This is the blog of a 50 something male from Grand Rapids, Michigan who wishes to share his love of the great outdoors with any one who cares to stop by and read what I have to write.
I have had this blog up and running for a few months now, and while I struggle with it at times, I am already finding that going back and reading my earlier posts does help refresh the great memories I make while I am out and about.
I am in the process of adding more pages with information, like places to hike, kayaking trips, and my future trips in the planning stages. I will continue to add more information to those pages, and more pages, as time permits. I am trying to build a web site and blog that people can use to find good information on some of the great places we have here in Michigan. Don’t be afraid to ask if you have questions, I have spent a lifetime out-of-doors in Michigan, and it will be quite some time before I can get all the info I have stored in my head posted here.
First, a short bio about me. When I was five years old, my parents bought a house out in the country where there were few neighbors, and even fewer kids for my siblings and I to play with. I grew up in a family where my dad’s side were hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen, and my mother’s side were all farmers. When we were old enough, my younger brother and I would wander around the woods surrounding our house, to play army, or cowboys and indians, or to sneak off to the “frog ponds” as my mother called them. There were a number of small, spring fed ponds around our house, and he and I would go there to catch the frogs, turtles, snakes, and salamanders that lived in or near the ponds, just like a lot of country boys. Of course we always got in trouble for going to the ponds, coming back all muddy, and my mother was always afraid we were going to drown.
Before I was even old enough to tote a gun, my dad would sometimes take me along on his hunting trips for small game or varmints, crows and woodchucks. Not only was my dad a hunter, but he was also a shooter, and hunting varmints was a way to target practice during the summer. When I was old enough to start shooting, my dad bought me a gun, and I would join he and his friends as they hunted. I no longer hunt, I gave it up back in my mid-twenties, it isn’t that I am opposed to hunting, I still do in a way, but with a camera instead of a gun. If I lived out in the sticks and needed the food, I would have no problem taking up hunting again.
Along with hunting went fishing and camping trips. Our family went camping many times each summer, weekend trips were for my parents to relax, our vacations were most likely to be a big trip, like around Lake Superior, to the Wisconsin Dells, or out west somewhere. So I guess you could say I grew up outdoors, and that’s how my love of the outdoors and nature were formed.
Some of the other things my parents instilled in me were curiosity, and love of reading, and a love of learning. Sometimes the love of the outdoors and the love of learning were combined, like when we did the trip around Lake Superior, we spent the better part of a day in Duluth, Minnesota learning about the iron ore mining in the region, and especially the steam locomotives used to transport the ore to the docks there. Or when we went on a tour of an old mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan while we were camping nearby. Or when we watched a presentation on the history of the Trans-Canadian Railroad that was put on in the campground we stayed at while in the Canadian Rockies. Sometimes we took trips just to learn, like to the museums and Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, or the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
But, that’s enough about me, you’ll find out the rest as you read my posts. So, why did I name this blog Quiet Solo Pursuits?
First the quiet, I guess the basis for that goes back to my hunting days. You have to be quiet while you’re hunting so you don’t spook the game before you get a chance to shoot. Since I still want to see the wildlife, to get pictures of them, or just to see them, and being quiet is essential to that. But there’s more. I used to own a dirt bike, I used to love going 4 wheeling, and I owned one of those fancy high-powered bass boats in my time. But as I have gotten older, those things aren’t as much fun anymore, and I appreciate the quiet of the woods and rivers more than ever. I have always loved the peace, quiet, and serenity of the great outdoors, and I don’t know if it is an age thing, something having to do with society today, or what, but the quiet of the out-of-doors has become more important to me than ever. Even back in the days when I made as much noise outdoors as any one, I would often be out with the very first light of morning, usually paddling a row-boat on a lake still shrouded in the mist of morning, but sometimes walking, listening to nature as the day began. I want to be able to hear the rustle of leaves as a deer gets up from its bed so I can get a look at it before it disappears into the brush. I want to hear the birds singing, the coyotes howling, the owls hooting, the squirrels chattering. I guess I don’t want quiet, because nature isn’t quiet, what I want is to be able to hear nature, and to listen to what it has to say to me.
Solo…well, for one thing, a lot of my friends have just moved out of my life over the years. Like Spud, who gets mentioned a lot in my posts. He was originally from the Detroit area, and he and his girlfriend moved here so she could attend Kendal Art School as it was known then. After she graduated, she found a job in Lansing, Michigan, so the two of them moved there, and that way Spud could finish his degree at MSU. My friend Dave joined the marines, then moved back to his hometown outside of Chicago when his hitch was up, so he could attend school there. My friend Randy moved back to Florida, where he was from originally. A couple of guys I used to consider friends turned out to be wife beaters, so I cut off all contact with them. That’s something I can’t abide, the strong should look out for those who are weaker, not take advantage of their strength to hurt others. And, there was all the time Shirl and I were together, her friends and family became my friends and family, but that all ended when she and I split. My ex-girlfriend, Larri, and I used to still go on fishing, hiking, and camping trips together after we split as a couple, but since she has found a new boyfriend, that doesn’t work so well, current boyfriends don’t like old boyfriends around as the third wheel…LOL.
Another reason for the solo part of the name is that I have strong opinions on a lot of things, especially the outdoors. When I am off camping somewhere, I don’t want to hear a bunch of drunks whooping it up, if that’s what I wanted to hear, I’d go to a bar. I don’t want to hear music, if I did, I would stay home and listen to music at home. I sure don’t want to hang around people who go off in the woods not to enjoy nature, but to party until they pass out. That all goes with the quiet part of the name, but there’s more as well. I go at my own pace, which tends to be slower than a lot of other people’s pace it seems. They get in the woods or on a river and seem intent on finishing as soon as possible to get back home and veg in front of the boob tube. Me, I love it outdoors, I want it to last as long as possible, I may be in a hurry to see what’s over the next hill or around the next bend, but that’s as far as it goes. I poke along at my own pace, with my eyes always moving, my ears always open, and my nose exploring the scents nature sends my way. I am out there to take in all that nature has to offer, not for exercise or whatever other reason some people have for being outdoors. And, by all nature has to offer, I mean just that, all. From the tiniest insects and plants to bears and elk, even interesting rocks, rock formations, and odd trees, I stop for all of them, and maybe snap a picture or two. I stop for history as well, whether it is an old building, a foundation where a building used to be, or some other clue into the past.
So then there are my pursuits, what are they? It is hard to rank them, but one is to learn more about nature, one is fly fishing for trout, one is learning more about the history of the State of Michigan, and history in general, and one is just to be outdoors and get away from it all. I should tell you that I am not a backpacker, my hikes are day hikes, either from home or from a base camp some place. I am not sure why, I just never got into backpacking, maybe because it limits how much time I can spend exploring. When you’re backpacking, the hike itself is the goal, not so much nature. I will go up to the Pigeon River Country, for example, and set up my tent, then drive to where a trail intersects a road, then walk in from there to see what there is to see. When I am on a trip, I play it totally by ear, with weather as the biggest factor in my decisions as far as what to do and where to go. I may wake up in the morning and find a stiff wind already blowing, so rather than go fly fishing, I’ll go explore a lake, or another access site on the river. On the other hand, if the weather is light rain and little breeze, I’ll go fishing rather than checking out something I found on a map or online that I want to explore. That’s something about me that bugs the crap out of many people, they seem to want a set itinerary, with set times for everything. Me, I go with the flow. If I am fishing and come on something to explore, like a shady hemlock grove, I’ll set my rod down where I can find it again later, and go exploring, and come back to the fishing later. I like the freedom that being by myself affords me. If I am kayaking and see something on shore that interests me, I beach the kayak and go check it out. You never know what you will find, I may be on my way to someplace I had noted that I wanted to see, and find something I didn’t know a thing about on the way to the place I had planned to go, and will spend the day there, rather than the place I was originally headed to.
And my most important pursuit is to commune with God. I consider myself to be a Christian, although I hold some very unconventional ideas about God and Christianity. I often tell people half jokingly that I worship at the Church of the Clear Flowing Water, but I am only half-joking. I have attended many churches, mostly when I was younger, and I have never felt as close to God in any church as I do when I am outdoors talking to God one on one. If you tried to pin me down, I would tell you that I am Quaker Reformed. I believe as the Quakers do, in a personal relationship with God. The reformed part comes from their stance on violence. While I am a non-violent person, and I agree in principal with their beliefs that when you do harm to others you are really harming your own soul, but, I do believe that there is evil in this world that has to be defeated, sometimes with violence if it comes to that. I can’t quote chapter and verse, but the Bible tells us that there is evil in this world, and it is our duty as Christians to defeat that evil.
Don’t worry though, this isn’t a religious blog, it is an outdoor blog, but I thought you should know where I am coming from as I spend my time in the great outdoors, it is my church, even if there isn’t any clear flowing water in sight on some days.