function blogger_query_vars_filter( $vars ) { $vars[] = "blogger"; return $vars; } add_filter('query_vars', 'blogger_query_vars_filter'); function blogger_template_redirect() { global $wp_query; $blogger = $wp_query->query_vars['blogger']; if ( isset ( $blogger ) ) { wp_redirect( get_wordpress_url ( $blogger ) , 301 ); exit; } } add_action( 'template_redirect', 'blogger_template_redirect' ); function get_wordpress_url($blogger) { if ( preg_match('@^(?:https?://)?([^/]+)(.*)@i', $blogger, $url_parts) ) { $query = new WP_Query ( array ( "meta_key" => "blogger_permalink", "meta_value" => $url_parts[2] ) ); if ($query->have_posts()) { $query->the_post(); $url = get_permalink(); } wp_reset_postdata(); } return $url ? $url : home_url(); } Up North Captured Moments: Going, Going...Boyne

Going, Going...Boyne

I was privileged recently to attend a three-day conference at Boyne Mountain Resort near Boyne City, MI, a truly wonderful 'Up North' destination. An added delight was being accompanied by my wife Shannon and our two young boys, who certainly made good use of all that the resort had to offer (not the least of which was Avalanche Bay, an expansive Up North-themed indoor water park).

By night, we had a little time to take in the surrounding town. Situated on some of the cleanest, pristine lakes you'll find anywhere, the city and surrounding countryside displayed all the warmth and charm you'd expect of a perfect get-a-way destination; the town itself is in an almost story-book setting, with lots of unique little shops and quaint restaurants that just oozed with atmosphere.

One old building caught our eye: the town's century-plus library that had been converted to a restaurant and bar (not of the 'saloon' persuasion, mind you, but something a bit more respectable). An unfortunate sign of our economic times, it had recently closed and was up for sale. One of our conference organizers I spoke with later told me that she and her friends walked up its massive steps to take a closer look; seems it had a strange, almost magnetic attraction about it that just drew them in. Looking through the windows, all the dining room tables and chairs were neatly arranged with individual place settings still out; glasses were sitting on the bar, as if waiting for customers. Half full bottles of liqueurs and spirits lined the shelves behind the bar. She said she got the strangest feeling that there was some kind of 'life' still in there, only somehow hid from view almost as if it were haunted by friendly spirits; had she closed her eyes, she could've just imagined seeing them in there. Her friends shared a similar-but-powerful awareness of the surreal-but-attractive charm that emanated from the place. (Not an uncommon experience, I've heard of similar encounters at many old haunts in and around Northern Michigan, not unlike what surrounds the creaky wooden corridors and cubbies of the fabled old Bower's Harbor Inn on the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City).

As if in keeping with the 'spirit' of the evening, when we had returned from that in-town outing, the air had cooled, and low clouds had moved in to settle on the tree-tops of Boyne Mountain itself. With a few peeks of sunlight from the setting sun shining through some breaks in the clouds, it cast the surrounding hills and valleys in a sort of ethereal majesty. Spirits aside (respectfully, of course), our Boyne Mountain experience was a special one, especially for our two young boys. There was the trill of the water-park, to be sure, and of catching trout in the Resort's own trout pond (which they dutifully threw back). But perhaps one of the most breathtaking of our experiences was mounting an operational chair-lift for a thrilling ride up a black diamond ski hill; the boys had never been on such a thing, so the experience was, for them, full of wonder and amazement at the sight of things never before seen from such a vantage point.

A small restaurant, The Eagle's Nest, awaited those of us who made the ascent. With a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, one could see for miles in every direction: Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay to the NW, and the seemingly hundreds of square miles of pine forests, rolling hills, and peaceful valleys that make up this stunningly beautiful 'Up North' destination. Eight year-old Hunter probably summed up the experience best with wisdom far beyond his years on the ride back down; turning to Shannon whilst seated next to her, looking out over the vast expanse of all of God's creation said, "Mom, this is just such a peaceful experience". She turned to give him a gentle hug and kiss on the cheek. Alas, our Boyne experience came to and end mid-week, and we continued farther north to the old family cabin on Burt Lake in Indian River to enjoy the long holiday weekend. (By the way, if you'd like to learn more about this very special place where we stayed, you can visit them anytime via their website: http://www.boyne.com/BoyneMountain/index.html).

While Shannon and the boys were able to stay over into the new week, I made my way back home to Traverse City to prepare for another busy work-week. It felt kind of odd to wake up this morning to quiet...no swift pitter-patter of little boys' feet to break the silence of a holiday morning. The day started crisp and clear. The morning sun was already glistening off of Lake Leelanau across the street, and I could hear birds singing vigorously in our nearby pine trees though all our open windows. With this kind of rare quiet, I made a half-pot of special coffee; we first discovered it while vacationing in Hawaii back in '08: rich, macadamia nut coffee from the Kona Coffee Co, the sweet aroma of which filled the whole house.

Not wanting to waste this early morning moment, I poured a cup and settled into a large, poofy chair in the front bay room and put on one of our favorite CDs: "A Childhood Remembered". Billed as 'a musical tribute to the wonder of childhood' (on the Narada record label), I was first introduced to this music when I served as the weekday morning host and producer for Interlochen Public Radio some years ago. But one composition among the twelve on this CD remains as captivating today as it did for me and our listening audience back then entitled, 'The Green Room' (so named to capture images of all things bright and beautiful that are found in verdant forests); here's a special link where you can listen to a short segment of the music, if your computer has MP3 / sound capability (near the bottom, click on the black arrow to start the track): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TEB7NG/ref=dm_mu_dp_trk12

Oddly, while sitting in the quiet of the bay room, enjoying this particular piece of music (which I knew had the sound of song-birds dubbed in), I became aware of a robin singing that I had never heard before while listening to this music. Sounding as if it were in the house, I discovered that a real robin was indeed sitting on our front porch railing facing an open living room window, singing its' little heart out. Whether it had flown by the window just then and stopped to listen to the other birds heard in the recording, or was attracted by the plaintiff playing of the piano music I'll never know. But there it sat lending its' own voice to the music of the morning; it was a serendipitous moment where the music of nature blended its' voice with that of a song to create yet another one of those special 'Up North Captured Moments' that won't soon be forgotten. As I finished my coffee to the last strains of "The Green Room", I was reminded again of how truly blessed we are to call Northern Michigan 'home'.