This is the lodge -- yes, the lodge -- at the entrance to the coolest park you've never been in.
It's in Outer Podunk, within a reasonable driving distance of Cold Comfort Cottage. Once upon a time it used to be the Outer Podunk Sportsmen's Club, but when that organization went kaput the county took over the property and turned it into a recreational area. It's clean, well maintained and respectful of the land.
And here's what you can do there: There's a picnic area, next to the lodge, with tables and grills and horseshoe pits and a volleyball net. You can rent the lodge for parties or other gatherings. There are hiking/snowshoeing/cross-country skiing/horseback riding trails. There are a series of winding two-tracks that go deep into the woods. There's a river, with an observation deck overlooking it.
This must be one of the most popular parks in the area, right?
Fellow Traveler and I visit the recreational area several times a week to give the dogs some exercise. We've snowshoed and fished and hit golf balls and had picnics there. During that time, I can count on the fingers of one hand, or maybe a hand and a half, the number of other upstanding citizens we've met there, also enjoying all that the place has to offer. Now, every once in awhile we see a vehicle -- usually with a couple of young, furtive-looking passengers in it -- speeding down the road to the far end of the property. We've startled a fair number of folks down by the river overlook -- folks who seemed to be about to engage in activities other than picnics or horseshoes.
To me it's very sad that more people in our area don't make use of this wonderful natural resource, as well as other local parks that we find equally underused. Parks become deserted, creepy and crime-ridden precisely because good people stop using them.
Well...we refuse to stay away. On Labor Day we had a splendid picnic there -- buffalo burgers with all the fixin's, plus a lovely bottle of Au shiraz and hamburger patties for the dogs (who love this place so much that when you say, "Who wants to go to the park?" they both practically fall over themselves scrambling to get to the car). Some fall weekend we want to throw a two-person tailgate party with a picnic lunch and a battery-powered TV. We are definitely snowshoeing there again this winter.
For those of you with a general idea of Outer Podunk's location within the Lower Peninsulan mitten and the ability/desire to visit, we'd be happy to give you directions to the rec area and county contact information about the lodge rental. If you don't/can't, my advice to you is...re-explore and reclaim your own local parks and recreational areas. Rediscover the fun of a picnic; take a walk; play a game; plan a group outing there. You will have fun.