Fishing on the Paint River

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On Mac’s Bridge, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Yesterday we once again attempted to catch a fish in Iron County and were unsuccessful. It was a great day however, because we all spent time in the beautiful northwoods on one of the best trout streams in the world. We are seen above on a bridge at Don McDonald’s camp. “Mac” is a legendary fly fisherman and he was very hospitable. Grandpa Kralovec provided the poles – thank you.

We had a full day with an afternoon of swimming at Hagerman Lake and a large family BBQ at our rented log home in the Ski Brule resort.

Owen gets water from a spring

Family Journal: June 28, 2010

Popa & Ocean, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Ocean eats some torta with her grandfather, affectionately known as “Popa.” Hermes is called Popa because that is what Owen and Sebey first called him in Bolivia. We continue to refer to him as Popa. Ocean’s paternal grandfather is known as “Timpa” also a mispronunciation by Ocean last summer.

We are enjoying a relaxing holiday with family. Below is a historic photo, it is the first time Nadia’s and my parents have met. Owen’s middle names come from both of his grandfathers and they are shown together.

I would also like to wish all of my Serbian readers a Happy Saint Vitus Day! It is a very meaningful day for Serbs, remembering the defeat at the field of the blackbirds in Kosovo to the Ottomans.

Summer Holidays Begin

 

Owen , originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Owen is shown above in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. We had a long flight as we left our house in Serbia at 7:30 AM and finally arrived in Iron Mountain Michigan’s Ford Airport at 9:00 PM. With the time changes, it would be 4:00 AM Serbia time so that is around 21 hours of travel. It ended with me driving the last hour to my village, Caspian.

The kids were well behaved on the flight and everything went smoothly. We were all jet lagged yesterday and are recovering slowly.

The kids spent a lot of time coloring and drawing to pass the hours. Nadia and I are impressed with Ocean’s ability. For a 2 year old, to draw a human figure with that amount of detail, it amazing.

It is nice to see my brothers, my father, and old friends here in Caspian. We are looking forward to the arrival of Nadia’s family.

Goodbye Michigan

 

Ocean and Owen, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

We are now back in Belgrade after a wonderful holiday. Owen is carrying his little sister into the house last week. The best part of any time off is I get to spend heaps of time with my children and wife. 

 

Lunch at the Airport
Lunch at the Airport

 

 

I would like to thank my father and Andy for putting up with us in the house and all of their help. It was great to see my brother Jim, sister-in-law Shelly – thanks guys. It was also nice to get in touch with the Bonettis, Bocieks, and other friends.

UP Hunting Camp

One of the great traditions of the Upper Peninsula is hunting camps. Many people here own 40-80 acre plot of woods and have a cabin. It is used mostly for hunting trips, like during deer season (November) or ruffed grouse season (early fall) or just for a weekend. Besides hunting, families enjoy riding ATV’s or snowmobiles, eating and drinking well, etc. My former social studies teacher and family friend Jim Bracket invited us to his camp for an afternoon of UP fun.

Ollie Aims At a Pop Can
Ollie Aims At a Pop Can

The boys loved it as we rode 4-wheelers, shot a bb gun, and enjoyed the beauty of the northwoods. Jim has 80 acres in northern Iron County. He has 5 children with lots of grandchildren, and they all gather there often. While we were on the ATVs touring the property, we had a nice buck (male white-tailed deer) come within 20 feet of us. It is amazing how the 4-wheelers can negotiate with ease rough terrain. He was great host and a big thanks on behalf of the boys!

Owen Revs His ATV
Owen Revs His ATV

A Short View of Heaven

 

My Angels, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Below is an article by Marney Keenan of the Detroit Free Press. She captures in words what I feel about the picture above. A little slice of heaven carrying Ocean out of the car seat and putting her to bed when we arrive home at night. She snuggles up on my chest and puts her pudgy arms around me. Nothing better. Nadia and I love the time we get to spend together when the kids are sleeping in the car and it is good confined family time. Thanks Marney for an excellent article.

Sleepy rides up north never go out of fashion

If I close my eyes, I think I can recall falling asleep in the back of the station wagon and having my dad scoop me up, both of us pretending that I’m still sound asleep. He’d carry up me up the stairs, which seemed so long and steep as a child, and gently lay me down on the cool, crisp sheets of my bed whispering, “There, now.”

I was thinking of this as we were coming home from up north on a recent Sunday afternoon. The four-hour drive was just long enough to talk about the highs and lows of the weekend, chow down Subway sandwiches and then read or take a nap, thanks to all the Dad drivers in the world.

I offer to relieve him: “Are you sure you don’t want a break? I’m happy to drive if you’re tired.”

He says he’s fine, and I’m silently thrilled to be off the hook.

We are in transition from the country to suburbia — from moonlit, late-night boat rides, s’mores and roadside farm stands to the grind of deadlines, traffic delays and gruesome headlines.

Mentally preparing for re-entry, which always seems sudden even after a mere weekend away, I try to nap but am not surprised that I can’t stop my brain from making lists.

I turned my head to see our three girls in the back seat sound asleep. Even Lucy, the black Lab, exhausted after all that swimming,was zoned out in a space surrounded by all the luggage.

Somehow the girls, crowded together, had managed to get comfortable enough to doze off. They angled their legs accordion-style, six knees propped in twos on the back of our seats. Pillows were smacked, folded in two and shoved in the crooks of their neck. Finally, they ditched the ever-present ear buds, and the cell phones were somewhere on vibrate. If all goes as planned, they will wake up close to our exit.

By now, they have mastered the art of sleeping in cars. After all, we’ve been driving up north with them all their lives.

We had three babies in four years, so for a while, we had two infant car seats and a toddler bumper seat in back. Nighttime drives up north were very popular. The kids would drift off, sleep the whole way and, in the magic of time lapse, only awaken once we arrived at the lake. More importantly Mom and Dad finally had a decent stretch of time to ourselves.

They, too, remember faking sleep so they wouldn’t have to change into pajamas, the patterned imprint on their cheeks of a seat belt. I remember the smell of their sweaty scalps, how their heads perfectly fit into our palms.

In the minivan days, we took out the back seat and let the kids put sleeping bags and pillows back there. And while this resides in the “what were we thinking?” category, I could look back and see the cloudy circles of flashlights dancing on the roof.

Now, they are teenagers, the oldest only months away from 20. They are all limbs, long hair and smiles that will inevitably launch a thousand ships, I know, but right now they are here, asleep, all three together, in my line of vision, cherished ever more. Better yet, our exit is still several miles away.

The Call of the Common Loon

 

Common Loon , originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Yesterday we went on a boat ride on Ottawa Lake here in Iron County, Michigan. My father arranged a boat and life jackets for us, even a guide. My brother Andy took me and the boys out on the water. We had a nice time cruising in the lake. Ottawa Lake is in the Ottawa National Forest and it is a protected lake. There are no cottages on the lake like many in Iron County. While on the water we saw two loons (Gavia immer) and got close to one to record its haunting call. A beautiful bird and a symbol of the north woods !

I want to thank my brother and father for making this happen as well as our neighbor “Hoov” for lending us the boat for the day. We had an unforgettable time.

Uncle Andy Masterfully Directs the Boat
Uncle Andy Masterfully Directs the Boat

Trip to Minneapolis

 

Ollie and Ocean, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

We usually do our annual shopping trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin but decided this year to try something different. Nadia wanted to explore the world of outlet malls and so we chose Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The western part of the Upper Peninsula has strong ties to Wisconsin and Minnesota, despite being a part of Michigan. Geographically and culturally, we are more like northern Wisconsin and Minnesota than much of the lower peninsula of Michigan. The “Twin Cities” (Minneapolis and St. Paul) are a 5-hour drive away from my hometown of Caspian. Milwaukee is about the same distance. That compares with Detroit, which is a long 9-10 hour drive away.

We left Wednesday evening and got in very late. Google maps and other internet resources are incredible. I had our whole trip mapped out before we even went. It was so easy on line. What did we do before this? The first day we went to the Albertville Outlet mall which has over 100 stores. Outlet stores (or factory outlets) were originally attached to the warehouse of the clothing company. They sold products directly to the public, bypassing paying rent for a space in a shopping mall or a middle man like Macy’s or Nordstrom’s. Outlet stores no longer are attached to ware houses, but they do offer much cheaper prices than the mall-based stores. They don’ t have the latest selections of items and not every size, but with the significant savings, they are worth going to.

We noticed many foreigners shopping in both the outlet mall and the Mall of America. There is no sales tax in Minnesota on clothes, so we found some great deals. We stayed at a Radisson Hotel that had a large water park for the kids to play. Oliver and Ocean and shown above after their swim in our room.

The Mall of America is the second largest indoor mall in North America, only behind the West Edmonton mall in Canada. Both malls are owned by the same Canadian family. The Mall of America was built in 1992 over the old Metropolitan Stadium, ex-home of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. In the summer of 1977 I fondly remember taking a trip with my family to the Metropolitan Stadium to see Mark “The Bird” Fidrych pitch for the Detroit Tigers against the Twins. I kind of felt that I was following in my parents footsteps taking my family 32 years later. The mall employs over 12,000 people, has 40 million visitors annually, and has 20,000 parking spaces. The kids enjoyed visiting the aquarium and the amusement park inside the mall. I was tired by the consumerism by the end of the second day in the mall. Everything cost something and it was a entire day inside an artificial environment.

The Boys Play With Legos in the Amusement Park
The Boys Play With Legos in the Amusement Park

But, it is good to see and both Nadia and I are impressed with the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities metro area has a nice northwoods feel and it seemed very safe. We went to Creative Playland, an educational toy store in a neighborhood downtown and it had a very progressive environment like and is an amemable place to live. We will probably return next summer to do some shopping again.

Trip to Marquette, Michigan

 

View to Marquette, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Yesterday we went to Marquette, Michigan which is about 90 miles north east of Caspian. It is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula with a population of around 20,000 people. It is my favorite city in the UP and a place that I would like to retire to. I like it because it is located on the southern shore of Lake Superior and it is home to Northern Michigan University. It maintains the beauty and ruggedness of the Upper Peninsula, but it also has a cultural side with an educated and slightly cosmpolitan populace. They have miles of hiking and biking trails, lakes, etc. but different from the rest of the UP, they have things like Thai  and ethnic restaurants, lectures, theater, etc. The city also gets heaps of snow from the lake effect, guaranteeing great cross-country skiing.

They have an excellent medical center and we use it for our family when we are visiting the USA. Besides visiting the doctor in the morning, we had a chance to do some shopping and go for a hike up to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. It is located just outside of the city and has spectactular views of the lake and surrounding pine forests.

We start the walk up the mountain
We start the walk up the mountain

Owen’s Big Catch

 

Owen’s Big Catch, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Owen caught his first fish yesterday! He is shown above with his monster fish. After a ferocious fight lasting seconds, Owen pulled up his catch. The behemoth took the bait of Canadian crawler only minutes from our arrival. It was such an impressive specimen, we practiced “catch and release” so it can continue breeding. It is a type of freshwater fish known as a “blue gill.” He was very pumped! Now we have to get one from Ollie. It was the only fish we caught.

In the debate about what to call the Capsian Pit or Pond, I think I found the best solution. My Dad says a guy in church yesterday called it the “Caspian Sea.” Very funny! I knew people who worked in Baku, Azerbijan, which is located on the Caspian Sea. They reported the water is quite polluted, so this is a better example of the Caspian Sea.