for this one little access spot with a boat launch area.

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And there was some grass to roll in for Joy…

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And that made everybody happy campers.

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Moving on tomorrow, across Big Mac, back to the UP!

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Did You Ever Hear Of Onaway, Michigan?

July 5, 2017

Tonight (Wednesday) finds us in Gaylord, MI, lounging in Wandering Spirit under the AC, me with a margarita, binging on NCIS thanks to a USA channel marathon, and a cable hook up at the Gaylord KOA park.

We arrive in Gaylord after two days in Onaway (July 3 & 4), with none other than Mary, my dear friend from California….the one who kindly shares her home with me when we occasionally return to the area we lived in before we began this journey.

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Mary lived the first part of her life in Onaway and has friends and family there….a town of about 900 souls about 45 miles southeast of our last camp at ‘the Tip Of The Mitt’.  Mary was there for a reunion , and we knew I would be in the area too, so of course we had to get together!

As it turns out, Onaway has a very popular 4th of July parade, and usually about 10,000 people converge on the tiny town!  This year Joy, Shiloh and myself were 3 of those people, as well as Mary, who hadn’t been there in about 5 years.

We got to town early so we could set up our lawn chairs in an area with shade and grass ( remember, for me, it’s all about the dogs).  Mary’s son was there too, along with his kids.

People line the street far beyond where I can see them….

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I have a few parade pictures……

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But I thought it was really interesting how Joy and Shiloh turned into therapy dogs for young and old alike…..

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Onaway has a nice park where we took a walk….

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There were lots of pretty wildflowers there.

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And quite a few interesting sculptures done by a local man.  Tom Moran.

Then there is Onaway State Park on Black Lake.  Nice, simple, and not too busy on the holiday week end.

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Mary, Joy and Shiloh with Black Lake in the background.  It’s not black.

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Mary took this one!  Sun about to set.

All too soon our time with Mary is over, and we make the short drive to Gaylord.

IMG_4914Our campsite at the very nice KOA in Gaylord.  You can’t tell by this picture but this is a huge campsite.

But I have one more meet up!  Marie and Ray, my friends from Tawas, come over to have one last visit.  We have a sweet time, but then…..

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It’s time for them to go…..

That was hard.

But we stay in close contact….

Miss You…Marie…Mary.

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Thoughts About Independence

(When I sat down to write, I didn’t intend for it to be this!  But this is what came out, so here ya go…)

Independence.

IMG_8652…it comes in many shapes and sizes.  We celebrate it as a nation, and I celebrate it as an individual.  In both cases it depends on so many things.  For our nation it’s the unique people that came together, produced documents and beliefs to govern themselves by, then proceeded to fight for what they believed in.  It was an experiment.  Good things happened.  Bad things happened.  Yes a nation was born, but not without crushing the culture of those who came before, and making slaves of others.  The fighting continues.  The amazing experiment continues…the culture evolves and regresses in waves…at times threatens to drown us…yet we gather together to celebrate and show our patriotism…with the colors we wear, some with the uniforms they have worn, with picnics, with parades, with lots of bangs and booms and flashing lights and special music.  “Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’r the land of the free and the home of the brave…’

But we aren’t  all free and we aren’t all brave.  We need to work on that.  And so many …things….are not normal right now….and in fact, are quite abnormal and repulsive….and frightening…

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for those who have risked and given their lives over the years!  Many have given everything so that I can be sitting here, enjoying my life.  I am thankful that I live here in the USA and am able to reap the rewards of being a retired US baby-boomer citizen…with social security money that I have funded since I was 16 years old…with being able to afford ( with difficulty) an education that allowed me  to have a career, at least part way through my life, that paid me enough to raise my children, save something and provide  a pension.  Thanks to women before me who fought for their rights, I can vote, and can travel and follow this path I have chosen, on my own in relative safety.  I have decent health care that includes Medicare, when I need it.  (For now). Without  fairly good health, I couldn’t live this life style.

So many are not so fortunate.  So many.  Why am I allowed this?  And on the other hand, many have so much more than I do, but I’m satisfied…I’m totally ok.  I’m grateful.  These days though, I sometimes find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop.  (Maybe that should read ‘bomb’ not ‘shoe’?)  I feel that it’s really important to grasp each day…enjoy it, and enjoy our blessings and benefits what ever or where ever they may be.  Live in the moment.  I feel the need to free my mind from the  worries…concerns…anxieties that so often plague it…to breath deeply and concentrate on absorbing the beauty around me, whatever it may be…the green leaves and towering trees….

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the blue waters and sky…

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and the precious little faces of Joy and Shiloh…

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Life is precious down here.

Independence and freedom are precious.

Health is precious.

Let’s try not to take any of it for granted.

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The Tip Of The Mitt….

In Pictures…

FullSizeRenderWe are at the blue dot!

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At the KOA Kampground in Mackinaw City.

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Among the Birch trees….

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And other trees.

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The flowers.

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And the ferns.

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Just a skip and a jump to the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge.  (This is my favorite picture in this group).

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There are dipping opportunities, but also…

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Lots of signs like this.  But we have learned where it’s ok for furry people to swim.

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There is lots of green grass to roll in.

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Sometimes it’s nice to just look.

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No shortage of shopping.  Mandy, this one’s for you! ❤️

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There are trees to keep us shaded from the sun….

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There are rain storms…whew, lots of those.

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And the rain storms bring out the ghost ships.

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There are lighthouses.  This is Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.  It’s part of….

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Michilimackinac State Park.  And don’t forget the abundance of seagulls!

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And the fishflies.  Aka June bugs I think.  I always thought they were kinda cute.  Now the mosquitoes….not so much!!  My new perfumes are called ‘Deep Woods’ and ‘Off’.  They stink!  But I can’t survive here without them!

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But with all this water…lakes, rivers and rain, and literally this rainforest…yup, there’s going to be bugs.

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May we in the USA celebrate our freedom and independence with an understanding of how precious it is and how easily we can lose it.  May we demonstrate in our own lives the qualities we would like to see in our nation….peace, compassion, and justice…please add to the list as you see fit.

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New Friends And Very Old Friends!

Hold up your left hand with the back of it facing you.  There you have the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

IMG_2425Use your imagination.  That’s Michigan surrounded on 3 sides by lovely blue lakes!

As we leave Lakeport State Park we are headed west, towards the Lake Michigan side.  We are crossing at about the middle of the palm.  We could make it in one day, but I’m slow, and besides we have plans to meet some new friends while we camp at Birch Run.  That would be Dawn and her Sheltie princess, Katie.

FullSizeRenderDawn and Katie…and Joy too.

We discovered each other because we both read RV Sues blog.  Dawn (and sometimes Katie) write their own blog called ‘Change Is Hard’.  Dawn and I have been following each other’s blogs and when she read in mine that I was going to be near her neck of the Michigan woods, we decided to meet up.  The weather was so drenchingly wet that we came close to calling it off, but we had both prepared food for our little celebration (vegan food!), and we were hungry so darn it, we decided to go for it during a break in the rain, and when the flood around my site receded!

IMG_4497The flood…we can’t even get out the door!

We had a nice visit and lunch and the pupsters got along just fine.  By ‘just fine’ I mean that they were all very casual and peaceful about being in the presence of each other’s royalty.  🙂

Dawn is an excellent photographer and she took some very nice pictures:

IMG_5195How did she get everyone to look right at her?

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IMG_5186In these two pictures I feel like Dawn picked up my kids personalities exceptionally well.

After a couple of rainy days in Birch Run, we travel on, mostly west, a little north, to Muskegon, to a KOA on a small lake there.  While in the area we check out Muskegon State Park.  It’s crowded with campers but the beach and the dunes are empty.

IMG_2382Sand dunes at Muskegon State Park with Lake Michigan beyond.

After a couple of days in Muskegon, we are on the move again.  So many places I want to see in this state where I lived half my life but never saw much of.  We spend 2 days at Silver Lake, not too far from Ludington ( still on the ‘left coast’).

IMG_4554Silver Lake.  Beyond the lake are sand dunes and beyond the dunes (which you can’t see in this picture) is Lake Michigan.

FullSizeRenderThe Petite Pointe Au Sable Lighthouse on Lake Michigan near Silver Lake.

FullSizeRenderJoy and Shiloh take a quick dip in Lake Michigan.

And then…

FullSizeRenderAwe man.  Well what did I THINK would happen?  Can you even imagine how much sand I got out of her coat?

Then finally, we make it to Petoskey.  I’ve been looking forward to this time at Petoskey State Park because there is another meet up planned.  Marie and Ray (the friends I stayed with in Tawas) are here already and another friend of Marie’s and mine from high school is coming to join us!  I haven’t seen Diane in about 12 years, and before that our meet ups have been brief and few and far between.  We three umm…girls… spend Friday non stop visiting.  We go waaay back.  These are the ‘girls’ I went to see the Stones with in 1965 and 66…my first two Stones concerts.  Well, in those days I guess ‘concerts’ really wasn’t the right word, but we went to see them…and try to hear them…play songs like Not Fade Away, Satisfaction, Get Off My Cloud, and like that.  November of 65 our seats were right in the center of the 5th row and we paid $3.50 each for them.  In July of 66 we scored the 12th row for a couple dollars more. Some great memories there, but mostly we didn’t talk about things like that.  We were catching up.  Fifty years…there’s a lot to cover.

IMG_4599Fifty years later…

Saturday Marie and Ray have to leave early, so Diane takes Joy, Shiloh and I on a little walking tour of the very lovely down town Petoskey.  She doesn’t live here but she’s worked here in the past.

FullSizeRenderNice day in Petoskey.

I’m SO VERY GLAD we were able to pull this off! What a great time we had!  Time…whatever it is…seems to fall away.  We are the same but different.  Shaped by life experiences good and bad, we are different but the same.  We’ve all worked out our lives and done ok.  It’s good to see that.

And kudos to Ray for backing WS into my site at the park.  Left up to me I’d still be working on that.  It was preplanned…those sites are tight  and small and he volunteered to do it when we were making plans to go there.

FullSizeRenderRays excellent back in job.

I have one more meet up planned with a friend while I’m in Michigan, but there are some other people I sure wish I could see again too…

We are going to hang out in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula for a couple more weeks.  I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

 

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