Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Les Cheneaux Islands: arrival

420 miles later, we are ordering pizza at Ang-Gio’s in Cedarville, Michigan. You could look upon Cedarville as the gateway to Les Cheneaux Islands (on Lake Huron). But that makes it seems big and grand. Cedarville is small and homey. And that’s a good thing.

We have driven through great heat, followed by low-lying clouds. Dark ones that almost touch the road. It's dusk now, at 9 (we’re on Eastern time now), and Ed wants to search out a place to put down the tent. I’m thinking the first night should be in a motel, with a shower, but this is really Ed’s call. I’m way too bossy about where we stay in France. This time, I tell myself to shut up and go along.

We’re looking for a small stretch of National Forest along Lake Huron. Of course, we turn into the wrong dirt road. Gordon, a local resident, is out and about (sign says: Gordon and Eleanor’s house) and so we pull up to get our bearings.

The Hiawatha Forest? Next road. Nice beachfront, put down your tent anywhere. Just up a mile or so.
And the mosquitoes?
Worst ever.

But Gordon doesn’t live in Madison. He’s hanging out by his mailbox at dusk. Worst is relative. Where do you like to eat in Cedarville? – we ask Gordon. He shrugs. All three are the same. Try the one left of the blinking light. We thank him and head out.

It’s pretty here.

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Purchase photo 1860

We find the dirt road, the coastline – empty here except for one couple who appear to be settled in for the long haul. We turn away from them, and drive along the rutted lane looking for a good spot where we can return and set camp after supper.

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Purchase photo 1859

Late suppers, after a day without proper meals, are always special. I'm totally taken with the freshness of the onion, the tomato, the mushrooms on a thick crust pizza. (I ignore the salad bar which, as so many up north, should never be called that; when carbs outnumber veggies, change the name!)

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And now we head back to our chosen camp spot. The night is dark. And it’s starting to rain again. We wait it out. Putting up a tent in the rain is miserable and you never quite recover until the sun dries things out again.

Miraculously, the rain stops. Or at least pauses. We hurry. It’s rocky, and there are bugs, but Ed’s quick and we’re inside the tent, gear and all, within minutes.

I wake up at dawn and find a nice blanket of mosquitoes clinging to the netting. A welcoming committee. (Sorry to have doubted you, Gordon.)

But it is a sunny morning (caveat: weather changes very quickly here; very very quickly) and with each hour, their numbers diminish. By 8, I leave our tent and stroll down to the banks of Lake Huron, where I wash off the day of travel. With very cold water. If any part of me was sleeping still, it got a healthy wake up slap now.

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the tent, the grasses, the water

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Purchase photo 1858

We drive to the villages of Hessel and Cedarville to find a possible put in point. Before the clouds take over again. They will, I can tell, but for now, we can contemplate the utter loveliness of the simple harbor, the lake, the few boats, the place with the good pizza and the shop with the not so good coffee and the even less great Internet. It's all as it should be.

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in the village of Hessel
Purchase photo 1857

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Purchase photo 1856