Exploring Michigan

I’ve not spent a lot of time traveling around our neighbor to the north. No, I don’t mean Canada. I’m talking about Michigan. Yep, a northern Indiana girl my whole life and I can probably count on two hands how many times I’ve crossed the northern state line.

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took a vacation up to Hillman, which is just east of Alpena.

For those of you who don’t know where Alpena is, hold out your left hand. See the top of your index finger? That’s about where Alpena is located.
Anyways, we spent the week in a one-room fishing cabin, less than a stone’s throw away from a large lake. We had our own dock that we could launch our kayaks from. Or in our case, fish from.
The winds were a little too strong for a newbie kayaker as myself, so I stayed on shore with my daughter. We fished and fished and fished.


The Mr. Decided to brave the waves.
It was relaxing. Every once in a while, it’s good to leave the mad pace of work-school-responsibilities-social media, and vacation in a spot that has little if no phone reception. Our cabin had access to Wi-Fi, but my phone kept losing the signal.
The three of us enjoyed sleeping in, grilling, campfires and, oh yeah, fishing every single day.
We did leave the cabin one day for a trip to the Mackinac Bridge and St. Ignace. I had been to Mackinaw and Mackinac once before when I was a teenager. The bridge is indeed a wonder.

My husband drove us to St. Ignace while hunting for this little pasty shop out in the middle of nowhere, Lehto’s Pasties. That’s all that is sold there, and my goodness, their pasties are huge! The tender, flaky crust pockets a full meal of beef, potatoes and onions.
We stopped at a state rest park along Lake Huron and ate, feeding the seagulls the few morsels we had left while laughing at their antics.
And yes, we got pulled into the tourist trap area of Mackinaw City. But it was fun strolling around, eating fudge from Kilwin’s and looking at some of the shops that had not been there 30 years ago.
When we drove back to the fishing cabin, we took the lake view drive along U.S. 23. Not a lot of Lake Huron was visible because of trees, but when there were breaks, the view was stunning. We could see small beach strips that led out to beautiful green water before entering the deeper blue parts of the lake.
What surprised me most was the lack of people. I don’t know enough about that particular area to explain why there weren’t people out enjoying the sun and waves, but it definitely sparked my curiousity.
I really enjoyed our excursion into northern Michigan and I’d like to see more. I’ve been to Traverse City and found it equally pretty and I’ve been to Sault Ste. Marie, but that’s the extent of my travels in the northern region.
Like I said, I’d like to see more — especially the lighthouses. Perhaps next year we travel all the way to Whitefish Point and stop in for a visit at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
Thanks for the adventure, Michigan!

Sheila Selman is regional editor and digital content editor for The Goshen News. Follow her on Twitter at @sselman_TGN or on Facebook at Sheila Selman Journalist.

Martin Branch

 

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One of my favorite places in the world is Martin Branch in Mousie, Ky.

What’s the attraction? Peace and family history.

Mousie itself is off the beaten track. I bet no more than 500 people live in town and nearby hollows and branches. Mousie has a post office, a park, an elementary school and a volunteer fire department. It used to have a little store and a gas station/convenience store, but those are just vacant buildings now. I am hoping a local entrepreneur will reopen them.

Just outside of “downtown Mousie” is Martin Branch. You drive down a single-lane road that you cannot even see from the main route. You’ll pass by homes still owned by the Martins, the Campbells and the Huffs. But as you get into the hollow, it’s mainly owned by Gibson family members. Not all of them have Gibson as their last names, but they all descend from the same person, John P. Gibson.

We still aren’t clear if John P. purchased the land, or if it was his son (my great-grandpa) Ezekiel Gibson. My grandpa, Van Gibson, owned a good chunk of the mountain, which he left to his children. My dad is the only one who still lives there. Dad’s uncle Carl and his late uncle Junior own most of the rest of the property.

Even our Gibson family cemetery is located there.

I love visiting, taking hikes and picking shoestring, or whatever else happens to be in season. One of my favorite things to do is just to sit outside, watch the birds and relax. The sound of the creek rushing, water flowing off the mountain and into dad’s frog pond and the birds singing soothes my soul. Well, until the frogs start. They are so loud you cannot think.

Fashion Farm in Ligonier

Each year, my family takes a trip back to our hometown of Ligonier, Indiana, to visit Fashion Farm.

Along with a variety of pumpkins and mums, Fashion Farm is home to Fantasyland and a restaurant.

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Fantasyland is all about what you can contrive with pumpkins, gourds and some ingenuity. This year’s theme is Superheroes. Some of the annual displays are still there: the hall of presidents, including this year’s candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton  with an empty seat bearing a question mark between them; Dolly Parton; and Snoopy.

Plenty of Marvel Comics superheroes fill the dried corn stock-lined path, along with a few villains. But the everyday heroes — firefighter, police officers and even basketball players — receive their own due.

Alas, no journalists defending the first amendment made the cut.

img_4537-1After visiting Fantasyland, wander on out to a couple of mazes and the old jail, which is a cell from one of the city’s old lockups.

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But before you leave, don’t forget to buy some homemade pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin ice cream. Trust me. You will love them!

 

Happy Fall!

No winter blues here

After what seems to be the 50th snowstorm of the year…

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No exaggeration — we haven’t seen the ground since December —

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I got to thinking that despite polar vortices, this winter hasn’t been all that bad.

I got to see Casting Crowns …

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I met and interviewed Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions — super nice guy!

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He is in a new, unscripted TV show on Lifetime, “Celebrity Home Raiders.” Check it out on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

I found out my daughter is on the high-ability end scholastically.

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See, she works soooo hard!!

I got to play with the dogs in the snow.

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I saw snowbows …

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And best of all, I got to spend time with my two favorite people …

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A spring hike

It’s the first day of spring break, so I took my daughter for a spring nature hike. We wanted to see what was popping up out of the ground. Thank goodness there weren’t any critters popping up to surprise us!
Here are a few of our finds:

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And we had to end the nature hike with a game of flying disc with the dog!

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I accept that challenge!

I like a challenge.
So when our women’s group at church developed a 40-day challenge to help us improve our personal discipline and relationship with God, I was in.
Each week has its own set of challenges.
This is the first week and we have been tasked with:
1 — Giving up sweets for a week, except for a one-time indulgence.
2 — Giving up TV and movies for the week.
3 — Playing children’s games for 20 minutes twice during the week.
4 — Memorizing a few verses out of Ephesians.
5 — Reading a Proverb a day.
6 — Writing a letter of support to someone on our pastoral staff.
Those are the biggies.
They don’t sound like much, do they? But try it.
What I feel in control about:
I’m not having a problem keeping my sweet tooth under control. Although I could seriously use a breath mint after eating most days.
And TV is not a big deal for me to give up either. However, I’m catching incidentals. I haven’t made my family give up TV, so while I’m busy doing other things in the house, I’m catching unintentional snippets.
I also really wanted to go see “Olympus Has Fallen” this week, but I’m (crossing my fingers) sure it will be in the theaters once this part of the challenge is finished.
Difficult but not impossible
Playing children’s games is my downfall. I have an 8-year-old daughter and she’s ready to play with me, but we’ve had a lot on our plates this week. We did math drills tonight, does that count?
I don’t think taking Grandma to the funeral home for a viewing counts either.
I’ll figure it out. It’s 20 minutes out of my day — a challenge NOT an impossibility.
Help! I’ve failed again!
I’m a slacker on reading my Bible, doing devotions and praying. I admit it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy that part of my spiritual life, I’m just lazy sometimes.
My You Version reminder to read my Bible at 9 p.m. pops up on my iPad and I think, “In just a little bit. First I need to check out Pinterest.”
Seriously?! What am I doing? “Uh, sorry God, pinning styles from New York Fashion Week is more important right now.” Come on!
Again these are small things, but they need to be done daily to build consistency and self-discipline.
So that’s why I’m doing this challenge. I need to kick myself in the butt and put God first.
If I can succeed in that discipline, I can succeed in others.
God bless.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28 NIV)