Archive for the 'houghton-lake' Category

twilight zone

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

The other day I think I told somebody I missed throwing buckets of water down the toilet in the ratty old Houghton Lake cabin. This morning we woke up to huge thunderstorms and then the lucky-shucky went out and did not come back again and, as we were faced with the possibility of actually having to throw buckets of water down the toilet, I began having second thoughts about that statement. On top of that, the old hand pump is long gone, which means that we would be faced with Grandroobly’s definition of running water: “You run down to the lake with a bucket, fill it up, and run back up.”

We had planned to scrounge breakfast at the cabin this morning but the idea of trying to feed twelve people and two dogs in a kitchen with no running water or lucky-shucky was a little daunting, so we all headed off in various directions to obtain a restaurant breakfast. And use a bathroom with a flush toilet. The Twinz of Terror and Chevy and I headed up to Ron’s. A couple of the others aren’t crazy about Ron’s, so they elected to go to Coyle’s. We should’ve gone to Coyle’s.

When we got to Ron’s, it was closed because the lucky-shucky was off. We could’ve done the intelligent thing and turned around and headed over to Coyle’s but instead, we made the mistake of continuing on up to that restaurant by the Cut River. I have eaten breakfast there something like twice before and both of those times, I came out of there saying I would never, ever eat there again, even if the lucky-shucky was off in every other restaurant in the universe. It isn’t that the food isn’t any good or that the waitresses aren’t friendly. But that place has got to be the most excruciatingly slow restaurant on the face of the planet.

We went there anyway. When we got there, there were only a few customers and for a few minutes I felt a little bit of optimism creep into my otherwise apprehensive mood. But then it took forever to get seated and forever for the waitress to get around to taking our order. And then all kinds of people started coming in and something like five or six groups who were seated well after us got their food while we sat there waiting.

At first it was okay. I wasn’t really hungry and there was no need to be in a rush. After all, it was raining cats and dogs and there was no lucky-shucky or running water back at the ranch. But then I started to get a little bit hungrier and I had probably had a smidge more coffee than I needed (the one thing they were quick about was filling up coffee cups) and somebody in there had a small child who was not a particularly happy camper and it all started adding up until I began getting that unwelcome little feeling that I needed to start crawling out of my skin. And then I started to get really hungry and I was watching people who came in after us happily eating their food and paying and getting up and leaving.

*Finally* our food came and it was okay but then we were finished and it was taking absolutely forever to get the check, even though they still kept coming by to fill up our coffee cups and we kept telling them we were finished and needed the “ticket.” To get outta there, fer chrissake. And then it got to feel like we were in a full-tilt-boogie twilight zone somewhere. Tourist trap maybe? I gave the GG some cash and bolted for the door. I walked over to the Cut River and hung around there for what seemed like forever. The others were *still* inside the restaurant.

I can’t exactly remember how the heck we finally got out of that place and home but I am NEVER going to that place to eat breakfast EVER AGAIN! Even if the lucky-shucky is off in every other restaurant in the universe. I meant it the last time I said it and I *really* mean it this time. Do NOT try to make me go there again! A-men!

randomness at Houghton Lake

Saturday, May 27th, 2006
  • I used to be surrounded by engineers, now I seem to be surrounded by anthropologists.
  • I miss the ratty old cabin but it is nice not to have standing water behind the couch.
  • Engineers can be useful when it comes to keeping vee-hickles up to snuff.
  • There are way too many garage sales at Houghton Lake on Memorial Day weekend.
  • One single water louse kicks up a bigger wake than the Burns Harbor.
  • Never trust an unemployed man who drives a Maserati.
  • I am still just about the only kayaker around here.
  • We have a beautiful new clock, courtesy of Jim, our neighbor.
  • If The Beautiful Gay were here, these counters would be clear of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris.
  • There are too many water lice around here.
  • I am not exactly sure what anthropologists can do for me, but I <3 them anyway.
  • Hell is trying to navigate a vee-hickle around Houghton Lake on Memorial Day without mowing down a bunch of garage sale patrons.
  • The floor would be clean too. If The Beautiful Gay were here, that is.
  • Heaven is sitting completely still in a kayak on a sunny day at the end of the canal.
  • Yay for 20-zumsing veemen who can replace zeir own veeeendshield vipers.
  • I am definitely not going to any of the garage sales this year.
  • Ooops, I am wrong. There is a two-person kayak going by right now.
  • Renee’s place is probably spotless by now 😉
  • The boat guys are hard at work doing I dunno what and I am making barbecue sauce.
  • And looking at bead magazines and getting inspired but not taking action :-/
  • And blahgging.
  • That is not all but it is more than you want to know.

randomness at Houghton Lake

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Lemme see…

  • Hiking at Pigeon River Mason Tract. At least 15 miles.
  • Plus four miles on Long Point Drive this morning.
  • Is it just me or is the guy who wrote The DaVinci Code uh, well, not the best writer? “same exact?” Yeah.
  • Pay attention to those No Parking signs. They mean business, especially in Grand Blanc.
  • Guess it isn’t just me who thinks that way about the DVC writer. We’re up to three now. Anyone else?
  • Doo da doo da doo. Fun with Photoshop. Doo da doo da doo.
  • Stay outta the vanilla sugar milk.
  • Dum de dum de dum. Css positioning. Dum de dum de dum.
  • All girls are Golden Girls.
  • Obviously I do not have a whole lot to say today.
  • For once, I feel like I have done enough walking.
  • I <3 feisty old octogenarians.
  • The sun is over the yardarm.
  • grok grok grok.

Wind in the Pine Trees

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

I took my walk on the Planet Ann Arbor this morning but it felt like I was on the shores of Gitchee Gumee on a day kind of like this one. Cool. Okay, cold. Windy. Maybe a few more clouds than in the pic and a bit of a threat of rain. If I closed my eyes and imagined the sounds of wind pushing the tops of pine trees around and waves crashing against the shore, I could almost be there.

The wind in the pine trees is just about my first memory. I think it goes back until I was not even one year old. Six Mile Road was gravel in those days, so we would clunkity-clunkity-clunk down it. When I got a little older, I thought it took forever but when I was a baby I prob’ly didn’t much care. Although I’m sure there were days I might’ve been upset about something *else*. Hungry or mad at the world or whatever. Anyway, I always knew when we turned onto Birch Point Road because I could hear a big swhooooshing noise up in the treetops. The sound of freedom, although I didn’t know it those first few times. After all, I couldn’t even walk yet. One of my first memories. I wonder if someday it’ll be the last thing I think about.

Anyway, we are now here at the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake, aka The Group Home. There are no significantly tall pine trees here or even a proper beach. It rained all the way up. When we were almost here, the GG mentioned that we would be arriving at a cabin with a dry kitchen floor. And we both reminisced about all the years when we would arrive here after a rainy trip, or even a not-rainy trip, and there would be 3-6 inches of water sloshing around in the kitchen. Those days were fun in their own way. I loved it then. I love it now. There is no water sloshing around the kitchen floor and there is waaaaarless internet. Party on and chuck cabbages when you get the chance.

The 2-year-old Summer

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Anyone who remembers the infamous 2-Year-Old Summer at the Finlayson Family Old Cabin will probably laugh a little hysterically when I say that it can be a challenge to share a family cabin with, well, a family. An extended one, that is. I do not really remember the 2-Year-Old Summer. I am told that the shores of Gitchee Gumee were persistently dark, chilly, and rainy that summer. I have a few vague little bits of memories, one of which is of me and two other little girls (you know who you are) standing in ankle-deep water wearing little blue Keds tennis shoes. No adult in sight. A flagrant violation of The Rules. Maybe I’ll get The Commander and Radical Betty and Bubs to guest-blahg about the 2-Year-Old Summer some time. I bet they remember it clearly, in big, bright, primary colors. Either that or they’ve blocked it!

We have been alone here at the Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake for a couple of days. I love it here and it is nice to have the place to ourselves. But the weekend was filled with in-laws and I miss them. It is not always easy to share a living space with extended family members, adult siblings and whatnot, even for a few days. We all run our own lives and have our own opinions and do things our own way. People need varying degrees of space and, even in a place as big as this, it isn’t always easy to get away from all the lively discussion and exuberant activity that is typical of the Courtois family in general. And I know how hard it can be to live with me! But it is worth it to try to make things work out and it is pretty fun with a bunch of people here. As my own family experiences a period of dwindling numbers, spending the weekend with a big bunch of Courtoises reminds me that I am not as alone as I sometimes feel these days. You guys are the best and I’m happy to be a part of this family.

We are heading back to the Planet Ann Arbor in a little while and I am happy to report that the garbage truck came by this morning and the new garbage contraption worked out very well indeed. Tangentially yours, Garbage Woman.

Go Thunderchickens and other Random Stuff

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

A few things, in no particular order:

  • Happy birthday Kathy (my sister-in-law)! Sorry I don’t have a big red, white, and blue tricycle for you but have a wonderful birthday anyway.
  • Yesterday afternoon I did not take my usual walk because I was sitting around on my you-know-what watching a sporting event. grok grok. Yeah, yay for frog jumping!! grok grok. No, Froogy, it was not frog jumping. Sheesh! But it was no ordinary event and all of us here in the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin were totally enthralled as we watched our nephew Jim and his robotics team, the ThunderChickens, win the NASA FIRST Robotics National Competition in Atlanta. Jim used to be a little kid who was constantly plugging and unplugging things and switching lights on and off. He has come a long way from those days and is now a high school sophomore whose role during the robot games was to work in the pit, keeping the team’s robot in top condition. I have to say, watching robots play a basketball-esque game is much more fun than watching big, ugly neanderthals pummel each other on a football field. Go ThunderChickens! World Champions!
  • Thanks to those who sent their own stories about class presentation petrification. It is always good to know that you are not alone.
  • A very special thanks to Bob and Jim for making my dreams come true. Well, nice try, anyway 😉 Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman.

Mission and Adventure

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

A mission accomplished and another adventure at the Mason Tract.

Also: Progress at the New Luxurious Courtois Cabin continues and now the garage is drywalled and has some fancy new windows and doors. It is beautiful! However, being as accustomed as I am to crappy, moldy, dusty old dwellings, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic for the old days.

The last time my brother the engineer visited the Courtois Cabin (it was the moldy old one), he pronounced the garage to be an engineer’s dream. Over the years, it housed boats and snowmobiles and lawnmowers and engines and more engines and gas tanks and tools and all kinds of little valuable pieces of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris. Grandpa Garth was in his element keeping old motors going and managing all of that stuff, inventing new tools when the need arose. He told me one time that at any given moment, he couldn’t find 10% of his stuff, an everchanging 10%.

Once, we spent a whole weekend tinkering with one of the lawnmowers. We? Some of y’all are thinking, “hey, Evil Blahg Lady, you do not know the first thing about motors!” Well, maybe not, but I had a very important role in that particular project. The weather pattern that weekend was a persistent intermittent drizzle. It would drizzle for a while and then it would stop for a while and then it would drizzle for a while again. And stop. Repeat ad nauseam. My job was to help The Gumper lift the lawnmower up onto the picnic table every time it stopped raining and then help him lift it down when it started again. After about ten rounds of that I got pretty bored and I finally said that a “$100-an-hour guy” like him could just go out and buy a *new* lawnmower and then he’d have time to do something more fun. He thought about that for a minute and finally he said, with a little twinkle in his eye, “I could go fishing.” He enjoyed fishing a lot but I’m not sure it ranked above tinkering with old motors.

Another time, I pulled the POC into the yard at Houghton Lake and The Gumper was waiting for me by the garage. “This is yours!” he said, proudly pointing to a used refrigerator in the garage. Say what? For a fraction of a second I was on the verge of feeling a little insulted. Relegated to using an old refrigerator in the garage? Indeed! But almost immediately, I realized that this was a *good* thing. Visitors to the cabin, including us, had a habit of leaving food behind when they returned home and random leftovers were always hard for Grandpa to deal with. I sort of understood why then and I definitely understand why now that my own beloved children come home and sometimes leave me with food. An additional refrigerator provided more space, helped keep the food separate and, for some odd reason, I kind of enjoyed walking out to the garage to use the refrigerator. I dunno, maybe it reminded me of the *really* old days of outhouses on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.

Ranking up there among the best times I have ever spent at Houghton Lake is the night the GG and I watched the spider. I think Grandpa was dead by then. It was a warm kind of drizzly night and there was a spider spinning a web in the door of the garage. We stood there by the open garage door, with all of the cosmic debris behind us, for hours, listening to Prairie Home Companion and other Saturday night radio, sipping a little bourbon now and then and watching that spider. Yeah, I know, sometimes it doesn’t take much, does it?

Anyway, this is what the garage looks like now. It is beautiful and “my” refrigerator is still there 🙂

Lost in the Swamp

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

Okay, ol’ man, wherever you are, just go ahead and gnoff. I don’t care and you deserve a good gnoff after all the horrible crap you went through.

I really, really, really needed to go for a hike in the north woods this weekend. So, we are here at Houghton Lake and today, the Twinz of Terror and Liz (sister-in-law, not any of those others) and Randy and I went up to the Mason Tract to hike along the South Branch of the Au Sable River. It was a gorgeous day for hiking, cold but not a cloud in the sky. No bugs except for one early member of a non-threatening species of lepidoptera. The river was high and fast and sparkling.

We parked our vee-hickles at the trail head, marker 13, at Chase Bridge. The original plan was to walk in to trail marker 9 and then turn around and walk back out. That would be 8.6 miles. But when we got as far as marker 10, Liz realized she had lost her glasses (bad thing, and they were not found!), so she and Randy turned around then to try and find them. The rest of us decided that the GG would also turn around and help look for the glasses and then continue on back to the trail head and get the car. Bob and I would continue on hiking up to marker 3, where the GG would pick us up.

When we got to marker 9, instead of going left, away from the river, which is where the trail went, we went right. Until the trail petered out. Instead of being smart and walking back to marker 9 and figuring out where the correct trail was, we decided to cut across country and connect back up to it. Smart idea, right? Swamp? No way, not here in the north woods. Oh, c’mon, Yooper Woman, you know better than that. Wrong. Bob kept saying cheerful things like, “this looks like a trail” (uh, not) and “this is where you find people like Jimmy Hoffa.” Were we wet? I know *I* was, with my velcro sandals and polartech socks! Scratched up and bloody, too. Eventually, we managed to locate the trail again and, when we looked at the map on the next trail marker, we realized that we had probably slogged and floundered along through the quagmire for a mile or maybe more, given that our path was not exactly straight.

Jack was a great hiker who knew his way around the woods and how to *not* get lost, so I’m sure that our little adventure gave him a good gnoff. When we all finally got connected back up again at the trail head, we headed off to Jack’s Place. Yes, there really is a barroom with that name in Roscommon County. I wish we had remembered to get a picture. We had a little snort in Jack’s honor and then we sang a rousing, almost tuneful round of the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. No, the singing didn’t have anything to do with Jack. I really don’t quite know how that got started or why we were doing it. But it was fun and even though I wasn’t drunk, I sang with gusto anyway. I actually knew most of the words.

Onto the Next Episode

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Well, here we are, two days after the most glorious ski of the season, and I think I am about finished. For this year, that is. There are those who think I might ski tomorrow, and maybe I will, but I have half a mind to just quit while I’m ahead. Beaver Creek was a fast ski today. Unfortunately, I am not crazy about leaf skiing. I can slow myself down perfectly well without the help of a bunch of oak leaves or pine needles. A lot less abruptly too! Honestly, falling down in front of a bunch of snowmobilers just totally cramps whatever measly little bit of style I can manage to muster in my dirty, ratty old Columbia ski jacket. The ski ranch, which grooms its trails, does not have a leaf problem but by this afternoon, we might as well have been water skiing. Two sorta glides forward, one and a half back. Ice turning to slush. The season has turned. Yes, this is Michigan and it’s not over until it’s over. It will snow again. But the ski season has entered a downhill slide. And, of all things, my feet hurt! I have blisters in about five places. I think my feet will scream bloody murder if I try to put my ski boots back on them again. I’m done. It is time to kick the squirrels out of the kayaks. Fancy boots, etc., are not needed for kayaking. I can kayak in my bare feet and old ratty bathing suit. And uber-sunhat. Onward to the next episode! We do have pics, click here.