Tags: lakes

The trees are in bloom, sometimes the water is high, and the air is sweet with the sounds and smells of life.
Water trickled through the spill way while ducks in the “hush marsh” foraged in its clear water.
As we headed into the sunset, our "spotlight" snuck up behind us.
I often complain about how much I hate going out into the Shiawassee Flats(very sarcastically), and don’t know why I do it. Surrounded by what I affectionately call my playground, showing off the good side of my hometown, life couldn’t be much sweeter. A huge “pink” moon blinded us all the way back to the Montague Inn.
Some call me "Johnny" and it doesn't hurt my feelings a bit. I tell them I can find my way around out here on the darkest nights with no moon. On this trip, I could've worn my sunglasses at night!
I show people the good side of Saginaw by boat. People familiar with the area often laugh and reply; “There’s a good side?” In my opinion there’s at least 18,000 acres of it. I invited a friend to join me on a dramatic day of wind and high water exploring the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge and State Game Area. Little did he know what he was getting himself into. We went from Saginaw to St. Charles, loaded up on food, and headed back. He was smiling at the dock, and then hanging on and breaking waves in the “wide part”.
We headed up into the relative calm of the “narrow part”. With the water high and foliage down it was easy to scan the woods for wildlife and dramatic formations. For me, going into the Flats is like going to church or recharging my batteries. I give thanks for being able to share it and all of my wonderful, incredible life experiences I’ve had. Adventure, passion, and serenity flow down the rivers like the blood in my veins.
The boat ride passed by too quickly and easily. We were in St. Charles with time to spare, and returned most of the way home at idle. We heard and saw deer sneaking stealthily through the marsh. The call of sand hill cranes and swans whispered of the huge migrations passing through. We surfed the whitecaps through the "wide part" at idle and then throttled up with the wind, giving the impression we were motionless.
The sun warmed and dried us when we need it. The power of the water surrounded us and made the boat dance in its boils and eddies. I gave a wink and a nod to the spirits I felt around me and savored the moments. I don’t always get to play in the Shiawassee Flats, but when I do, I savor every moment!
We don’t always navigate water like this, but when we do it’s pretty adventurous…
My favorite time to go Johnny Panthering? In the Spring! Hopefully the water is high, migrations are moving through, trees are budding, and we see a lot of stuff. Once in a while I get a crew on board that is up for almost anything, and we go for it! On this day, I was with some team mates who have been out with me many times. They know me, what I’m going to say, and what I’m going to do. When we get into chutes of water like this, there is little room for error- I don’t call them adventure trips for nothing. I have encountered very few outside of my ever shrinking circle that have the desire, stamina, or skill to go on trips like these. Imagine a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive a boat into your backyard- that was our mission, and we almost made it!
We let the open water dictate our cruise. Where it was slow, it was frozen, where it was flowing, sometimes it was flowing pretty hard. We paused for a break at the Second Hay Bridge on the Bad River. The only thing above the water was the deck of the bridge. The feeling of the water rushing around us was surreal. Most don’t want to put a snowmobile suit on to go for a boat ride, but when we do, it can be a priceless adventure. I’ve done this a hundred times in my life and it NEVER gets old. What is Johnny Panthering? Drama that gets your heart pounding!


01/03/12 07:51
I like to show images from years ago on or around the same date. This time of year is tough, the water is getting too hard for boat rides and not hard enough to ride on. I did a lot of reflection over the Holidays (even more than normal), and I am thankful the sweet is greater than the bitter. A few years ago I had a job at a factory. I interviewed for a sales position, I was hired for it, and wound up in the repair shop. Showing up my first day of work (business casual), they told me I was overdressed! They then explained they were going to put me in the repair department for a while. When I asked how long, they told me a few years! I was not impressed, to say the least… This image was taken looking out the back door of the factory during a break. Occasionally I was lucky enough to hear a rooster pheasant cackling out in the field beyond. I consider myself a people person and love to provide exceptional service. I also love the outdoors and the environment as a whole, it is my church. When I take guests through the “Everglades of Michigan”, I am essentially guiding them through my playground. I give them forty years of recent history, ecology, and exploits. When they get off my boat they have a new appreciation for the “industrial armpit of the State”. I show them the “good side”, the potential we have and some of the obstacles when need to overcome. I want to be able to show off my “playground” everyday and share the potential of our surroundings. With renewed motivation I will strive to share our streams, rivers, valleys, and mountains- it’s beats the heck out of concrete, steel, and the smell of cutting oil…
By JPQ Captain • Albums: Michigan EcoTours • Tags: bay, charters, ecotours, frankenmuth, great, lakes, region, resume, tours, trips