Del putting the finishing touches
Somewhere in the hinterlands of Leelanau County, in northwest lower Michigan, the Mann Creek cuts the southern portion of Neverland, almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. There are no roads through the "vast" thirty five acres wilderness, which is mostly lowland cedar swamps crisscrossed by tracks of elusive whitetail deer and boisterous turkeys, plus a couple majestic white pines, some red maple and too old poplar and dead or diying ash trees.
Neverland came to be in September last year during a challenging period of time, and the rational justification is that an investment in real estate would be a diversification of my retirement portfolio. The reality is that Neverland is my commitment to conservation and wildlife. Even if it is only thirty five acres, it is thirty five acres that will not become another subdivision, strip mall or parking lot during my lifetime.
Last year no deer paid the rent for the privilege or roaming Neverland, even if the game cameras and tracks showed plenty of evidence. To add injury to insult, some of the more adventurous animals decided to bed under two of the tree stands!
My ultimate sporting goal is to one day collect a Michigan Macnab within the boundaries of Neverland, at least in the course of one season. A whitetail buck, a ruffed grouse, and a brook trout from the cold clear waters of Mann Creek.
But in the meantime there are other ways to collect the sweetness of my little piece of paradise. As soon as it is warm enough, a couple of beehives will be placed in a clearing with plenty of sun light. The problem was that without roads we would have a lot of trouble to transport the hives to the optimum location. So, we had to blaze a trail.
We located a likely starting point in the southern border, and not to far from the road we came to the banks of the mighty Mann Creek, and in order to allow the heavy equipment (Del's wheelbarrow) to move across it we had to build a bridge.
Last Saturday after finally getting my son Daniel out of bed we started our adventure. First we stopped at Sam's Club for provisions as a construction crew, like an army, works on its stomach. Shorlty after we were at Menard's buying building materials. And just before 1:00 PM we met Del at Neverland.
First we transported all the provisions, building materials and tools to the banks of the Mann Creek, and then Del selected suitable cedars that would become the main beams of the new bridge. After felling the trees and branching the logs we placed them across the almost six feet width of the creek, or could it be seven feet? After that was the laborious work of afixing the four foot wide treated planks that would allow even the heaviest wheelbarrows to move across the soon to be completed bridge. An in order to do so we had to wade into the swift cold waters, and at that time Del found out that his boots had a hole just below water level.
With just over of the bridge deck in place Del lost a drill bit and tried to fish it out, but even being from Minnesota, he could not stand the cold long enough to locate it. But this minor incident was not enough to sidetrack us.
I believe that Daniel was the first to cross the bridge, and to celebrate the completion of such a fantastic engineering achievement we uncorked a couple bottles of Pilsner Urquell and toasted while I whistled the first part of "Colonel Bogey March" (or for those less enlightened, the theme from "The Bridge on the River Kwai").
At the following picnic we had croissants, roosted chicken, prosciuto, salami and bresaola.
We accomplished a lot more during the remaining of th afternoon, and at the end of the day I managed to lose my CRKT Swindle, but that is another story.