Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon

It is 1947.  I am imagining a conversation that went something like this:

"Hey, Bill, I have an idea."
"What is your idea, John?"
"I am thinking that we should start a canoe race."
"John, there are a lot of canoe races out there."
"Well, this one will be different."
"How will your canoe race be different?"
"Well, we will start the race in Greyling, around 9PM on a Saturday night, then the race, which is really more of a marathon, will head east down the Au Sable River."
"OK, John.  Where will the race end?"
"Easy answer, Bill: Where the Au Sable River empties into Lake Huron."
"Are you crazy. John?  There are dams and other obstacles along the Au Sable.  Not to mention that will be course will be almost 120 miles long."
"I know that.  The canoeists will have to portage their canoes over the dams and the other things in their way.  And as for the length, well, it is a marathon."
"Sounds interesting.  Let's do it!"

That is how I imagine the first discussion about the Au Sable River Canoe Marathon went.  The Race, as it is also known as, has grown from a backwoods event dreamed up in the upper lower peninsula of Michigan in 1947m to one of the jewels in the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing.  The three races that make up the Tripe Crown are, The General Clinton Canoe Regatta, The Au Sable River Canoe Marathon, and la Classique de Canots de la Maurice.

Deirdre and I try to plan our vacation in the summer so that we are here for the end of the Race.  The Race is held the last weekend in July and this year, we had front row seats to the finish line.

The canoeists are two person teams, many of whom have corporate sponsors. Also, some teams make shirts for each running of the Race...

There is definitely an international flair to the race, as the winners for the past few years have been a Canadian-American Team.

Here is an image of the winners, Andrew Triebold and Steve Lajoie as they made the final turn for the past few hundred yards of the Race:

And here they are crossing the finish line:

It is also a great event to people watch...

Until next year...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Eagle has Landed

As many readers of this blog know, we are fortunate to own a little slice of heaven on the shores of Lake Huron, just about 3 miles south of the Au Sable River, near Oscoda, Michigan.  We purchased our cottage in January, 2010, and little by little, we have made this place our own.  In 2010, we contracted to have new windows and flooring installed.  In 2011 a new kitchen found its way to our cottage.  This year, we put in a deck to make the comings and goings from the beach a little easier.  The deck is also a fine place for a libation at the end of a long day.

This is a view of our cottage and the new deck taken a few feet towards Lake Huron:

This is the view from our deck towards Lake Huron:

We gave our cottage a name, calling it East of the Equator.  The origins of that name can be found here.  We purchased this place to relax, unwind and most importantly, recharge.  Deirdre and I have hectic jobs that keep us busy almost every day of the week.  We come to our cottage to get away from recharge our batteries to face whatever comes our way during the next work week.

An added benefit of owning a cottage where we do is that American Bald Eagles are part of the indigenous animal population.  We have been fortunate to see a few of these amazing birds quite a few times since the beginning of the year.  There is a pine tree one cottage south of ours where an eagle will sometimes roost and today, roost he did.  Here are a few images of the eagle, who was clearly enjoying the view, too:

These were the best images I could capture with my Nikon CoolPix.  Deirdre had her Nikon D300 with a zoom lens and she captured more images, that will certainly soon make it to her blog.  After about 20 minutes, the eagle had seen all that it wanted to see, and left.  He was completely silent as he departed, flying down the beach for a hundred yards or so before heading inland.  It is an amazing thing to see this magnificent bird of prey fly.

So, if you ever find yourself near Oscoda on a Saturday or a Sunday during the summer, chances are Deirdre and I will be East of the Equator, along with perhaps an eagle two.  Stop on by and remember that cocktails are served at 6:30PM, sharp!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.