Tahquamenon Phenomenon

Lake Superior Water Magic

Smokey Sandhill Spence here:  We ended our visit in Traverse City with a leisurely stroll on the TART trail past a cool old railroad truss bridge. I finally showed Billy Boardman Lake and we spent some time in the library, overlooking the summer sailboat camp.  My mom was healing up nicely after a knee replacement surgery and the leaves were already starting to change…time to go.

We decided to take a northern route across the country with some beautiful detours. I was thrilled to get to see the Mackinac Bridge again and tell Billy about the ferocious winds that at one time picked up a Yugo and threw it into the Straits. I also hadn’t been through the Tahquamenon Falls area for at least 20 years.  My father and I visited in the winter when I was young, which was a very special time. The snow was deep and most of the tourists gone.  A hot lunch at the Berry Patch restaurant was welcomed then. Whitefish Point was a woe-be-gone place, isolated, lonely and fascinating.  That was one of the last winters I remember seeing ice caves on Lake Superior–now I look at the pictures of the caves in my memory and the internet.

The area was definitely different in the summer. I was feeling 7 billion people on the planet as we struggled to get close to Whitefish Point and the falls.  We opted to hike in to a quiet, scenic back country camp spot about 3 miles from Upper Tahquamenon Falls (“Tahquamenon rhymes with phenomenon”) It was worth our hike out everyday to view the falls, have lunch on Lake Superior and study the bogs along the way. Even with the 7 billion mosquitoes we encountered, it is a lovely place.  Luckily, we bought bug jackets with hoods to combat the bites. We startled Sandhill Cranes with their babies–it had been so long since I had seen them it took me awhile to remember what kind of bird they were. How I could mistake their trumpeting calls I don’t know! We decided to celebrate (celebrate what? everything!) and we took ourselves out to eat at the Tahquamenon Brewery, located inside the park.  Billy got to eat Lake Superior whitefish and the occasion was so awesome, I ate some too.

One lovely sunny day, we took a trip out to where Tahquamenon River meets Lake Superior–the river mouth. It was a great day for  a picnic and after a little searching, Billy and I found a perfect private beach for two. After dunking in the water and sunbathing for awhile in restful bliss, a family came up from behind the tall grasses hiding our spot. The grandma was sorely disappointed to fine us there and I heard the mom say “shit, someone’s there already”. I knew we were about to have our half hour of peace disturbed. As appalled as I felt, I knew that when they descended onto our beach that it was inevitable, although terribly awkward.  I mean, that beach was really small! I had to move my beach chair for them to even get to it!  “I hate to barge in on you like this, but this is the only sandy beach we could find that’s close to our cabin and these kids need to get in the water,” said the grandma.  The three little kids felt slightly shy, obviously feeling the strain of the situation. The grandma tried making small talk, which I barely indulged for about 5 minutes. I then made up something about exploring the river mouth area trails and we left.  We drove down a random dirt road Billy had a hunch about and we did find a breezy, shaded pull off, located up the river, to have our dinner. More and more, however,  I find that I “escape” to wild places and wilderness, only to find that people are crowding it up.  Where are the wild spaces left for the wild creatures?  Sadly, sometimes these experiences trump my enjoyment of the place. It doesn’t take away the beauty or the specialness, and I think it is important for people to visit these places to know they need protecting, I just wish there were less people.  There, I admitted it. I’m not happy about the population growth. All summer long I feel it (more and more every year) and swear that next year I’m not going anywhere until school is back in session. That said, I still love the Great Lakes and I know it is a fantasy to think that they wouldn’t be crowded on a lovely afternoon, but I still wish it so.

Billy here. The clear water of Lake Superior is a phenomenon I had underestimated. This water could be drunk straight from the lake and taste as pure as any snow melt. I am sad that all lakes and rivers cannot be drunk anymore. It reminds me of the saying about the last poisoned river and the last cut tree.

Michigan is named for a Algonquian word, mishi-gami or “great lake”, which was extrapolated into “Michigan” by the French. The more I look into this Turtle Island, the more I feel it living, even in the cities, and I understand that there is not a single piece of earth here that doesn’t still feel this heartbeat that was named and loved by the first people here. All of us immigrants are settlers on stolen land. This is something I have felt and known since I was a kid. I felt the sadness of the trees I grew up with, every old oak had a heaviness and they were my best friends. I did not learn about the lynchings, the evictions and the trails of tears until much later, but I could feel them through the old trees and the rocks.

Non-Indians will never have western eyes so long as they cling to the Man versus Nature dichotomy. Four hundred years of this thinking gets you a civilization of people lost in shopping malls, coast-to-coast take-out windows, a culture that has lost its connection to the natural world. That is the ultimate poverty for all men, and no amount of money can ransom that sadness.

– Raymond Cross, Indian Law Professor

I found myself going through heartbreaks while backpacking. My mind was spinning all the familiar loops and my was heart tight and hot as a coal. I agree with John Francis, that the only person we have the ethical authority to change is oneself. I also want to feel the conviction of one Holocaust survivor’s insight that forgiveness is for us, so that we can go on living and it doesn’t let the perpetrator off the hook. But these old and new things, all the bruises of this lifetime and the last 2000 years, sometimes they clog my blood and I feel held fast.

Then I heard the elephantine whirs of sandhill cranes. I walked through the black spongy bogs with the mosquitoes. Frogs of every size jumped into the water. Thick under-stories of wild blueberries surrounded us. The deep ruby sun burned off in the morning fog while a hermit thrush sang an echoing melody. The tree roots on the trail rose up, worn smooth and shiny by thousands of feet, like unfolding wings of birds and bats. The evenings were so quiet I could hear the lub of my heart and the static scream of my nervous system. And slowly, day by day, I am becoming softer and spongier as the abundant bog.

Island Times


Spence here:  The Great Lakes just feel like home. They fill my body with unexplained mixes of different kinds of love–wonder, joy, sadness, awe, gratefulness–to name a few. It is like when Tom Hanks first looks out into the ocean as a kid in the movie “Splash”, the Great Lakes have always held that allure for me. I have been so happy to be able to spend so much time around them lately. I felt some days in New Mexico I dreamt of these times.

After a sling shot drive back north from Cleveland, we met my parents for an overnight camp-out in Hartwick Pines State Park. It was a lovely evening, hanging out under my parents awning watching the rain fall. I slept so well again in our little tent, set on a mat of pine needles, away from the city.  Cleveland is a great “town” but I am always glad to get back in the dirt after walking concrete for a few days.  Hartwick Pines is well known in Michigan for mountain biking and for logging history–and the pines!  Great towering pines. Cathedral-like pines and life-producing watery spongy veins running through them. I remember when I was still an invincible teen–I may have shorn the cape by then–I took a costly spill over the handlebars of my mountain bike after hitting a sandy spot in the trail. When the dust settled, I opened my eyes and saw a huge rock by my head.  From then on I swore I would always wear a helmet! (My sister bailed on that same hill right after me!)  I have been so lucky to grow up with parks like this around in lower Michigan. My hometown was surrounded by them and I am a better person for it. “Outside” has shaped who I have grown to be.

More adventures awaited us further north. We met up with some of my favorite people in the world. What were at first, close friends of my parents, have become family to me–people who have also helped to shape who I am. A trip to Suttons Bay to visit with a woman and her family whose daughter I used to baby-sit–this was a cherry on top. I hadn’t seen them for so long, and it was good to be in their company again. Much laughing, reminiscing and catching up. Good food and good beer. “I am an IPA man”, my friend kept saying over and over–as well as references to “idle chatter”, which are inside jokes, but none-the-less important. I am thrilled Billy has been able to meet some of the people in my life who mean so much to me.

In any event, a magic place exists on Marquette Island, (part of the Les Cheneaux Islands in upper Michigan, Lake Huron) with magic people living there. More family friends picked us up in their boat and took us over to the island. We met some of the Finnish neighbors, toured some of the bays, and caught up on the past.  I am continually touched by the love and generosity of  people whenever I travel, but this went above and beyond. I am truly loved. We all showed Billy more about what the Great Lakes offer–exploring, island charts on the wall, sailing, stand-up paddling, great food and family.  I even looked through a copy of Bone Yard Boats magazine and pretended to be in the middle of a wooden boat restoration project. (Maybe someday I will be!) Perhaps its my Finnish heritage and my love of the water, but the whole island experience always leaves me wishing for our own cabin on the water.

I have always been the type of leaf which falls from the tree into the creek instead of varied ground. I float until I take up lodging against a pleasing sandbar, beaver’s quarters, driftwood snag or lily pad village. Then I float some more. Maybe this isn’t what people think is the right way to be…I should be apt to “grab life by the horns” or whatever.  But I think more and more, this is the life for me. Sometimes I feel like I should be “more” or “be” something or someone, or live up to some greatness or potential, but the leaf does not propose any such notion. It dreamily moves about on a course that is obviously purposeful, but not predictable, all the way out to the “Big Lake”.

Billy here. I am humbled and grateful to be welcomed into Michigan’s arms by the people, the water and the tall forests of pine, maple, beech, cedar and birch. Our hosts on Marquette Island in the Les Cheneaux archipelago took us sailing. When I said this was my first time, I was given the tiller to steer the sailboat. An old feeling came over me on the icy water that I remember from generations ago. It seemed so familiar, lifetimes of loving relations with the waters and the fish that gave my forbears food. In the mossy woods were little wooden cabins and a sauna, where the Finnish family who stayed there in one of the cabins near us would sit after dipping in the frigid Lake Huron. In Finland, a family sauna would be built even before the house and often women would give birth in the sauna. Holes would be cut in the ice and they would dip in the water then sit in the sauna in endless cycles. All welcomed me like family, feeding us delicious food, boating us around, letting us use their stand-up paddle boards (again, my first time!) and pouring us tasty local micro brews. I feel honored to see Spence’s home place and be a part of this beautiful family.

Magic Workers of Cleveland

Mural on West 65th Street, Cleveland

Billy here. After a family vacation with the nieces and nephew, we took an intermission to visit our friend in Cleveland, a fellow corvid family member and magical human being. We met working in a coffee shop together in Portland, Oregon years ago where we spent our evenings cawing like crows, drinking absinthe and twirling around lamp posts. So we were looking forward to his tour of Cleveland.

We drove through Spence’s old stomping grounds – Flint and Ann Arbor – and took highway 2 from Toledo to drive closer to the lake.

Another environmental aside: As we were driving through this idyllic Americana countryside,  near the amusement park Cedar Point where we could see roller coasters from the highway, I was somewhat surprised to see the large iconic cooling tower of a nuclear power plant rise up ahead on the shore of Lake Erie. Having come from fracking and oil country down southwest where nuclear power is scarce, I am surprised every time I see one. There is not a single nuclear power plant from Comanche Peak in Glen Rose, Texas (Comanche Peak seemed like a swear word growing up) all the way across the Rocky Mountains to Palo Verde in western Arizona. This particular power plant, Davis–Besse Nuclear Power Station, has been the source of two of the top five of the most potentially dangerous nuclear incidents since 1979 in the United States. Just two years ago, there was a leak in the reactor coolant pump seal. Palisades Nuclear Generation Station in southeast Michigan leaked radioactive water into Lake Michigan only last year. The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on Earth. They contain 1/5th of the world’s surface freshwater: that’s 95% of the surface freshwater in the United States. There are 38 operating nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes Basin. Here is an interesting map of seismic activity overlaid on the location of the nuclear power plants of the lower 48 states: Nuclear Power Plants and Seismic Activity.

As we exited the highway into Cleveland proper, dusk began spreading. The country curtain peeled back and old brick buildings invited us in. A bicyclist without headphones rocked his head to unheard music, swerving all over the street. Decrepit business signs from shops closed for decades still stood yellowing in cracked windows. A grizzled man with a white handlebar mustache sat down with a good looking dog and a tallboy beer on a stoop behind a building that could have been a cheap apartment or an auto garage. “I like this town already.” I said aloud. Our friend and his new partner were waiting for us in their modest apartment in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood with a spread of delicious Middle Eastern food. He introduced us to the “Cleveland Special” (perhaps Cleveland special if you are an urban wizard) – a Budweiser Lime-A-Rita with tea.

We walked through the neighborhoods the next day, exploring the book stores, parks, train tracks, backyard chicken coops, the amazing West Market and urban farms. We learned that Cleveland is one of the top cities for urban farming: http://www.clevelandcrops.org/. The city mesmerized us: the beautiful diversity of people, the beauty of the old city half overgrown with wildflowers, the incredible support for low income healthcare, the low cost of living, the trans and queer resources, the laid back atmosphere for such a big city (no one ever seems to be in a hurry), the preservation of ethnicities (even European ones) over homogenization and the arts culture. We seriously considered moving there for an afternoon.

We had delicious cheap food at classic Cleveland haunts such as Sokowlowski’s, Steve’s Lunch and Happy Dog. Our friend took us on a special journey to Mystic Imports, a magic shop of esoterics that included a popular selection of Santeria items. We enjoyed a chicken and waffles brunch, where we learned how to toast in Ukrainian: Будьмо!

Night time activities included buying pizza from Nunzio’s from behind bulletproof glass, watching The Lost Boys while drinking Miller High Life, perusing the Big Fun Toy Store (where I found a kaleidoscope!), vaping, astrological divinations, delightful conversations on magic and astronomy and watching the new Planet of the Apes in the Capitol Theatre on Gordon Square. The evening we watched the Planet of the Apes, I lay in bed thinking of whether or not it was true that an apocalypse of industrial culture would really just deteriorate into violence and civil war as the media fears portray. Then out of the silence I heard screaming on the street only a block away. Then a gunshot. Then I heard more screams and then nothing. I lay there for a while, wondering if Spence heard it too and if the police would come. I was awake for a long time listening and there were no sirens. The next morning I awoke with N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton in my head.

The last day in Cleveland our friend, my raven brother, took us to Phoenix Coffee Roasters where he works as a technician. He is about to install a lovely new La Marzocco machine into their up and coming location in Ohio City. He took us on a tour of the roastery and pulled us some beautiful shots that tasted like caramel and lemon zest with a hint of dark chocolate as we listened to Morrissey and Depeche Mode. I’m going to miss him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to move to Cleveland?” he kept asking. Maybe I do. Cleveland fam, I love you!

Spencer here: Billy and I love to travel, this is obvious. One problem with this lifestyle is often we are sleep deprived, as we are light sleepers and seem to rarely be sleeping in the same spot for more than a night, a week, or even a few months. That said, we rolled into Cleveland, exhausted, but still in good spirits with a high level of excitement. The reception of the friends was so welcoming and loving, my eyes teared up. The next day, after not sleeping so well, (not due to any accommodation problem–we had our own room!  Awesome!–just due to excitement, different noises and an anxious disposition on my part), Cleveland felt like a movie. We were characters, just as all the people out in the world. Cars and buses went by, as did birds, grasshoppers, ants, planes, bikes.  I felt like I was on drugs, but in a “PG” “Disney-movie” way. We walked and walked and it felt good. It was a brilliant film.

Our friends showed us West Side Market, which started in 1912! An old school way to shop. Local butchers, creameries, organic produce, and ethnic prepared foods all under one roof.  If we lived there, I probably would never go to a supermarket ever again! It is a good model for how things used to be and how things could be in every city or town (I probably sound old, but seriously, everything was really well priced–haggling encouraged and the selection was amazing.)

The thing I appreciate about Cleveland is even the white people have culture and its not consumerist, i.e., Abercrombie or the Gap. People mingled. We mingled. Rent and brunch are cheaply priced and everything seemed to have potential.  We joked that Cleveland is like Portland, minus 20 years. Again, I I know it makes me sound like an old timer, but even 10 years in Portland has made it much different and more expensive and uptight. Cleveland helped me realize that cities can have all the cool shit–nice restaurants, neat architecture (I miss Midwest architecture),  good libraries, good transit–all with humbleness and openness. Thanks friends, and thanks Cleveland.

Environmentalist Aside: Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga river in Cleveland have actually caught fire at least 13 times, with the most significant fires taking place in 1952 and 1969. At one point, the pollution was so bad in these waterways it was said the river “oozed” instead of flowed. According to a rather thorough Wikipedia article, the fire in 1969 garnered a lot of media attention and sparked monumental environmental legislation–the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also came about because of this particular incident. The clean-up efforts have been overwhelmingly successful because of this attention, however, growing up nearer to Lake Michigan, in my familial circle, Lake Erie was always considered to be an oil pan of a lake.  Honestly, even after reading about all the efforts, I was still skeptical about what it would look like after all these years. When Billy and I walked down to the lake, through Lakewood Park, I was thrilled to see a mighty clear Lake Erie. It even smelled good! Unfortunately, where we were walking there was no swimming. I was tempted to shrug off my clothes and dive in anyway. Too bad that was last week. Now with new headlines about phosphorous green slime (it is agricultural phosphorus runoff from livestock and crop producers which feeds toxic algae blooms, in conjuncture with wind and water currents concentrating the blooms in certain areas) and drinking water quality troubles in Toledo, Ohio, I am reconsidering how far any of us has come in the progress of environmental enlightenment.  I ask the same questions over and over again… what can I do? How can we make this better? Not only who is responsible, who is accountable, and what is my part? I told Billy that if I was to involve myself in a direct action group and lay down in front of a bulldozer, it would be to save the Great Lakes. I signed up to receive Great Lakes’ alerts and to read more about what is actually happening through the Alliance for the Great Lakes.  http://www.greatlakes.org/home  When we have a sense of home and a sense of place, we tend to care more about what happens and tend to get more involved locally. I think this is an important step in considering “home”–not just your house, your lawn, or cul-de-sac, but the extension and health of those places underneath it all.  Nature is everywhere–in us and around us–our care for nature, ourselves and others is one in the same. My dream is to be able to drink and swim in whatever body of water I want, wherever I want and it is every species right to have this be true.

Roads Crooked and Steep – In Quest of Water and Family

Esch Road Beach

Billy here. We left Texas the day after my Gramma’s funeral, eager to find the swimming we have been anticipating while living the in arid highlands. Our first stop on the way to the Great Lakes was Eufaula Lake in Oklahoma, where my right ear got clogged with water and remained clogged for a week. It was a more than a little distracting. As night fell, it stayed hot and sticky as a thunderstorm moved around us but did not drop any real rain. Trying to sleep in the tent was impossible in the muggy heat, so we took a night dunk in the lake as lightning flashed in the distance.

Neither of us had been through the Ozarks so we opted for a detour straight east through Arkansas to swim in the Buffalo River. We curved through Roads Crooked and Steep, as the street signs warned, through lush forests and over ancient hills. Cliffs of rocks flanked the turquoise Buffalo River. We were so gloriously happy about floating in the cool water that we failed to take pictures of this beautiful part of the land. That night we stayed at Greer Crossing in the Missouri Ozarks near the spring fed Eleven Point River. It was the first time in years I had seen a firefly. The camp host was a lovely and talkative woman who told us stories of the local “old-timers” in their 90s. She laughed about how she was warned that she wouldn’t get along with them, but then made ready friends. Now they bring her fresh eggs and vegetables. They still drink spring fed water, keep their dairy in hidden caves and talk of the times when they grew corn in the forested flood plains of the river right in the midst of the trees.

The next day we literally got lost in the corn and soy mazes of Illinois, advertising their seeds from Dupont, Pfizer and Monsanto, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the old Ozark corn farmers, letting the rivers irrigate their forest corn gardens naturally.

Outside of Chicago in thick traffic we were stopped on the highway (it was suspicious, I know, to be the only one going under the speed limit) ostensibly for having a cracked windshield. The cop was very nice, with a pencil mustache, great smile and easy charm, though I’ll have to admit I appreciate black cops more than white cops. Maybe it’s the inherent understanding of privilege and oppression? I knew when he took me into his car for questioning there was more to it. He guessed we were a gay couple (are we that flaming?) and congratulated us when I told him we were just married. Turned out he was a narcotics officer and was probably looking at our New Mexico plates – border states scream contraband apparently. But I put on the charm and he soon didn’t feel the need to search our car. But luckily for us, we aren’t trafficking drugs anyway.

We spent a few fun days around East Lansing with Spence’s sister and her partner, walking along the Red Cedar river and the botanical gardens at Michigan State University, going to Jimmy Buffet night at the baseball game and seeing the Michigan Historical Museum. The company was grand and it was wonderful to meet Spence’s peeps!

We then headed west into Saugatuck, stopping to walk the boardwalk, drink delicious iced coffee on nitro at Uncommon Coffee Roasters and have some yummy fish tacos and a portobello burger at Phil’s, where we doodled like kids. Having lived so long off-grid without running water and making all my food at home from scratch, the extreme luxury of going out to eat and washing my hands in hot running water still seems such a fantastic indulgence that I don’t want to take  for granted. We have been taking full advantage of Spence’s camp kitchen in the jeep, making veggie wraps and stopping at natural food stores on the road. But now that we are here in Michigan, we’ve hit full vacation Captain America Party Mode!

Saugatuck Bar Pictographs

Then we headed north toward Traverse City to see Spence’s parents. On the way we stopped at the Ferry Township Cemetery to visit my paternal great-grandparents’ graves. My great-granddad was a cowboy who had an amicable relationship with the local Anishnaabeg, who called him “He Who Moved Slowly Through the Woods” or so the story goes.

In Traverse City we spent a lovely time getting to know Spence’s nieces and nephew and spending quality time with his folks. We went to the carnival at the Cherry Festival, played at the beach down Esch Road on Sleeping Bear Dunes, watched the kids do magic shows and played some music. I had never imagined that one of my life experiences would be watching a flying dog show while listening to Trace Adkin’s Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, but there we were. Also, I got to see some of Spence’s old art pieces hanging on his parent’s wall for the first time!

P.S. we replaced the cracked windshield on the Jeep.

Spence here: I really wanted to see a coonhound in the Ozarks!  Stereotypes aside, (too many youthful dreams watching “Where the Red Fern Grows”) I have always wanted to see this part of the country. Things always look closer on the map, as in the rear view mirror, but I really thought this side trip was worth it. After splashing in Eufaula Lake during a lightning storm in Oklahoma we turned our green machine towards the Upper Buffalo River (“America’s First National River”) in Northeast Arkansas. I asked a couple of local fellows which way to the river access and they silently pointed down the trail they were on.  After following them for about 100 yards I saw them jump off a rock and disappear. The trail led to a large outcropping where braver folks jump down into a deep pool in the river, probably five stories down. “Maybe if I didn’t have my wallet…” I thought sheepishly. I am actually more afraid than chickens when it comes to jumping off high rocks. I think my past knee injury pretty much killed that impulse a while back.  But the river was stunning so we found good access below and a nice shady picnic spot. Later, I actually got to see a coonhound running alongside the road as we left the area! Did you know I used to work at the the American Kennel Club helping to publish their quarterly magazines? My favorite of the magazines was of course “Coonhound”.

redbone coonhound

We continued travelling north. At one point we were looking for the mysterious Moraine View State Park, somewhere in Illinois.  We ended up close to there, in LeRoy. One tiny brown sign indicated we were near the park, however, after an hour of driving through a soy and corn maze we never found it. I was surprised to see big fancy farmhouses, new grain silos, new John Deer tractors and Cadillacs in the driveways of these farms. After decades of being poor, perhaps farmers all over the country are now cashing in on GMO crops. Its an unfortunate game of ultimate loss for the farmers, the eaters and the planet. (I know its not enough to just exclaim blanket statements like this. What is the answer?  Who has new ideas? Who has old ideas that we are not listening to? It is all our responsibility to take more care. It is easy to blame the person next to us, the corporation, the government… what can we do as individuals? What can we do in our neighborhoods? How can we talk to each other without feeling attacked or defensive about our life choices? I think one of the ways for me is to ask more curious questions about what is actually happening and admit I don’t know the whole story, but I want to know.)

Finally, we arrived at my sister’s and her partner’s house in East Lansing, Michigan. I love their house. They have put in a lot of work and it is very beautiful and comfortable. We really “did” downtown Lansing, and I showed Billy what Midwest fun is all about (a minor league “Lug Nuts” baseball game on “Jimmy Buffet Night”, complete with $5 Corona tallboys and nacho platters). East Lansing has a new brew pub which I’m all about, called “Hop Cat”. “It is very Portland,” my sister said. We visited the Michigan Historical Society and I learned more about my home state in one afternoon than in three years of high school. I really appreciated learning more about the Native Americans in these areas.  Anishinabeg, which depending on what site you read from, means “first peoples”, or “people from whence lowered”. The name stems from the Anishinaabemowin/Anishinaabe related languages spoken by the Odawa, Ojibwe and Algonquin tribes of the area, who once thrived in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada in numbers up to 70,000 in the 18th century. With a history so long and with so many distinct tribes, the word “Anishinabeg” feels to me to be similar to saying “Anasazi” in the four corners area. I don’t know if “Anishinabeg” is a more respected name here, as opposed to “Anasazi”, but several tribes still go by this word in parts of their identity. I really would like to have had the chance to read more about it, or more importantly, talk to the people who have the oral traditional history. Thank you so much Alison and Ryan for a meaning-filled visit on many levels.

Onto Traverse City, Michigan, where more fun was to be had.  Billy and I have great timing, as whatever time we arrive somewhere turns out to be just the time we need to be there. My nephew and twin nieces arrived to visit my parents for an exclusive all Grandparents vacation. I have not been able to see them much with all our travelling, so it was truly a wonderful experience. Cherry Festival, Esch Road Beach, West Bay Splash Pad, lake walks and beach sports… and yup, plenty of Michigan Craft Brew to go around. I finally rode a ferris wheel for the first time and I have to say, I was concerned, if not a little scared at the lack of safety. Also, I had a harrowing experience on another carnival ride called “The Freak Out”.  Although I didn’t throw up, the ride did inspire the newly coined saying, “I lost mine on the Freak Out!” My brain has been sloshy for a week.