Where is Your Malibu?

As the sun sets over the Pacific, it might have been uttered by Barbara Streisand or Rob Reiner or Bill Murray (or a host of other stars) that Mecca was there, along the 26-mile stretch of beach that looks southward and is 50 kilometers west of Los Angeles.  For that matter, Barbara Stanwyck, Ronald Coleman,  and Gloria Swanson - who were Hollywood stars from the twenties - may have felt the same way when they were allowed to lease portions of the estate in the early thirties.

Malibu, or in the “in crowd” speak, “Boo” or “Big Boo” is a colony of the “have made its” that was the former estate of Massachusetts millionaires Frederick and May Ringe.  They had founded Union oil and Southern California Edison.  In the late 1800’s, they bought a 27- mile stretch of Malibu coastline and turned it into what might be called a private gated colony.  It was protected by armed guards patrolling on horseback.  In 1929, after the death of her husband, Mrs. Ringe, suffering money woes because of the depression, opened up a portion of her property to a lease arrangement by several Hollywood stars.  But, not long after that, she opened up more of the estate to direct purchase.  Thus, the colony has evolved into the somewhat mysterious, sunset community with the “well to do” spending fortunes on the renovation of weekend shacks to equal - or surpass - neighbors up the beach or down the beach.  Approaching this colony from the sea, one might, at first, think it a small fishing village.  But further inspection reveals a colony with intrinsically less direction than pulling in a bulging net of tuna.

Golden tanned young beauties (Probably not Boo shack owners at all, but young hopefuls from the
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Midwest, doing occasional extras on the set and, otherwise, working as waitresses) plodding the surf edge lighting up the 7x50’s binocs that are ready at every westward vista.  Lavish parties, inviting just the right friends, is always called for when seeding the rags for publicity.  Ah yes, Malibu, the destination of all destinations.

But, hold on a minute!  Where if this story going?  Is coastal life the only way one can be happy?  Indeed not my friend and you know it!  Like the old saying goes, “Happiness is where you find it”.  If you are sitting on your living room couch mouthing a winter anticipatory grimace because you do not have a palatial home on the beach in Malibu, buck up and just look around you.  Here are just some of the interesting things you have on this body of water (I prefer to call it “Lake Elocka” Elkhart-Osceola-Mishawaka) between the Johnson Street Dam in Elkhart and the Twin Branch Dam in Mishawaka that you would not see in Malibu: Fall colors, ice floes, pontoon party barges, over sixty varieties of birds, swans, geese and ducks, dams, hunters, bass fishermen, Indiana DNR, several million gallons of increasingly clean fresh water, less expensive homes and lower cost of living, four seasons, and stable ground.  On the other hand Malibu has the beach (that’s a biggie), a vast ocean (which you really can’t do much with), brush fires, mud slides, tsunamis, earthquakes, global warming erosion, totally self indulged neighbors, the tanned beauties from the Midwest, and a lot of rich people.

It may just be that none of this is your cup of tea, but everyone has a chance to enjoy the environment in which they may reside.  Consider Ruth Fletcher, from Montreal Harbour, Canada who pens our website’s column “A View from the North.”  If you have kept up with her bi-monthly account of life along Lake Superior, you will agree that there is beauty in every clime.  Half way up the eastern coast of Lake Superior and smack on shore you will find the enchanting home of this talented writer and her friend Ward.  Winter along the lake can be brutal with snow laden winds off the lake threatening to
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                     Winter                         Spring                    Summer                           Fall
                                                  Scenes Near Montreal Harbour, Ontario, CA

blow right through their picture window.  While only less than a mile from the North-South Highway 17, several winter days may go by before picking up their mail.  What does Montreal Harbour have that neither Lake Elocka or Malibu have? In the winter,  marvelous works of art are created by the same cold winds that threaten their picture window.  The winter also presents a time for snow shoes and skiing.  Moose and bear are numerous along, with wolves and a variety of other winter creatures.  The spring brings a hike up the bluff to huge lookout rocks where you can view many miles along the western shore of Lake Superior.  A short hike eastward you will find a woodsy kitchen of sorts where the sap that was collected from the surrounding trees will be cooked and processed.  Ruth and Ward regard their environment with respect and gratitude and thoroughly take advantage of its uniqueness.  The rugged beauty of the Lake Superior coastline is cast in a surprising vista at each turn in the road.  Large, sweeping sandy bays disappear into high towering boulders dotted with misshapen fir trees that have withstood the tortuous prevailing winds and storms issued from the bowels of Lake Superior.   All of this together provides the backdrop for an interesting and superb lifestyle for Ruth and Ward.

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           Malibu Sunset                           Elocka Sunset                    Montreal Harbour Sunset

“Okay”, you say, “but what does all that have to do with folks like us who are stuck here in Indiana smack in the middle of hundreds of square miles of cornfields?  Well….you almost had me there - until I came to my senses.   Let’s just whip up a little mental picture of where you really do live.

Our life, here on the Elocka is also unique.  There are roughly 800 homes on our stretch of water, two larger tributaries and a number of smaller creeks that fill the impoundment.  The deepest water is approximately 33 feet deep.  There are at least seven bridges (some very photogenic) and more than 13 islands of various sizes that dot the twelve mile stretch between dams.  Parameter roads are Jefferson, Highway 20, Vistula, West Indiana Avenue, East Blvd., North Riverside Drive, South Riverside Drive, Edgewater Blvd., Galbrett Drive, Rainbow Bend Blvd., Water Bend Drive, River Point Drive, West Lexington Avenue, Riverdale Drive, Westwynd Drive, Frailey Drive, River Shore Lane, River Shore Estates, Channel View Drive, Riverview Manor Drive, Hickory Lane, Riviera Drive, Sycamore Lane, North Shore Drive, Edgewater Drive, Lakeshore Drive, Pine Bluff Drive, River Drive, Cottage Avenue, Lindahl  Drive, Ridge Road, Quail Island Drive….just to name a few.  Tell me…..do these street names sound like cornfields to you?

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Superior Moonrise               Elocka Moonrise                                          Malibu Moonrise
The water for the St. Joe River is collected by a 4685 square mile water shed that is made up of 15 counties in Northern Indiana.  Underground are huge aquifers that can supply the area with fresh water far into the future.  We also need not begrudge the “means” exuded onto the beaches of Malibu in the form of upscale homes.  The infusion of “means” onto the banks of the Elocka, in the form of several larger, architecturally- interesting homes, has added to the diversity and beauty of the area.  And.....we should consider ourselves lucky to have a full service marina.

With all of these positives, why should we feel unhappy that we don’t live in Malibu or Montreal River Harbour?  It seems to this writer that we have it pretty good right here on Lake Elocka.  That is not to say that improvement should not be on the horizon.  For example, how many of us have vocalized the desire to have a restaurant on the river, or that a bike path be constructed around the approximate 26 mile perimeter of the lake, or that more effort should be put into a river watch program.  There are probably as many ideas as folks who live on the river.  But, all in all, I think you could justifiably say that:  “This is our Malibu”.  Following, are some Lake Elocka scenes.  Dwight Davis

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Sjrhoa Picnic Entertainment committeesm.jpgToward Eagle point from bridge200.jpgWinter Sunrise200.jpgLuke's first fish250.jpg