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Sunday, August 2, 2015, still in Manistee, Michigan

Hi all. Well, this is the time that these letters finally catch up to what we are actually doing. Last time I wrote, we had just arrived in Manistee, on the eastern side of Lake Michigan.

After a week in Menominee, we decided to cross the lake towards the eastern side that we now consider home. We crossed Green Bay back to the channel in Sturgeon Bay, and arrived at the first bridge with only moments to spare. Unfortunately, we’d neglected to notify the bridge tender of our intentions, and no other boats were using the bridge on the half hour that we happened to arrive. The tender never opened the bridge, so we had to wait for the opening a half hour later. We then sat as all transiting boats do, between the two bridges, awaiting the opening on the quarter hour. The bridge tender was hoping to avoid that opening, too, and asked us if we’d be willing to go under the highest spot without an opening. By my calculations, we were only about six inches too high to fit under that bridge. We declined the offer to do the limbo, and the tender considerately opened the second bridge just for us.

The return across the lake was a little foggy, neither too warm nor too cool, and took about the same amount of time we expected it to take. In mid-afternoon, we arrived at the municipal marina in Manistee and were led to our choice of berths. Art saw a furry critter darting in and out of the rocks by the seawall, and saw it again a day later. The marina manager told us that a family of mink live in the neighborhood, and gather up the leftover shellfish left behind by the seagulls.

The marina wasn’t crowded, but there would be a fishing tournament later in the week, so we thought that it would fill up. Again, we were happy to spend a full week in a place that would host us. We liked Manistee a lot during our 2014 visit.

Manistee had more going on than did Menominee or almost anywhere else we’d been. On our second night in town, we saw one of the weekly summer concerts in the old band shell, on this occasion a band called Stella, three women whose instruments (bass, banjo and guitar most of the time) were fine, and whose harmonies and witty compositions were lovely. The following week we were still there, and walked over to watch an interesting duo of brothers. On a different weeknight, we walked to the beach, where we watched an outdoor community concert on one side of us and the sun setting on the other side.

One movie from the contemporaneous Traverse City Film Festival was being presented at Manistee������s restored theater, so we bought tickets. It was a documentary about the final live performances in 2014 of the remaining five members of the comedy group Monty Python. The Vogue Theater was renovated with love and is staffed mostly by volunteers. We saw two more movies, the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on a weekday classics matinee, and Love and Mercy, about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

One morning, we watched along with many of the locals as a Great Lakes freighter came into port. In most places, the channel to the commercial port doesn’t come very near to where people live or walk around. In Manistee, it’s the maritime equivalent of a giant freighter driving down the cul-de-sac where you live.

The Great Republic (formerly the American Republic) was built in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1981. At more than 600 feet and more than 12,000 tons (more than 57 million pounds, and on one account, 20,000 tons), it’s amusing to see the ship described as “nimble”. I could see on the hull that the draft was about 21 feet, or about the height of our boat, including the flybridge and antennas, under water. In 1996, she carried the Olympic torch from the Detroit River to Cleveland.

In the channel, the ship moves on its own, but at a pace that’s really slow. From our aft deck, it’s almost close enough to touch, but it’s the size of a high-rise on its side and the size of a pretty tall building at the pilot house. After the Great Republic went by, there was a current through the river that rushed in to displace the water the giant had pushed forward with its bow.

On another occasion, a huge barge loaded with tree trunks like so many toothpicks slowly made its way behind us.

In nearly two weeks, we didn’t do much. Art kept up a vigil for that family of mink who darted in and out of the rocks ashore of our berth. We watched a few families of ducks so often we began to recognize them. We’d walk one direction or the other on the boardwalk path alongside the channel. Sometimes, we’d purposely ignore some of the items on our grocery list, just to have another reason to walk to the supermarket and rack up steps on Art’s pedometer. Life on the Lakes is pretty serene.

It’s become pretty clear to me that there won’t be much else going on for the rest of the season, so it’s probably a good time to take a break from subjecting everyone to my journal. If I do find anything worth revealing while we’re on this coast, in Traverse Bay, or back in Charlevoix, I’ll report back. In the meantime, enjoy your summer and stay in touch.

Love, Karen (and Art)