John and I are up here at our place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We arrived yesterday afternoon and will stay until Friday.
A friend send me a message that said something like, “Go sit in the beach and relax.”
It’s apparent that she’s never been up here.
Our “place” is an early 1960′s house trailer located on Lake Michigan not far from Manistique. We have about 185 feet of frontage on the water and the lot is over 700 feet deep. The trailer is 50 x 12 feet (two bedrooms, a bathroom with a real flush toilet and hot shower, living/dining/kitchen combination). Certainly nothing fancy. When we bought it we had no electric power so we used gas lights and a generator. It’s certainly better now. A few years ago, We added an off-set pole-barn type metal roof over it to protect it from the heavy winter snow, especially since the roof had leaked. The floor of the trailer is a bit spongy in a few places, the windows don’t close tightly, the furniture wouldn’t even be worthy of a Salvation Army re-sale place. It’s anything but fashionable. When we added the roof, we also added a nice 30 x 10 foot covered deck. The view of the water is spectacular. Sadly, up close it’s not as lovely.
When we purchased the property about 18 years ago, our beach was pristine. It was a broad expanse of white sugar sand and the lake bottom was sandy. We loved it. From our beach, we could view a sizable bay (about a mile of coastline from the southern most point to the northern most – we’re in the middle) which we had totally to ourselves. We spent our time walking the beach, appreciating the beauty and the solitude.
When it was hot, we’d move our lawn chairs into the water and would soak for hours.
But as the area was developed, the shoreline changed. Part of the change was due to the low water depths of Lake Michigan, but we also attribute the change to development which altered the way the water flows around the southmost point. That point’s shoreline used to be overgrown with lots of trees and undergrowth which encroached into the water. The undergrowth created a high velocity flow of water to those of us “in the middle.” As the area developed and the shoreline was “cleaned up” the water no longer churned around that point. The water in the bay became almost stagnant.
We no longer have the white sugar sand beach. The water’s edge is out about 75 feet from where it was back in 1990. The lower water table has created a stretch of land between us and the water that has overgrown with grass, cattails and brush. Some would say we own more property now since we’ve gained 185 x 75 feet, but it’s not an improvement!! What was lovely is now gone. Most disturbing is the muck. At the edge of the water is muck at least a foot deep so it’s next to impossible to get to the water. If we lived here, we could gradually clear it and make a narrow beach, but for a four-day visit, it’s not worth the work.
The beach used to be our sanctuary. Now we stay inside or sit in the deck. Any grassy areas are infested with wood ticks (not the lyme disease carrying ones, but nasty,) so we try to avoid those areas. Flies are always a problem.
This visit wasn’t really on our schedule. We heard from a U.P. neighbor that we had some downed trees and our TV antenna tower was a victim to the winter snow, so we had to come up to check on things.
When we arrived, we found three large trees blocking the driveway. It didn’t take John long to cut through with his chain saw. When we were able to drive in, we found that not only was our antenna down, but also a large tree had come down on the bedroom end of the trailer. It hung over from the back to the front. A decent sized dent in our “metal roof” was obvious.
The tree on the roof wasn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t get the truck in it’s normal parking area because the antenna was blocking the way. That seemed like the first thing to tackle. We were able to move it aside.
With no TV reception at all, John decided to see if we could get the antenna back up. Now we’re not talking about a small chore. The tower is about 30 feet tall with a gigantic antenna perched on top. A non-working rotor also adds to the weight. We tried. Little by little we got it up a few feet. We perched it atop a multipurpose ladder. We finally resorted in using the truck to pull and with ropes, we were successful getting it about 1/2 way to it’s upright position.
By then it was about 6:30 last evening so the mosquitoes were eating us alive. The tall grass was harboring those ugly ticks, and both of us were tired and cranky. I’d already picked two ticks off my legs and I wanted to quit.
I talked John into taking a break for dinner. It wasn’t too hard to convince him that we could leave things until morning. Shortly after we’d given up the idea of finishing our task, it started raining.
This morning, with new enthusiasm we tackled the antenna again. It took both of us and a lot of sweat and tenseness, but we got the antenna back into position. It’s not bringing in marvelous reception, but it never did.
The tree over the roof was easier. It came off without any additional damage. You can see what happened:
John’s taking a break now. I’m writing this.
The yard is still in need of mowing, there is still patching to be done to the roof. John fixed a the hot water heater’s vent which was laying on the ground. (That may have been a victim of the ice, not the tree, since it wasn’t close to the tree damage.)
We have yet to “go to the beach” or whatever you want to call the mucky area at the edge of the water.
Nope, this is definitely not a vacation. The trailer will survived. Hopefully it’ll last through the winter of 2008-2009.
I even took some time to sit on the deck and view the scenery for a while, but the flies chased me indoors.
The hardest thing to cope with was that we forgot to bring coffee. There was a little left up here in a can from who knows when. It barely tasted like coffee but we made do. It’ll be nice to be home instead of on this “vacation.”