Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pearl Lake

I’ve been thinking about one of my listings, a lot on Pearl Lake. Pearl Lake is unique in a number of ways. First off, it’s located just south of the Benzie-Leelanau County line, with thousands of acres of state land in the Pere Marquette State Forest wrapping around its western and southern sides. There’s not a major road that takes you close enough to get a good look at the lake, and actually there’s only one paved road that will get you anywhere close to it, that being Pearl Lake Road. Yet it’s a big lake- 800+ acres, with a bunch of arms stretching in different directions.

The isolation and size are a couple of things that make it rare. I think it’s fair to say it’s the largest “natural” type lake in Benzie County- one of the ten biggest, I’d say, and the undiscovered for the most part. There are homes and lots along the north edge, but not much else. You can find whole arms of the lake that are untouched by human progress. Taking a look at the Topo Map or Aerial Photo from Terraserver gives you an idea of the interesting layout.

I first discovered Pearl Lake about 14 years ago, thanks to a friend from High School. We'd been camping nearby at Lime Lake, and he suggested we go fishing on Pearl Lake. He was somewhat astonished that I didn't know where it was, and I was a bit embarrassed when he explained it was less than a half mile away. The hills and forests that surround the lake do a heck of a job at hiding it until you're right upon it. Anyhow, we fished for bass and pike, and I enjoyed it so much that I went out with another freind and his girlfriend the next day. As I recall, she outfished the guys, but by then I was more interested in exploring all the coves and bays than fishing anyhow.

College took me away for a while, and it was at least 5 years before I got back to Pearl. This time I was in search of Canada Geese during the fall hunting season. It must have been early in the season, as I recall it was warm. I also recall that my hunting mate forgot his paddle, and we made it to out hunting grounds using a flattish stick and an old board. I don't however, recall the geese cooperating that day.

While there isn't much out there regarding the lake, there are some photos on Flickr, and I've read an article from the Traverse City Record Eagle about the lake. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track that article down in their online archives, but will post that when I do. The writer, Mike Terrell, recounts an evening of kayaking on the lake, and notes seeing loons, eagles, Canada geese, sand hill cranes, deer, and many songbirds. I do have a rather poor scan of the article in pdf format, which I'll be happy to email to anyone interested.

One thing I love about this job is the reflections and memories that properties bring forth. I got started on Pearl Lake because of the lot I have listed- a beautifully wooded lot, on a cove off of one of the arms. The site is perfect for a walkout basement, and the south facing slope means you get to make the most of the suns rays in winter, while being protected from the north winds. It's in Pearl Lake Estates, which provides an association beach in addition to the 126 feet of private lake frontage. The other homes in Pearl Lake Estates are very attractive and nicely done, and there are about 60 acres of common area and an area to have a pole barn for storage. We've just priced this lot at $175,000, which is a real value in my book. It's $124K lower than the next available lot in Pearl Lake Estates, and is $60k cheaper than another that's available nearby in Pearl Lake Land Division. The most recent tax assesment indicates it's worth over $218k! I'm really enthused about this listing, and with luck I'll find time in my schedule to use it as an excuse to explore the lake further...with my fishing pole in hand, of course.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Fourth in the North

There’s no place in the world that I’d rather celebrate Independence Day than in Northern Michigan.  From the crowds present this past week, I’d venture to say many others feel the same way.


The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays, and one that’s rich with tradition.  For nearly every one of my 35 years, the holiday has begun with a family breakfast with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents at our family homestead known as “The Pines” located just outside of Benzonia, overlooking the site of the old Case Mill Pond on Cold Creek.


What’s so great about Independence Day up north?  From morning to night:


Cold dew on your toes

Strong coffee in chipped mugs

Cooking bacon and eggs over a campfire

A cinnamon roll from the Cherry Hut

Taping signs to an old convertible

Decorating a bike or wagon in red white and blue

Driving or riding in the Beulah Parade, trying not to miss anyone you know, or

Watching friends and neighbors from the curb as they roll by, shouting their names when they throw candy.

A dip in Crystal Lake after the parade

Dripping dry in the sun

Pop-its tossed on the sidewalk

Lunch from a cooler, on a boat, at the sandbar

Football in the water

Little ones snoozing with a beach towel for a blanket

Burgers, brats and hot dogs on the grill

Cold beer for the grownups, lemonade for the kids

Lighting the campfire early

Tubing and waterskiing after dinner


Daylight lasts forever

Lighting sparklers while you wait for the fireworks

Watching boats come down the lake to see the show

Singing God Bless America to yourself or out loud

Bright reflections on smooth dark water

Snuggling together with your eyes to the sky

Cheering for the grand finale

Finding out it wasn’t the finale after all

Horns tooting their appreciation

Motors starting, green and red lights on the water as the boats make their way home

Kids sleeping on parents laps

Finding the big dipper

Catching fireflies

Seeing a shooting star

Going to bed sandy, smoky and sunburned, proud to be an American and thankful for all that you have.