During the following three years I was in a great relationship with a woman that I love very much. Luckily for me, she loved me too or I feel that our time could have been cut short by my attitude for the next 36 months, or so. I was miserable living down state and spent every waking hour trying to figure out how I would get back north. While I did this, I was stagnated in my career due to the poor condition our agency was in and my wife was making moves upward and building a solid footing for herself in her career. I almost cringed at her success. It was like hearing the last of the nails being pounded in the coffin that contained my sporting life Up North.
Enter, 2012. I entrenched myself in a very demanding schedule that would have me finishing my bachelor’s degree in just over ten months. During those ten months I finished 33 credits (only one of which was an online class) with a 3.8 GPA. I was killing myself between work and school. I got up every morning at 4am to start my daily commute of 150 miles round trip, get home with just enough time to change and eat, wrap up any loose ends on my homework and head to class until 9pm (another 60 mile round trip for the day). I usually got home and went straight to bed. It was a brutal schedule, but I was motivated to finish my degree and it kept my mind off the fact that I did not want to live in Mid-Michigan.
About mid-way through my senior year (at 37 years old), my wife and I found a nice old farm house. It is on 16 acres and has 1000ft of frontage on a little nine hole golf course. It also has ten acres of woods to deer hunt and six acres to work bird dogs. This is when things took a turn in the right direction as far as I was concerned, but things had actually been going pretty well the whole time. I just didn’t take enough time thinking about the positives. With a great house, awesome pole barn, and a game rich piece of property, we have since settled in.
My wife and I spend a minimum of 15-18 full weekends in Northwestern Michigan. I now have the time and money to make trips north to hunt and fish for the first time in a long time. Our goals are set on a five year plan to buy a cottage in one of three counties. Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Benzie all have our interest piqued. They all have positive attributes and would make great places to weekend. Currently, the plan is to purchase an inexpensive recreational property that will provide an opportunity for profit in the future. Then, when it is time to retire, we would liquidate and build on the river. We’re not sure where “the river” is yet, but we have it narrowed to a few of the usual suspects. The Au Sable, Upper Manistee, Boardman, or Platte are on the radar right now, but we’ll see.
Looking back on my adult life and career so far, I have realized one thing is for sure; nothing is for sure. Even with all of the best plans things change. Had they not changed, I would not be with an amazing woman who shares a common goal with me. I would not have finished my degree and probably wouldn’t have an amazing place to call home.
When we focus on something so trivial as the geography of our situation it is far too easy to miss the great things that happen to us. In short, I have become what I used to be irritated by…the weekend warrior. I would bemoan the fact, that starting Friday afternoon until mid-day on Sunday there was a good possibility that there would be a non-local parked in one of my coverts. Or worse yet, some out-of-stater parked in my “secret” hex spot. The days of working 2nd shift and being able to grouse hunt mid-week without a crowd are gone. Now I’m just some poor sap that works a more conventional schedule that is near perfect, by the way. I work Monday through Thursday, 7am-5:30pm, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off every week. It couldn’t have worked out better for my situation.
I do feel sorry for that inevitable new kid Up North that is doing the same thing I was when I moved there to hunt and fish for the rest of my life. I just feel bad for him that I’ll be the weekend warrior parking in “his spot”…that used to be “my spot”.