Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall is fading; A bit of Indian Summer

Fall is fading, but this week in the Upper Peninsula, we've been given a few more days of warm weather. I actually wish for a bit cooler temperatures for our annual grouse hunting trip. It can get warm busting through the brush after the game birds. I'd prefer about 50. But I'm not going to complain, it can often be snowing up here at this time of year.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tigers vs. Cardinals: A 1968 rematch

If the Tigers play the Cardinals in the World Series, it will be a rematch of sorts of the 1968 Series, which Detroit won. Let's hope that happens, and that people stream into downtown for a celebration, like in '68.
That's been more than 40 years, and baseball is much different with pitch counts and fancy signs in Commerica Park. The city is too. The population has dipped below 1 million, and once thriving neighborhoods are gone, along with plants and factories that supported workers and the city.
But what hasn't changed is the split between the city and the suburbs. For some people, 1968 was the last time they ventured downtown. Let's hope that changes.
The 1968 season was a tense one for the city. The previous summer the simmering race issues in Detroit erupted into the riot of '67, and entire blocks were burned and the National Guard was called in to quell the violence. It also sparked "white flight" from the city, and many vowed never to go back to the city or downtown.
But that changed the day the Tigers beat St. Louis. It was an away game, so there was no particular place to celebrate, so the destination was downtown. I was a 20 year old kid at the time, so I just started driving around my west side Detroit neighborhood, where people on the streets where stopping cars and handing out beers. It was a much less politically correct era, thankfully. I picked up my girl friend, now my wife, in my '68 red Mustang and eventually ended up at the airport, hoping to see Tigers getting out of their plane. That didn't happen, so we headed downtown, for the lack of anyplace else to go.
It was a wild scene. Black and white people mingling in the joy of the moment, the ugly racial issues simmering after the riot gone for a few brief delightful hours.
I ended up at a party store on Jefferson Avenue, a place I wouldn't usually stop at, buying Wild Irish Rose wine, an inner city beverage I didn't usually drink. But it was the only stuff left.
I remember standing on a street corner drinking it was some black guys, who were celebrating too with the same stuff.
At that moment we were all Detroiters, black, white, and Hispanic. Let's hope that happens again this year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A stop at The Cherry Hut

      As for roadside restaurants in Michigan, nothing quite comes close to The Cherry Hut in Beulah on U.S. south of Traverse City. It harks back to a earlier era, when the food was simple, but good and there were no  gimmicks.
     The restaurant has been at the same location since 1937, and its specility is of course cherry pie made in it's bakery. There are basic lunches and dinners of American style foods, soups, and entrees, but same room for the pie.
     It's a great lunch stop if you're on a color tour of northern Michigan in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Forgotten rivers

Some times its easy to forget about a river, there were no fish, too many bugs or maybe bad fishing companions. It can be all of the above.
For several years I've been haunted by the Pine River, not the big one in western Michigan, but the little one just north of Oscoda in Alcona County in northeast Michigan.
I last fished it more than 20 years ago with my youngest son, when he was 12 years old. He's now 35 and has a real job, a wife and a daughter. That's a lot of water under the bridge.
I remembered the river as being narrow and shallow, but with cold, clear water that held brook trout, a favorite.
I finally got back to the Pine on Sunday, the last day of trout seasons. I'm glad I made the effort. The river was just as I remembered it. On my first trip there, my son caught one of his first brook trout, so it was a memorable occasion.
There were four of us on my recent visit, so we spread out across two access points, because the river can't support many anglers at one spot. Before we separated, one member of our party noticed a light caddis hatch, to my delight. I tied one on when we got to the river. The banks weren't very brushy, so I decided not to wade, but to bank fish, as not to disturb the trout in their holes. I was rewarded by strike after strike, but just didn't have the skills that day to pull in any fish.
But I'll be back next year. I'm happy to have rediscovered a good place.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rediscovering the old canoe

For several years it sat behind the garage, dusty, covered with leaves and neglected. The paddles were in the corner of the garage collecting cobwebs. It was an old love supplanted by two new kayaks, with bright colors and sleek bodies. For more than ten years the old green canoe had been my mainstay, but was pushed aside when I researched and wrote The Paddler’s Guide to Michigan.
My long, lean yellow sea kayak became my mid-life crisis boat, even though I was more than 60 years old, long past middle age, and had to be pried out of it like a low-slung sports car.  My other new boat was a Native Craft fishing kayak that has become my go to boat for most occasions, with its open top and comfortable seat. I can spend an entire day fishing a river out of it or take in exploring in small lakes.
But then came a recent Sunday when I wanted to take an afternoon ride, and didn’t want to strap both kayaks on top of my old Jeep. I cleaned off the old canoe, and with some help from my wife, I hosted it on top of the truck, and off I went. When we popped it into a small lake, I rediscovered the joy of canoeing with somebody, the conversations, the slow drifting in shallow areas to watch birds, and most of all at 64, the ease of getting in and out of it.
Oh, I know that canoes aren’t as efficient to paddle as kayaks, but there’s something classic and rewarding to the way they paddle. There’s also the effortless beauty you notice in a canoe and not in a kayak. For the time being, the Old Towne is going to stay on top of the Jeep as I rediscover an old love.