Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Trip to Michigan

The trip up was uneventful if it was long, but travelling past so many places I have a history with really made the trip go fast. Kathy (a friend from work) and I had a good time reminiscing about our better childhood memories.

We stopped in Frankenmuth for a break from the road, and a nice little detour with dinner. I admit my childhood memories of the place were a little vague, but it was great to see the quaint little town again. I had a nice rich german bock with my home-made bratwurst and sourkraut, and Katy had weinersnitzel and an ale. We wandered around the shops, across the castle bridge and then to the bakery for some yummy german breads and cookies.

We took a few cell phone pics, but I hadn't dug out the big camera. I regret that now, as it is going to take some doing to get the pics off this phone now that it isn't synced with my e-mail. :(

We arrived at the campground. with a few hours of daylight left. It was a very well groomed site, and I was surprised to see several Park Model RV's on site! I had just recently been investigating them as a good prospect for my bunkhouse and grooming station for our kennel. I was even more impressed seeing them first hand, and a possible future sale may be in the offing. The staff of the Higgins Lake KOA were very friendly and helpful, and I was glad I chose the KOA over the state park. I think it was also the cooked breakfast on site that you could purchase won me over the most. I don't mind fixing the coffee, but a full breakfast first thing in the morning at camp is a hassle. They had pancakes, eggs cooked to your liking, sausage, blueberry mini-triangles, (there was another type of bread, but I didn't make it past the blueberry...)

We made camp, had a fire going, and were able to relax for a bit amidst the sounds of birds, squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and children scurrying around. It was wonderful just to enjoy the outdoors without any worries, no dogs, kids, or work to chase after. The temps were pleasant and hovered around 58-60 overnight, so barely any covering was necessary.

Being a light sleeper is a curse at times, so needless to say, there was a bit too much noise for my liking. Not that it could be helped, being in a campground. I was hoping I was exhausted enough from driving all day to sleep through most of it, but alas, my ear-to-brain connection overrode tiredness. Ah well, I had enough sleep not to be cranky.

I had a fire and fresh perked coffee ready by 7am, and it tasted good. A bit of the cinnamon, rasin, apple and brown-sugar bavarian bread made my morning! Nothing like the fresh smell of the forest, a wood-fire, vanilla coffee, and bavarian sweet bread. While sitting and enjoying the morning, I noticed an unusual movement of something black in the underbrush. Keeping an eye on it, I noticed, it was a black squirrel! How cool is that? Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a picture of it, but it was neat to see one.

My brother, his wife and his youngest son came to visit us at the campground, but we had to take time out to go and get the dog box and the sled from Grayling. Afterwards, we had a picnic lunch, and went to see if we could rent a boat. The marina that was supposed to have a boat available in the afternoon, however, told us the people who were supposed to bring the boat back at noon didn't. So we were out of luck. After trying for a bit to find a place to fish, we decided simply to pack up and head up to Brian's neck of the woods, Mackinac.

We ate at a wonderful seafood resteraunt with local fish from the Great Lakes. I had whitefish in parmesan, and it was awesome. Afterwards, we walked a bit in the park by the bridge, took some photos, then Brian and I went fishing at the Marina while Kathy, Doris and Jacob wandered around the Cabelas store. We caught several rock bass, gobi and shiners while watching some huge carp cruise along by us. As dark began to descend upon us, we trooped over to the outdoor mall where there was a stage set up. Shortly after we arrived, they began a laser light show. It was almost as much fun to watch the antics of the kids with laser weapons, gloves, guns and other light up things dancing and playing around on the grass in front of the stage as it was to watch the show itself.

It was a good ending to a great day, and I thank my brother and his family for their patience and for showing us around. Kathy and I had a great time! We rolled back in to the campsite around 12:30, and crashed.

Sunday I started a fire and perked more coffee. After a while of enjoying the morning by the fire, I went to the camp store to buy breakfast. When Kathy was ready, we drove down to Houghton Lake to find a place to fish, and ended up fishing from the Muskegan River bridge. We caught several blue gills, and I caught a perch. When the sun had reached near the zenith, the fish were no longer biting, so we packed up the poles and headed back towards camp. We ended up stopping at a roadside bar and grill where there happened to be a hot dog eating contest. The food was reasonably good though the tea smelled slightly of sulfer (their water had a small amount of it), but it didn't taste bad.

We opted to take it easy the rest of the evening, hanging out at camp around the fire, drink a few beers, talk and enjoy nature. The temperature really dropped that night, and I woke up to the ability to see my breath (somewhere in the high 40's). Fire, coffee and Bavarian bread for breakfast, then pack to go. By the time I had most of my things packed, Kathy was up and I was able to get the camp packed up.

Sometime Saturday, most likely while picking up the dog box, the trailer had run over a branch which punctured the right tire. I had put in some fix-a-flat, and it seemed to hold pretty good. With confidence I headed to a gas station to fill up the rest of the pressure with air. No sooner had we gone about two miles down the highway though, the puncture burst again, and we had a flat. I called Jim to ask him to get me a tow service that could fix our tire. Kathy too was searching, and contacted the local police dispatcher to see if she could direct us to a towing service. An officer came to help keep traffic moved over and to ensure our safety while a young man from Phil's Towing Service managed to locate the exact tire we needed and bring it out to us. We were very fortunate they had one in stock and only lost about two hours of road time.

My friend Cathy called me and I was able to let her know we were delayed in picking up her pup, and through her, notify the person we were supposed to pick her up from. Finally locating the mall in Ann Arbor, we met him and the pup, Snickers. She was a petit little beauty with a smile and expressiveness so similar to everything I love about my little Princess. I was instantly taken with this beautiful little girl with a loving spirit and splendid conformation. She was a fun little girl to have with us, and showered us both with kisses and puppy hugs. To keep her entertained, I let her chew on an empty water bottle, and she was ecstatic. She crinkled it most of the way back to Kentucky.

We stopped a few times to give her water and walks, and finally got her to Cathy's house in the mid-evening time. Cathy showed me a sled she had inherited from a friend that was over a hundred years old. She intends to restore it, and I'm anxious to see it back in operating condition! She took a good look at the sled I brought back with me to get ideas and see how it was made. With Snickers in excellent hands and already getting to know her new pack, we bid good-eve and journeyed the rest of the way to my house.

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