July 5-9, 2017
Driving to Sugar Grove, I met my good friends Ed McGlumphy and Diego Genoves at Ed and Debbie’s new lake house. Ed and I had talked about meeting as I was heading west. I asked him where he wanted to go, and he said there was a great store in Traverse City, Michigan that has great furnishings for cabins. That sounded like a good adventure, so we passed it by Diego, who lives in Mexico City. I was very surprised and happy to hear that he had booked a flight!
We enjoyed a great evening at the lake house. What a find they made with this house, as it is in perfect shape, not too big, but with plenty of space. With kayaks, a canoe and pontoon boat, they are ready to go! We took the inaugural pontoon boat cruise around the lake and happily made it without incident. It was great to also see Greg and Michele Michaels, Kelly McGlumphy and Lisa Knowbloch, also from OSU. After a great dinner, everyone headed back except Ed, Diego and I, so we were the first to stay in the new cabin. Ed spent the night on the sleeping porch, and said it was great.
We got a reasonable start heading out to Traverse City. It was a long drive made longer by heavy rains in Columbus and some missed turns as we were talking a lot. The real adventure came when we got close to Schecks Place State Forest Campground. The iPhone GPS took us down a sand road, which I expected, but three more turns and it started to look dicey. Some deep sand almost got us stuck. Then we ran into a dead end and had to back out. We could hear people playing music in the campground, but we couldn’t get there. Finally a man on a 4-wheeler gave us good directions. We were lucky to find a spot, but we found a good one and settled in.
In the morning we headed into town to shop Woodland Creek Furniture. I quickly saw why Ed wanted to come here. It is a very cool place, and Ed was like a kid in a candy store. He introduced me to a new way of shopping…. with FaceTime. He showed his daughter, Kellye and wife Debbie around the store, pointing out things he thought would work. After a few hours, Ed’s head was overflowing, and we needed some lunch. The town was crowded, as they were in the middle of the National Cherry Festival. We had a good lunch at a pie shop and headed over to Morsels Expresso + Edibles shop, where a friend of Kellye’s works. We never saw her, but it is a great spot to get a coffee or sandwich, sit outside and watch kayakers paddle down the Boardman River.
In the afternoon, we headed down to the festival, buying some cherries, nut butters and cherry brats. We watched the cherry pie eating contest for a while, but the highlight of the day was the pit-spitting contest. Right up there with the Moose Dropping Festival in Talkeetna, Alaska, the pit-spitting was a happening. We practiced a bit, spitting into Lake Michigan and made maybe 15 feet. Then they rolled out this long mat on the boardwalk. It was marked to 110 feet! The announcer was great, first letting children give it a go. Encouraging and joshing at the same time, he kept the crowd entertained. I think 20′ was the best of the kids. Then came the adults. Anything that didn’t stay on the mat was not counted, rather like golf’s long-drive competitions. One big guy stepped up and fired one 45′. The trick seemed to be to really clean the pit of all cherry. Diego suggested biting them to make dimples like a golf ball. Then you have to hope for a great roll on the mat. The trick seemed to be to roll the tongue length-wise and fire the seed like a bullet. Two feet on the line, haul backwards and fire forward. After watching 10 contestants, we felt with practice on the off-season, we might have a shot.
Diego signed up for a half marathon, so we got up early and drove him to the start at about 6:30, the race starting at 7:00. He said it was a beautiful run along the coast of the peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. Running along cherry orchards, farms and beautiful homes, he enjoyed it very much. Meanwhile, Ed and I went to the tip of the peninsula, looked at the lighthouse at the end, and slowly drove back. it is beautiful country. We stopped at a farm stand that was set up on the honor system, and bought the best cherries I have ever had. Back in town we went to an omelette shop and enjoyed a great breakfast.
There was a parade that morning besides the half marathon, so there was nowhere to park. I started to park 6 blocks away, but Ed suggested going back to town center, where we found a two-hour spot. Walking one block, we found ourselves at the finish line. I stepped between the crowds and into the street to look for Diego. Tugging on Ed’s shirt, I asked if that was Diego about a block away. “Yes”, so we snapped a few pictures as he came across the finish.
Back to Woodland Creek to make some purchases. Diego and I walked along what I guess was Woodland Creek behind the store while Ed shopped. Loading the box of cabin goodies, we headed back to camp for lunch. We stopped at a lodge just up from camp and booked kayaks for a 3:00 trip on the beautiful Boardman River that ran through our camp. After lunch and a little quiet time, we drove to the lodge. We were shuttled upstream with instructions to pull out when we saw the big sign at the lodge.
Ed was barely sitting in his kayak when it tipped over. Fortunately our driver quickly hopped in the water to help him. He was unstable as we continued downstream, so when we found a suitable spot, we switched boats and he was much more comfortable. Now in Ed’s former kayak, I could feel it was much more sensitive, smaller and more narrow. This is a beautiful river and a great kayak trip. We passed a gentleman working in his back yard. He said it was one of the top 10 trout streams in the country! I saw a few fish and one poor lady trying to fish between kayaks and inner tubes.
Another great fire and dinner cooked over the fire before we hit the beds early. We were on the road to Columbus by 7:30 in the morning. This time the drive was easier as we stayed on track. We had arranged to meet Mike Majchrowicz in Toledo on our way back. Mike also trained with us at Ohio State. We met at Tony Packo’s Restaurant. It was great to catch up a bit with Mike. He looked great and seemed quite content with life.
We got back to Columbus in time to get cleaned up and go to dinner to celebrate Debbie’s birthday. She had a tough week taking care of her mother, who had a small stroke. It was nice to enjoy a little more conversation before we had to go our separate ways. We have had some great adventures together, and this was another good one. We did a lot in five days!