Every year since 1947 the AuSable River Canoe Marathon is held in Grayling, Michigan. The marathon is a non-stop race that departs from Grayling and ends 120 miles away on the shores of Lake Huron in Oscoda, Michigan. Contestants must navigate the winding AuSable avoiding obstacles such as tree stumps in total darkness. The race is very competitive and canoeists come from all over to compete and complete the course in the time allotted. It’s very grueling.
Grayling hosts the AuSable River Festival during the week prior to, culminating with the marathon. Some of the activities included are Arts & Crafts vendors, a parade, entertainment, beer tents, and the like. One of the sponsored events is the HUP (Hurry Up & Paddle) Race, a spoof on the AuSable Canoe Marathon. The goal is to build a canoe which will stay afloat through the entire HUP Race course. Each registered team is supplied the same items from which to assemble their “canoe” with, plywood, a few boards, a handful of nails, and a roll of duct tape. Each entrants goal is to stay afloat while completing the course in the least amount of time. The competitors race two at a time. Dad, Don and I went into Grayling to watch and to cheer on the Kalkaska Eagles against the Grayling Eagles. The two Fraternal Orders have been competing against each other in this race for the past 10 years and Kalkaska has lost in every one of those years.
We arrived early to get a good vantage point and to look over all of the “canoes.” It was a lot of fun to watch, and always hilarious to witness a “canoe” and it’s paddler sinking into the crystal clear water. I’m pleased to announce that although the Kalkaska Eagles didn’t win the race over all, they did FINALLY beat out their nemesis, the Grayling Eagles.
Don spends much of each day practicing or writing music and at least once a week he has a gig to do, so to break it up a bit we decided to set aside one day each week to go on an outing together. We decided on the Leelanau Peninsula for our first outing. Originally we thought of going to Fishtown for the day but the traffic became heavier the closer we got to town so we switched course and visited a couple of our favorite wineries instead.
The area’s climate is perfect for growing grapes and hops, making Traverse City with its Old Mission Peninsula, and the Leelanau Peninsula internationally known for its wineries and micro breweries. One can even book a tour package if so inclined or pick up a tour map and visit on one’s own. Over the years we have done wine tastings at several, nowadays we just stop at a couple to purchase our preferred wines. One last stop at the Dockside on Grand Traverse Bay to purchase some of the best smoked jerky around then off to one of the many public parks along the water’s edge to wade, relax, and take pictures.
Another outing was to do a little shopping in Traverse City’s historic downtown. A very vibrant, eclectic, thriving part of TC with many upscale and unique shops and restaurants, food trucks, a walkway along the Boardman River, and a restored 1916 movie theater. While I shopped for zippered hoodies for our two youngest granddaughters, Don looked around for yet another hat (I’ve lost count of how many he now has.) Of course no shopping trip to Traverse City would be complete without a stop at Cherry Republic, after all, this is the Cherry Capitol of the World. We sampled many of the goodies then made our purchases. Don later paid the price of over sampling the hot cherry and ghost pepper salsa. Later we dined at Tally’s, a favorite burger joint.
Our little up north neck of the woods is teeming with wildlife. It’s not unusual to spot a deer, squirrel, or turkey daily. Raccoons, porcupine, Bald and Golden Eagles have been spotted and the pond off of the back two track has beaver and otter. But in all the 40 years I’ve been coming up here I’ve never seen a fox….until this week. Apparently Steve, the young man down the lane, has been adopted by an orphaned gray fox kit. The fox has taken up residence under Steve’s front porch. The two have become so accustomed to one another that the kit will come to Steve when called, he named him Lucky, and will even race down the driveway to greet Steve when he hears his car pull in. Steve intends to apply for a special permit from the DNR so that he can keep and raise Lucky as a pet. I do hope it’s granted.
Did I mention we also have the occasional black bear sighting as well? A bear sighting is always very exciting and last Wednesday evening really got our pulse rates up. Don and I were up to my father’s watching Yellowstone on the tv with him when shortly after the show started we heard a loud thump on the back deck. We all went to window to look out and here was this big black bear with the knocked over can of sunflower seed my father keeps to feed the birds. He had knocked it off the deck, popping the lid off and now was enjoying his newfound treat. The men tried to scare him off by yelling and banging things but to no avail. Even Beau and Max’s barking had no effect. The bear completely ignored their efforts. It took dad firing two shots off from his Smith and Wesson to finally make the bear retreat. Even so, he returned again later that night. We’re more than a little baffled by this bear’s behavior since the berries are in season and there’s an abundance of them this summer. I guess hiking the back trail is going to be off limits for awhile.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid…….