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First Big Idlewild Family Campout!
First Big Idlewild Family Campout!
Well, we made our first big outing to our new Family Property up north
in Idlewild, on May 15, 2004, for 3 days. We pulled a utility trailer to
hold all the tools and the table and chairs.
OYB Team vehicle.
A sight for sore eyes, on the way up, on the Looking Glass River---view
from Round Lake Road bridge, near 127. Purely a slice of heaven, OYB-style.
Yeah, we got bayous up here, too. Team OYB retirement home. Man, my kind
When we arrived we saw that we had to do quite a bit of work to drive
into the campsite. I had to chop and spade down the cut bank in the two-track
road to get the car in. Then I had to dig up a few big stumps and chop them
out to get further back in. Even so, there was some bottoming out, but we
made it and set up our huge Eureka family tent and table and chairs and
dug firepit and got a fire going.
Daisy sniffed out a hognose snake under the leaves at the site. It was
gorgeous. Chubby, tapered fore and aft like a rattler, marked like one,
too. Hissed, and flared, and finally fell over 'dead' for about 10 minutes.
Then a rose-breasted grosbeak started singing right nearby. Plump, lovely
bird. Both good omens.
Spot the hognose.
Here he's moving out from under the leaves. You can see his neck really
flared. He's hissing. Then rolled over and played dead. And vigorously resisted
being turned upright: "No really, I'm dead, very dead. I'm dead I tell
Very dead hognose. (10 minutes later---not dead.)
The motorcycles weren't making too much noise, thankfully. This weekend
was the Blessing of the Bikes. 10,000 motorcycles converge on Baldwin for
the weekend. Thankfully they proved to have quite a bit of variety. Not
all Harleys, like biker gatherings seem to be mostly. It was neat to see
them all. They were quite loud, but wonderfully they quieted down at about
eleven. Praise be!
Ya know, when did they rescind the noise ordinances of the world? When
I was a teen not too long ago we'd get busted for incorrect tail pipes on
cars and bikes. Now you pay big bucks to have the loudest bike. And I've
never seen one ticketed for deafening the neighbors for miles around. Why?
---Probably coz the cops drive Harleys in their offhours. Noise is an image
thing, don't I know? Jerks one and all, I have to say. Bikes are fine: but
make noise around me and I'll scowl at you. At least. I've been testing
the speakers in our car to see how loud they can get the classical music
to blasting. I think I can compete with the thumper cars, maybe, to make
a point, someday.
Henry remarks that he's loving all the room to make clay creatures and
play with them at our campsite. At home, in our little cottage home, he
only has so much room to dance and skip and do his action stuff back and
forth. Here, he has the whole wide world and is delighted to realize this,
and goes skipping up and down our clearing, blasting away at his imaginary
this'n'thats with his clay goodies.
Chilly night down into the 30's. The next morning we went on a hike on
the North Country Trail section that passes near us. The NCT is a 3000-mile
trail that goes from Maine to North Dakota, passing thru Michigan along
the way. The kids did a fine one-hour nonstop hike. We got close to the
Pere Marquette River but not quite. We paused for a picnic rest before turning
First local hike. Adventure vests hold lots of goodies. Moments later,
Daisy bit the porkie.
Suddenly Daisy shook her head then started running around and rubbing
her face. She was full of quills. Thankfully I had a Leatherman with me,
so I pinned her down and started pulling quills. For two hours straight.
Martha and the kids went back to the car without me. She had over 200 inside
her mouth and on her muzzle and body. I finally got her cleared up enough
so she could function somewhat normally, with maybe 50 more here and there.
It was very hard work. Tougher than the round-up branding I did once. I
had to wrestle her many times to exhaustion before I could work on her.
I got a lot of stray quills stuck in my pants and legs. I had blood all
over me, mostly from Daisy (the quill-holes briefly bled a lot when quills
were pulled from inside mouth). What fun. I later found a dead little young
porkie nearby that she must've bitten and killed. She kills woodchucks at
home and it looked like one. I don't know what we would've done without
the pliers. She was hysterical, rubbing, rubbing. I suppose she might've
calmed down. Later on at the camp, M took out another 50 quills. Back home
we took her into a vet who got another 20 which were totally buried sideways
under the skin and we couldn't get at, after she was knocked out, many requiring
scalpel use. Still took a hellacious amount of vet work, with several student
vets crowded around watching it all. We saw a second young porkie on hike
out and Daisy sniffed it but left it alone. Never again, I hope!
Coming back from our hike it took 10 minutes to drive across the highway
3 miles south of town due to all the bikers. Tattooed people stared at our
rig like we were freaks. Freak Power!
Back at the camp, I dug and chopped at more stumps. 13 more to do before
we have a nice camping area with room to turn trailer around and/or tent
off to the side. I still need to clear the trail down to the river of dead
stuff. It'll make a lovely quarter-mile stroll soon enough. We'll also beautify
our picnic spot by the water.
A few locals idled past and waved.
Later on Grampa and Gramma Jan and Craig stopped in for their first visit.
They narrowly avoided piercing their car somewhere before parking and walking
in and looking around then had to go. It was getting on to evening on Sunday
and I wanted to ride a bike around all the crazy bikers and do some gawking,
so I pedaling the 3 miles to the main drag. ...Not a biker in sight. 2 hours
earlier there were 10,000. Now there were none. Just a hundred or so gifty
tents being taken down. No cars out even. Eery silence. Oh well, we'll catch
em next time!
That night some locals across the river were getting quite loud, revving
engines, screaming, doing rustic things. But once again at about 9pm, things
got quiet. Hooray!
The next day we went canoeing on the PM where the water gets sizeable
a couple miles downstream from our site. The river by us is a branch that's
too small for anything but my featherlight solo boat: you have to get out
a dozen times and go under many branches. Not good for family boating.
We picnicked along the river and had a fine paddle for a couple hours.
The river was charming and the cottages along it nice, too. Several majestic
old white pine club lodges were among them. It's early in the season so
we didn't see any other boats. We did see a few fisherfolk, some in dories,
being guided I suspect. Fancy lads. I'll enjoy being the yokel for these
Orvis types: especially with my heavy creel. Yokel has more style anyway.
Then I rode the bike we left at the take-out back and got the car (with
napping dog) at the put-in. Before leaving the boat and family I carefully
put the car-keys from the pack into my pants pockets. And got everyone set
up with snacks. Then I checked that I had everything and carefully put the
keys back into the pack and took off on the bike. At the car, after 45 minutes
of hard riding, I realized what a moron I was. Thankfully, we had a spare
key on the car.
We plan on leaving our travel trailer up here for staying in. We won't
leave it at the Lot at first, til we get a feel for the neighbors. There
are several storage lots nearby. Our friends leave theirs at one that charges
$30/mo or $200 a year. OK. We looked around. I knew of a farmer who had
a row of trailers behind his barn. I left a note when no one was home. When
we got home we had a phone message that said $50 a year would be fine. That's
more like it!
The kids were great and played sweetly most of the time, but often kept
repeating TV ad jingles (a thousand times or more) despite getting "time-outs"
when they did so. It was a bit stressful now and then. I made very nice
Margaritas for us after they went to bed one evening. Martha made splendid
campout chow. Nice burritos and eggs'n'salsa and such. Great coffee every
morning. Marshmallows and s'mores.
The kids got ice cream at the family-run Jones' shop in town. I saw that
the wonderful knifeshop was open! So I got to explore and ooh-and-ahh. He
has some good prices! I will patronize. But we had to keep moving along.
The owner had a fine camo hat with grouse feather.
We then drove up to visit our friend Dave E's new land near the Pine
River, a half hour north. It's flat, sparse land but it has several geometric
features which make it just right for Dave. There are 3 strange pine tree
plantings that run diagonally across the property in various configurations.
He wants to put up an open-format Japanese style structure. It seems like
it would fit in. It's a narrow very deep-set 20 acres and a very quiet area
compared to ours. Ours is pretty quiet, but his is really quiet. Very woodsy
and wild. We then found a nearby two-track and drove it a mile or so down
to the river. (I just love driving a two-track in a big sedan.) We
had to hike down the last portion but when we got there it was just GORGEOUS.
The river is big and wild here, set into its own Grand Canyon a half-mile
across, with the river cutting down over the eons into various tiers of
hills, ending with huge sandy bluffs dropping down to the water. The place
we walked out onto had about a quarter-mile of sandy beach with clear swift
water in front. Heavenly. Spacious enough for a view, yet intimate. No cottages
around these parts. Or not many. The very few still in the area are grandfathered
into the parkland. We found a couple very rustic ones, one being a small,
tidy cabin belonging to a Scout-like assocation.
We ate dinner at the Government Lake Lodge overlooking a nice lake. It's
a very old place with logs and curving bar. Kids were great. Food splendid
after exhausting day. I'm noticing sore muskles at this point. A couple
fishing dandies were there. Outdoorsy Marlboro types with salt'n'pepper
hair and super high performance fishing apparel (well-vented, bloused, and
such). It will be interesting mixing with these over time. The bar has a
tough rep, but seemed fine to us.
I bought a bunch of topo maps of the area from the cute old local sporting
goods shop (run by an old guy who wisecracks with every remark). I note
that there are a few miles of public land near us with two-tracks on them
which I'm going to explore on bike. And a couple more big hilly sections
a few miles the other way. Next time. One more day and I coulda had the
lot cleared and trail tidied up. Dang. Next time.
Huge thunder/rain storm for an hour in middle of night. Got a cup of
water in tent. Got a little nervous about being squashed by a big tree.
Got up at 6:30 and drove home in time to get H off to kindergarten by noon.
Later on in the afternoon he got to be a pawn in the Living Chess Match
at the school. Very cute costume. I went to bed at 8pm that night, totally
stiff, sore and exhausted.
On our way out of the woods, minus 100+ quills.
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