I’m ba-a-a-a-ck


This is an aerial shot of Elk Lake. The patch of blue that you see in the upper left-hand corner is Grand Traverse Bay, which is on Lake Michigan. The little patch of blue you see in the upper right is Torch Lake, which is just to the east of Elk Lake.

In case you were wondering where I’ve been, I’ve just returned from a very nice week at a cottage on Elk Lake in northern lower Michigan. It’s a beautiful spot, and for the past 20 years now (!), our family has rented a set of cottages up there. The people who come is a little different from year to year, but we normally number 20 people or more.

One interesting feature of these cottages is that there is no phone, no TV, and no Internet connection! There is cellphone service now, but since I don’t have a cellphone, I was pretty much incommunicado. I did go down to the Elk Rapids (the town near Elk Lake) library one day, but that was really a mistake. I should have just stayed disconnected.

This year, the weather was just perfect. Every day was sunny, with the high temperature reaching the upper 70s or lower 80s.

While I was up there, I did not neglect my amateur radio activities. I took my little KX-1 up there, threw my 30-ga. wire dipole up into the trees, and made some contacts. Band conditions were really good this year, and despite an output of only 3.5 W, I made some really solid contacts.

I also visited Ovide, K8EV, who has a summer place in Empire, MI, which is close to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. After showing off his tower and FTdx-5000, he and his wife, Cindy, took us on a nice tour of the dunes.

Finally, I did some serious work on my next book, The CW Geek’s Guide to Having Fun With Morse Code. I’ll be posting chapters from that book here soon.

While pounding away on my laptop, one of our visitors, who was sitting across the picnic table from me commented on the “Hams Obey Ohm’s Law” sticker attached to the back of the screen. I did my best to explain to him the concept, and I think he mostly got it, but it was kind of nerdy for a setting like we were at.

A selfie I took down by the lake with my table. I don't know why I'm not smiling here. It was a wonderful vacation.

A selfie I took down by the lake with my table. I don’t know why I’m not smiling here. It was a wonderful vacation.


  1. Welcome home!

  2. Welcome back to reality, my friend! Glad to hear you were able to take a well-deserved break!

    Since 1982, there has been a group of seven which has made the sojourn to your next door neighbor, Walloon Lake. This group includes the now retired director of the NWS Columbus office (defunct now), and the rest hams who first got together as net controllers for the Central Ohio Severe Weather Net. One of our guys has a family house there that’s been in his family since around 1900, so the story goes. I think our twice-yearly trips to fish and fellowship are now pretty much over, so I am sad to think we will probably not all see my most beautiful place in the entire USA. We did some innovative ham radio in between fishing, using 2 meters to command the boats, and HF to talk with Ward, K8AEA (SK) all the way up and down the highway. http://www.k8es.org/archives/2012_September/html/the_beercan_antenna.html I still cherish the feeling of “Ahhhhhh” when I first saw the lake every year. It is just wonderful up there….and while I’m a winter-hater, I;ve seen winter there. I think year-round living up there would be excellent.

    The most interesting aspect for me, second to the beauty and solitude of the place, is the sense of generational deja vu. Over the years, our little group sported matching hats, then matching jackets. Once in a while one of the group would bring new rods for everyone, or some other fishing ‘marvel’ to share. We even incorporated (just in case that ‘perfect’ idea came along.) Being hams, we were always into the technical advances of the day. Of course the best part of the group is just the time we spent together. Then one year, one of the owner’s relatives showed up with a grocery bag of old 16mm film found hidden in the attic of a family house they were renovating. We got a projector and found that we were doing what had already been done! There in the films, our owner’s dad and a group of HIS friends could be seen driving up to the very same cottage in their late 20’s vehicles. Some of the furniture we sat on was in pictures as THEY sat around the same large stone fireplace! There they were, wearing…matching hats, and matching jackets. One of the jackets was still hanging in a closet as we watched the films! And there on the wall was a copy of…their incorporation papers. They were not into radio back then, but the fact that they were documenting their trip on 16mm was a sign they too were up with the technology. Of course only the owner himself was a descendant of these close-knit gentlemen, but the significant parallel of the generations has always been a fascination!

    I probably don’t need to tell you to cherish your time up there…I know that we bring something of “the lake” back with us each time- and it never goes completely away.

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