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Cabins, Cottages & Homes

Happy Fourth of July

july4thToday we are taking the day off to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this country and we hope that you are too.

Today’s picture was taken while strolling the beach in the Epworth Heights area of Ludington Michigan. We salute those that proudly display the American flag for all to see.

We wish you all a happy and safe 4th of July.

Written by Dave.

Ada Covered Bridge

ada-village-covered-bridgeAda Township, Kent County Michigan, is home to the Ada village covered bridge. This 125 foot span crosses the Thornapple River. Originally built around 1870, the bridge was closed to road traffic in 1930 when a new bridge was built downriver. The old covered bridge was restored in 1941 but was completely destroyed by fire in 1979. Through generous donations of the community, the bridge was rebuilt according to the original standards. Today the bridge connects the Village of Ada on one side and a park on the other side. The Ada bridge is open only to foot traffic.

Written by Dave.

Thornapple River

The Thornapple River flows through the better part of three Michigan counties; Kent, Barry and Eaton, having it’s headwaters in Eaton County, and is a tributary of the Grand River that flows into the village of Ada.

The lowermost 30 miles of the river is largely developed along the backwaters of three dams; the Ada Dam, the Cascade Dam and the Labarge Dam (aka the 84th Street Dam) The backwaters are suitable for boating and fishing while observing some of the resident wildlife; ducks, herons, osprey and even an occasional eagle.

Fisherman will report catches of largemouth bass, small mouth bass, bluegill, crappie, northern pike and yellow perch.thornappleriver

Written by Dave.

Michigan Pumpkins

michiganpumpkinsOctober is the time of the year you see pumpkins all over. You see them in Michigan fields,  farmer’s markets, and on the door steps of many homes.

Wikipedia states: “The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for large melon.” The pumpkin is a gourd like squash.

During this fall season, pumpkins will be carved into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Also pumpkins can be made into breads, muffins, soups and my personal favorite, pumpkin pies.

I came across a new favorite- the dancing pumpkins.


Written by Dave.

Lowell Showboat

lowellmichiganLowell Michigan is home to the Robert E. Lee, a West Michigan riverfront showboat tradition. In 1932, the people of Lowell had a dream of bringing encouragement to the community plagued with the Great Depression. The first shows included dancing, music and minstrel shows.

The original boat was called the George Washington and when a new boat was built in 1935, the name was changed to the Robert E. Lee.

Since its creation, the showboat legacy has survived many difficulties; financial, WW2, neglect, and a devastating tornado leaving it onshore upside down. The Robert E. Lee was rebuilt in 1979 to once again bring entertainment to the community. The riverboat has been a host to acts from Hollywood, regional acts as well as local groups. During the summer there is a “Sizzling Summer Concert Series” on Thursday nights with free admission.

Today the Robert E. Lee is permanently anchored to the shore near the recently developed River Walk Plaza, which serves a focal point for Lowell’s summers activities. The showboat can be rented for weddings or other private occasions. During the Christmas holidays, you can visit Santa on the showboat.

Little did they know in 1932 that people would still be enjoying the showboat in 2008!

Written by Dave.

Cannonsburg Michigan Information

If you are from Kent County, you probably know all about the village of Cannonsburg. Located at the corners of Cannonsburg Road (6 Mile Road) and Honey Creek Avenue, the historical village was founded on an old Native American trail. Today the intersection is home to a few turn of the century two story commercial buildings.

Cannonsburg is home to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve , a 300 acre county park, surrounding the 80 acre Pickerel Lake.  

Cannonsburg is home to the Cannonsburg Ski Area , a popular winter ski destination. It is also home to the Grand Rapids Summer Picnic Pops concert series, attracting an average of 3,200 people per concert.

Just outside of the village of Cannonsburg, is Townsend Park , a very popular 140 acre county park with Bear Creek meandering through it.

Cannonsburg is home to a volunteer fire department, a small historical museum and a box only post office with a zip code: 49317

The older commercial buildings have been lovingly remodeled and restored in to a restaurant, The Honey Creek Inn and a grocery market, The Cannonsburg Market. Across the street is  a deli with self serve gas station, The Grist Mill. Excellent choices for all your needs.



Written by Dave.

Pickerel Lake and Memories

pickerallakeToday, we have a guest post from Mr. Aaron K.

Memories are contagious. That’s quite obvious as I return to Pickerel Lake and beautiful Pickerel Lake Park for the first time in many years. Located in Cannon Township just off of Ramsdell Road, its very sight brings me back to a more youthful time, a time when fishing with my father and brothers was the best time of the summer.

A picturesque (though not entirely sheltered) place, Pickerel Lake is accompanied by expansive trails for strolling and enjoying the Park’s natural beauty.   Near the main pebble trail I see my first Garter Snake of the season. Initially his presence is made known by a faint brushing sound in the grass just off to my right as I walk by. After noticing the Garter, I look up ahead on the trail and see a Northern Water Snake basking on the trail. My approach scares her back to the brush.

Of course, I am not here for the wildlife alone. Memories are another reason. I knew I would be reminded of the fond past of my childhood and early teen years when I came here. It’s what I wanted. As soon as I hear the blackbirds cackling in the nearby rushes and walk down the boardwalk across the Lake, a reminiscent smile resounds in my heart. This is our secret. Inner joy shouts in these quaint memories quietly relived.

Pickerel Lake and its adjoining Park bring me back several years. It’s part of the gorgeousness and native peace of the place. Though the water is dark from rain, and I see no fish today, it does not matter much. There is much more wildlife to observe. Chipmunks and rabbits and other animals will greet you along the trails.

Whether statuesque herons or flitting swallows, birds are also abundant here. When you visit in the spring or summer take a moment to listen to the songbirds speaking in the trees overhead. There is something memorable about those sounds that will stay with you forever. Pickerel Lake is just a memory at times. But today, it becomes a pleasant reality once again.

Written by Dave.

Big Crooked Lake

bigcrookedlakeToday we have a guest post from Mr Ed H. He is a resident of Big Crooked Lake in Kent County.

For me there are a couple things that make Big Crooked Lake unique. Probably the best feature is the lack of a public access. This drastically cuts down on the amount of watercraft traffic. Big Crooked Lake is a 150 acre all sports lake but it is not unusual to come out on a Saturday afternoon around 2 PM and not see a single boat on the lake.

We like that because we enjoy the quiet but that is not to say that we don’t appreciate an all sports lake because we do, just not all weekend. Unless it is a holiday weekend the watercraft traffic is usually very light until about 4 PM. 80 percent of the property owners are year round so they are busy doing things and normally don’t come out to play until later in the afternoon.

Another unique feature is the shoreline and the north end of the lake. The lake lives up to its name with a crooked shoreline, an island and a channel that eventually widens to expose a north end of the lake that is almost as large as the south end. The best thing about the north end is the shore being wetlands and not likely to ever be developed. You can either park or take a slow boat ride past that shore and look north of a clear blue sky day and believe you are in the UP.

When you look at property values amongst Kent County Lakes BCL does not rank with the Big Whitefishes, Murray’s and Bostwicks but that does not bother me at all. Although Murray has some character is also has a public boat launch with lots of parking and can get very busy at times.  Bostwick is pretty much round and boring to me and Whitefish has a huge landfill just east of it and if that does not turn you off when you get off at the exit the constant swarms of seagulls or highway noise might occasionally get your attention. All that being said it is hard to understand why the property values on this lake are lower but that works just fine for me. As my wife and I often say, Big Crooked Lake is the best kept secret amongst waterfront property in Kent County.

Written by Dave.

A Good Shot!

deerComing home the other day, I happened to notice a pair of deer alongside the road. I had my camera with me, so I slowly pulled over, trying not to startle them. I was afraid they would flee before I got the picture, but they didn’t. They seemed to be as interested in me and my camera as I was in them.  In fact, when seeing me, they seemed to saunter a little closer to each other, as if posing for the camera.

It is moments like these when I remember why I live in Michigan!

Written by Dave.

Indian Joe


I have mentioned Pickerel Lake and the Fred Meijer Nature Preserve a couple of times on the site.

Recently I had an email from a visitor asking if I knew anything about the former owner of the property. His name was Joseph “Indian Joe” Cizauskas and he passed away in 1988.He considered himself the caretaker of this wonderful 235 acre wooded site with Pickerel Lake in the middle of it. Not much is known of him, an eclectic individual who lived in his garage, sold Christmas trees and is rumored to have buried his money on his property.

If anybody knows more of his story, where he was from, how and when he acquired the property, or any other interesting facts about him, I would love to hear from you.



7 Responses to “Indian Joe”

  1. Hi, Dave. Excerts from Growing Up In An Old Lithuanian Town lets us know that Joe hated his nickname, Indian Joe. He used whiskey but not to get drunk. He washed his face and hair in it. He was sustained by operating a christmas tree farm and a small boat livery. He allowed neighboring Camp Rogers to use his property as long as they obeyed the rules such as no killing anothing on his land except for mosquitos. If you bathe in the lake, no soap. Joe hated land developers and had a great dislike for lawyers. When his 20 year old companion died he became somewhat more of a recluse except to Camp Rogers.

  2. The aforementioned article was located on Pages 82-83.

  3. I ‘ve visited Joe, several times.
    Not only did he sell Christmas trees for $5.00 each,
    he also let anyone remove a tree for transplanting of any size,
    for $5.00.

    Thanks to Injun Joe, I have many trees on my land from him.
    Beautiful Blue Spruce, that average 30 ft. tall today.

    God bless, Injun Joe !!!

    Also one of the signs he had posted on his property,was,
    “Don’t kill the Rattle snakes ”
    That kept unwanted trespassers away.


  4. Kevin,

    Thanks for the comments, I had forgotten about his rattlesnake signs.


  5. The buried money was found by the Kent County Parks Department when developing the land in the early 90’s. The story was featured on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press. It was turned over to his sister who lived nearby on Sunfish Lake. Some of the money and bonds were water damaged. He lived in his garage because his house burned down. He would dig up money to pay his property taxes.

  6. Terry,

    Thanks for the reminder, I seem to recall it now that you mention it.

[...] Here’s an interesting account from Waterland Living about a character by the name of Indian Joe when, in fact, he detested that nickname. This is from … [...]

Written by Dave.

To Seed or not to Seed

I was gone for a few days over the weekend and when I returned home I was amazed at how much things had changed while I was gone.

The daffodils grew several inches, the crocus are blooming and buds are beginning to form on the trees.


After taking time to appreciate the new growth, my eyes went to the deplorable condition of my lawn. Our soil is mainly very hard clay, making it difficult for grass to form good roots. I’ve planted a lot of grass seed over the past several years, and none of it seems to taken off, so this year I plan on doing some research into the best kinds of grass to plant in this type of soil. Yes, I know that the best time to plant grass seed is in the fall, but for some reason, last year the snow fell before I got around to working on my lawn!

I’ve read that the best remedy for improving clay soil is aeration and to add gypsum, which breaks up the soil and allows for better drainage, so I guess that might be a place to start before planting the seed. If you are having the same problems I am, your local Extension Office may be able to give you advice on what grows best in your area and your type of soil.

And, if all else fails, I can always go with sod. But, for now, I am not ready to pay for grass that someone else has planted!


Written by Dave.

Postcard from Casnovia

postcard3I came across this postcard the other day and found it interesting. I thought I would make it the subject of a post. The front of the postcard has a picture of a tree lined street and the words beneath it read:

I wish you would come and join us,

I know you would like it great;

For the people here are friendly,

And the town is up-to-date.

The post card  dated 1-7-15, has a 1 cent stamp, and is postmarked from Casnovia Michigan. On the back of the card is a note, handwritten in pencil. The message is very faint, but reads as follows:

Hello Jessie,

How are you this day? Hope you are feeling better. I have a severe headache to night, dad and George are over today and brought a bag of gears, will see you soon, so good bye.


Old postcards provide a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. I will share a few more with you in the future.

Written by Dave.

Lake Express vs. the Badger

badger2One of the things on my summer’s to do list is to take the ferry across Lake Michigan. I have seen both from the shore and I am trying to decide which one to experience.

The Lake Express leaves from Muskegon Michigan three times a day and arrives in Milwaukee Wisconsin after an estimated 2 ˝ hour crossing time. The cost is $128.00 round trip for adults, $117.00 seniors, and you can bring your car for $165.00.

The Badger leaves Ludington Michigan for Manitowoc Wisconsin twice a day with an estimated crossing time of four hours. The cost for the trip across Lake Michigan on the Badger is $121.00 round trip for adults, $104.00 for seniors and cars are $154.00.

The Lake Express is a little faster but also a little more money. The Badger has more nostalgia. I understand parking is free for the Badger. I am unsure if that’s the case for Lake Express. One other difference is that Badger allows you to take aboard your own food and the Lake Express does not.

I am wondering if anybody has been on both and can comment about your preference. Or share your thoughts on one or the other.


Written by Dave.