Shades of Autumn in Northwestern Lower Michigan..

The boat is put away for the season.  Summertime 2017 is in the books with great memories.  So this weekend, when Mother Nature offered up some beautiful summer-like weather, a trip to one of my favorite spots was in order.  Deadman’s Hill, overlooking the Jordan River Valley, just North of Alba, MI.  IMG_1796

When I was a kid (like 5 or 6 years old), my family would make the trip UpNorth to visit cousins.  The visits would turn out hours worth of fun and adventure throughout the beautiful Jordan River Valley, whether it was four-wheeling, snowmobiling, hunting, or canoeing the crisp clear waters of the Jordan River.  It’s one of the biggest reasons my family ended up moving North.

Deadman’s Hill was always an annual favorite autumn stop with my “Grammie” Scripter.  Color touring Northern Michigan was one of her favorite pastimes.  This place brings back so many memories for me!

Years ago, there was no fence holding people back from touring down the hill, so as energetic little kids, we all loved to hike down the log slide, and attempt to race back uphill as fast as we could.  Nowadays, the log slide is something to just enjoy overlooking with a good camera.  Oh, don’t we all wish we had that childlike energy???

One the way back from the trip, a stop in Boyne City for lunch was in order.  Café Sante was just the ticket… with views of Lake Charlevoix to love!  The food was amazing, and desert at the Alpine Chocolate House…  enough said!  #chocolatecoveredpotatochips!  It was truly a five star day!

Weekend drives in the autumn are one of my favorite things!  Now we all get to prepare for what comes next… yes, that fluffy white stuff that falls out of the sky.  For now, we’ve been blessed in Northern Michigan with an unusually long Indian Summer.

 

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What’s a girl to do on a weekend in North Carolina???

Last weekend I visited North Carolina for the first time in YEARS, for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course, I have to do a quick travel blog about it!  🙂  The wedding was absolutely amazing!  One of the best I’ve been too.  Since it was my birthday weekend, a group of us travelers decided to take a quick afternoon visit to the Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, NC, before the wedding.

This place is certainly a treat!  Normally I like my wines a bit to the dry side.  Sweeter wines normally knock my teeth to the back of my head…  (that means… “dang…  just can’t do it!”)  Chardonnay is normally one of my favorites, with a nice Pinot Noir coming in second.  HOWEVER…

Duplin Winery specializes in Muscadine (Emphasis on MUSK-a-DYNE to be proper in Southern speak) Wines.  So many songs have been written about the Muscadine variety that our group just couldn’t resist the visit.

Too my great surprise, I found these wines fragrant, fruity, refreshing,  sweet, and delicious; perhaps even perfect for a hot summer day on the boat!  My favorite was the dryer (of course) award winning Magnolia label.  So I had to bring a bottle home to Michigan, along with their Habanero Pineapple Jelly for cracker dippin’.

Kudos to my new friends at Duplin Winery!  I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

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Oh Nashville… how I love you so!

Last weekend I visited one of my favorite towns in the whole world… Nashville, TN!  I don’t know if its the music, the downtown stretch of Honky Tonk’s on Broadway Avenue, or the history behind the town.  But everything about this wonderful place keeps me coming back for more.  I’m pretty sure this weekend was about my 15th visit. This is a group of friends that joined me… I’ve known them since elementary school…  img_5812

Elements of my visit included Music, History, and Honky Tonk…  along with a little shopping thrown in for good measure.

SHOPPING SPOT!  Opry Mill’s Outlet Mall…  Yep.  It’s big, and it’s got a giant Bass Pro Shop…  along with some fantastic boot stores…  I came home with some fun additions to my wardrobe!

HONKY TONK!  Walk up the Streets of Broadway… there’s no end to the fun.  My personal favorite:  the four level Honky Tonk Central.  There’s a different band on each level… and dancing galore!  A few worthwhile stops… George Jones Country (Love that Red Chevy… and the Stilson girl’s polka on the way out the door), Margaritaville, Nudie’s Rooftop for great views, Acme Feed and Seed… the list goes on!  (How do I get this truck out of here without getting caught??? )img_5813

HISTORY!  Our group took a day to drive off the beaten path…  we toured out to Barbara Mandrel’s Fontanel Mansion, which was closed for a private event.  But we did stop to enjoy some wine and cider tasting and gift shopping.  Next time, we will call ahead to make sure the mansion is open to the public… it looks like its worth a tour!

Next we drove towards the Hermitage, General/President Andrew Jackson’s Home and now Museum.  This amazing  estate is over 1000 acres of rolling green country side.  We witnessed a reenactment of a gentlemen’s duel, and learned about the elements leading up to a duel.  Then we wandered the estate on a self guided tour, and through the beautiful mansion, and back through the slave quarters.  Yes, Andrew Jackson was a slave owner.  It was a different time in his day, and a big part of this country’s history that we cannot erase.  Overall, we learned that he was an interesting character with a wealth of friends surrounding him.  Many of his slaves continued on working for him after they were freed, including “Uncle Alfred” who served as the Hermitage Caretaker until his death in 1901.

MUSIC!  Everywhere you go in Nashville, there is music…  The town and its surrounding suburbs are loaded with untapped talent.  A visit to Nashville is never complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry.  Every time you enter, it shoots a ray of excitement through your core… like going to church on Sunday.  No matter how big or unknown the performers are, there never really is a bad show at the Opryhouse.  img_5811

Oh yes… and how could I forget the Country Music Hall of Fame!  The History of Country Music is showcased in this beautiful facility….  along with Elvis’s famous Solid Gold Cadillac, and Webb Pierce’s pimped out Bonneville…  They sure don’t make cars like that anymore!

Nashville…  you never disappoint! I’m sure I will be back!  <3

 

This thing called Hurricane Harvey…

Our country is divided by politics…  But when disaster hits, we show our best.  We pull together to come to the aid of everyone.  Lines of traffic flow out of every state in the direction of Houston this week, hauling boats, trailers full of supplies, and helpful citizens ready to come to the aid of people left in the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

In August of 2004, Hurricane Charlie slammed into the Gulf Coast of Southwestern Florida.  Three months afterwards I went on a trip to Florida to visit my family.  The quaint town of Punta Gorda had been transformed into what looked like a war zone.  Blue tarps covered holes in roofs of homes awaiting reconstruction… 12 foot piles of scrap metal lined the streets next to what used to be a mobile home park…  homes with major damage had been spray painted with insurance company names and policy numbers for adjusters to locate.   Reconstruction literally took years.  The community banded together in the days following.  Soup kitchens popped up in the parks.  Truckloads of supplies showed up in town for distribution to families in need.  Neighbors checked on neighbors.  The town of Punta Gorda today stands as a stronger, more beautiful community.

This is going to be Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Right now, the people in Houston, and every community in the path of Harvey, need our help so they can reconstruct their lives, homes, businesses, and communities.  Humanity is showing its best…  People are putting aside differences to help each other.  It’s a big wake-up call!

Be a part of the solution.  Contribute in any way you can.  Donate clothing, supplies, money, etc…  If everyone that can donated $10.00 to the Red Cross, or Salvation Army, just imagine the difference that can be made.

Best wishes Texas!  #standtogether #makeadifference #wevegotyourback  #i<3texas #donated Read more

This place called “Up North”…

In Michigan, we have distinct area’s that have their own character… Me, I live in the Northwestern Lower Peninsula of the Mitten.  I can point right at the spot I live on  my hand, as everyone who is from Michigan can.

When I was a kid,  we lived “downstate” in Horton, Michigan, which is just south of Jackson.   My family would load up the car on weekends and head north for “Up North”.   Everything north of Clare is what we considered “Up North” until  you hit the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Bridge.  Then it turned into The UP, which is a whole new fantastically wonderful place that I will blog about someday.

Once we got here on the weekends it was time for fun and relaxation.  Up North is a destination where snowmobiles and boats become a major source of transportation, depending on the season.  Of course, my favorite of the seasons is summer!

When I was 5 years old my family moved “Up North” to a beautiful place called Torch Lake.  I’m pretty sure this is the place Kid Rock sings about in his “Summertime in Northern Michigan”.  I grew up “splashing through the sand bar” at the south end of the lake.  It’s hard to find amazing places like this, so when you do, you can’t help but share!

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Now that I’m an adult (OK… so I’ve been an adult for awhile now), I still get that giddy anxiety that comes with arriving at the Torch River Marine every weekend that I get a chance.  I just know that my pontoon is waiting for me to load up an head on up the water for a day of fun, friends, and relaxation.  There really is no better place to be on a super hot summer day, than anchored off with friends, hanging out on floaties all day!

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This is what keeps all of us locals here…  The water is clear, clean, and a bit cool… Salt Free, and Shark Free.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.  When the winter’s hit, we break out our winter fun activities, and fly off to tropical locations on occasion to break up the bitter cold.  But every spring, the anticipation of going back to the lake brings happiness and hope.

This is “Up North”… and this is where I live!

 

 

The Eagle soars best with great balance…

There’s so much going on in this world!  Everyone seems to have made a label for their individual groups.  There’s ISIS, Muslims, Al Quada, the KKK, Liberal Left, Conservative Right, Moderates, White supremicists, black people, white people, people of latin origin, baptists, catholics…  etc…  the list goes on and on.

I understand it is human nature to be a little aloof with people I’m not totally familiar with.  But something dawned on me this weekend while I was deep in thought while floating around the lake on a beautiful sunny day…  The Bald Eagle, which is the majestic symbol of this great country of the USA, soars through the air with great balance.  Its direction is guided by a tip to the left, or a tip to the right.  If the Eagle tips too far one way or the other, it runs the risk of spiraling to the ground.

Do ya’ll understand what I’m saying???  Human beings are similar.   We all bleed the same color…  We direct our fate with moderate tips in either direction.  We need to follow our beliefs with humanity in mind.  Extremism in any direction, will send us spiraling to the ground.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Charlottesville.

 

This Kalkaska debate… what is it really all about???

Today there’s a protest going down in this small town that I work in.  What’s it really all about?  The Sieting Hotel, in downtown Kalkaska, MI, currently has a sign up that says “Pray for Trump”.  This I understand.  I see no problem with the sign asking to pray for the President of the United States.  However, the owner of the building, and Kalkaska’s Own Village President, Jeff Sieting, has a number of posts on his Facebook page regarding the killing of Muslims, thinning the herd of Black Live’s Matter, etcetera.    His Facebook page is purposely public, NOT PRIVATE.  We all know that these pages can be set to allow only certain audience members to view posts.

So… with that in mind…  We all have that freedom of speech, no matter what our position is.  However, as a public official, Jeff Sieting has purposely endangered his community by publicizing his opinions on his Facebook page.  As a result, several thousand people are coming into this small community, which has a limited police force, to protest his opinions, and to express that he is not a good representative of Kalkaska.  In return, another group is planning an opposition protest to support Mr. Sieting, as a US citizen with 1st Amendment Rights.  This public debate has split the town, and created a “Snowflake’s vs Redneck’s” attitude.  There’s lots of name calling and disrespect, which is creating the worry of violence coming from all of this.

So what is my opinion?  I do know some of the Sieting family… the members that I know are good hardworking people.  Kalkaska is lucky to have them as members of the community.  Kalkaska is a small town, and the majority of its citizens are amazing people.  They deserve a positive representation in public service for their town.  However, Jeff Sieting has not served the best interest of the community by creating this ridiculous spectacle for his own personal interests.  It’s a great disservice to the Kalkaska Community.

No matter which side anyone stands on in this debate, Kalkaska loses.   Can’t we all just go back to worshiping the Trout and enjoying this beautiful part of Michigan?  So go ahead… let the name calling begin.  I don’t live in Kalkaska.  I do work here… and I have many friends who live and work there. So bottom line in all of this, I guess I’m a Registered Republican, Moderate, snowflake, redneck, with a low tolerance for B.S.  Yep…  I’ll spell it out…  This whole situation that has been created is nothing but B U L L S H I T.

Are there any other names anyone would like to throw in?

Life in Limbo… waiting to close!

So… this selling my house thing is a bit frustrating right now.  Closing was supposed to be last Friday.  But, Wednesday I was told that a domino effect was taking effect.  The people buying my home are in limbo as well.  Their buyers are causing the delay in closing with their finance underwriting.  All of this means…  everyone is packed and ready to move…

Three families, six frustrated real estate agents, and me… especially frustrated, because I had to cancel my movers, and delay all of my utility changeovers.  So I had to pull a rabbit out of my magic hat.  My driveway now has two enclosed trailers parked in it, that I have nearly single handedly packed (last night I broke down and borrowed muscle from a couple of great guys I know…).  All that is left in my house is my dog, and my mattress that I sleep on.   AND we all wait for the clear to close… again.

The home I am buying… the sellers have already moved out.  I’m sure they are frustrated as well.  But, I’m told things like this do happen.  It’s a little difficult to keep my eyes on the prize at this point… but I’m still holding firm.  Today just may be the day I go home after work to pick up and dog, and run away to my camper until it all goes down.

In the meantime, Daisy Mae needs a home…  lets get this show on the road!  🙂

Chicago… my kinda town!

18813395_10155965132027069_1377367352625071081_nIt’s been a few days since my return from the big city of Chicago.  As a small town girl, I have to say, it’s truly a place where you don’t lack for fun events to occupy your time.  Friday evening we made our way down to the Huntington Pavillion at the Museum Campus for a Jack Johnson Concert.  (Something I highly recommend… there’s nothing like a lake breeze while listening to great music!)  Jack Johnson is a down to earth performer who puts on a fantastic show!  I’d give him 5 stars.  🙂

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Saturday, of course, we trekked on down to Michigan Avenue for a little shopping and fun.  After one too many cab rides, we decided to take the carriage ride option to the Navy Pier.  The beautiful horse (I believe she is a Percheron) in the picture is “Talula”. She is a real sweety!

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The Navy Pier is one big playground for people of all ages.  We did, of course, partake of a ferris wheel ride.  The brand new ferris wheel has gondola’s that are enclosed, heated, air-conditioned, and ride like a dream!  The best views of the Chicago Skyline are here.  The Navy Pier is a MUST DO for anyone traveling to Chicago.

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Our Saturday evening ended with spectacular fireworks (which are set off every Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer months at the Navy Pier.)

The neighborhood…  Oh yes, I can’t end this post without commenting on the neighborhood of Pilsen, on the Southwest side of Chicago, where we stayed in an “elegant apartment” booked through Airbnb…  While the apartment was clean, it was not so elegant… but very functional for our trip.  Pilsen seemed to be an older neighborhood, in what seemed to be a pretty safe part of town.  We checked out Simone’s for dinner and drinks on Friday night before the concert.  It had a friendly neighborhood atmosphere, and decent bar food.  Transportation from Pilsen to downtown was convenient via Bus and Uber.

Bottom line on Chicago…  Great place for a fun long weekend with friends!  Downtown can be expensive, but totally worth every penny…  I’ve been there about 4 or 5 times now, and it’s proven to be a great time over and over again!