Category: Lake County

Chopping Your Own Christmas Tree


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.

Fantastic M-37 Overlook

On the way to Baldwin, Michigan, a few miles south of Wolf Lake, is a gigantic hill where you can observe a dirt road in the distance weaving its way through the Manistee National Forest. It’s an incredible sight. Our photograph looks south at the summit of that hill on Michigan 37. If one were to be traveling north, there are two lanes going up that hill and in your rearview mirror you could still observe that sandy trail snaking its way through the forest.

Last year I had a business conference in Traverse City and chose to drive up taking M-37 out of Grand Rapids. The roughly ninety mile drive was all forest from that point on. On the way home, I was able to stop and take this photograph of the snake like road in the distance all of sand.

I’ve always loved the summit where you can see for miles through the Manistee National Forest. In this picture you can barely make out that sandy road but it is there. This is about sixteen miles from Big Bass Lake.

Jaywalking Bear

I’ve always thouht that jaywalking in a city is rather a silly offense. Yet there are many police officers that ticket just such a crime. But, I’d like to see the cop that would try something with THIS offender! He would get the bear facts of life rather quick. No, you’d just to ignore such an offense by a bear. Say? Maybe that’s the ticket in the city? If one were to wear a bear rug in the winter, they could jaywalk to their hearts content. That is until an over zealous police officer started pumping lead into you!

In the country, though, that’s not liable to happen. Can you imagine how a Barney Fife police officer might handle this in the Manistee National Forest? All I have to say is that he’d better have more than one bullet in his revolver! In my opinion, let a bear jaywalk all he wants!

Lake County Michigan Fantastic Sale !!

Lake County, Michigan, has a fantastic sale going on this month at one of its supermarkets. Check this out!

10 Pounds of Sugar for 42 Cents
Coffee- 19 Cents a Pound. That ought to “perk” you up!
Toilet Paper- 6 Rolls for 25 cents
Tall Cans of Milk for 33 cents
3 Pounds of Steak for 25 cents total
Butter- 2 Pounds for 33 cents
Sliced Bacon for 10 cents a pound
Pork Roast is a little higher for 60 cents a pound
Lard- 4 Pounds for 19 cents
Macaroni- 10 packages for 39 cents

What a fantastic sale! Of course this sale was held in December of 1933 but then maybe one of you has a time machine so that you can avail yourselves of these great prices?

Sauble, Michigan, is noticeable only to the wildlife that visit it daily. There is no actual town sign there and the only business that has ever been there, to my knowledge, was the Ward Hill Ski Area and even more recently The Ward Hills Lodge. Now that area has reverted back to private ownership.

The Big Sauble River is found in this vicinity.   It is a hidden gem in North Western lower Michigan. It remains relatively unknown sitting between its more well known brother the Little Manistee and the Pere Marquette.

Its headwaters are at the confluence of the Sauble Lakes(a chain of four lakes) and Bloody-Run Creek The headwaters are easily waded and this tends to be brookie territory, although browns and brookies share most of the river. Continuing into Mason County the river flows into some public land with access available via the labyrinth of two tracks that wander through the area. There is good cover and lots of holes available to fish.

Further downstream the holes get deep enough to float your hat and the wading becomes increasingly difficult as you near US-31. The tradeoff is that this is where you will find the bigger fish. Good fishing can be found all the way to downstream of US-31.

Thus Sauble, Michigan, can boast of the ski resort and river.  Tomorrow I will have more on the Ward Hills Ski Area.

Forested Elk Road

Darlene and I enjoy traveling the dirt road known at least to us as Elk Road in Lake County. At the northern end of Hamilton Road, instead of veering toward Seaman Lake you go straight onto a dirt road which takes you into the heart of the Manistee National Forest.

Along that route, you go by the tree farm that Dave Norris speaks of down the Bloody Antler Trail and then through many twists and turns until you reach the Free Soil Road.  Along the way there are many points where Darlene and I like to stop the car and get out with our two huskie dogs, Frick and Frack. 

There aren’t many houses out this way as it is rather desolate once you leave the Seaman Lake area.  There is a side road that leads directly to Big Bass Lake Road and there are a few houses along that way.  We avoid that road and stay on Elk Road. 

If you ever get the chance take this road and explore where you can.  Every now and then you will spot a deer crossing the road or even a bear if you’re lucky.  Not many cars travel Elk Road leaving you all to yourself.  So sit back and enjoy the ride!

This is the Winter That Wasn’t

I’m a little jealous of my good friend David who lives in Indianapolis for he told me this morning that for the next seven days daytime highs in his city will be in the 70’s. Today he said that Indianapolis will be warmer than San Diego. The expected high for tomorrow in his city will be 78. What is going on???

Even here in Michigan our weather has been better than usual and scenes like this have been few and far in between.  My wife always has whites out in the spring on her clothes line but the real white out has been as rare as the dodo bird in Michigan this winter.  My two huskies think that I’ve misplaced winter this year and that they’re living in another state.

My snowmobiles haven’t been used a whole lot this year and that’s a shame.  Maybe there’s something to this global warming thing after all??  And what will the weather be like in Michigan this summer?  I heard that it even snowed in Hawaii this winter.  What is going on???

I’m somewhat concerned as to what Spring will look like in Michigan this year after our winter bust.  Maybe even some snow among the apple blossoms??

Brookwood’s McCarthy Creek

I enjoy hearing of Dawn’s exploits at Brookwood and you can find them all in our category section under Brookwood on the sidebar. Last winter, I determined within myself to find this mystical place that Dawn writes so fondly about. Mike and I parked our truck on a nearby road and crossed some private property to get to our goal. Knowing it was winter, we knew that few live in this area year round but instead migrate to places like Florida to hibernate from the cold.

All we left behind on that property we crossed were our footprints going both ways.  Dawn had written about McCarty Creek but neither Mike nor I could find that stream in Lake County but we did locate a McCarthy Creek.  Even in the winter time I could visualize all that Dawn had written about.  She spoke of how cold that creek was and in winter it was still very cold. 

Yet only through the eyes of one that lived through those times can one gain the proper perspective of this Brookwood area.  I would urge all of our readers to read what Dawn has said about both Brookwood and McCarthy Creek.  It will warm your soul which is what Mike and I intended to do once back at our truck.  That was a very cold and windy visit to McCarthy Creek that day but one that I can honestly say I shared albeit for such a short time.  Enjoy all that Dawn has to say on this area for I sure do.

Autumn Driving

I took a drive a few weeks ago from Scottville to Baldwin to get some ice cream and I must say that with every passing mile the scenery became more colorful than the last.  Jones’ ice cream in Baldwin is well worth the drive except in the winter.  I took US 10 as that goes through the heart of the Manistee National Forest and after Branch, Michigan, the area becomes most desolate.

While in Baldwin, to make it worth the trip, I stop by at the Shrine of the Pines which has natural wood furniture almost everywhere you look.  I also like to hike the trails and browse along the Pere Marquette River at that location.

Then, with my ice cream on ice, I make the trip home to the Scottville area still in amazement at all the fall colors along the route.  I love it when we get an early light snow because it really adds some flavor to those leaves in full color.  When in Baldwin stop off and get some of that ice cream.  It’ worth any long trip!

It’s McCARTHY Creek, Not “McCarty” Creek

I’d like to thank my pal, Mike Reynolds, for piping me aboard Big Bass Lake and Beyond as a regular contributor instead of an occassional guest author.  It feels good to become part of the group that writes here.  For the longest time I’ve been following the exploits you and had become engaged with the writing of another guest author by the name of Dawn and her stories about Brookwood.  It made me want to know more about McCarty Creek.

I visited the Lake County Courthouse and Library to learn more where that creek might be but could not locate it anywhere until I found a McCarthy Creek and it was at the same coordinates that she described McCarty Creek.  I think she was just a letter short when she typed out the name of that creek.  It’s about ten miles southeast of Alice Lake as the crow might fly.

Well, I found it and might have broken a few trespassing rules, but I came across where Brookwood might be and sure enough there was a section that I almost stepped into that was for all the world like quicksand.  It ate up a branch that I stuck into it.  Better the branch than me!  And that creek was as cold as ice just as Dawn described it.  Coming upon it I felt just like Ponce De Leon. 

I hope McCarthy Creek clarifies the error that was once known as McCarty Creek.  Continue reading

Is It Bear Swamp or Duck Marsh?


My grandmother used to call this area, Bear Swamp, but today its known as Duck Marsh. Over the course of time many natural areas have their names changed. Both the tiny island on Big Bass Lake and the second smallest island have undergone name changes over the years. Whatever the name, along the road to Free Soil, there is about a mile long area that is swampy on both sides of the road. It is errie when a fog is over it and not the place to be at night.

In my grandmother’s day bears roamed the swampland and the surrounding forest. And they are making a comeback today as numerous bear sightings have been made not only in the Duck Marsh area, but also around Big Bass Lake. When their natural food is short they go for human areas of habitation to root out their garbage.

South of this area is another protracted area of swampland that runs north of the Bloody Antler Trail and into this very location. I would hazard to say that quagmire is beneath the waters of Duck Marsh. Thus this may be an area to get pictures of but I wouldn’t want to venture into this waters by foot.

The Starvation Plantation


Just off Michigan 37 and heading toward Big Bass Lake was this sign which was passed on each and every trip to our family farm. I believe it was close in to the thriving, at one time, town of Peacock, Michigan, at least that’s what my dad once told me. To me then it was just a town with not even a break in the speed limit. A few houses and that was about it.

Then came The Starvation Plantation. I offered wondered just what that was? Was it a statement by the owners how broke they were? What kind of work was done on that property? Were they into oil speculation? What I should have done was just stop by and ask to satisfy my curiousity but I never did. Maybe it was a farm that just couldn’t produce an iota of food?

How about today? is that Starvation Plantation still in existence and does anyone out there know who owns it and what they do? Let us know by way of a comment.

Dangerous Jogging

So, what’s wrong with this picture? This youngster is jogging on a partially iced over lake and by himsef, no less. What if he were to fall through? There would be no one around to help him out. The viable danger this kid is putting himself in is a no brainer. If a lake is only partially covered in ice, do your jogging on the shoreline.

This youngster is asking for trouble. I would caution all parents to warn their children of the dangers such as this. Use this kid as your example of what NOT to do. Even at Lake Michigan I opt to jog on the shore over that of risking my life out there on the ice.

This was taken at a Lake County lake by someone that was obviously his friend but you can see where his friend would be standing in contrast to where the kid is jogging. Not even close to him! A picture is worth a thousand words and all of the words here would be dumb!

The Club 37 Restaurant

About seven miles from Big Bass Lake enroute to Baldwin, Michigan, is the Club 37 Restaurant which provides the diner with a touch of elegance in the backwoods. They serve steaks, fish, and an excellent potato soup. The atmosphere is cozy and the conversation revolves around the various lakes and woods that surrounds it.

During the winter months snowmobiles are often found in its parking lot. It is located right on Michigan 37 just before one turns off right to Baldwin. For families that like to dine together in quality fashion the Club 37 would be for you.

The food is well above average and you just have to visit them to learn more about what a fine job they do making you the diner fell welcome and well fed.

The Old Peacock Depot

My dad always used to tell me what a thriving town Peacock, Michigan, was but even in my young days, Peacock was just a blur in the road. No stop sign, not even a flashing light. Branch, Michigan, at least had a flashing yellow light and I thought that was small too. In fact, Peacock was just a little burg with a few houses and that was it.

Yet in my dad’s day, Peacock was something else as it had its own train depot which made it something in those days. Now I’m not even sure if a train knows where Peacock is. It is located about seven or eight miles away from Big Bass Lake but unlike Irons, it has little businesses of note. Irons has restaurants and a few churches along with some other kinds of businesses.

But Peacock used to stand out in my dad’s eyes but for what I don’t know. Anyone else out there with more info on Peacock?

Lake County Snow Removal

One thing that has always amazed me about even rural Michigan is on how fast they clear the roads. Here in Indiana, rural roads are often never cleared but in Michigan that is not the case. Could that be because Michigan gets more snow? That would be a good argument. But even at our family farm, which is a good twenty miles off the nearest highway, Big Bass Lake Road gets cleaned off shortly after any major storm.

To get to our cottage it’s nearly impossible as our entry road is wind swept due to the open fields on each side of that road. I have twice parked my car just off Big Bass Lake Road and had to hoof in through deep snow that quarter of a mile to the cottage just to view the area.

There are a lot of rural roads in Lake County, not to mention all the surrounding counties that are full of rural arteries. My hat is off to the counties highway department for how fast the roads are cleared.

Night Riders

Wow! There are still a few Christmas gifts to get under that tree and the only way to get to the stores safely is by snowmobile. Then they have to be strapped down behind the rider and a slower trip home to make sure all those gifts don’t bounce off.

I love riding my snowmobile in the dark as my headlight gives me all the light I need to observe what’s coming up ahead. In the woods they give off an errie glow as they move forward at rapid speeds. The only thing I fear is those nuts that string barbed wire up across various fields. Since I only travel ESTABLISHED trails that is not a problem but friends of mine have been severly hurt by going on private property.

As long as you’re properly dressed on your snowmobile the cold air is not a factor. And neither snow nor drifts will hinder my late night vigil to get those last minute Christmas gifts. Oh, yes, Merry Christmas to all!

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