Waiting for a bus

In the mid-eighties I had a friend named Paul. Paul was really into waterfowl hunting, especially the Canada Goose, and he introduced me to the sport.

Pauly played drums for a bar band around the Grand Rapids area. Bars closed at 2:00 AM then in Michigan. So one night after he played, we went to his house and loaded up our gear and the boat and headed for Portage Lake near Cimax Michigan.

The Michigan DNR had decided to open a nuisance goose season right before Labor Day. Michigan has a lot of lakes, cottages, and boats. It is something people do there. And Labor Day is a big end of the season Holiday weekend.

We arrived at the boat launch before dawn and motored out to a marshy area on one side of the lake, anticipating a lot of boat traffic that day. We got all set up, put out our decoys, and began to wait. The sun got higher and higher. The temperature got hotter and hotter. More and more boats came out onto the lake. But no geese came around.

By mid-day it was easily 85 degrees, so we stripped down to our underwear, and put camo paint all over ourselves. Remember, we have been up all night. And we really didn’t bring much food or water. But we waited anyway.

After noon a couple in a canoe came into the area. We could hear the female saying “Oh look at all of the geese” as they paddled right into our decoys. Then the light came on, and they stopped paddling. ” How ya’ doing”? Pauly says. The lady finally sees us, standing behind our camo net in our camo boat. In our underwear. Covered with camo paint. Holding shotguns.

“You’re not hunting are you”, says canoe lady.

“No ma’am, we are waiting for a bus”, says Pauly.

They paddled away briskly. We never saw any geese all of that day, until we were strapping the boat on the trailer at dusk. Then a big flight came in and landed right where we had been set up all day. Waiting for a bus.

I think it’s almost morning.

After some time, several years, my Mom married that boyfriend with the blue and white Mercury. He didn’t have that car anymore, or the fuzzy cat with the red eyes. We moved to Michigan, which is where they got married. They bought a house next to a school, and we started a new life. I went to 7th grade at Jackson Park Junior High School.

Ron jumped right into Michigan life. At that time, there was a new thing where the DNR had planted all of these salmon in the rivers. Now they went to Lake Michigan in the summer, and in the fall they returned up the rivers to spawn. The sport of the day was to get a big fat deep sea fishing rod and some giant treble hooks and go down and snag these fish.

We went downtown to the Sixth Street damn to watch this spectacle. As we leaned on a railing watching, the people would stand in the river in waders and cast their line out. Then they retrieved it very fast, with a strong jerk, to try and snag the fish. Spawning salmon don’t feed I guess, so you have to just embed a hook into them to catch them.

As we watched, a man near our side of the river stepped into a big hole along the river wall and fell. It was common to put a belt around your waist, in theory so that water would not fill your waders if you fell. This poor guy had done just that, and in doing so had trapped a large amount of air in his waders with himself. Trapped air floats in water, right? So down the river he went, upside down, legs in the air, man under water. He eventually came to a shallow spot and righted himself. Pretty funny for the rest of us. I’m guessing not so much for him.

We decided we needed to try this amazing new sport. So we bought rods and big hooks, and headed off to the Muskegon River. We neglected to buy waders, or at least I didn’t get any. How cold is the Muskegon River in October? Shoulder to shoulder, cast and jerk. I never caught one fish. But I saw a drunk guy go stumbling over the rocky bottom with his line all tangled, cursing like my Grandpa. That was funny too.

Ron also decided that we should join the legion of Michigan deer hunters. I wasn’t old enough yet to hunt, but I wanted to go along. We had a little pop up camper. Ron bought a rifle. We got our rubber insulated boots and giant socks. Clothing technology wasn’t then what it is now. It was like the more you wore the warmer you would be. But you actually got all sweaty and froze your ass off. We went out to sight in the rifle, by the side of a country road. Two things happened. One, resting the rifle on top of the Buick LeSabre, Ron shot the box of ammo in half. No idea why there wasn’t an explosion. Two, he put his eye to close to the scope and got a nasty cut from it when he fired the rifle. If you have ever made that mistake, its not really funny. But hey, we were just learning.

November 14th arrived, and off we went to the woods near Big Rapids. We set up our camp, gathered wood, all that stuff. I went out with my 20 gauge single shot to get a squirrel or something. Not sure. Later, I was standing under a tree near camp looking up at a squirrel’s nest in a tree. Ron decided that it would be funny to shoot his Winchester .32 Special over my head, into that nest. While I tried to dig for China in the forest floor, he laughed his ass off. Sheesh.

We sat around the fire after we ate, and eventually went to bed. We kept lighting the lantern and the stove to get warm in our little camper. It was really cold. Ron’s watch had stopped or something. It’s the early 70’s. No cell phone. No digital clock in the car. We pretended to sleep for hours and hours, occasionally discussing what time it must be. I am not sure how we  were going to know when to get up. You see, part of this ritual is stumbling through the woods way before dawn to get to your spot so the deer won’t know you are there. Because deer are stupid? And can’t hear? And don’t live in the same woods all year?

Eventually we decide, by looking out of the camper door, that the false dawn is arriving. So we are going to go into town to eat breakfast before we go to the woods. It has been a long night. We get in the car and drive to town, which happens to be toward the fuzzy light in the sky. We arrive at the Big Boy on M37 at exactly 10:30 PM. The false dawn was the lights of town. We had been in bed for about 2 hours. The food was good though.

February Wrap Up

February was just a few local walks that we have done before. Nothing to report really. The weather was not helpful. Barely 18 miles, although I did have some miles on job sites, which always include stairs. But I never remember to record those.

I am going to TN this month, and hope to get a couple of good days in there. And then the weather here will improve and I can get back on the Knobstone.

See this months total at the bottom.

Thank you.

First published September 5th, 2018:

My dear friend is battling Parkinson’s Disease. He has been for awhile. My Grandfather  ( not the one you already know, but my paternal Grandfather) also had this disease. Please take a few minutes to read and understand a little about Parkinson’s.

Ok, Brad, that’s a sad story, but what can I do about it? Well, I am glad you asked, because here is what we are going to do about it.

For every mile I log, through 2019, starting on September 1st 2018, I am going to make a donation to Parkinson’s research. And I am asking that you do the same thing too. I am pledging $1.00 for every mile that I log, but you could do whatever is comfortable for you.

I have logged about 120 miles this year so far, but I am going to be more diligent about logging all of my miles, so that number will go up. I will post my total miles here at the end of each month, and we can all go directly to http://www.michaeljfox.org to make our donation. Just click on the green tab in the upper corner. While you are there, read a little about their research.

I will also, for the same period of time, donate 30% of the proceeds from the sale of any of my paintings to this organization.

Thank you for your support!

 

 

Screenshot_20190302-172857_Samsung Health

Pixley Knob Road

This is also from last year. I did not reach Mile 25 in 2018, and I still have not. But I will on my next leg, which is coming soon.

On May 20th I returned to the Knobstone Trail.  I started at the Pixely Road Trailhead, which is a two space dirt parking area. My goal today was Mile 13. As usual, I climbed straight up a hill as soon as I stepped off of the road. It had rained overnight, and it was a little muddy, which means slick. After the initial climb, the trail got pretty easy, and there are great views in this section. It was a very enjoyable 2 miles. Then at about 11.75 it happened.

I could hear a road, and some people talking. At this point the trail drops out from under you. There are some steps cut in with timbers anchored to the ground with rebar. A lot of the steps are damaged or missing, and there is rebar sticking up out of the wet, slippery hillside everywhere. At several points going down this hill I stopped and looked back. I was seriously thinking about turning back. I also looked at  the map to see if I could road hike back to the truck, were I to survive the descent. I eventually reached the bottom, and took a break by a stream. The voices were from a group I assume was waiting to be picked up just down the road.

 

Pixley Hill

That is about one tenth of the hill, and it looks a lot easier than it is, FYI. Be sure to look at the elevation chart at the end of this post.

Eventually I started again, of course up a hill. Once on top of that ridge the trail again was very smooth and pretty easy. I reached 13 in no time, and considered going on for at least another half mile. But climbing back up that hill behind me was really concerning me. Again I consulted the map. It was just to far by road. So back I went. When I reached the Mt. Everest want to be, I took my time, and was extremely careful. Once I scaled that, it was off to the races. When I reached Pixley Knob Road I was feeling pretty proud of my tired self. As I popped out onto the road and looked toward the truck, I got my last godsmack of the day. It was actually uphill the last 500 feet to the truck.

Again, I stress, this trail is serious. It is not well maintained, which is good. But it could hurt you. Younger and thinner will help. Take enough water, a life straw, and emergency items. My phone and GPS have worked almost all of the first 13 miles, so there is comfort in that. I am not trying to scare anyone from hiking here. It’s a great trail. Just know what you are getting into. And remember, I only saw 4 people on the trail in 4 sections, plus the small group leaving on this day.

I will return to The KT later this year when it is cooler and the bugs start to clear out. My hope is to reach Mile 25 this year. Until then, thank you for reading me. I will continue to post my other adventures.

Pixley elPixley Map

Jackson Road II

Yes, another re-run. This was a really good day in April of last year. I can’t wait to get back on this trail again.

On April 27th, 1 week after the Pit of Misery fiasco, I was back at the Jackson Road Trailhead. My goal today was Pixley Knob Road. Mile 9.5 or thereabout.

By studying the topo map, I felt that I could walk along the ridge from the parking lot and catch the trail at Mile 7, thereby avoiding the Pit of Misery. Brilliant! Off I went down an old logging road. A really pretty day with a lot of great views. I kept looking over the edge for the trail, but I didn’t see it. Then I came to a road, which I followed a little way to what looked like trail access. It kind of seemed like a driveway, but no one shot at me, and there were some signs as if it was a horse trail ahead. Presently I started to descend a limestone outcropping/trail. This went on for a while, then leveled out, and viola! The trail. I made a left and headed for Pixely Knob Road. I did meet a turkey hunter on this section. This was a pretty easy section and I made fast time to the goal, then headed back.

I crossed my earlier trail and followed the KT toward Mile 8, which was in the bottom of yet another of the Seven Pits of Hell. There was water in the bottom of this one too. The trail actually went in the water for a little way. I encountered two hikers there, and we also saw a tent camp that appeared to belong to several people, who were not around at the time. Right there the trail started to go straight up a cliff. Well, OK, a really steep hill. This is a really interesting section because you can look over into the 2012 tornado damage area. There is still metal debris wrapped up in the trees 100 feet in the air. Here I started to see a lot of little lizards, and one really long snake.

Once the trail leveled off a little bit, I started moving along pretty well, and watching for the logging road I had been on earlier. Finally, when the trail started to head down again I veered off to the right. Boom. The logging road was there, 10 yards away. The sun must have been in my eyes earlier.

I was feeling kind of disgusted with myself for avoiding the 1st Pit, again, but who would know? While I was mulling that over, a small animal noise caught my attention. I stopped, and there on the edge of the trail, 20 feet away, was a little critter. I thought first it was a newborn bear cub, and started to think about running, which is not something I can probably do very well.

Bobcat

I then realized it was in fact a baby Bobcat. A kitten? I took a couple of pictures and passed by a few dozen yards. Looking back, I saw there was a pile of logging debris right there which I assumed contained a den. Wildlife sightings don’t get any better than that, right? Once I reached the truck, I texted my DNR acquaintance and reported the location. I also did a little research on the magic phone and determined the kitten would likely be ok, a summation my acquaintance soon validated.

This is a great section of this trail, and no I actually have not walked from Mile 6 to 7 on the trail itself, but I saw a Bobcat. So it’s good.

Jackson eljackson map

Driving Miss Norma

I recently (today) read a book called Driving Miss Norma. You may have already heard of it, or even seen her on television. I don’t do television news, Twitter, or Face Book. So things like this that everyone else thinks they know about sometimes escape me. (Note the self righteous tone I took there, whilst floundering in my little WordPress world)

I, of course, was instantly drawn in by the Michigan connection, Grand Rapids, and the Gerald Ford story. I am fond of my Michigan heritage.

This book I recommend as a manual for possible consideration at End of Life. Especially the part about treatment decisions.  I personally could have skipped some of the notoriety portion of Miss Norma’s experience, if it were me. But she seems to have thrived on it. I think Tim and Ramie felt the same way. I would rather have done the Baja part than the Atlanta Hawks thing. But it isn’t my story, it’s theirs.

Norma was fortunate to have someone who had the means and the lifestyle to spend this time with her. Not everyone could do this. But my biggest take away was the eschewing of corporate medicine for simple alternatives, trading in possibly some extended, low quality time for even a day or two of quality. In this case a whole year.

Had Norma opted for the program the first doctor proposed, she would have missed all of this, and likely been pretty miserable most days. Likely also fewer days. Who knows?

As we age, End of Life becomes an ever increasing part of our life, for obvious reason. But it also starts to weigh on us as the inevitable is made ever more apparent by the ones who volunteer to go first. I am grateful for their guidance.

Miss Norma’s guidance I am especially thankful for.

 

 

Readers

I really appreciate the people that read me here. It is kind of a humbling experience to know that people take their valuable time to read about my common little life experiences.

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Please read it, if you would. Thank you again for taking the time.