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.