Monday, July 31, 2017

My Virtual Vacation: A PhotoJournal

Hey, it's the last day of July! How did that happen? Can you believe the year is already 7/12th over! Only a third yet to go.

Wow! Old twenty-seventeen is really flying by.

This past week I was able to experience a little nostalgia via my spouse. By osmosis. :) He made a trip back to my (and his) former stomping grounds, while I stayed behind to tend to the animals and the ranch. Still, it was kinda fun sharing the trip back to good ol' Michigan with him as it happened, via texts, photos and videos.

Here are a few highlights.

A trip to the U.P. (Michigan's upper peninsula) always includes a crossing of Big Mac--the beautiful Mackinac Bridge (pronounce "MACK in naw"). Built in 1957, the bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac, the stetch of water between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron that divides the upper and lower peninsulas.

The bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It's quite similar in construction and aesthetics to the Golden Gate bridge and is truly an unique and majestic landmark.

Side view of distant Big Mac

Crossing the bridge

A big Great Lakes freighter passing beneath the bridge

The destination was Uncle Bob's cabin near Trout Lake, where the family traditionally gathers every summer for swimming, skiing, boating, cook-outs and fun.

Some ducks who stopped by for breakfast--I think they're female mallards.
The metal work next to them surrounds an outdoor fire pit.

A beautifully serene U.P. sunset

This is Uncle Bob and Chippy. Uncle Bob is 92 years young.
Chippy is--you guessed it--a somewhat-tame wild chipmunk.

A close-up of Chippy.

After the family get-together, David and company continued north to Pinestump Junction near the old family cabin on McTivers Lake.

Pinestump Junction's name dates back to lumberjack days, when the postal service was instructed to leave mail for the lumberjacks "by the big pine stump at the road junction." Here are two shots from one of the local restaurants.

The sign for the Pinestump Cook Shack and Drinkery reflects
the colorful history behind the placename.

A wonderful old fireplace in the restaurant was
fashioned from local river stones.

After visiting their property and the shores of Lake Superior, they also walked along the Cut River Bridge Trail.

David's trip back downstate to the family home near Mason included a stop at Higgins Lake--my hometown (except it's really not big enough to be a town). Here's a photo of David with my nephew, Tyler, who now runs a store near the lake with his family.

David and Tyler in front of the lake store.

Another view of the store, which is located very near the
lakeshore in a State Park.

A view of Higgins Lake. This is where I grew up. It was named
by National Geographics as one of the six most beautiful lakes in the world.
It's also a (fictionalized) setting in one of my upcoming novels. :)

David spent a few days relaxing at the old homestead where he grew up. The neighborhood is south of Michigan State University. Before the trees got tall, they could see the old smokestacks with MSC on the side from the house. MSC stands for Michigan State College. The smokestacks were built before the college became a major university.

Front entry to David's childhood home, south of East Lansing.
This is a shot of the lovely courthouse in Mason, Michigan. It's David's hometown but I also wax nostalgic about the place because I spent a lot of time here as a teen and young adult. My Dad owned a home in Mason.

Mason Courthouse on the town square


David was also able to make a trip down to meet with friends--and platoon commander of the U.S. Blue Devil Horse Platoon--in the Chelsea area southeast of Mason. This is where our Irish Sport Horse, Midnight Mission (aka "Velvet") was located during her career with the platoon.

During his time with the Blue Devils as a Reserve Lancer, David rode with the British Royal Household Cavalry and participated in equestrian drills and training for the Queen's Jubilee in the Netherlands with the Cavalerie Ere Escorte.

The Roon Farm Arena -- Home of the U. S. Blue Devils Horse Platoon

Old photo of our Midnight Mission (aka "Velvet") as the Blue Devils'
riderless horse--ala the famous Black Jack. Velvet is an
Irish Sport Horse which is half Thoroughbred, half Irish Draught.

David astride Buddy (on right) for the Silver Bells Parade in Lansing, Michigan.

Buddy has since passed on (just this last January), but Capito and Piet Hine are still in the barn, now aged 20 and 21.

Photo of Capito (far left in painting) in his stall at Roon Farm.

Photo of Piet Hine. He's the second horse from the
far right in the painting. David took these photos
of both horses last week.

Needless to say, it was a very nostalgic time (for both of us) thinking back to the Blue Devil days.

And meanwhile, back at the ranch...

After a dry spell, the monsoons came back with a vengeance.

July monsoon thunderheads forming over the ranch.

David returned home safe and sound, though not without an airline glitch or two--and we celebrated his trip with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Pappadeux.

If you're vacationing this summer--virtually or otherwise--here's hoping you have a wonderful time.

Have a great week!


  1. Even though this was a virtual vacation, you were in my neck-of-the-woods. I have a love/hate relationship with Big Mac. I love looking at it, hate driving over it, esp. on the inside lane with the grate that makes a horrible noise. Hubs used to manage a camp on Higgins Lake (many moons ago). I worked in Mason when we lived north of Lansing. So many lovely pictures and terrific memories.

  2. We probably crossed and re-crossed paths many times, Diane. :) And yes, I know what you mean about the Big Mac Whine. It's...grating. (Excuse the pun!) Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. That was fun. Thanks for the trip


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