2017-09-21 / Columns

Filling up that tired tank across the bridge

A column by Eric Carlson

If you are reading this column on the day this newspaper comes out — Thursday, Sept. 21 — my wife and I are either on our way to the Upper Peninsula or are just arriving there for a brief and well-deserved break from work.

Deadline day for this newspaper was yesterday. As of yesterday afternoon, I and the other reporters here were “off deadline” for the week. Normally, I take that opportunity to do our family’s weekly grocery shopping, as I have for many years. Not this week, though.

Like many people who live yearround in Leelanau County, we often find it hard to take time off in the summer when business of all sorts picks up. Many of our region’s seasonal residents have already headed back home. Weekend and vacation visitors – lovingly known as fudgies to some of us – are now fewer and farther between.

There’s less traffic, too, thank goodness. The only problem is that our routes in and out of Leelanau County have become more of a challenge in recent weeks due to ongoing road improvement projects. Wisely, our local and state officials decided to delay those projects until traffic cleared a little with the end of the summer visitor season.

As we head up north for a long weekend, we will be the fudgies. Last year around this time, we decided to visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park for the first time since our kids were tiny. We also went to Munising to catch one of those boat tours along the coast of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. But it was nearer the end of the season last year, and our planned cruise was canceled due to rough weather.

Having never gone on that boat ride before, we resolved to try again this year. If the weather cooperates, we will also spend some time hiking the trails at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Because of cooler weather this summer, experts are predicting that the fall color season may be moving up a week or so, and we may be able to enjoy more of the show than we’d anticipated.

Officially, autumn begins tomorrow. In fact, things are feeling more autumn-like than usual for me this year.

One of the events my wife and I will regret missing this weekend is a memorial gathering for a friend and neighbor of ours who died a few weeks ago, who was only a few years older than I am. I’m sure our friend would forgive our sticking with a plan we made months ago. Her family already knows that we, too, miss her dearly.

When we get back home next week, it will be time for me to fire up our little garden tractor with the mower one more time to keep our place from looking even more wild and unkempt than it usually does. After the mowing chore is finished, I will need to swap the mowing deck for the snow-blower on the tractor. And, while we’re at it, we might as well switch out the all-season radials to snow tires on our vehicles.

Pretty soon, the Suttons Bay harbormaster will send me and everybody else who has a boat in the marina a friendly reminder that it’s time to get our boat out of the water and winterized. I’ll need to make an appointment at a local boat shop to get our little hole-in-the-water serviced before I call the shrink-wrap people and hide the boat behind our pole barn.

It seems like we went out on the boat this summer, oh, maybe four times. The gas tank on our boat is still reading nearly “Full.”

But if there were a gauge on my tired, old carcass, it’d probably read closer to a quarter-tank.

Maybe we’ll get a fill-up in the U.P.

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