Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Cabin on Torch Lake

We stopped in Cadillac and I wrestled with unfamiliar coinage (when did we get $1 pieces?) and a rare and vanishing breed - the old fashioned pay phone - to get directions to the cabin from Colleen. Turned out we still had a couple of hours to go.

I don't think I had a picture in my mind of what it would look like, but if I did, the reality was about 5 times bigger and 100 times more amazing. There was a gravel path through a wooded area from the main road to the cabin. We arrived slightly ahead of schedule and surprised Mom's cousin, John, and two of his granddaughters, Cheyenne and Elizabeth. Colleen was grocery shopping and arrived about half an hour later. After we unpacked the groceries, she showed us our bedroom upstairs

(we got the luxury treatment, ours was the one with the sitting area and the toilet just outside), the spare fridge with the drinks and the food schedule on the fridge in the kitchen and told us to help ourselves to what ever. I thought the upstairs bedrooms were very European: the sink is very convenient for getting ready in the morning.

Then we had a tour of the cabin. It was the main lodge of what used to be a boy's camp with several other cabins, all but one of which has been taken down. They said the cabin dated back to around the turn of the last century; they had pictures of the boys at the camp wearing shirts adorned with swastikas, well before that symbol became associated with Nazi Germany. Apparently it was previously a good luck symbol.

The cabin was originally one big single story building, to which John and his late wife, Billie, added the second floor with dormers, consisting of 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and a sitting area. The downstairs had two large bedrooms, a bathroom with a sauna, an office, and an open plan kitchen. John told me it was about 4,000 square feet altogether. They'd also added a large deck on the back which overlooks

the lake and their pier and 'float'

(a square thing to sit on when swimming; also has a light for finding the boat dock at night). The cabin was stuffed with beautiful and fun things to look at: family photos, memorabilia of John's college days, metal sculptures and every sort of knick-knack one could imagine.

Torch Lake is glacial, I was told, as in created by glaciers. Though the shore was quite shallow, one could see the colour change (see that dark blue part before you get to the tree line on the opposite side?) indicating the different depth in the middle. John said it was nearly 400 feet deep in

places. The water temperature according to his thermometer was 65 F. and I did intend to go for a swim with the others, but never got around to it, in spite of the fact that John -- who loves to tell jokes -- gave me a wooden disk with 'round tuit' written on it.

Bill had Googled Torch Lake and found a video showing a dock area crammed full of sunburned people drinking and playing 16 different kinds of loud music; he was a bit worried about that. Our experience was the exact opposite: John's section of the water front was his own, there weren't even more than 2 or 3 boats in sight at any one time; we couldn't have asked for a more serene location. It's no wonder John and Billie chose to live here. I was incredibly grateful to have been invited to share in this beautiful place even for a few days.

I had two main goals for this part of the holiday: suck up as much family history (information and pictures) as possible; also, to get to know these new family members -- about 10 of them -- just as well as I could. I had about 3 1/2 days to do this in. My work was cut out for me!


Anonymous said...

Was the lake clear so you could see everything on the bottom? That is what I remember about the big lakes in norther Minnesota.

Rick Stone said...

Actually, there have been several attempts to get a $1 coin into circulation but it has not succeeded yet. The only way it will ever work is to discontinue the $1 bill like Canada did.

The swastika was popular prior to WWII. It was the emblem of a major Indian tribe and was the symbol of the 45th Infantry Division (Oklahoma Army National Guard). After the Nazis started using it the 45th changed to the now famous Thunderbird.

Just a little trivia.

Shelley said...

Yes, the water was exceptionally clear. Am I making you 'homesick'? If you want to see all the pictures send me an email. S