Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Mighty Fisherman

Guess where we've been?  We just returned from a week in Michigan, mostly spent "Up North" on Manistee Lake with our good friends, Wendy and Ray. We had a fine time catching up with them, visiting with my Fairy Goddaughter (their daughter), and meeting her beau for the first time.  We went up to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) to buy the famous local fudge and enjoy the freedom from motor vehicles - everyone there either uses horses or bicycles - no cars allowed. 

Pam and Matt (yes, she is named for me) rented a tandem bike and pedaled all the way around the island while we older folks strolled around enjoying the colorful gardens and quaint architecture.  Wendy and I are horse lovers, so we enjoyed the passing carriage parade and marveled to see that even the trash truck on Mackinac Island is horse-drawn. The driver was so skilled that he backed this enormous wagon down an incline just by talking to his team of Belgian draft horses.

Another day, Ray arranged a fishing charter on Lake Michigan for the adventuresome. The Great Lakes are amazing, holding one fifth of all the fresh water in the world, and so large that when you stand on the shore, it looks like the ocean. They went out in pretty choppy water, with about 4 foot waves, and they actually caught three big fish, two lake trout and a big Chinook salmon.  Here they are at 0400, ready to go fishing! Wendy wisely stayed in bed, but I got up to take their picture as they headed off.

When they returned with their catch, the Youth cooked both kinds of fish on cedar planks on the grill, and served them complete with grill-roasted corn and peppers, and green beans cooked in foil on the grill. A feast!

The salmon, confined as they are to fresh water in the Great Lakes, taste completely different from our west coast salmon, even though they are the same species. Less rich, less "fishy," more bland. The lake trout tasted more as one expects trout to taste, smoked from the plank and still moist inside.  There was too much fish for us to eat, so Ray took some over to the neighbors, too.

We explored the towns of Charlevoix, Kalkaska and Traverse City, too, where Mario Batali spends his summers when he's not cooking up a storm in New York. But, happily, we spent a good amount of time in their lake cabin, looking out at the water, taking long morning walks, and enjoying the contact with one of my oldest friends. 

We also toured their impressive precision manufacturing business near Detroit, Master Pneumatic, learning about processes and plans, machinery and raw materials, and being introduced first hand to the vicissitudes and satisfactions of doing business in a tough economy. The business was started by Wendy's grandfather, whom we all called Grandpa Bob, and continued by Wendy's Dad. Wendy's husband, Ray, took the tiller for several years before retiring. Now, Wendy is in charge and their son-in-law has the reins day-to-day. To say it's a family business is an understatement.

Our parents were friends and we grew up together, first in the Navy, then with multiple Michigan trips when they returned to civilian life and settled there. When we were stationed somewhere interesting, they would come for visits. When we had boring postings, they would welcome us to Michigan. We share a lifetime of memories. I am Fairy Godmother to Wendy's children, and they are as dear to me as if they were my own.

So, I will remember the chance to catch up with the family in person as one of the very best events of the year - right up there with My Beloved, the Mighty Fisherman, catching us a trout for dinner.


Blogger Namastenancy said...

You sound like you are having the most fantastic time. Next year, I will probably go visit my sister and her husband who live in Minnesota, not far from the Great Lakes. I am now exploring Washington State - although my adventures are different than your's, it's nice to see other parts of the country.

Saturday, August 10, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

You make it sound fantastic! I've never been there. Wow, and fresh-caught fish on top of it all? Summer!

Saturday, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

This was a fun read, so many familiar names and places. My two sisters live in the Traverse City and Charlevoix areas. And we used to go biking every summer around Mackinac Island (my sisters still do). I love that you have this special family and are a fairy godmother to them all. Lovely memories all around.

Saturday, August 10, 2013  
Blogger Greg said...

Looks like a grand vacation!

Sunday, August 11, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I loved the view from your hotel!

Cookie, it is a beautiful state.

Diane, I had forgotten that you were originally a Michigan girl.

Grag, it really was, but also good to get home again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013  

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