Our neighborhood “Point” of Lake Superior magic

Google Maps says it’s about fourteen miles from our house, but the drive takes much longer. Once you leave the paved luxury of Townline Road, you clunk along gravel until it narrows into a tree-covered idyllic lane where you motor slowly to avoid hitting any fast-moving vehicles playing NASCAR around the bends.

It takes maybe 35 minutes to reach the tip.

It’s a journey filled with forty years of memories for us.

How many times over the years have we bumped and skidded and eased our way out onto this finger of land? How many memories kindle deep inside, almost forgotten, ready to be teased out as we pull our Equinox into the parking lot complete with outhouse and picnic table?

I could regale you with stories of our relationship with Point Abbaye for a dozen blog posts. (Hmmm, I probably already have, throughout the years.)

We remember walking along its rocks in our early 20’s. Just the two of us, getting to know our new Lake Superior home.

Barry remembers heading out to the Point one fine evening with his friend, Bob, in those days when they were still young bucks with lots of piss and vinegar. They sat along those rocks and drank–shall we say?–quite a few beers. The night lengthened and darkened and still they swapped stories. Finally, home beckoned. Except it was pitch dark. No moon illuminated the path which leads from lake to car.

They literally couldn’t see where they were going. They lurched from tree to tree, finding the path and losing it, finding the path and losing it. Someone had a lighter and every few steps they flashed it, attempting to find the straight and narrow.

Eventually they made it home, and what a story that was to share over the years. Remember the time when it was pitch dark and we couldn’t see anything and we lived to survive it anyway?

I remember another adventure. In March. Far too soon to be traveling out the snowy muddy slippery icy road to the point. But we were young and perhaps foolish and my “Swiss sister” Suzanne and her family were visiting from the Netherlands. (I lived in Switzerland for the summer after high school.) We wanted to show them Point Abbaye, so we loaded up our two young kids and her family and started out…

Those of you who know about Upper Peninsula backroads will know that we soon found ourselves stuck and stranded halfway out the point. We unpacked our picnic lunch and enjoyed the moment. Luckily, a four wheel drive truck found us and towed us back to safety. Another story for the record books. Remember the time…?

So many stories vie for attention in the recesses of this memory! Perhaps some of you recall my blog post The Attack of the Killer Flies. This was published in 2010, but some of you are old-time readers. It is actually still one of my most googled posts. Over six hundred people have read it this summer alone. (Which can get mildly annoying ten years later when you have something more current you wish people might read.)

It’s those damn flies that live along Lake Superior and randomly bite tourists and locals alike. They feast on bare legs and arms especially. My friend, Melinda, came a’visiting from California and we sprinted from the car toward Point Abbaye and back as the Alfred Hitchcock-like flies attempted to kill us.

I exaggerate. Barely.

The flies were biting on our recent trip, but reasonably biting. Only one bite per 30 seconds. Not dozens of bites every second. Click on the above link it you want to see my poor leg and shirt covered with flies in 2010. You will also see my daughter “fly-tailing” back to the car.

Fun on Lake Superior! Remember the biting flies?

I remember sitting on lawn chairs with camping friends beneath the fullest moon on the planet one August evening. How could a moon shine so large, so full? We lingered under the stars for hours, another memory for old age. These friends have long moved away, but that memory persists, rising every so often like the fullest of moons.

And yet another memory: a couple of winters ago we attended a dinner/dance fundraiser for the local nature conservancy in L’Anse. They had recently purchased property and asked folks in the audience to share memories of Point Abbaye.

Although I was scared to speak publically–I did. I stood up and shared some of these memories. It felt so right.

I think about the land which surrounds us. How memory dances with it–how memory allows it to become even fuller, richer, more alive. Land perhaps doesn’t need us humans, but we can continue to realize its preciousness as our memories add to its beauty and depth, at least in our minds.

A wooly caterpillar-like fella ambled across the trail. A few months from now this will be distant memory, like a reflection on the lake. Deep in slumber, the caterpillar perhaps dreams of shaded pathways and August wildflowers.

Thanks for strolling along Point Abbaye and down memory lane today. Do you know a special piece of land that is filled with poignant memories for you? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in August, 2020 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Our neighborhood “Point” of Lake Superior magic

  1. Larissa says:

    How lovely. I can almost feel the water on my toes (and the flies on my legs)!

    I walk the same route around my neighborhood almost every morning, and I have so many memories of encounters with neighbors both human and non-human. As the years pass, I feel more and more that the place where I live also lives in me.

    • Kathy says:

      I hope those flies weren’t biting you, Larissa! Imagining you on your neighborhood walk, and loving that sentence about feeling more and more that the place where I live also lives in me. Yes!

      • Larissa says:

        We have deer flies here. They mostly go for the back of your head. And black flies, which mostly only bite if you stand still. I am pretty good at avoiding fly bites, but I still get enough to remember what they feel like!

  2. Memories – the good memories – do dance into our being, shaping our experiences into delight, as your Point does. For me? Many memories of walking thousands of times on a path along the S.F. Bay, talking with the pelicans while walking the dog (sometimes the pelicans talked back, particularly at dawn). Many memories of walking a path hundreds of times over the past 15 years along a cliff in Kauai, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where I talked with the whales. And sometimes the whales talked back (particularly at dusk). And oh, all the memories of looking out at the small forested land with pine, oak, ash through my window right here, from my computer writing desk, where I sometimes talk to the woodpecker and the cardinal and even the hummingbird, who sometimes talk back, particularly when I’m in my creative haze. ❀

  3. earthcomplex says:

    I really enjoy your blog. It inspires me to do more with mine once I have access to a real computer again and can add lots of visual effects.

  4. dorannrule says:

    Oh what a wonderful magical place to make memories! I love the photos but especially your thoughts.

    • Kathy says:

      Dor, I read Barry your comment a while ago as it came in. He said, “She knows the way to your heart”. Smile. Thank you! I loved writing this.

  5. dawnkinster says:

    What a beautiful place. I so much want to be up there this summer. Or any summer, fall, spring, and MAYBE winter, for that matter. Do many people go out there each day or are you usually alone there? The place I have poignent memories from is Muskegon State Park, because we used to camp there every summer when we were little, in a big old green army tent that smelled. We always chose a site right up against the big sand dune and the four of us kids played on that dune all day, coming back at night totally covered in sand. Sand in our hair, in our ears, everywhere. I’ve only been back as an adult twice, each time drove through what remains of the campground (the dunes are covering it up) looking for remnents of our family, sometimes seeing them in other families camped. Always makes me feel a bit sad. Same with a local orchard around here. When I go to pick I’m always looking for our family. I think they’re going to be around that next fruit tree. Lots of memories for me in a lot of special places in Michigan.

    • Kathy says:

      I am surprised you never found your way out to Point Abbaye during the years you lived here, Dawn. But it is a long way from the Copper Country, so that makes sense. Quite often we’ve been alone on our ventures out there, but we must have seen a dozen vehicles out thattaway when we went this time. The UP is crawling with tourists everywhere this summer! There’s a picture of a woman and little boy swimming in the lake–they were visiting from Muskegon and one man in their party has been coming here for 30 years. Love the sweet and nostalgic story of your sand dune camping. Could almost smell that old green army tent–such a distinctive smell they had. And thinking of your local orchard and looking to see your family around the next fruit tree. I agree–there are a lot of places in Michigan filled with memories…

  6. Barb says:

    Fun to remember the “olden days” and the stories of a place you love. Your photos show a unique land formation at the edge of the lake. I can see it’s a place that would draw you back to it. For the past 30 years, I’ve traversed trails in the National Forest behind our house. I feel a sense of belonging in the forest and a need to observe keenly as Nature changes day by day. I read the signs wildlife leaves – paw prints, scratches on trees, gnawed bark. In the winter when snow covers the ground, I can easily see what has passed before me. I think the forest is a part of my spirit now, and even if I should have to leave here, it will stay with me for the rest of my days.

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I love that you have your National Forest behind your house that has nurtured you so steadily over the years. So many walks, so many teachings by nature. What a rich life! Yes, it’s true, the landscape can become part of our spirit as time goes by. It’s not like we’re separate anymore. And yes, when and if you have to leave, it will always be with you. Precious.

  7. Stacy says:

    Oh, aren’t such memories the best? The kind that you’re making but don’t know it at the time?

    The Gulf Coast holds those memories for me. Memories of childhood, memories of young adulthood. Then life took me hither and yon, then voilΓ ! I was back again building moments with the next generation.

    Ah, life. XOXO

    • Kathy says:

      EXACTLY, Stacy! We don’t have any idea we’re making memories at the time–and wa la–they appear! The Gulf Coast sounds like a lovely place to be. I have a few, a very few, memories of that place as well. It sounds like your precious one is living down there these days. I am so glad you have been able to spend time with her recently. Voila!

  8. Thank you for sharing your memories – 40 yrs is a long time. I love how much respect you have for the land. We need more of that in the world.

  9. A beautiful place to instill memories that have lasted a life time. You and Barry indeed have a playground, virtualy at your finger tips or to be more precise, down a 30 some odd minute drive or so much beauty.

    • Kathy says:

      Yvonne, you are right–and we do have a marvelous playground all around us. Yet it’s easy to get caught in “everyday” and forget to go enjoy some of nature’s gifts. It’s always good when a person remembers–and then goes.

  10. I enjoyed very much your ramble down memory lane. And I remember the post on the killer flies. It still gives me the creeps, but at least you can see them. Ticks and viruses are much harder to spot. (Mind is wandering…) It’s good you have so many stories to tell. I suppose it is our beach that is filled with memories for me. My “baby” is almost 40 but I still remember her at the beach, toddling around after her big brothers. The time the gull pooped on our umbrella and my friend and I laughed hysterically watching our helpful little daughters dragging it up to the outdoor shower to try to wash it off. (It never came off…) Watching the fireworks, the tall ship parades… The time my father snuck his six-pack of beer in for a cookout and we couldn’t explain to the kids why we let Grandpa get away with it… Oh my!

    • Kathy says:

      What a lot of lovely and funny memories at your beach, Barbara. Lots of laughter and good times… Smiling thinking of all your fun. But am amazed you remember the killer fly post. Kudos on your memory! Ticks and viruses are, indeed, more challenging…they might not hurt as much in the short-term, but they win for long-term possible problems.

  11. Lori says:

    I enjoyed reading your memories and seeing the majesty of nature through your lens. I imagined that water so far north is too cold to swim, but then I saw the photo of those two immersed in it.

    The only place I can think of that we visited frequently for several memories, is St. Augustine, Florida. One memory from there was the time we went in December and it snowed . . . in Florida! Not all over the state, just in St. Augustine and the immediate surrounding area. Of course, it didn’t stick.

    • Kathy says:

      I have never been to St. Augustine, but it sounds like a really cool place to visit many times. (One of my friends up here has traveled there with her family multiple times over the years.) Snowing in Florida! Have never heard of such a thing. πŸ™‚ As for swimming in Lake Superior…that is usually reserved for the young, the adventurous, the foolhardy. I was once all of the above…not anymore.

  12. Joanne says:

    And I thought Australian flies were the worst – at least they don’t attack!
    But oh, what a beautiful place to visit! I’m sure the happy memories override the, um, flies.

    For my family, I think collectively our most precious memories would be at Noosa, a town on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. When my kids talk about our holidays in Noosa, one of them always starts a “remember the time …” session. One of our more recent special memories took place just over three years ago, when my eldest daughter was married there. So many happy memories … ❀

    • Kathy says:

      How wonderful that your daughter could be married in that special place you all loved! Noosa sounds like a wonderful place, Joanne. My kids have now reminded me that we have another place nearby where we all have even more memories. May have to write about that one of these days! (There are biting flies out thattaway, too…)

  13. sherrysescape says:

    I love Point Abbaye! and I love the pictures you can get out there! I do believe we might be kindred souls πŸ™‚

  14. Ally Bean says:

    I forgot about the biting flies until you mentioned them here. Your photos however show a lovely relaxing scene that calls to me– minus the flies.

    [You get endless hits on “biting flies” while I get hits on “do deer eat pansies” which tells me that we need to write more often about nature’s annoyances.]

    • Kathy says:

      I am smiling at your comment! You are right–nature’s annoyances seem to be what draws our readers in repeatedly. Glad you understand. πŸ™‚

  15. Val says:

    Right now I want to click an ‘adore’ button, as that’s how I felt travelling alongside you in this post. Your blog is so magical, do you know that? Thank you!

    Most of my memories of special places are to do with holidays (vacations) with my sister and parents when I was a small child. They’re the ones I write about sometimes on my Sandie Seashore blog. But the last time I was back there was about thirty years ago, so I can only relive them now in my memory.

    • Kathy says:

      Wow, that is the coolest thing to say, Val–thank you sincerely. Wow. I will have to check out your Sandie Seashore blog. Did not even know you had a blog–besides your colouring one–until this afternoon!

      • Val says:

        You’re welcome, Kathy. I’ve two other blogs, there are links to them in my current post in my colouring blog (which, by the way, I’ll be making private for a few weeks from Saturday). x

  16. My boyfriend grew up spending a lot of time on the Lawrence River. When I see pictures of the river or any of the lakes I am so amazed. Even the biggest lakes I have seen, which are probably those in Maine, you could see the other side clearly. I can’t believe there are these bodies of water that are so big. I do plan on visiting them one day!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh I hope you can see one of the big lakes where the horizon stretches forever into nothing and beyond! Thanks for visiting, and may you be able to travel into your dreams some day soon.

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