Lesson from a pop-up camper

Featured image: Sunrise over Mackinac Island, Tuesday 4 October 2016.

You don’t say #5, Saturday 8 October, 2016–At lunch on Monday in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the waitress seated a young family of four at a table near us. They were subdued. The dad told the waitress their pop-up camper failed to pop up Sunday night. One of the boys piped in, “We had to sleep in the car.”

It was as though the adventures of frontier life echoed in their conversation. The family was upbeat, calm, maybe not well rested, but relishing a restaurant meal as the dad reassured the boys that the rest of Monday would be swell, smooth sailing. All were quietly animated, the night’s ordeal sure to be remembered as an unexpected lesson in pulling through together.

To really know the pleasures of tourist travel calls for a positive attitude, come what may. Should one travel only to grumble or complain at what’s different from the usual, or to let something like a pop-up camper failure spoil the whole outing, well, grouches have the right to travel, too. We’ve had unexpected incidents on the road; they live fairly fondly in our memories. Overhearing this family simply elevated my already positive mood in anticipating an afternoon  cruise through the Soo Locks. The Locks tour went swell, smooth sailing, informative and entertaining.

Hurricane Matthew. I pause to acknowledge the heavy toll people in Haiti and along the southeastern US coast are experiencing in the face of Hurricane Matthew. Reassuring that on Saturday morning it has been downgraded to a Category I hurricane, Matthew is the most powerful single hurricane (Category 4) on record to make landfall in Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas.  Millions of people are directly affected as are family and friends at a distance. Thank God for advance warning, preparedness, emergency responders, follow up to come. Pray for the comfort of families who lost loved ones in the storm, for all who have to pick up after the storm, for the recovery of infrastructure and agriculture, for effective ways to calm the elements and maintain the goodness of land, water and sky. Amen..

Travel took us last Saturday to a Mishler cousins reunion at The Shack, Jugville, White Cloud, Michigan. Marty’s dad, John, spent his first almost 12 years in the White Cloud area, “Where the North Begins and the Pure Waters Flow.”  Ann Junglas, who lives in California, has gotten this small group together for the last five years or so. Years ago, Ann, Susan Greenhoe, her mother, and Marie Rood, her grandmother, sorted through boxes of photos in Marie’s possession. The die was cast. Ann’s search was on to find the forebears and descendants in this far-flung family.

Ann set to work and work she did, searching records at courthouses, archives, libraries, multi-state locations where Mishler forebears lived, cemeteries, and calling the family together to look at old pictures and to talk, talk and talk.  We’ve now met members of the extended family for the first time. Ann’s infinite patience in ferreting out details lost to memory has given us wonderful results. We have been enriched with stories, photos and aha moments. Thank you, Ann!

After the gathering at The Shack, a 100-acre, one-of-a-kind wonder of more than 45 rooms in log-timbered buildings on Robinson Lake, Marty and I and Marty’s brother Richard spent three days in the Upper Peninsula, based in St. Ignace. Signal events included a boat tour through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie and a car-free day on Mackinac (Mac-in-aw)  Island. En route we also visited Richard’s daughter and family, Richelle, Harold and Emily near Cheboygan.

Luckily we avoided Saturday’s Off Road Vehicle (ORV) rally in St. Ignace. Tearing across designated trails in the wilds of the U.P. is not my thing, even as hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing may not be some other folks things. I prefer walking where you can hear yourself think. That’s my thing, and I approve that message.

To cop an old saying, the week’s experience was greater than the sum of its parts. Add to that a few days last week with visiting friends Stanley and Marlene Kropf, it all makes my artesian mug of bliss overflow.

What the week reveals to me. The week’s experiences showed me again that history lives, adversity can be overcome, family and friends are central to our well-being, most people are not just civil but fine fellow travelers. We can have an exuberant, creative, positive life even in the middle of mishaps, the human stuff that stares at us in the papers and shouts at us on social media, and the extraordinary events erupting in the natural world. Past and future are wrapped in the present, keep the faith.

Photos from The Shack at Jugville, near White Cloud, Michigan, October 1

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From left: Marty Mishler Bender, Mary Mishler Miller, Anna Junglas, and Margaret Fisher Walls connect family lines.
The Shack has both imaginative and real places to lay your head.
The Shack has both imaginative and real places to lay your head, trails to stretch your limbs, artifacts to glimpse more than 100 years of history and each evening there to enjoy an almost guiltless banana spilt.
The tradition is a bedtime banana split, served between 8:30 and 9 pm.
One of the Shack’s traditions is a bedtime banana split, served between 8:30 and 9 pm.
Blueberry ice cream was one of my choices. I slept like a log in the main log building.
Blueberry ice cream was one of my choices. I slept like a log in the main log building.

After The Shack, we visited the Upper Peninsula, including Mackinac Island

The five-mile-long bridge that links Michigan's Lower with its Upper Peninsula.
The five-mile-long bridge links lower Michigan to the U.P. High winds returning home meant reduced speeds.
This solitary gull flew over our ferry as we headed to Mackinac Island.
This solitary gull flew over our ferry as we headed for a walk-about day on Mackinac Island. Gorgeous day.
Replica of the bark chapel Fr Jacques Marquette set up on Mackinac Island. Marquette came to the area from France in 1666, ministering with both Ojibway and Huron Indians. He died in 1675.
Replica of the bark chapel Fr Jacques Marquette set up on Mackinac Island. He ministered with both Ojibway and Huron Indians from his arrival from France in 1666 until his death in 1675.

 

Rifle firing demonstration at Fort Mackinac.
Rifle firing demonstration at Fort Mackinac.
Watch out for bikes and horse-drawn conveyances. How enjoyable to be on a motor-vehicle-free island.
Watch out for bikes and horse-drawn conveyances. How enjoyable to be on a motor-vehicle-free island.
Nature thrives on Mackinac, both the cultivated and wild varieties.
Nature thrives on Mackinac, both the cultivated and wild varieties.
Sailing in the shimmer of the setting sun.
Sailing in the shimmer of the setting sun just off Mackinac Island.

U.P. roundup

In the news

Tantrum help. Newspapers have prized value. In The Weekly Choice I noticed an article on building early emotional skills. The paper serves 40 towns in northern lower Michigan. Parents of newborns to age three children could sign up for a free eight-week online parenting class offered by Michigan State University Extension. The article begins, “Trouble with tantrums? Don’t know what to do about biting? Wondering how to handle the terrible twos? Looking to parent differently?” Parents were encouraged to enroll for these Building Early Emotional Skills (BEES) classes starting October 3.

Cranberry tour. If I were back in Cheboygan on October 14 I’d do the Michigan Cranberry Company tour. The company harvests the largest cranberry marsh in the state, accounting for three-fourths of the state’s crop. I didn’t know that.

Election cycle. I do know that the US election cycle, starting in January 2015, has created lots of talk and back talk. The Detroit Free Press editorial ((Oct. 5), “Nothing to brag about,” focuses on Donald Trump’s apparent 1995 tax returns that show his business losses exempted him from paying $50 million in taxes each year for up to 18 years.

“That this is the condition of life in 2016–that impoverished Americans pay  a substantial percentage of income in taxes, while a self-proclaimed billionaire skirts much of his moral, if not legal, obligations–suggests that there is something horribly wrong with our tax code, and with the values that tax code reflects.” So said The Detroit Free Press.

There’ll be more said and back-said before and after election day. My main concern in the political discourse at the moment is not about the candidates, nor the ads, but about peoples’ moral dithering about who they want in office.

Check out this book. I’m reading Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama, by Kenneth L. Woodward, former religion editor of Newsweek (Convergent Books, New York, 2016). The book gives a refreshingly different view of the 1950s. Weave together the decades through which many of us have lived. The flyleaf says, “This is one of those rare books that changes the way Americans think about religious belief, behavior, and belonging.” Your library should have the book, or get it if not. I’m finding it wonderfully revealing and helpful to understanding the now in light of the past 60 years. Check it out.

I conclude with gratitude for everything  the past and future add to living now. Peace. -John

 

 

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