You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Specifically, to the cottages "South Beach" (soi-disant) near Ontonagon, on the Upper Peninsula ("UP") of Michigan
We're packing up the trusty Volvo for the two-hour northward trek to exciting downtown Ontonagon, but the cats have gone to ground. 2 August 2022.
Choupette was an easy find -- this is her new favorite hiding place -- but Melvin, for some misguided reason, hid out in the swamp for two hours. Thus a late start for all of us.
Including the necessary stop in Wakefield, Michigan, at Randall's Bakery, for a bundle of arguably the best pasties this side of Cornwall, UK.
Melvin wouldn't care much for pasties -- he's devoted to Hill's Urinary Care catfood, mostly -- but he's always ready to take a break from his nap and watch the Wakefield world go by.
Onward, over the Ontonagon River, to the outskirts of the city, marked by the 'Redeemer Free Lutheran Church' (there may be a story in that name?).
Exciting downtown Ontonagon (fdd in 1843, 2020 pop. 1,285), a veritably thriving metropolis before the iron and copper deposits ran out, and the trees. In this view, probably the rain is keeping everyone off the streets. We've seen Syl's Café near the end of the street with at least 1,285 people inside or waiting in line outside.
Onward from Ontonagon, we always go out of our way to review the homestead of the town's most impressive Trump Bozo. A true delight round the dinner table, this chap, no doubt.
Having passed Four Mile Rock east of town, we've turned down onto Bear Creek Drive for our last few kilometers.
And here we are. Newly understood by platoons of family members taking turns in residence here to be referred to as 'South Beach'.
One bedroom in the main cottage, with an overhead dortoir seldom used; Bunchberry cottage (left) for guests . . .
. . . and a small third cottage, a renovated tool shed, for the kids.
And the bad news. It's all built on a hard rock shelf, nothing like what we moderns like to call 'sanitation', or 'drinking water'. [As Molly Ivins said, 'you dance with them what brung you'.]
Choupette's already reacquainted herself with the amenities. Including the new flag.
Looking westward on the beach -- rather more beach, in fact, than last year. How much actual beach we find depends entirely on the whims of the lake over the winter.
And looking eastward, towards the mouths of the Flintsteel and Firesteel Rivers
Brother Eric's sturdy access stairway, and the flag flying, or, at the moment, drooping.
Year by year, the lake reclaims some of its own.
Leaving a lot of shoreline destruction behind
Last year there was vastly more washed-up wreckage along this part of the beach, some of which made for some amusing assemblages. 'Beach Art', we called it.
Settling in at the close of our first day . . .
. . . remembering that we're in a less advantageous time zone in Michigan.
The rest of the party has already turned in.
Seriously windy weather the next morning, and finally the mysterious flag unfurls.
Good grief. Those kids have a lively sense of humor. (What must the neighbors think?) (Who cares.)
Now, a morning run to Pat's Foods, the grocery store just outside of town, to buy all the things we forgot to bring.
That was fun; now back through the bustling town.
[About that unsightly tin monstrosity at the end of the street, at the mouth of the river -- the sign on the building reads 'Lake Shore Systems', specializing in 'marine/defense equipment' (employing military vets as 15% of their work force, which makes them especially aware of 'the need for safe and reliable products'). This was good news for the town, presumably, because the facility was once owned by the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., which filed for bankruptcy and closed the place down in 2010.]
The first two parts certainly express two noble sentiments, but the third part presents a conundrum: how does one go about honoring service members who aren't yet service members? [Perhaps, if we have to ask, this wasn't really intended for us.]
The cats can't wait to get back to the beach.
An ambush, and . . .
. . . a stand-off.
A flanking move, and . . .
. . . a puzzled Melvin.
This is what beaches are for.
The sun is hot -- the beach sand is way too hot -- the felines find a shaded spot.
Melvin has just walked past a terrified turtle without blinking an eye. Choupette notices everything.
Preparing to engage. (In fact, the turtle scuttled slowly into the underbrush and kept on scuttling, with Choupette following close behind, provoking turtle fears but doing no harm, until we hauled her into the cabin for a while.)
What we find we really need today is a proper shower, or at least a shampoo.
But today, we'd likely be carried out to sea, Suave shampoo bottle and all. We'll wait till tomorrow then.
Another sundown (even in the wrong time zone)
Our friends have already dreamt themselves elsewhere.
An even sunnier, and hotter day -- back into the shade.
-- Cats! Come on over to my chair!
Shade is shade, and they're not budging.
Who's that out there, all shampooey?
Melvin waits patiently for the return of the shampooee.
-- Melvin! Catch the shampoo!
A quiet afternoon at the beach (out of the direct sunlight)
And off the super-hot sand
Restful, but boring.
Finally, one of them deigns to shelter under the other chair.
In fact, now they both want in.
This is what beaches are for.
And so is this -- feline explorations.
Choupette has espied a strange construction in the sand, and . . .
. . . investigates. (Melvin is oblivious.)
-- Oh, it's only a fake swan. (Those kids again.) Choupette continues her explorations.
A brief moment for consultations on the way forward, and then . . .
. . . the fallen tree's mess of roots attracts attention.
This, however, is a dead end.
Melvin watches intently as Choupette decides whether to back off the tree, try to turn around, or just jump.
And is still as energetic as ever; while Melville contemplates taking a nap under the log.
Coming up: The Canyon Falls, MI ('Grand Canyon of the UP')