I received a phone call from my mom the other day. Well, I receive phone calls from my mom most days but she sounded particularly excited when I picked up the phone on this occasion. "GOOBIE!!!! Some famous author wrote about Petoskey in the NEW YORK TIMES!!!!!!". While normally this level of excitement involves a birdy at the local country club, this was something I was actually interested in. I LOVE what we Michiganders refer to as "Up North". "Up North" means something different to everyone as our experiences are surely unique. And "Up North" is a big place. I'm not really sure where it starts exactly but if you've been lucky enough to grow up spending summers there, you know it's that point at which the trees start getting a little thicker and the traffic lesser and lesser (unless it's on a Friday or Sunday) and you just feel "it". For me, it's the northwestern portion of the state. From the time I was a baby until around the time I was married, my family was varying parts of Lake Charlevoix. Lake Charlevoix is a pretty damn big body of water that connects by waterway to the "big lake" or Lake Michigan. It's anchored by a very quaint town called, duh, Charlevoix. The streets are lined with pink, white and purple petunias and there is a draw bridge that snarls traffic every hour as the boats with big masts make their way out to what is essentially sea. People that aren't familiar with the Great Lakes don't really get how vast they are. Inland oceans, really. I remember taking our boat out into the big lake once and not getting very far. Not much past the lighthouse I remember looking around and thinking, "Oh shit" and turning around. The town of Charlevoix is really a little strip of shops (fudge and t-shirt shops interspersed with high-end boutiques and restaurants) surrounded by water on both sides. Big ass yachts are moored next to little tiny boats in Round Lake which is the harbor. Some things have changed since I was a little kid in Charlevoix. The fish ponds with islands of petunias are no longer in the park and the dime store next to Oleson's where we used to stock up on rainy day crafts is no longer there. The trestle where my dad used to take my brother and I fishing FAR too early in the morning is long gone. What I love is what has NOT changed. Rexall's still sits exactly where it did when I was four years old, it's orange sign standing in defiance to all that has disappeared around it. And the cool thing is that it's exactly the same inside. Magazines and post cards and polished Petoskey stones mingle with typical drug store shit. It's living nostalgia, at least for me. There's also the completely unique sound of your tires going over the drawbridge that is just so damn "up north". Love that sound. At some point in young adulthood, my parents ended up buying a place on the other end of Lake Charlevoix. This was cool with me as my friends and I could all walk into Boyne City and party it up. I remember being outraged at having to pay $12 for a pitcher of beer at the Sportsman's Lounge while we watched the Jelly Roll Blues Band. I also remember my brother saying, "If Mollie's drinking, everybody's drinking" which was true. I was the one with the job for one brief shining moment in time. I also remember many cold, cold winter nights making our way back to the Harborage, swaying merrily through the snow when the party was over. We weren't just summer people........we were the real deal. Up North every chance we could get. I'm heading up in less than two weeks. Slightly different destination. I'll tell ya about the Walloon years in my next entry. Dave has informed me that I'm not writing a freakin' novel and that I should keep my entries short. But I have so much to say!!!!! Damn it. Stay tuned 'cause while the Lake Charlevoix years were sickly sweet with childhood memories, the Petoskey/Walloon years are still going on. And THAT my friend, is where I dangled precariously from a boat cleat by my thong, where I've fallen off innumerable docks, and where my dad stormed around to the back of the cottage and busted my mom and I for smoking back in the day. I believe his exact quote was, "What are you two idiots doing?" Uh.....smoking? Clearly??? Most of the good stuff has happened on Walloon, which is conveniently pictured at the top of this entry as I really didn't intend to write about Lake Charlevoix. I have ADHD, remember. Tangents. I go off on 'em. The whole New York Times article will make sense in my next series of Deep Thoughts so work with me, people.