Jun 30

Earlier this month Linda and I had a weekend away to celebrate her birthday.  (Thanks, Beth!)  We went to the little town of Saugatuck, Michigan.  It’s the first time we have even been there.

We spent two nights at the Twin Gables Inn.  The room was very nice and the people were friendly.  It’s a bed and breakfast inn and the breakfast was good both days.  We didn’t start our days hungry.

Saugatuck is known for it’s art.  It’s a small town, but the amount of art is large.  We checked out a lot of it.  There were galleries dedicated to single artists, art co-ops with their local members work on display, larger stores with art from different areas of the country, and one that we decided was of the “starving artist” variety.

Downtown is meant for tourists.  In addition to the art galleries there is an eclectic collection of shops.  We had a look at a lot of them.  Some of it was practical, some of it was not.  Taking it all in made for a fun weekend together.

Do you know what a chain ferry is?  I didn’t.  According to the information we saw in town, the only operating chain ferry in the country is in Saugatuck.  There’s a chain stretched across the Kalamazoo river in downtown.  When the ferry is at either side, the chain is laying on the bottom of the river so boats can pass over it.  When somebody turns the crank on the ferry, it is pulled long that chain to the other side of the river.  We didn’t ride it, but it’s fun to watch.  Especially when they are cranking fast and furious to try and get out of the way of busy river traffic.

We took our bikes along with us.  Saturday morning we wanted to put them to use.  So we rode around the lake and over the river to Mount Baldhead.  Since this is Michigan, it isn’t really a mountain.  It’s 282 wooden steps that you can climb to a very scenic spot overlooking town.  The chain ferry would have gotten us their quicker, but we had bikes so we rode.  Once you get to the top you can go down the sand dunes on the other side and arrive at Oval Beach on Lake Michigan.  We didn’t want to do that because it would have involved going back up those dunes.  They’re pretty steep.  However, we found a hiking trail along the top and headed out along it.  It ends at a very nice overlook on Oval Beach and the big lake.  The lake breeze is always great.

Here are some pictures from our mountain adventure.

Steps Going Up

This is the 282 steps of Mt. Baldhead from the bottom.

On The Trail

Heading out along the hiking trail


See the snake we encountered along the trail?

Oval Beach Overlook

After about a half-mile we came to the end of the trail and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.

Linda On The Trail


Brian On The Trail

This strange tree was along the trail.

Linda With Saugatuck in the Background

Linda with Saugatuck behind her.

Stairs From The Top

This is the view looking down the stairs. It’s a long way down.

Mt. Baldhead From Town

This is what Mt. Baldhead looks like from across the river in town.

If you get the chance to visit Saugatuck, I’d recommend it.  It’s perfect for a weekend trip.

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Jun 19

After a few months of getting ready, the new scouts in Troop 240 went out for their first weekend campout June 4-6. Kane wasn’t able to make it, but Kieran, Zack, and Matthew did.  They were joined by Cody and Colin who have been in the Troop longer, but still wanted to camp.  Casey and Christian were the senior scouts and served as our Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.  Our adult leadership consisted of Brian Coleman, the Scoutmaster, and Gregg Blossom and I, Assistant Scoutmasters.

We met at St. John’s at 5:30 Friday and loaded everything up.  Then we headed out to Camp Munhacke.

These new scouts hadn’t done much tent setup before so it took a while to get them up properly.  However, everything did get setup before there was any rain.  After things were setup we needed to focus on dinner.  We made spaghetti.  We had propane stoves on the picnic table under the easy-up canopy.  It came out quite good with plenty for everyone.  There was even some for the raccoon that fished it out of the trash while we were cleaning up.

Kieran, Zack, and Matthew were in a tent together.  They were probably the last ones to fall asleep.  At least they were the last voices I heard before I fell asleep.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early.  We were up at 7am.  Pancakes and sausage were cooked up for breakfast.  Everybody helped and it didn’t go too bad.

Cooking Breakfast

Pancakes and sausage for breakfast Saturday morning

After filling up on breakfast and cleaning up it was time for our five mile hike on the Bill Baker Trail.  There is some history to this particular hike.  When last year’s new scouts went out on this hike it became known as the “Death March” because the trail was washed out at one point.  That led to a huge detour through the wilderness and everybody was completely exhausted by the time they got back to camp.  This year the hike went quite well for most of the way.  Then we hit the same place that it was washed out last year, and it was washed out again.  Oh dear.  Casey remembered that it was the exact same place that they encountered trouble last year.  Mr. Blossom and I thought about the situation briefly and decided that our best course of action would be to double back to the road that we crossed most recently and take it back to camp.  It wasn’t quite as adventurous as last year, but given our circumstances it seemed like the best thing to do.

Almost Done Hiking

All the hiking scouts as we approach the end of our trek

Once we made it back to camp it was time for lunch.  We fixed Hobo meals on the camp fire.  Hamburger, diced vegetables, butter, and seasonings wrapped in foil and cooked on the grates over the camp fire.  They were easy and delicious!

Matthew Prepares the Grates

Matthew used aluminum foil to clean the grates before they went on the fire

Preparing Hobo Meals

The scouts are working on the hobo meal ingredients

Hobo Meals Are Cooking

Colin, Kieran, and Matthew keep an eye on the hobo meals

Casey and Christian spent some time after lunch working through T-2-1 requirements with the guys.  They made some good progress.  In fact, everybody should be ready to earn Tenderfoot rank very soon.

Kieran and Mr. Coleman Review His Book

Mr. Coleman is reviewing Kieran's achievements with him

Manchester Troop 426 stopped over to invite us over for skits and songs in the evening.  So all the guys got together and decided what skits and songs to perform.  Then they practiced them.

Practicing Bubblegum Song

Casey taught everyone the bubble gum song for skit time

Christian brought some helicopter-launched-with-rubber-band contraptions that quickly became a hit with all the scouts.  In between other things they would shoot them way up into the air and as they helicoptered back down they’d battle for position to be the one who caught it.

Everyone's Favorite Toy

Christian brought these helicopter sort of toys that were a hit with everyone

Working on Lashings

Casey and Christian showing the new scouts how to do lashings

Dinner was corned beef and vegetables.  It was all boiled on the stoves.  It turned out great and was a pretty easy camp meal.

Sitting Around the Campfire

The boys and leaders taking a break around the campfire while dinner cooks

It started to rain during dinner and continued to rain throughout the evening.  That made dinner cleanup a little more challenging than usual and it took a long time.  Finally it was done and everybody headed over the Troop 426’s campsite to join them for skits and songs.  It was a lot of fun.  They had a pavilion in their campsite so we were able to stay dry during the show even though the rain was pretty heavy.

After the show we headed back to our camp and retired to our tents because the rain prevented much of anything else.  Everybody managed to stay dry throughout the night.  The scouts didn’t know it but we had some pretty severe weather passing over us.  There were tornado warnings issued for some parts of the county, but not where we were.  Dundee was hit by a major tornado during the storm, but that’s quite a bit south of where we were.  Having our tents setup in the tree line as we did provided us with some shelter from the worst of the weather.  The moms and dads back at home were having a worse time worrying about us than we were having being out in the weather.  Mr. Coleman was keeping track of the weather via NOAA weather radio as were the folks in the camp office.  So we knew what was happening.

Sunday morning we woke up to much better weather.  It’s always nice to be able to pack up in dry conditions.  Of course the tents were wet, but the sun was out so we pulled them out into the center of the campsite to dry off for a little while before packing them up.  Breakfast was cereal because we needed to be heading back to the church early.  We weren’t quite as early as we planned, but we were hitting the road for home around 12:15.

This was a great camping experience for the new guys.  Casey and Christian did a great job showing them how its done as well as helping them get a large number of T-2-1 requirements signed off.  They’re well on their way to their next Court of Honor!

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