Last week when I was in Garden, my friend Jack and I decided to go on a little adventure on one of his days off. Actually, we attempted several adventures, and while they’ve all been delightfully memorable, none of them were actually successful. For this particular adventure, we’d already had a day enjoying the Garden Township Park, some light stalking by a golf club regular, a nap in a diner parking lot, and my lake bath in Sand Bay of Big Bay de Noc. We’d decided that we’d be overnighting at some property his uncle owns, so we set off on a westerly path and found ourselves ensconced in the trees (I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures of the place – it was glorious, but also, I didn’t anticipate the abrupt departure we’d soon have). While Jack got the fire going, I unpacked and set up the goods. All of the goods. The chairs, the dog cot, the hammock, the provisions, the citronella candles. You name it, I unpacked it. Gatsby, thoroughly and completely enjoying his 40 acres of freedom, was doing his best Incredible Hulk on cocaine impression. We had just laid down for some hammock time, and Gatsby was about to take his pre-bedtime nap, when a bee settled in to join us, rather aggressively. This was not a ‘shoo it off and it flies away to find another flower,’ situation, this was an ‘I’m here to escort your soul to Hades,’ kind of situation. Luckily for me (not because I’m a complete asshole, although I am that as well, but because I’m allergic to bees), this bee really liked Jack. He can be sweet sometimes, so I don’t really blame the hairy, striped bastard. So this bee stings Jack a couple of times and then (presumably?) dies. Rather simultaneously, Gatsby starts pawing at the ground near his cot, and ALL THE BEES come flying out from their little hell-hole! Jack yelled at me to run to the van, and while I usually don’t enjoy being told what to do, I decided to follow that order. He packed up all the gear and put out the fire while I pulled a Gatsby and did my finest supervising. The irony that I Harvest Host-ed last night at a bee farm does not elude me. I know where Gatsby gets it from.
Another Jackiki (I just made that up on the spot, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it, but I’m going to marinate on it for a while) misadventure happened the following week. We’d gone out with our new friends Aaron and Yvonne on Sunday, and I’m not saying who, but half of each pair decided that in addition to our evening cocktails, a shot of Rumplemintz or two was a good idea. Now, I’m no bartender, but I believe that’s got to be at least 1000 proof. Or something like that. At any rate, whatever proof it was, was enough to knock Jack over the cliff’s edge (oops, I’ve given away the secret) so sufficiently that he needed a nap the next day en route to our theoretical boondocking site. Lonnie & Barb had invited us up to their property on Stutts Creek, but we were not up early enough to follow them out there, so our new target site was at Sucker Lake, a lake on the south end of the Garden Peninsula (which I believe is colloquially known as the penis of the U.P.) of Michigan, that’s a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. GPS said it would take us 44 minutes to get 11ish miles, so that seemed a little off, but knowing the rate at which I drive, thought they might just be adapting my ETA through their Big Brother technologies. It all seemed reasonable until we turned off the paved road with about 5 miles to go. The first 2 miles were your run-of-the-mill gravel road, nicely graded, but also full of the world’s dumbest deer. I had to go slow, even for my standards, because within the first mile, I saw at least 8 deer attempt to commit suicide. What came around the corner after the kamikaze deer made them look like child’s play. I’m going to be generous when I call these rocky ruts a ‘road,’ and I was so appalled by the situation that I had to stop and wake Jack up to make sure this was indeed the way to the lake.
Now I don’t not have a low clearance vehicle, as we may or may not have already discussed. Although the van is 9’ tall, there’s a low-lying axle in the back that ensures we can’t go over embankments and what not. So there we were, 25 minutes later and 2½ miles in. No joke, in this instance Jack was right and we definitely could have walked faster than I was driving. We were about ½ mile from Sucker Lake, and while the rocky roads had just turned into something once again resembling a passable gravel road, in front of us was a ditch filled with water that dear sweet Hecate was clearly not going to make it through. To the sides of the road were banks high enough that I was not going to able to traverse them in order to make an 18-point turn to go back from whence I came, so I put it in park, turned the old gal off, and laid down on the bed for a nice stress-meets-exhaustion-(thanks to Gatsby – that story coming up shortly)-meets-PMS cry. In case you were wondering what that looks like, it involves running mascara, snot, and some laughter, for the general ridiculousness of the situation is not lost on me. The best thing about crying is that the red face really accentuates the green of my eyes. Complementary colors and all.
At this point I’d like to just go ahead and state that Jack was a general useless lump for the duration, but at this juncture provided much needed moral support. Once I got my shit together, I went for a little meander down the road we’d just traveled to find a suitable spot to execute the turnaround that wouldn’t involve extreme off-roading (you know, because we were already doing that; no need to show off), and at least photojournal the scuffufle. Luckily, there was just such a location only 100 or so yards behind us. I believe it was around this point that Gatsby decided Jack might need a weighted blanket and decided to offer his services, rendering Jack both useless and immovable. It took another 25 minutes to get back to Fuckwit Deer Alley. In case you’re doing the math, that’s an hour of driving to go 5 miles.
While in Garden this trip, I attempted to do some van maintenance, now that the smelly sink situation has been resolved with the good old-fashioned making-a-volcano in the sink method. I’m not sure who’s to blame here, but one of our sizeable rumps broke the extend-o-bed that G uses as a step onto the big bed. Or it could just not have been made to withstand a 145-lb galumphing beast using it multiple times a day, but regardless, we’ve got a maintenance situation. I knew I travelled with my drill for a reason. This is not the first time it’s come in handy…..at least for now, I just took the hinge off and put the errant piece to the side vs. having it accidently rip a big chunk of plywood apart from the storage box. I think with an extra piece of wood screwed to the outside of the storage box for a little extra support, combined with several (more heavy duty) hinges, we should be back in business. It is also something that I’ve been too lazy to actually fix yet. I suppose I could also blame it on lack of hinges, but at any rate, it’s now officially on the ‘to-do,’ list.
Hmmmm, other randoms from Garden Trip #3…… MI park rangers are lovely. Gatsby and I had gone to play in the lake one day, and unfortunately for him, there were 3 other dogs there off-leash. You know what this means, and the kid had to go into time out until the other dogs departed. It was a sunny day, but not super-hot, so I was very comfortable leaving him to nap with the AC and the Maxx fan going while I went to frolic in the water. At some point, a park ranger came out and asked me if I had the white van. My initial thought was that he was going to ticket me because I don’t have the required Recreation Pass that you’re supposed to have in a bunch (maybe all?) of the MI park areas. I think it’s the same pass that I was supposed to have making coffee that one morning at the Cary Lake boat launch. I clearly still have not obtained it. I’m a rebel, I know. He instead asked me if I had a dog in the van and when I said yes, he was concerned for the boy’s well-being (which I completely and utterly appreciate) until I told him I had the fans going and the temp was fine in there. He said cool and walked off, and I relaxed until I panicked that he was STILL going to give me a ticket, he just wasn’t going to tell me about it. I don’t do particularly well with stealth. Or rebellion, it might seem. No wonder I’m not a Star Wars character. I had myself convinced I was at least paying a hefty fine on the way out of there, if not going to jail. No, that lovely man just wanted to make sure I wasn’t pulling a Fatal Attraction, and boiling the dog in the van.
On an aside, I seem to be regressing with closing the damn cupboards upon departure. I’d been doing so well, but have screwed the pooch (metaphorically speaking) 3 times in the last week. I don’t even understand how nothing has actually broken since that first event back in May.
Anyway, my third departure from Garden was rough, to put it politely. I’ve made some wonderful friends there, so combining my general sappiness at goodbyes with that, plus the sleep deprivation and hormones, I was a mess. I cried saying goodbye to Lonnie & Barb (BTW, Barb is an amazing cook, and sent me off with the most delicious zucchini bread. I don’t understand how such a vile vegetable can taste so wonderful in baked goods, but she made it happen), I cried saying goodbye to Jack. I cried the entire rest of the day. It was an epic shit show. I did finally pull it together on Day…. (gotta get back on track here – I am SO off at this point) 59 (?) after boondocking in a State Forest somewhere around Manistique. Side little creepy story on that – the morning after we’d overnighted, a guy in a truck stopped by and told me his camp a mile or so down had been broken into. Now that in itself is unsettling, but then he also asked me how long I was going to be staying in the forest. I get that it may be a legit harmless question, but anyone who knows me (or has read earlier blogs) should be well aware of my safety-first attitude. As soon as some unknown guy questions me about my plans or situation, my hackles go up. Dudes, in general, it is never a good idea to approach a woman who is alone (he didn’t know I had a giant beast in the back of the van since our front curtain was closed). He could have been genuinely burgled and letting me know of it, but he also could have been casing the joint. At any rate, I decided that was an excellent time for us to depart.
We spent that Saturday night up in Newberry at the bee farm (in hindsight, that might have been an exceptionally stupid idea, but at this point, it’s neither here nor there), which had some really lovely walking trails, and then made our way to Cedarville, on the coast of Gatsby’s third Great Lake, Lake Huron. I was planning on making the dreaded Mackinac Bridge crossing on Tuesday morning so as to avoid as much traffic (ie, go as ridiculously slow as I please) as possible, and wanted to enjoy some of the eastern U.P. prior to that. As I was lunching at Les Cheneaux Distillers (deLISH food and cocktails!), a gent sat next to me at the bar (an appropriate time for approaching the single woman, not while she's in the woods in her van) and struck up a conversation. It seems I will be talked to regardless of whether my trusty sidekick is actually at my side or sleeping in the van. This interaction was with a Native American man named Bob, and we talked a bit of my travels and adventurous spirit, and then got on the subject of Native American culture, which I have always been very intrigued by. I myself am not religious, but I pull things from different religions and cultures that speak to me. I favor mostly ideas and ceremonies from Paganism, Buddhism, and Native American culture, so I was very into the stories about his Ojibwe tribe. He invited me to a powwow the following weekend, and I initially said I wouldn’t be able to since I’d be down south, but then I realized that was self-imposed. Haven’t I learned anything this summer? Yes. Yes, I have. And a bulk of what I’ve learned is that I am not restricted by schedules out here on the road.
I have plans to be at my cousin’s place on the 25th, but other than that, there is absolutely no reason that I shouldn’t partake in something that I’ve always wanted to experience (and let’s be honest, I’m likely to be moved and snot all over myself again), just because it wasn’t on my stupid schedule.
So what’s a girl to do in the meantime? Maybe Garden, MI has some ideas.