A view from the sky

Big Sable Point looking south

At 42 years old I still think it’s pretty cool to go for an airplane ride in my dad’s plane. When I was young I would have to be propped up on telephone books in order to look out the window. Nowadays I have to be careful not to knock anything important with my knees.

I’ve been wanting to get up in the air and get a picture of the wind turbines being installed in Riverton Township, also known as the Lakewinds Energy Park.

Wednesday night was a little hazy but still made for a nice view of the several dozen turbines towering over Riverton.

I remember as a boy how exciting it was to get in the plane and go on adventures, whether it was a flight to Mackinac Island or a quick tour of Mason County. For this reason I called up a friend of mine to see if he and his 12-year-old son would like to go flying. Unfortunately for my friend, Mike, he wasn’t around. But, his son, Levi, was. I don’t think Levi even gave his mother a chance to finish asking the question. When I arrived to pick him up he was anxiously waiting at the door.

On the way to the airport he asked quite a few questions. What type of plane is it? Where will be taking off from? As my dad made his pre-flight ground inspection of the plane, Levi followed him around asking questions about the rudders, elevators and ailerons.

Then it was time to take off. There’s always a little time of anticipation as you taxi to the end of the runway and then go through another pre-flight inspection. Levi admitted later he was a little nervous when we took off but was fine once we got in the air.

He sat in the back and looked left and right out the windows as we flew over Mason County. It’s amazing how being up in the air changes your perspective of the world, even if it’s just your little part of it. For 12 years of his life he has only seen his home from the ground. Levi had never been in a plane before and now sees a lot bigger world.

Ludington, Michigan

Having grown up flying in my dad’s plane and having flown to various parts of this country and other places in the world, I am still fascinated by flying. I love discovering new places and flying gives me an opportunity to find new places right here in Mason County. Even Wednesday I saw lakes and pounds for the first time. Many of us have seen the lake/pound between Brye Road and the U.S. 31 expressway with the Century 21 building on its east side. Did you know there is also a lake/pound of equal size on the west side of the expressway? You can’t see it from the expressway because it is hidden by trees.

The Sargent Sand Company has dug a new lake in the dunes of the Ludington State Park. This is a different lake than the one they dug many years ago off of Piney Ridge Road. The lake is a result of sand mining.

In the middle of the Nordhouse Dunes there is a huge clearing. Thousands of acres of trees and then an almost perfectly round clearing.

I love flying over farms and thinking about the generations of farmers who have provided for us. I love flying over our family’s farm on Johnson Road. It’s such a different perspective.

If you ever get a chance, I would recommend taking a plane ride around our county. The Mason County airport offers rides at a reasonable rate. It will open up a whole new world, especially for your children.

 

Story and photos by Rob Alway

Family time

We are always grateful to families who go out of their way to get a family portrait session created by Alway Photography. The Wilson family of Grand Rapids took time out of their Ludington vacation to have us record precious memories. Thank you!

A ride on the S.S. Badger; Ludington photography

One of the things I absolutely love about living in the Ludington area is our carferry and railroad heritage.

Riding the Badger is a summer ritual for me. Earlier this week I took a trip across the big lake with my friend and photographer mentor Ron Muszynski. It’s kind of a tradition for us to take a couple days and explore either Wisconsin or northern Michigan sometime during the summer. The trips usually involve lots of picture taking, deep conversation, good food and a little geocaching.

It seems everybody on board the Badger has a story to tell. They are typically on the ship on some sort of an adventure or for work.

One of the most unique adventurers was Nigel Blandford from Manchester, England. Nigel is taking the summer off of work to bicycle the northern United States. His route is from New York City to San Francisco.

He started his trip on May 20 and plans to be done on Sept. 2.

His trek across Michigan was along the Pere Marquette Trail, basically U.S. 10, ending in Ludington. “It was absolutely gorgeous,” he said about his trip so far. “The hospitality of the American people has been just wonderful. If I find myself without a place to stay, people will just put me up for the night.”

He said he found Michigan to be beautiful. “It started out flat on the east side and then the further west I started seeing nice lakes and forests. The people in the United Kingdom could learn a lot about small towns in America. Almost every small town has a library, a post office and a general store. It’s really nice.”

Nigel is employed by Mersey Forest (www.merseyforest.org.uk/) and his employer was generous enough to let him take a sabbatical for the summer, he said.

To follow more of Nigel’s adventures, check him out on at

www.facebook.com/pages/Ocean2Ocean-USA-Riding-into-the-Sunset/327615040616402.

Besides Nigel, I talked to Dave and Carrie Wood of Custer Township. They, their four children and Carrie’s mother, were on their way to visit family in Minnesota. It was the first time the kids had riden the Badger and they were making the most of it.

Marc and Linda Anderson of Pere Marquette Township were taking the motorcycle across to visit their son in northern Illinois. After that they planned on heading up to northern Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula and then back down to home.

Aaron Pugh of Hamlin Township was on his way to Appleton, Wis. on business. Aaron installs insulated blinds and has accounts at several motels in the Appleton and Green Bay area. He uses the Badger for transportation because it’s a convenient way to travel across the lake, he said.

Ron and I also talked with Mark and Marsha Wynja of Melvin, Iowa. They and their 14-year-old triplets had been in Ludington for a graduation open house.

Many years ago Marsha and Marie Pleiness of Ludington became friends during a 4-H exchange trip. Because of the S.S. Badger, it’s only an 8 hour drive (and 3.5 hour ferry ride) for Marsha to visit her childhood friend.

Brenda Schuchardt of Hart was traveling with her 10-year-old son Christopher. They were on their way to visit Brenda’s mother-in-law in northwestern Wisconsin.

“We usually take the Badger over a couple times a summer,” Brenda said. “It’s fun and a great way to travel.”

The trip also included several Ford Model A’s and their drivers who were on their way to a show in Oshkosh, Wis.

The Badger is more than just part of the Ludington scenery. It is part of the lifeblood of our community. It is an extension of U.S. 10 and takes travelers to destinations far and wide. It not only carries cars, motorcycles and bicycles, it also carries semi trucks with freight.

When we were returning on the early Wednesday morning departure, I counted eight semi-trucks coming off the ship in Manitowoc. Then, five semis, including three carrying long wind-turbine parts (destined for Canada) were loaded.

The Badger is also responsible for dozens of jobs and millions of dollars in our community. Lake Michigan Carferry, the ship’s parent company, does business locally with printers, food service, contractors and many other services. The passengers stop at our restaurants and in our stores.

In a day and age when everybody wants to get some place faster, it’s nice to sit back on board a historic vessel and relax. It’s nice to know that by riding the ship we are helping the Ludington tradition of carferry service survive.

– Rob

 

Ludington photography

 

 

Mickey Matson movie premiere in Grand Rapids

 

We had the privilege of being VIP guests of director Harold Cronk and Executive Producer Edgar Struble last Thursday during the premiere of the motion picture “Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Conspiracy.” The red carpet event was held at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids. The movie was almost exclusively filmed in Mason and Manistee counties.

I remember sitting at Redolencia Coffee Shop in Ludington last spring when Cronk approached me and pitched his idea for the film. As an artist, he starts his ideas by drawing them out. He talked about the adventure of Mickey Matson and his friend Sully as they find clues that help them find pieces of a machine that will make silver out of anything. As with all great film, the movie has a nemesis, played by Dr. Rick Plummer, director of West Shore Community College’s cultural and performing arts. Rick is among other local actors who do an amazing job in the film.

The stars of the film are 15-year-old Derek Brandon from Middleville, Michigan and 14-year-old Francesca DeRosa of California. Judging from their outstanding acting in this film, these two kids have great futures ahead of them. The “big” names in the film were Christopher Lloyd and Ernie Hudson. Christopher Lloyd is best known as “Doc” from the “Back to the Future” trilogy. Ernie Hudson, a Benton Harbor native, is best known in his role in the “Ghostbusters” films.

I spent time on the filming locations in both Manistee and Ludington and also photographed the cast and crew when they visited Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids last week. This is a first class operation which reflects the values of western Michigan. It is a family friendly movie with great cinematography, a good story and top notch acting.

For more photos, check out Alway Photography’s Facebook page. To read more about the movie, check out www.MasonCountyPress.com and www.MickeyMatson.com.

The movie is now playing at all Celebration Cinema sites in Grand Rapids. Please check it out!

– rob

 

Remembering Ireland, days 2 and 3

A year ago right now Becky and I were in Ireland. We have had many great trips together but this one was just magical. I’ve written many times about how amazing the Emerald Isle is, some may even think its almost an obsession. It is a place that we plan on visiting again and again.

We flew from Chicago to Dublin, leaving on May 4 and arriving the morning of May 5. Ireland is five hours ahead of Michigan and six hours ahead of Chicago.

Our first day was spent in a sleepy haze, but we managed to make the two hour drive from Dublin to Galway, spending a good part of the rest of the day sleeping and adjusting to the time change.

May 6: We drove from Galway to Clifden, along the coast of Galway Bay.  That afternoon we found Clifden Castle and created the above image.

May 7: A year ago today we drove from Clifden to Achill Island, stopping along the way at Kylemore Abbey (below). 

 

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