Saturday, March 1, 2014


From L to R:  Atlas, Aidan, Zander, Birthday Boy Thor, Magnus, 
Boyne City, Michigan -

No one says I have to put out a blog, but after a fashion, I sense pressure from afar and guilt that comes from not producing.  Guilt (and Thor's 34th Birthday) breaks another gap of nearly two weeks without blog communication.

Boyne City is where Thor works and lives, and aside from the large Boyne Hill ski establishment, there really isn't suitable nearby lodging that will hold twelve people and allow for indoor activities.  We opted instead, three families plus Thor, to occupy a rental home.  It was a great decision in terms of room to spread out.  I will add that our first day in Boyne City, following an uneventful drive into the eastern UP, saw gale force winds with blizzard conditions that prompted MDOT to close the Mackinac Bridge for one day.  Snow continued the next day, Saturday, and the day after that, too.

The amount of snow cover in that region, due to almost daily lake effect snows, I estimated to be nearly three times the accumulation of Washington Island.  Each bright winter day here, when we look out over the East Channel and see banks of dark clouds, snow is being produced on the eastern shore of the lake.  For that same reason, overcast skies are quite common there in winter, too.

Our main reason for the get-away was to celebrate Thor's birthday.   Although there was swimming, sledding, plenty of eating, and a mad piñata bash, the four boys spent a great deal of time crowded together on a couch playing Minecraft.   I know very little about this game, despite having it explained to me several times, and despite the fact I was convinced months ago to load it on my iPad so they could use it.   This game can be played individually, or as a group.  During this outing, their devices were connected while they quietly and politely assisted one another in building virtual scenes.

We toured the Van Dam boat building shop Saturday afternoon (except for Magnus, who fell asleep in the warm truck, and Kirsten, his mom, stayed with him).   Two new construction projects were on the floor, and this was a chance for the boys to ask questions and see the craftsmanship of Thor and his co-workers.   At one point, Thor demonstrated use of a small block plane, one of his safer woodworking tools.  He let each of the boys try their hand at planing a strip of mahogany.

When it came to his turn, Zander hefted the plane and made this observation:  "This thing is heavy enough to kill a chicken!"

We're still not sure how that connection was made, but we agreed it was probably true.

We're back home now, for the rest of the winter.

-  Dick Purinton

Note:  For a great web tour of Van Dam Wood Craft products past and present, and production details, go to:

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