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Back To School...

It's hard to believe it's that time of year again. Our boys have been talking about it non-stop. In fact, they can't wait to go back to school...School Lake, that is.

This past Saturday found us on the shores of Lake Michigan, at Shalda Creek on Good Harbor Bay.The water was calm and flat. The Manitou Islands lay off in the distance. Pyramid Point, in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, was just a stone's-throw to our left. Only a few families were on the beach to enjoy the waning summer weather -- decidedly hot that day. 
As a few clouds began to slowly move in, we decided to drive to nearby School Lake to try out some fishing. We had our old fishing boat with us, so this would be an interesting adventure...launching a trailer'd boat at an otherwise rugged boat launch.
We made our way down the two or three miles of roads to the boat launch, some of which were so rutted they would have made Mater's eyes water (from the movie, "Cars"). After getting all our gear in the boat, we set out for our fishing expedition.

What became quickly apparent was the fact that this lake was so shallow, I was worried we'd get stuck and never make it out before dark. Lo and behold, after touring the rim of the lake, we found the deepest part toward the middle and dropped anchor. The depth finder registered all of eight feet (though farther away at the opposite side, there was a hole about 18' deep near some reeds that was occupied by a couple of other boaters busy fishing, too). We baited our hooks, set the bobbers, then cast our lines out into the unknown.

Within seconds all the bobbers disappeared under the water. The boys, who were anything but enthused up to that point, instantly revived. We reeled in our collective catch: nearly 10" long bluegills (about the max length bluegills can get; the boys knew this, and loudly proclaimed that they hit the next best thing to a trout pond. Cast after cast yielded similar results until we had eight nice sized fish in our 5-gallon bucket to return home with. They were beyond excited.

If it weren't for the fact that dusk was closing in around us (as were the mosquitoes), we'd have probably stayed longer. I had to spoil their fun by announcing we really should head back. No need to turn our navigation lights on; the other boaters had already left. Aside from a Loon and a couple of Great Blue Herons, we were the only ones on the lake surrounded by the hilly, thick forests of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. What a stunningly beautiful setting.

We made our way back to shore, then loaded the boat for the short ride home. By then, the sky had turned dark, but clear-and-starry. It was still quite warm out. Looking up, Shannon and the boys saw some meteors. Three at once! Suggesting we deploy some blankets in the front yard, the boys fetched them to take up a position in the front yard with a panoramic view of the night sky. Sure enough, we all spotted more meteors, and even a couple of passing satellites.

Almost as if a switch got turned on, the Northern Lights began to flicker into view; curtains of red, green, and aquamarine colors darted and flowed about the night sky as if being poured out by a giant pitcher. It was really spectacular and reminded us of another 'Up North' adventure we'd like to take in the near future...a trip to the "Dark Sky Park" on the shores of the Mackinac Straits -- one of only 10 designated 'dark sky parks' in the world! I went inside to make a big bowl of popcorn and hotdogs for everyone; a little late night snack. It would be after midnight before we'd come in, but I couldn't get over feeling so blessed to live here and take all this in. We see or learn something new every time we venture outside. God has indeed touched this area with a very special grace. Whether we're in school, or at School Lake, we're thankful to be able to enjoy it all no matter the season...Up North.

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