Friday, September 7, 2007

The Arcadia Series

One of my most favorite memories of our trip to Michigan is Camp Arcadia, a Lutheran Family Retreat along the shore of Lake Michigan. Peegie spent two weeks there every summer from the age of 9 until he was a sophomore in college. I have heard about this magical place for longer than 8 years now, and it was high time that I see it for myself. It was nothing like I imagined it would be. It was better. The grounds are lush and green and shaded by beautiful trees. The beaches are sandy and the dunes and bluff ripe for climbing. It was easy to see why Peegie, Mom LeB, Aunt Rochelle, Aunt Marlene, Uncle Marlowe and Derek and Dawn love it so. More than just the natural beauty of its location, I loved seeing my beloved's face light up as we walked the grounds and he recalled stories from childhood - raging bonfires on the beach, climbing the north bluff, petoskey hunting, playing games in the Wigwam...

The picture at the top right is titled "New Friends Familiar Places" because we are standing near the family plaque that Peegie and Mom LeB installed in the main building. I love the photo because Peegie's face radiates light and joy. Below is a close-up of the LeBoutillier Family Plaque. It boasts a starfish from Miami and the woodworking skills I have come to know and appreciate so well.
Another really cool thing about Camp Arcadia is the Cottage Colony. The Cottage Colony is where Peegie forged a friendship, at age 9, with John Neff. They became fast friends, and are still best friends today, at age 41. John and his wife, Dixie, live in Columbia, SC with their two boys, Zack and Parker. Happily, our vacation dates coincided and we were able to rendezvous with them in Arcadia. The picture at left is titled "Old Friends Familiar Places" - for obvious reasons. The one right below it is titled "Seems Like Old Times" because as soon as the boys, er, men, saw the box hockey, they cracked sticks and started playing as if no time had passed.

Arcadia, MI is nearly the southernmost boundary of fertile petoskey-hunting grounds. Petoskey stones are fossilized coral and are found only in Michigan. Hunting for them is much like hunting for sharks teeth on a Florida beach. It requires a lot of patience, and a lot of focus. My focus was distracted by all the OTHER pretty-colored stones, so I found only one petoskey stone. Peegie found three. He's a show-off like that.

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