Shhhh … Listen

| 11/18/2008 4:52:36 PM

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I woke up this morning to the sound of plows scraping the streets, our neighbors’ snow-blowers clearing the three inches of snow that fell overnight, and it’s hard for me to believe it’s been over a month already since our fall family vacation. In mid-October, we left the semi-controlled chaos that is the routine of our daily lives, and took off up north for a week of quiet rest and relaxation. Only about two and a half hours from our home, a rental house in Baldwin, Michigan, seemed like the perfect family place for an outdoorsy get-away without risking camping in the unpredictable Michigan October weather.

Rainbow Lake through the trees

Baldwin is a small town surrounded by the wilderness of the Huron-Manistee National Forest; the area boasts 156 lakes, 46 trout streams, and the Pere Marquette River – one of the best, if not arguably, the best salmon and trout rivers in Michigan. It’s said that if you can’t catch fish on the Pere Marquette, you can’t catch fish. Period. I wasn’t nearly as interested in the fishing as my husband was; in fact, I had no plans to fish. Instead, I looked forward to kayaking, biking, and my favorite of all the “silent-sports”: roller-skiing. Roller-skis are cross-country skis with wheels, and there are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails, dirt roads, and two-tracks in the Baldwin area to explore.

Dirt tracks to explore.

Shelby and Shannon each brought a friend on the trip, and the six of us, with all our supplies packed in a small U-Haul trailing behind the van, set out from South Haven to Baldwin. It’s a route that is on Michigan’s Color Tour, and this was the time of autumn when the trees are in peak color. The drive was breathtaking. The closer we got to Baldwin, the maples, black gum, sassafras and sumac, screaming orange, yellow, and red, became fewer, changed to the more subtle brown, brick red, and green of the oak/pine forest. Stands of orangey-yellow sassafras splashed the landscape, standing out like glowing beacons of light in the subdued tones.

Eugene and Martha Riggs greeted us at Loons’ Ridge Retreat, their rental house which would be our home for the week – a beautiful house that had all the amenities of home, and then some. Martha showed us “girls” around the house, already decorated for autumn, and its well-appointed furnishings ... the great room, laundry room, kitchen, the three bedrooms ... and three bathrooms! The master bath with a Jacuzzi tub! With five females, there would be no waiting to get in the bathroom this week, (excepting the Jacuzzi, of course). Eugene gave Keith a tour of the grounds outside. There was a firepit and more than enough wood to burn each night and into the wee hours of the morning. They walked down the stairs leading to the beach where a pontoon boat and four kayaks were docked; even life jackets in a size to fit everyone were provided. The Riggs had thought of everything to make their guests comfortable, and their stay enjoyable.

jean teller
12/5/2008 3:42:43 PM

Hmmm, scary silence - that's food for thought. My imagination does run wild at times (heck, a lot of the time) so you're probably right. I may not be able to handle too much of it. I'd like to try it, just once, and see what happens, though. And I promise to keep in mind the caveat: "Be careful what you wish for"!

cindy murphy
11/22/2008 10:36:30 AM

Hi, Jean. It's funny, isn't it - our quiet times are often actually filled with sound. There's the tick of the clock, the soft padding of the cats walking across the carpet when they aren't in their wild beasts from hell state of mind, and the hum of a computer - or in my case, the whine of an ancient computer gasping its last breaths. But what's that saying? "Be careful what you wish for." I know from your blog that you read a lot and watch a lot of movies. There are strange places that your imagination can take you when it's devoid of the clutter of sounds. Silence can be just as scary as the bump in the night. When I was out on the deck, straining to hear just a single noise, I was suddenly assaulted by images of Hobo Santas lurking in the forest, and ghostly figures emerging from the mist on the lake. And I don't read or watch nearly as many movies as you do. I can only guess what your imagination would conjure up if left in total silence!!

jean teller
11/21/2008 10:58:33 AM

A great tale to tell, Cindy, for all of you! I've never experienced the deafening sound of silence. I often go home and sit in the quiet to read, but that's with the electric hum of lamps, DVR and refrigerator to keep me company. I think I'd like to hear total silence, at least once anyway. Glad to hear the girls are OK and planning ways to gain from their adventure. That's the way to make lemonade, girls, and to build confidence! Taking care of myself is a lesson I wish I'd learned much earlier in my life.

cindy murphy
11/20/2008 2:46:54 PM

The extra amenities were nice, Lori, (especially the Jacuzzi), but I'm sure we would have had a great time without them...though no indoor plumbing would have been more difficult for the teenagers; they have to primp, you know - look good for the chipmunks, and loons, I suppose. Trips like this, and the one you took with your husband, are really about reconnecting with nature and each other; no matter how good of a time you have, they make you appreciate what you have at home all the more. And yes! I can see them telling their grandchildren. If Shelby retains only a smidgen of the melodrama she has now, and carries it into her adulthood, the story will be a comedic drama. There are already plans to turn it into a book, (she and Sarah have big plans for their young years), and I'm sure a movie deal will follow. Johnny Depp will have to make an appearance; he is their favorite. I can see him cast in the role of the Hobo Santa; he'd be perfect. I am just kidding, of course - Johnny Depp is way too attractive to be a Hobo Santa. And I wonder where my daughter gets her streak of melodrama.

11/20/2008 9:20:29 AM

Cindy, What an adventure! My husband and I stayed in a place similar to what you describe, years ago in Canada. It was a small cabin on a lake with boats provided. There was no indoor plumbing, but we had fun none the less. How scary for you when the girls didn't return!!! I would have been so worried! I can imagine how you felt! At least they were OK, and you are right, the stories the girls will tell about that adventure will last a lifetime! Can't you see them telling their grandchildren about the time grandma and her best friend got lost!?

cindy murphy
11/19/2008 6:25:15 PM

Thanks, Iggy. Yep, it was a wonderful vacation filled with lasting memories. Even though Lost Girls adventure was tramatic for us all at the time - a crisis of the moment, all turned out well, and it's something we can laugh about now. "But don't ever scare me like that again!!!!" I say in my Mom voice.

michelle house
11/19/2008 1:57:57 PM

What a wonderful story, It sounds like a good time was had by all. Iggy

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