Guppy Lake Report, January 2002

Our cabin on "Guppy Lake" continues to be the most important place to us on Earth. No matter how tough life gets, just getting out of the car by our pond gives us a sense of peace, however temporary. We hosted our second Guppy Lake wedding a few years ago, and it seems to have worked well for Jan and Robert. We really enjoyed playing host for two weddings, so please let us know if you're interested in getting married in Northern Michigan.

We've done a lot to improve the place in recent years. If you haven't been to Guppy Lake for a few years, you should come visit us and see what we've been up to.

First, we gutted and rebuilt the kitchen, in the spring of 97. Now, it's close to our dream kitchen. The stove works, the floor doesn't sag, and there is a place for everything!

In the summer of 98, we had part of the pond dredged, using the sand from the bottom to fill in the swamp undermining one of the other buildings. This gave us a nice deep swimming spot, and plenty of sandy beach. We topped this off with a dock and rope swing.

In 1999, we built a "gazebo." Gazebo is in quotes because it actually rivals the cabin in size. It is a charming cedar structure, large enough for a picnic table, seating area, and rather large hot tub. This last feature has been a constant joy, especially to Nathaniel. In fact, after waiting impatiently for it's initial fill-up to reach a tolerable temperature, Nathaniel gave up and got in. By the time he emerged about ten hours later, the temperature had attained that of the human body, and everyone else around had joined in. For the girls, the hot tub seems to make the difference between rustic and cool. This means that we actually overlap with our kids there, rather than taking turns staying in Ann Arbor to keep them from going completely feral.

Over the course of the fall of 1999, we attached the gazebo to the main cabin by way of a large deck and breezeway. The pond side of the breezeway opens up almost completely, so that you can sit outside on the deck, but still have shade and shelter when needed. And for the winter, we can reattach the pond-side walls to provide a wind-free passageway from the hot tub to the main house.

Winter 1999/2000 proved to be the near-demise of our fragile bathroom plumbing. A great deal of effort and parts cannibalism left us with the internal bathroom fully functional, but the outdoor one is not. This has shifted our priorities for the next improvement: an all-new bathroom is the obvious next priority.

Timing is everything, and the bathroom's demise corresponded with our big Millennial celebration. Fearing the worst of Y2K bugs, we laid in enough food for dozens of people to last a month, and had a big party for the New Year, prepared at a moment's notice to turn Guppy Lake into a survivalist hideaway. Fortunately, none of that proved necessary, and we gave all the canned food to a local food bank in the spring. Nonetheless, survivalism turned out to be a wonderful "theme" for a party, and we recommend it highly for the next time a new Millennium rolls around.

Finally, back in '98, we got word that the 75-acre lot next to us was up for sale. At that point, the most interested party was a developer looking to put in an entire subdivision. If First Virtual had done nothing else for us, we would be forever grateful that it allowed us to buy that property. We thus acquired a modern, albeit modest, facility (we call it the Motel 6) to put up guests who need a working toilet.

In early 2001, a flood caused by a pipe leaking in our absence ruined the entire first floor of the Motel 6, but we have been able to rebuild it with insurance money. We lost a great many things to which we had no sentimental attachment, plus most of our collection of children's books.

In 2000, we set up a new charitable foundation, the Guppy Lake Restoration Retreat, to which we donated the land and some operating capital. We hope to turn the property into an interfaith retreat for anyone who might benefit from some time of quiet isolation.

As in (many but not all) years past, we expect to be in Greenbush for most of the summer, and our door is always open to friends and family who want a quiet, soothing, vacation in the woods with us. Let us know, and come visit any time!