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I’ve always wondered what it might be like to live on Four Winds Island in the winter? Of course you’d have to lay in a lot of supplies. Then again are wires strung out to the island for electricity or do they have their own generator? I think it would be great to own your own island.

And whereas the mainland Camp Martin Johnson is almost all but lost the same can’t be held true on Four Winds Island where history is still present. Several of the cabins, with graffiti, are still there for the looking. I can almost imagine former campers going out there with memories rolling in high gear. At least some of CMJ is still preserved on Four Winds Island.

Chopping Your Own Christmas Tree


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How about the great outdoors for your Christmas tree store? Now our picture is from a Christmas tree farm but what about property that you might own where there is an abundance of Christmas trees already there? Our property had several areas where a good pine tree of size could have been chopped down and trimmed to living room standards.

When one chops down their own tree it somehow makes it even more festive than those we purchase from parking lots where trees are shipped in from around the country. I have personally chopped down my own tree on more than one occassion and it makes that tree even more special.

The trimmings on the tree of lights and ornaments make it even brighter. Remember, though, to keep that tree well watered during the Christmas season so that the pine needles don’t try out making them even greater fire hazards than before.


The Legend of Redeye is true for who could re-“herse” it? Throughout the decades at Camp Martin Johnson there have been many monsters but none like Redeye. Yes, Baby Bender might have had his appeal with he ability to rattle some kids or Stumpy might scare a few as well but none had the legend of Redeye behind them.

Redeye could only be found at Lakeview Cemetery and, yes, some locals did not like the undue attention that the staff and campers paid to that area.  Also his particular Redeye did not come out of a bottle but after observing it some counselors might have abided in a few rounds. 

Redeye was not from some institution like either the Baldwin or Sauble Mental Hospital’s but after seeing Redeye for the first time, some might have opted to find those two places and check themselves in!  And, Redeye was no mere tail light either.  So, what was it?

Redeye was an Indian brave who had lost his life on the original land before Martin Johnson purchased it.  He was killed in ambush and with his dying breath warned that his eye would not perish from that land.  And, from time to time, out of nowhere, this red-eye appears in the darkness.  Some believe it searches for its grave at Lakeview albeit an unmarked one. 

But here it is before your eyes at Lakeview as one former camper emailed it to me.  It is said to appear throughout that area yet today including the land once owned by the camp.  It is said to guard the boulder that lies over the grave of Martin Johnson yet today.  Beware of Redeye!

The Rock Formations of Shanty Falls


This is the great rock formation found at Shanty Falls just south of Wabash. It overlooks Shanty Falls itself and is found just to its right as you face the falls. You can actually sit down within this formation and enjoy a lunch.

About a quater of a mile further away, in the direction of the Wabash River, is nearly a mile of rock formations, many with caves within them. This was always a fun place to explore when I was a kid. One could have a very complete day at this locality.

How many of you have been to Shanty Falls? At the top of the falls, the creekbed is nearly solid rock for about a half mile coming down toward the falls. Leave us a comment as to your experiences at Shanty Falls.

No Polar Bear Swims Here


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The ULBC Camp Pool was far more superior to League Lake for me. I loved the refreshing waters of the pool over the algae plagued League Lake. I used the lake for rowboating.

What are your memories of the camp pool? Though only about four feet deep at its deepest, the pool afforded good fun for relay races, quick games, and good plain fun.

Camping in the Wilderness


How’s this for a tent in the Canadian wilderness? Darlene made me a great deal of stew and biscuits with turnovers for dessert. I don’t know what my stomach would do without Darlene on our camping trips. Tomorrow, though, I will catch a mess of fish and clean them up for her to fry. You know, I’ve often wondered just what a mess of fish is and it could be the mess I make when I cut the good meat from the rest of the fish. You think?

I have a lantern flashlight so we both we reading some material about the Great Slave Lake in our tent. Then we played two games of Uno before turning out the light for a great night in the north woods. We both heard the crickets playing us a concert for awhile which helped us both drift out into slumber land.

I awoke the next morning to bacon frying in the grill and a slab of ham on the side. Darlene’s camp coffee is unbelievably good and hot as all get out. It cuts the tar out of my throat each morning. And after that great breakfast I did the dishes down at the stream while Darlene set up her hammock. We then fed Frick and Frack for they were also with us. Our two huskies’ always go on trips with us.

The dogs stayed with Darlene while I caught that mess of fish which numbered ten before it was all said and done. What a fish fry we had that night! The dogs ate well too. Darlene fried up some onion rings to go along with our main course and that really hit the spot.

What comes next will be Darlene’s account of the northern lights later today.


Big Bass Lake in November

It’s time to put away the rowboats and get ready for ice fishing. Fall at Big Bass Lake means wonderous scenery and hunting season. How many full time home owners call Big Bass Lake home for the entire year?

I haven’t posted for awhile but autumn was always the best time at the lake because of all the leaves turning colors. What are some of your memories of autumn at Big Bass Lake?

By the way, those are the twin islands on the north side of the lake.


My grandmother, Barbara Noreika, hailed from Lithuania and she and my grandfather established a farm in North Central Michigan in the early to mid 1900’s. Our family changed the name to Norris in the 1940’s to sound more American but my grandmother maintained the true family name. She was a superb cook in her little farmhouse kitchen that was mostly wood with an old fashioned stove. She had a circular table in that kitchen that we ate from. Her specialty was pasti which is a meat pie with a thick salted crust. It is an unsweetened pastry but full of great things to feast upon. For all you chef’s out there I have an unofficial recipe for this gourmet dish.

4 Cups of Flour
One-eighth Teaspoon of Salt
1.5 Cups of Lard in one-fourth inch cut cubes
8-10 Teaspoons of ice water
1 egg (beaten)

The Filling-
1 Cup coarsely chopped White Rutabaga
2 Cups finely diced boneless beef or steak
1 Cup coarsely chopped onions
2 Cups finely diced potatoes
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub together the flour and fat to make a coarse meal and then add in the 8-10 teaspoons of ice water all at once. If the dough crumbles add more ice water. Then refrigerate the dough for about one hour.

Then roll the dough into a circle about one-fourth inch thick and cut into six inch rounds. Re-roll.

As for the filling cut the ingredients into small pieces making sure to cook the meat and the potatoes together. Combine in a bowl and combine one fourth of the mixture into the center of the rolled out pasti. Moisten the pasti edges then fold in half making sure to crimp the edges to seal. Place the pasti on a buttered baking sheet and brush lightly with the egg wash. Make two slits in the pasti to allow steam to escape. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees until the pasti is golden brown.

For best results serve the pasti with Cole slaw and you are in for one tasty meal. If the pasti dough is made just right you will never forget this recipe of my grandmother’s. To be honest, I haven’t tasted pasti the way she made it since her death in the 1970’s. The Upper Penisula of Michigan has many pasti restaurants but none with her recipe. Bon apetite!

I should also let you know that when I was taking camping trips into the area with kids I would always be treated to this marvelous pasti at least once per trip. It was the best meal ever!

Trip to the Great Slave Lake- Part Two


Check out this gorgeous scene! Who needs television when you have this? The Northern Lights have put on a fantastic light show almost every night that we’ve been camping around The Great Slave Lake. A whole spectrum of colors can be found and it just takes your breath away. I often wonder if our dogs can take in this view as well? Frick and Frack seem almost immune to this display opting to chase each other and a few squirrels than to be involved in this viewing pleasure.

Mike has caught some great photographs of all this and he is even now clicking some more. He was planning on doing some night fishing but this took him away from even doing that and he rarely misses a chance to go fishing. Tonight he’s fishing for photographs of nature at its best.

Wow! The colors seen here almost appear as if they were shooting down from the heavens. It’s like a hail storm of colors. A rainbow pales in comparison to these lights. After Mike had completed his camera work he joined me at the ebbing campfire to catch the view above. We just laid back as our dogs joined us and took in the view while chomping down on a few marshmallows. Soon we’ll be heading back south to Michigan but what a way to end our trip. Fantastic!

Great Slave Lake Trip- Part One


Last summer, Darlene and I traveled into Canada to take a look at what of their “Great Lakes” not numbered among the US five. Darlene will offer her impressions in Part Two but I wanted you to have an understanding of just where we traveled to on this vacation. I also visited an inland lake with another tourist we met on this trip and I will detail that tomorrow.

Great Slave Lake is the second-largest lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada (after Great Bear Lake), the deepest lake in North America at 2,010 feet and the ninth-largest lake in the world. It is 480 300 miles long and 12 to 68 miles wide. It covers an area of 27,200 10,502 square miles in the southern part of the territory. The lake shares its name with the Slavey First Nations.

North American Aboriginal Peoples were the first settlers around the lake, building communities including Dettah, which still exists today. British fur trader Samuel Hearne explored the area in 1771 and crossed the frozen lake, which he initially named Lake Athapuscow (after an erroneous French speaker’s pronunciation of Athabaska). In 1897-1898, the American frontiersman Charles “Buffalo” Jones traveled to the Arctic Circle where his party wintered in a cabin that they had constructed near the Great Slave Lake. Jones’s exploits of how he and his party shot and fended off a hungry wolf pack near Great Slave Lake was verified in 1907 by Ernest Thompson Seton and Edward Alexander Preble when they discovered the remains of the animals near the long abandoned cabin.

In the 1930s, gold was discovered there, which led to the establishment of Yellowknife, which would become the capital of the Northwest Territory. In 1967, an all-season highway was built around the lake, originally an extension of the Mackenzie Highway but now known as Yellowknife Highway or Highway 3. On January 24, 1978, a Soviet Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite, named Kosmos 954, built with an on board nuclear reactor fell from orbit and disintegrated. Pieces of the nuclear core fell in the vicinity of Great Slave Lake. 90% of the nuclear debris was recovered by a group called Operation Morning Light formed with both American and Canadian members.

The Georgeous Sauble River Outlet


Talk about a picture saying a thousand words! This belongs on a portrait somewhere! Just take in the beautiful colors on a perfect evening. This is one of my favorite places to visit regardless of the time of day. This is what one would behold atop the M-116 bridge just before entering the Hamlin Dam campsite.

This is where the warmer waters of the Sauble River join with the much colder waters of Lake Michigan. I could just stare into a view like this all day. Examine the crystal clear image of the Sauble River with nary a fish even making a solitary ripple.

The sky in the distance puts a punctuation mark on this picture. The glorious mixture of the colors and the resulting reflections are wonderful. Moments like this should never end.

Lake Michigan Spectacular


From time to time I will be updating here at BBL and Beyond. Yes, my hubbie Mike and Dave have quit posting but everyone should know that a woman always gets in the last word.

How about this for a view? I should let you know that I have only just recently visited Big Bass Lake and will be posting on my observations soon. I won’t be posting daily but I will be around every now and then. So, this site isn’t retired yet!

Our Last Post


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Having run the entire race of posts about this area, this will be our last. The site will stay up forever but I will only be moderating comments every two weeks from this point forward. It has been a GREAT run and I thank you all for coming to it over the years.

Thank YOU for being a part of Big Bass Lake and Beyond!

Canoeing the Pere Marquette


I know of some folks that believe that they can get from the Baldwin, Michigan, area to Lake Michigan in no time flat along the Pere Marquette River, that is, as the crow flies. But crows don’t paddle all the twists and turns of that river so to go that distance in just a few days is not a reality.  One man, in particular, only made it about half way in the time limit that he had alloted for himself, much to his displeasure.

I’ve never taken the Pere Marquette River in any sort of speed contest as that would ruin it for me.  This river was meant to be enjoyed and part of that pleasure is to camp along its banks and get in some good fishing.  If you’re in some sort of speed contest, you’ll miss all that this river offers you.  I even enjoy a brief swim in the cool waters of the Pere Marquette. 

This river was meant to be enjoyed to its fullest and each and every time that I dip my paddle in this river, I take my time to enjoy every minute.  What’s the rush?

Disc Golf


My good friend Dave Norris would be thrilled to learn that now the Manistee National Forest even has Disc Golf Courses!  I think he refers to them as Frisbee Golf Courses since Indiana is not quite up to par with the term Disc Golf yet.  Maybe they’ll catch the “birdie” on this one sooner than later.  It took o’le eagle eyes Michael (my hubbie) to spot this course.

Disc Golf has eighteen holes that are found in metal baskets and they are sprinkled throughout this portion of the national forest.  Mike and I play whenever possible but I usually come out with the victory.  He handles a frisbee like I handle a fishing rod.  I don’t think it prudent to play this course at night for one might encounter the “bogie” man.  Ouch!  My humor is starting to get like David’s. 

The Marion YMCA Bus Ride


Do you remember the Lucille Ball movie, “The Long, Long Trailer”?  Well, on a trip to our property in Michigan from the Marion YMCA we had an old bus to get us there and the trip took a long, LONG time!  It seemed that the top speed of that bus was between 45 and 50 miles an hour in speed zones of 65.  And, for that entire trip we only passed one vehicle and then we did so by going over a railroad track without first stopping and opening our doors.  We were halfway around that person before realizing the tracks were just ahead of us.

 Some of the boys joked that the guy we passed was probably some Amish farmer with a literal two horse engine!  Our bus driver made several stops for bathroom breaks, lunch, and for fuel.  The trip of 360 miles took nearly eleven hours to get us there so since we left at 8 am we didn’t arrive until 7pm leaving us little time to set up the tents and get our camp site in readiness before nightfall.

 Along the way we sang songs, played alphabet games with road signs, snoozed, or just enjoyed the scenery.  However the scenery was just likeIndianauntil we passed Grand Rapids, Michigan, and got onto Michigan 37 for the final eighty miles of our journey and that was all through the Manistee National Forest.  At the time the kids were riveted at just how big that forest actually was as they marveled at passing lakes and streams.

The bus really went slowly up a big hill just outside Baldwin, Michigan, and then the kids looked behind them for a glance at a long dirt road snaking through the forest behind them as if they could see for miles.  Finally just past the Club 37 restaurant we left Michigan 37 and proceeded for the last twelve miles down back roads to Big Bass Lake.  The kids were amazed that we were still in that same forest and for the next ten days, that forest was to be their home. 

We stopped a mile short of our goal at the Big Bass Lake store to get some last minute snack food before proceeding to our property.  But, what a long, LONG trip that had been only to be rewarded with some hard work setting up camp before bedtime.  The fun part of that trip was to commence the next morning.  That long, LONG day was finally about to end. 

Wonderous Forest


Here is another of those unpaved roads in the Manistee National Forest that my husband, Mike, loves to journey upon.  He calls them his one tankful trips and thank goodness he sees fit to fill up the car before we head out into this forest.  For one thing, sometimes these roads lead to other unpaved roads and it seems like we’ll never find civilization again.

Yet that’s the mystique of this wonderful forest.  It seemingly never ends and one can spend a whole day traveling it and never run into a town if you plan your day well using a map.  Mike does but if something ever happened to him on one of our trips, it would take me nearly forever to navigate myself out of this forest.

I am not the best at map reading unless I am going to a CITY with stores.  Then there’s no one my equal but it amazes me how well Mike navigates the back roads of this forest.  And, he loves to explore it taking turns that he had not initially planned on taking.  But when he’s ready to stop exploring and head for home, we’re on either US 10 or 31 in a heartbeat.  It’s rather spooky how he knows all the ways back to the main highways.

Little wonder why green is Mike’s favorite color.  Mine is too but it’s the green that comes out of his wallet for me to go shopping!


After a stop at the Dublin General Store (mentioned a few days ago), the Salesian Boys Club kids and I set out for the Pine River Bridge near Wellston for an afternoon of hiking and dining.  Our gourmet special for the afternoon was hot dogs and potato salad.  First, though, the kids descended down a spiral wooden staircase that was situated over a spring that gently flowed down beneath their feet. 

Once at the bottom, there was a sandy trail that led under the spacious Pine River Bridge and into the picnic ground.  While one of the boys and I began to prepare lunch, my older member, Jughead, took the rest of the boys on a hike along the river where they could observe both canoes and kayaks floating by.  They walked to where they could easily observe the island (above) and then returned back to the picnic area.

By then delicious hot dogs awaited them along with several condiments plus potato salad and soft drinks.  Then the kids played Frisbee or just took it easy before our return walk under he bridge and back up that spiral staircase to our car above.  You know, come to think of it, I never took the kids over that bridge by way of the car as our destination was in the opposite direction back to Big Bass Lake. 

Even so the kids were always impressed with our Pine River side trips that gave them an afternoon away from our campsite at Big Bass Lake.


In the small town of Dublin, Michigan, is the Dublin General Store and of all these kinds of stores in the area, this one is a classic.  On a trip to the Pine River Bridge near Wellston, the Salesian Boys Club kids and I stopped at this store to pick up supplies for our picnic.  However, Whitey Meier found the right size battery for his larger than life flashlight, Timmy Flannery purchased long shoelaces for his hiking boots, and Mike Myers found a particular brand of cookies that he had not found at other general stores in the area.

The Dublin General Store is a kind of Wal-Mart in the middle of the Manistee National Forest.  The Big Bass Lake Store, on the other hand, had limited items and often one had to go to Scottville for a full shopping trip.  At the Dublin General Store you could also have a full shopping experience and then even more than that with all the specialty items they carried. 

I know that the Salesian Boys Club kids appreciated them.  They came out of that general store beaming with their unique purchases.  And I got all the things I needed for a great cookout at the Pine River that day.  Don Clodfelter took a great picture of this store.

The Haunted Field


I came across this meadow once on a hike north of Scottville between that community and Baldwin about two miles north of US 10.  Legend has it tha light shines through the trees in various patterns there that emits strange rays right out of the ground.  Of course I never saw any of those rays but perhaps I was there at the wrong time of day?

The rays are said to carve up the ground something fierce.  Yet in my journey there I saw no evidence of that.  Although if you will take notice of that flowery section of that meadow there might have been some break through of the ground within that patch but I did not take the time to check that out either.  Legends have their way of taking on their own life so to speak.  I know my friend, Dave, has made mention of his Haunted Island on Big Bass Lake many times. 

Perhaps he should have taken his boys club kids to this meadow just before sunset?  Then maybe at that time the legend might have taken place right before their startled eyes?  Then again, maybe not?

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