Night of a Thousand Stars

One of the best things about our boys club camping trips to Michigan came at night.  On those very first nights the boys saw something that city lights from wherever they lived robbed them of and that was the brilliance of the night sky over Big Bass Lake.  Unimpeded by city lights, the boys took in all the stars of the heavens. 

At times I would take our rowboat onto the lake and allow the kids to view the stars without having to look at them through trees.   I recall Timmy Flannery of the Salesian Boys Club’s reaction as his eyes were about as dazzling as the very stars he was observing.  They merely twinkled in delight of what his eyes were beholding.  Some of the other boys began pointing skyward in amazement at what they were seeing. 

I find it ever so amazing that a simple night row could generate all that excitement but, then, I have seen this night sky many times before.  And sometimes not even a trip to the Haunted Island or the Bloody Antler Trail meant as much to the boys as a row onto the lake at night just to watch all those stars above them.  Yes, simple pleasures ARE the best!

The Hamiltons Second Honeymoon by Bob Hamilton

I had a surprise for my darling Sharon since our first honeymoon didn’t go so well in Bitley Michigan. This time Sharon was surprised and positively surprised as I had taken her to a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. She almost passed out when she saw how beautiful it was. The first night was enchanting and the food on the island with fantastic. The second day Sharon decided to go down to the beach for a swim and I went with her loaded with plenty of suntan lotion. After about an hour Sharon stood up and stretched and turned around to see this.

She screamed, Bob you’ve done it again! You’re probably wondering if we survived this adventure? Sharon later told me then if I wrote this we survived. I would have gotten this to you sooner but we spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from her injuries. Her one request? No more honeymoon trips.

Aerial Grandma’s Hat Island

In the 1950s and 60s this island was called Grandma’s Hat. Over the course of time it has been called Tiny Tim and Loon Island. The entire Island would fit in most living rooms. It is the smallest island on Big Bass Lake. It used to have great sand beaches all around the island. What is the name of the island today? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Sauble River Outlet

Next to the Ludington lighthouse I think this is an old fantastic view in all of Michigan. I love the warm Waters of the Sauble River lapping about my feet as I walk through this area. Just a few short feet away is Lake Michigan which is about 30 degrees colder. Lake Michigan flows East and the song Sauble River flows West. Someday I will come here in the spring when the Sauble river is Flowing wildly and watch it as it enters Lake Michigan. One irresistible Force against another.

But until then I’ll just enjoy this Majestic Beauty forever in my mind.

Noreika Tie to Camp Martin Johnson

This week I found out a few things that I didn’t know about Camp Martin Johnson. First, an old friend, Corrie, sent me this picture of a postcard of the camp. Corrie is on my grandmother’s side of the family, that being Barbara Noreika.

The other thing I found out when I recently read my Aunt Beth (Norris) obituary and noticed that in her early life she had volunteered at Camp Martin Johnson. Since our family farm was on the southwest corner of Big Bass Lake and CMJ on the Northeast side of the lake that would have made for easy travel. I can almost see my aunt rowing back and forth each day.

Thus the Norris/Noreika family does have one certain tie to Camp Martin Johnson.

Twilight at Big Bass Lake

Tonight was our first night at our property with the Hoffman Estates Boys Club. We had dinner about an hour ago and the kids took a brief swim and were getting ready for their first campfire of the trip. They had put their swimming suits on the clothesline to dry and one by one sat down at the campfire. By this time it was almost completely dark. I directed the boy is to turn around and look at the Haunted Island. We’re going out there? Two of the boys said that in unison and I told them not on this night much to their relief. I told them a few ghost stories and one about bears. Then I asked them if they were ready for their first night hike on our property. They begin yawning saying how about tomorrow night? So we continued telling stories for another hour and then they were ready for bed. It had been a long traveling day Plus setting up camp and they were really tired. So off to bed they went dreaming about what would happen tomorrow on their first real day at camp. Not a bad first night.

What a Catch and In a Fantastic Location!


This picture was taken just below the Hamlin Dam in the Ludington State Park. It is one of the best photographs I have ever seen. Can you imagine the wet spray coming off those falls to contend with and then the majesty of that catch is breathtaking. For a brief moment it appears to be a flying fish trying to climb right back up those falls to escape the snag.

One has to wonder how many fish our fisherman friend bagged that day? Most fisherman fish off a platform just below the falls but this guy really got directly into the action. Around his legs appears to be a whirlpool forming. The view from just above that picture must have been great too for onlookers on the narrow path across those falls.

Shanty Falls Shower

On a trip to Shanty Falls in Wabash the boys decided to take a shower under the falls against my better judgement. I chose to watch them and standby in case anything went wrong. The kids had a ball and on our way home we hiked up to the top of the falls and walked along the shoreline on our way back. All of a sudden the kids faces turned to horror. They observe three cows going to the bathroom in Shanty Creek. They each looked at each other and somehow didn’t feel as clean as they thought they were. They all said showers as soon as they got home. I think I was the only one that got a laugh out of that.

Dead Birch Bark is a Camper’s Friend

On a few days of rain at our property on Big Bass Lake, the Hoffman Estates Boys Club kids got to experience how to build a campfire in the rain. Now we had a canopy of trees over our campsite so the rain never really poured down yet a goodly portion still reached us. Yet on our wooded beachfront there was also a goodly assortment of birch trees that were dead. The bark of that tree burns in wet or dry weather.

Danny and Tim gathered in a lot of bark from those dead trees that served both as fire starters and fire continuers throughout one evening meal. The oily substance within the bark catches fire quite easily. It enabled the kids to enjoy a really hot meal despite the inclement weather.

The boys were never allowed to peal any bark off live birch trees. Even so it seemed that our wooded beachfront had more dying birch trees than live ones that year. On our full seven day trip we only needed birch bark twice. And, it wasn’t used unless we just had to have it. The kids were surprised to learn that they could still enjoy a hot meal even in the rain which sure beat the expectations of cold beans out of a can.

Salamonie Video

This is the Salamonie State Forest near Wabash Indiana. I have a video for you today about this Forest. Salamonie This is where I train the Marion Boys Club and the Marion Y for trips to our property in Michigan. They would have to pass a weekend camp-out to be eligible to go to Michigan.

Ludington State Park

This is a Sauble River Outlet into Lake Michigan from the air. The highway you see below is Michigan 116 which travels from Ludington to Ludington State Park which is about 8 Miles. I always like to Wade in the outlet because the waters are so warm in contrast to the Cold Water of Lake Michigan less than 20 yards away.

This is what it looks like at ground level. This is my favorite area to photograph. Have any of you ever been here before? The Ludington State Park is really something to see.

Kids of Big Bass Lake- “Jughead”

I never knew Jughead’s real name and that was even his name on his boys club membership application. He was out of the Salesian Inner City Boys Club of Columbus, Ohio, and I’m also sorry that I don’t have a picture of him. He was a pretty good basketball player and we spent many a night rehashing the games he played in at the original Wendy’s in Columbus over chili and cokes.

Jug had never done much camping so in preparation for our Michigan trip he along with me and some other boys spent three nights at the Salesian camp just outside Columbus. He liked this camp because there was no lake there. Jug and water didn’t seem to get along too well.

On our trip to our property, being an older member, he was invaluable to have along as he assisted me greatly. He only waded in Big Bass Lake and did some bathing there. He never got into the boat except to bathe. He missed out on our trip to the Haunted Island but later told me that being alone on our wooded beach was scary enough.

On a side trip to Lake Michigan he was literally blown away by its size and only waded there as well and gingerly at that because it was a wavy day. What he was fully immersed in was anything not having to do with water such as all the hiking we did. He also loved activities around the camp and volunteered to take on the job of cooking for the trip all by himself. He was a great chef and we probably ate better than on any other trip to the property bar none.

Later Jug visited me at my Hoffman Estates Boys Club when Salesian came for a basketball tournament. They stayed at our facility so Jug and I had a long time for conversation over their three day visit. He told me he had learned how to swim finally at the Salesian pool. I laughed when he told me he now was ready for Big Bass Lake but he still had apprehensions about Lake Michigan. No way, Jose!

The Extra-Long Homily at Saint Bernards

On a trip to our property with the Salesian Boys Club, I had promised the Catholic parents that their boys would not miss Catholic Mass. Saint Bernards was in nearby Irons so I dropped them off there. Four boys on the trip were Catholics. So Whitey Meier, Mike Jones, and Mike Myers along with Timmy Flannery attended that service. The other three boys on the trip were not Catholics so we went across the street to a putt-putt course and waited while playing the game. And we waited and waited. We even went to a local Diner for a snack and still we waited. Finally after almost 2 hours the boys came out from the service. They looked somewhat exhausted. They said that priest really had a long homily that morning. Longer than they had ever heard before. So after the long service we all went out to eat at the irons Cafe and they made me promise them that they wouldn’t have to go back there again. I did not let their parents know that promise. They had learned something that day and that was that all Catholic Services aren’t the same. They said that was twice as long as the service at St. Ladislaus in Columbus. That afternoon we took a hike at nearby bear track and the morning service was soon forgotten. What they didn’t know was that the boys that didn’t go to service had a long morning as well. I’m sure the Catholic kids appreciated there home Church much more so after that experience.