Billy the lumberjack!

July 28th, 2017

I have been building a new cabin on my property in Luzerne and am winding down on the major issues.  It has been a long tedious process!  When your doing most of the work yourself, and you live 240 miles away it can really drain you.

Just this past week I had the propane tank installed, with the regulator so I can run my on-demand hot water heater, and my furnace.  This has worried me a bit as the water heater sat all winter, and I was hoping there were no problems mechanically.  I also needed to make sure the furnace worked along with the blower kit I purchased for it!  Turns out both water heater and furnace performed flawlessly. Strike that off my list!

There was one other major issue that needed my attention as soon as possible.  I have a 100 foot tall Poppel tree that is 2 foot off my front porch.  About half way up the tree takes an abrupt turn toward my cabin!  This year i have had at least 12 similar trees break off during one of the many strong storms we have had move through the area.  If this “baby” goes my cabin would be directly in harms way.

I asked my neighbors if they knew a tree cutter (lumberjack) and they gave me a name of a guy that only lived about 4 miles away.  Billy, or Bill came over the same evening I called, gave me a price, and said he would be over the next evening to “take her down!”  He even showed me where he would “lay” this giant poppel out!

sure enough he showed up next evening with his soon to be son-in-law and his darling grand-daughter.  He explained what he was going to do, doned his equipment and scaled that tree in a few short minutes.  He stopped about 70 feet up and tied off a rope that his helper pulled over to the “drop zone!”  He cranked up his 20 inch HusQvarna and notched the east side of the tree.  He then moved to the south/west side and started to cut.  When the tree started its journey to the ground Bill’s son-in-law pulled that heavy, enormous, sky busting, poppel to the ground exactly where Bill said it would fall.  I was impressed!  It took longer to “slice and dice” it into manageable pieces than it did to bring it down (three minutes!)

I have a few more trees that need to go, and Bill will be the guy I call.  It was nice talking with him and he had a lot in common with my friend Pastor Bob Baltrip.  We even got to enjoy the wonders of a pretty little lady who thought “Papa” was the greatest!  Thanks Bill for such a great job at removing that tree before “Mother Nature” did!

Mike

Cedar Valley Golfing With Friends!

July 22nd, 2017

This past week my wife and I were at our place in Luzerne with good friends Ed and Linda Ponzy and Bob and Linda Baltrip. Everyone brought their golf clubs including both Linda’s!

Monday morning we showed up at Cedar Valley Golf Course in Comins, just about 5 miles North of Fairview.  I have played the course many times over the years, but this would be my first chance to play this year.  Cedar Valley is under new ownership, as Mike and Rebecca Harrington manage the course (and amusement park) for the owners John and Carole Kulhavi.  Both Bob and Ed have golfed here before, but this is the first time the three of us have been able to play together on this “gem” of a course.  Even if you don’t play your best round you will enjoy yourself I promise!  The course is in one of the most awesome “northern” settings one could imagine.  Majestic pines, maples, oaks, and cherry trees line this superbly laid out 18 hole course. Throw in some strategically laid out ponds, hills, and valley’s and you have the making of some great memories, not to mention some wonderful photo ops.  The grounds are beautiful, especially around the clubhouse with it’s dazzling array of flowers, and newly remodeled buildings!

Monday morning we arrived about 8:30 and were able to get right on with no problem.  The greens were in excellent shape, but you better know how to putt, as the pin placements are tough.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely and were back at the cabin by 1:00 o’clock!

Tuesday is dollar a hole day ($18 bucks and a cart) plus dollar hotdogs and dollar drinks.  Linda Baltrip would join us on Tuesday and my wife and Linda P. would go along for the ride!  We arrived at the same time as Monday, but found 20 cars in the parking lot ahead of us!  At the Pro Shop we were told it would be 3-1/2 hours before we could get on, we were all so disappointed!  Our sad faces must of done the trick as we were told if we could “mount up” immediately we could go off the front!  We set a record getting our clubs on the carts and driving over to the number one hole.  Again it was such a beautiful day playing with good friends on such a lovely course that we hardly complained when we “drowned” a brand new ball.  Like Bob likes to say “Hey we aren’t good enough to complain!”  Even though the course draws a lot of golfers for the Tuesday special things moved well on the course and we finished in decent time.

I am now trying to get three of my golf playing brothers to take a few days and come up for some fun at Cedar Valley.  Hopefully in the next few weeks they will be able to also enjoy this “Gem of the pines” in Comins Michigan.

Who’s Your Caddy?

July 14th, 2017

I have an awesome 12 year old grandson who happens to play some pretty good golf.  I started him playing when he was 6 years old after his mother bought him a kids set of clubs through Costco. His dad is a baseball fanatic, so I am awarded very little time to hone Kyle’s skills on the course, but he has been able to squeeze in a few golf lessons each year.  While he is an excellent little ball player, in my opinion, he is a natural born golfer!  One of the most perfect swings I’ve ever seen, and a coach’s dream! He actually listens to and comprehends instructions?  His golf teacher has been wonderful with Kyle and expects good things from him.

Two weeks ago I caddied for him at his first U.S. Kids Golf Tournament at Fox Hills in Lavonia.  He had only 3 rounds of golf under his belt while his competitors play in leagues, are members of country clubs, and receive private instructions year round! We were not sure how Kyle would “stack up” against these tried and honed veterans, but it wasn’t long before we knew he could stick with them!  On a course he never played before, shooting from the seniors “T”s, he shot a 86 for third place in the 11-12 year old age group. He actually turned in a better score than 6 other boys and should of taken second place except for a scoring blunder.

Just a few days ago I again caddied for Kyle at the La-Z-Boy open held at Green Meadows Golf course in Monroe.  Kyle was the defending age group champion, which he has won for the past two years. The 11-12 year old play nine holes a day on consecutive days.  Day one we started on the back nine with a par five being hole number 10!  Kyle started off with a worm burner on his drive, a duffed second shot, a ball in the creek, and a 4 putt for a ten (10!)  The two kids in his grouping (including a young lady) both had a better score!  I had never seen him put so many “bad” shots together on one hole?  Golf is 75% mental and Kyle was sinking fast!

We approached the next hole which was a par 3 at 190 yards.  Kyle triple bogied it (6) which means he had a score of 16 on just two holes!  I pulled him aside and said he was not sweeping the ground or keeping his head down long enough. He responded with a bogie on the next par five, a birdy, and back to back pars!  To make a long story short he shot a 43 for the nine holes which was rather remarkable considering the lousy start!

Day two saw us on the front nine which plays 2 strokes harder then the back nine.  Even with a penalty stroke for hitting one in the creek Kyle shot an amazing 41 on the tougher front nine.  His 84 was good enough to defend his title and he actually scored better than most boys in the 13-14 year old bracket.  Without the horrendous start on day one he could of “spanked” both age brackets handley!

When people ask “Who’s your caddy?”  Kyle responds “It’s my ole Grand-Daddy!”  My pleasure grandson, congratulations!

Mike

Forth of July at the Cabin!

July 7th, 2017


Made it up to Luzerne over the 4th of July with my wife and daughter Tara, husband Glen, and grandson Kyle. I had some work to do on the new place and had hired a local Mennonite builder to take care of several jobs I just don’t have the time or energy to do!  I do not want to let the “cat out of the bag” so I will not reveal his name, as I don’t want him to be so busy he can’t squeeze me in again!  While there he finished the upstairs of our “barn house” and finished a kitchen wall and small door downstairs! Meanwhile I was completing the bathroom ceiling and making our front yard bigger!

Monday evening we had a bonfire and did s’mores.  during the day we had several turkeys pay us a visit and I even was able to film one eating out of my hand!

The morning of July forth the gang packed up and drove to Traverse city for the fireworks and to sun on the beach.  Glen and Kyle also rented kayak’s and paddled the bay area.  I choose to stay and work around the cabin!  Crowds are not my thing, and besides who’s going to do what needs to be done if not me?

I worked most of the 4th. on expanding our lawn area by cutting cherry trees, brush, poplar’s, stumps, and burning debris and dead logs/branches in our fire pit!  I had a continuous fire for several hours.  I then used my John Deere to cut ferns and fauna and level the “playing field!”

I then took a nice long break and started on the bathroom ceiling.  I ended up finishing it on the next day.  I also fixed some loose boards on the zip-line platform and mowed the 4×4 trail around my property.  I felt it was more like “Labor Day” than the Fourth, but I also felt a sense of accomplishment.

Now I’m home working on my “honey do” list which should keep me “off” the streets and out of trouble!  At least for awhile!

Mike

Cedar Valley Golf Course and Amusement Park

June 30th, 2017

Again this summer my family took a day trip to the Cedar Valley Golf Course and Amusement Park located in Comins Michigan. I was reluctant to write about it last year after our visit in fear that I would let “the cat out of the bag” and the place would be over-run with vacationers and locals having the time of their lives!  For reasons unknown to me that has not happened, even though the amusement park is better than ever!

We had three of our daughters and one son and their eight children in tow and were later joined by a fourth daughter and her girl!  We actually visited the place twice so my late arriving daughter could enjoy the park.  The rest of the grandkids were all to eager to go back for “seconds” on the rides and the great putt-putt golf course in the midst of all the antique rides.

Mike and Rebecca Harrington manage Cedar Valley for the owners John and Carole Kulhavi!  The setting in the middle of pines, maples, oaks, and aspens is almost unbelievable!  You have to ask yourself the question “How did this vintage ride amusement park, putt-putt course, batting cages, midway games and snack shop slip under the radar of Northern Michigan visitors?”  Good question?  The park is still a work in progress with a roller coaster, huge slide, and tilt-a whirl on the agenda for possible late Fall!  John and Carole have a vision and Mike and Rebecca are doing all they can to make that dream become a reality.  It is the only amusement park in the United states with all vintage antique rides.  The Merry Go round was built in 1951 and my 3 year old grandson loved it!

when we arrived the first thing we did was over-run the putt putt golf course!  What a fun and unique course it is with many detailed wood statues and carvings throughout!  Rides were next as the kids enjoyed the spinning, twirling, and going up and down not to mention the bumper cars!  Talk about a “blast from the past!”  There is even a little train ride that they all climbed on with 3 year old Jeremiah sitting in the engine seat!  Next was the batter cages (fast pitch and slow pitch) which future professional Kyle Pafford smacking the ball to all fields!  One of the booths is set up with b-b type guns where you try and shoot the center out of a paper card in order to win a stuffed animal. We bought some drinks and popcorn took lots of pictures and came close to shutting down the place at quitting time.  The staff are all kid oriented and Skyler was great with all our grandkids.

The rides are open Friday from noon till 10 p.m.- Sat. 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. and Sunday 12 noon till 7 p.m.  The prices for everything are very reasonable and the experience is priceless.  If you go get the word out about this hidden “jewel” of the North country.  It’s located about 5 miles north of Fairview and within easy reach of Mio and lewiston and the surrounding area.  You owe it to yourself and family to build some great memories there and if your a golfer the Cedar Valley Course will beckon you back time and time again.

The last photo in the group is Mike and Rebecca Harrington and their very helpful daughter!

 

Mike

Michigan AuSable Valley Railroad

June 27th, 2017

This past week the Ansel crew were recreating around the Luzerne, Mio, Fairview area, and one of our favorite things to do is take the family on the AuSable Valley Railroad ride!  What a fun and unique experience is waiting for all that venture into this hidden jewel of the North woods!  The miniature railroad line is located about 4-5 miles East of the blinking light in Fairview. You would hardly think that such a wonderful and meticulous setting could be hidden amongst the maples, oaks, and pines of the AuSable Valley.  It took 5 loving years to construct, and includes a tunnel (kids get a kick out of the dark ride) and a 25 foot high trestle, and many hidden animals along the way.  There are also animated talking characters and a beautifully restored Ford truck stopped at one of the crossings with a waving driver.

At the depot there is popcorn and an old fashioned ice chest with cold drinks.  There is also a quaint little gift shop full of railroad/train t-shirts, hats, toys, and various other gifts. You purchase your tickets at the depot and get them collected by the Conductor once on the train.  On most occasions the twin engine (to exact scale) electric train will pull the passengers around the winding wooded and scenic trail, but on special occasions a steam locomotive may be used!

The train Engineer and the Conductor are husband and wife, and they own this little “happy spot!” They take great pride and delight in making sure you have a memorable ride on their railroad line.  If your ever in the Mio/Fairview area you owe it to yourself, kids, and grandkids to take a ride on the Michigan AuSable Valley Railroad.  The memories will always bring a smile to your face I guarantee!

The address is 230 S. Abbe Rd. Fairview Michigan 48621.  Phone numbers are 989-848-2229 and 989-848-2225 and the internet connection is www.michiganausablerailroad.com

Mike

Black Bears Kill Two!

June 22nd, 2017

Recently two people were killed and one partially eaten by black bears in Alaska!  Both attacks happened on the same day which is very unusual in it’s self!  Black bears do not have the reputation of brown or grizzly bears, and in most cases are far smaller than their bigger cousins.  That being said there have been black bears shot that have weighed in the 600 pound range, which is a monster for the species!

I have witnessed the raw power of black bears as I have hunted them in the hills of Marquette for over 40 years.  From tree stumps, cabin doors, and even car doors and windows not much will stop a hungry bear who smells a free meal!  The two very unfortunate victims were no match for the 250-300 pound black bears that decided to “cross the line” and take on a human as prey!  One of the young men was a runner in a cross country race and veered off course and got himself turned around in the bush.  He used his cell phone to call a friend and tell him there was a black bear chasing him.  That is the last he was heard from until the rescue party found his remains with the bear standing guard over the body. The bear was shot, but retreated into the bush and as yet has not been found.  A 250 pound black bear has the strength of several “buff” men, and will have his way with you in a one on one situation.  I always carry a sturdy sheath knife with me while in the bear woods, and when appropriate have a sidearm along!

Details about the other attack are sketchy, but again it seemed to be an unprovoked attack with the human not standing much of a chance.  You may get away with punching a juvenile bear in the snout or picking up a sturdy branch to defend yourself, but a mature bear is another story.  I have had some close encounters with sow’s with cubs, and also some very big powerful boars.  In each incident I was very aggressive toward the bear, and to my delight they turned tail and wanted no part of me, at least on that day.  One never knows when he may encounter a bear with an attitude just itching to take “you” on.

It’s always a good idea to have a pre-set plan before venturing into bear country. You don’t want to be the statistic that crosses the path of “old blackie” with a chip on his shoulder!

Mike

A Bad Day of Fishing is Better Than a Good Day of Honey Do’s!”

June 17th, 2017

Today my brother Darryl and myself were fortunate enough to be asked out on a fishing yacht for a chance to take some Lake Erie walleye.  We arrived at Toledo Beach Marina at 7:15 a.m. with the anticipation of two 13 year olds.  Captain John and First Mate Jason met us at the dock.  Snacks, and drinks, were secured and Captain John went over the do’s and don’ts of running a 50 foot vessel.

We left the channel at 8 a.m. and soon discovered there was much more of a “chop” than expected!  Three to Four footers beckoned us into Erie’s shallow waters, but the twin German build 800 cubic inch diesel engines lifted the bow and crushed those “wimpy” waves!  About 2 miles out we made our first set up with 5 rod’s on either side of the boat doing duty off planner boards. The first two fish were “sheephead”, but the third was a keeper walleye!  Darryl and myself then fought two 8-10 pound sheephead that had the adrenaline pumping until they broke the surface!  After another sheephead and a white bass we decided to go to a little deeper water (from 20 to 25 foot deep.)

We fished for 1 hour with not even a false alarm and the Captain said “Time to move boys!”  We ended up just past Stoney Point, but the Mayfly skeleton’s floating on the surface and the seaweed made for some tangled messes in the lines.  So after 4 hours of fishing we only had one fish and Captain John turned the bow back to port!

There was some chatter on the radio and it seemed that those fishing Ohio waters were doing much better than we were. Darryl and myself did not possess an Ohio license so that left that out.  Ohio waters are deeper and cleaner than Erie’s southern basin so next time we will have an Ohio license.  No matter even a “bad day of fishing is better than a good day of “honey do’s!”

Thanks Captain John and Jason for a wonderful ride and a good time on Lake Erie’s waters.  And thanks for those walleye filets!  They were delicious!

Mike

Grizzly Attacks Three Kids in Alaska

June 15th, 2017

EAGLE RIVER, Alaska — Three juveniles were mauled Wednesday after coming across a grizzly bear and her two cubs while they were hiking in a heavily wooded area just north of Alaska’s largest city, in an area were two aggressive bears have already been killed this week.

Anchorage authorities said four young people were hiking in the woods around the Eagle River campground when three of them were injured after running into the bear and two young cubs.

Officers found all four teens and brought them to safety, CBS affiliate KTVA reports. Ambulances were on hand to take them to the hospital for treatment. While officers were searching, the bear again attacked again — charging at the officers.

Police said in a release that the juveniles were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The fourth youth wasn’t injured.

“It’s possible this group just surprised a mother brown bear,” Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said. “She reacted defensively, pretty much in brown bear fashion.”

When the bear charged at officers, they shot at it, Anchorage police said. The bear took off into the woods, and armed game officers took up the search, Marsh said.

The officers followed specks of blood up a river, but the trail dissipated. Marsh said that indicates whichever bear was shot was not mortally wounded.

The search for the bears was called off after about three hours and would not resume. Instead, he said signs warning people of bear activity in the area would be posted.

A Decade of Blogging Post

June 6th, 2017

 

Random post from the last decade of blogging!  More to come!