Sunday, August 10, 2014

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Leaving Bayfield we headed for Michigan's Upper Peninsula; it was a very nice drive to Copper Harbor, right at the end of the UP.  Last year we learned that folks who live in the UP are called Youpers, and it still tickles us when we meet someone from Michigan and ask which part they call home.  Virtually everyone then holds up the back of their left hand and points to where they're from; the little finger is separated out, to represent the UP.  Anyway, we made it to Copper Harbor, which is the jumping off point for the boat trip to Isle Royale National Park.  We had thought we wanted to go Isle Royale, and in fact were headed there last year when we were told about the Apostle Islands, so we changed our plans to go to Bayfield then.  Anyway, we thought we might go up to Copper Harbor and then decide whether to go to Isle Royale.  It was a pretty long day of driving from Bayfield to Copper Harbor, but it was a beautiful weather day and the scenery was lovely.

Along the way we passed through Hancock, MI, and caught a glimpse of Finlandia University, founded in 1986 by Finns--the only university in North America founded by Finns.  We didn't have time to stop, but the main building visible from the main drag through town is a beautiful blue structure with turrets and other flourishes.   This caught our eye since our brother-in-law, Timo, is from Finland.

Once we got to Copper Harbor and got set up at the campground, we drove around town.  It's a quaint little town, but most of what we saw were touristy type shops--what was billed on the outside as a store of "Michigan Crafts,"  was basically your generic tourist town Tshirts, etc., nothing that really struck us as local craft items.  We thought about going to Isle Royale, but it's an all day trip, with a long boat ride over and then back, and you can't take your pet, so we would have had to find a boarding place for Sophie.  After looking at the boat at the dock that evening, we decided against that, and to just head on to Petoskey and Charlevoix, where we had such a good time last year.  Our one regret is that I had gotten an email from our good friend, Lynne, of Winnie Views, in which she recommended stopping at a sweet shop called the Jam Pot, run by monks--but by the time I read the email, we had already left the area.

Anyway, it was a lovely drive up and back, and we even saw some early leaf turnings, fall is on the way, y'all!  Lots of beautiful aspens, which we dearly love--and sometime will see in the fall when their leaves are golden.  We've seen lots of pictures of aspens in full fall color, but never in the flesh.  Always nice to have something to look forward to (I know my English teacher mother is rolling her eyes now at my ending a sentence with a dangling preposition--and admonishing me that I need to plunk another nickel into the "Incorrect Grammar" Maxwell House coffee can on the kitchen table!!) but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!  And now we can say we've been to the northern- most point of Michigan's UP!  Put in a long day of driving from Copper Harbor but we made it to Petoskey just about supper time on Thursday--got set up and hit the hay early!

Figured this would be a good breakpoint on the blog--I'll write more about our wonderful time in Petoskey and Charlevoix later--but also a good time to pause and reflect.  So I hope you'll indulge me for a minute while I get a little more introspective.   On our drive toward the UP we stopped in Wakefield for lunch and Trisha saw a wonderful yarn store she wanted to visit--found lots of really cute patterns and some beautiful yarn, by the way--but I elected to stay in the RV with Sophie.  I usually really enjoy going to yarn stores with Trisha, as I love to see the different types of yarn stores in different areas of the country have, and I love to encourage Trisha to get the unique yarns we see for new projects--she's such a good knitter and I love to see the things she makes.  But today I just needed a little quiet time for some contemplation and meditation.  You see, I had just received news that a high school classmate had suddenly died a few days earlier--she was the picture of health when we visited with each other at our 50th class reunion in May.  We had talked about our children and grandchildren, and were both excited to know that we each have daughters who are lawyers in Atlanta and who, it turns out, live on the same street.  She lived just a few houses down from our house in Ocala, went to the same church, where we were in youth group together, and it was so great catching up with her.  What we learned is that she had been visiting another daughter and a new grandchild, was boarding a plane back home and suffered a brain hemorrhage shortly after takeoff.  The plane turned back, she was rushed to the hospital, but didn't make it.  This news just hit me like a ton of bricks, I guess because I had just seen her so recently and she was in great shape, had clearly taken care of herself and, with no warning--Wham, she was taken away.  As I sat there in the RV it was tough--here I was, reveling in the joy and fun Trisha and I had been having on this trip, having just celebrated our 46th anniversary, and then Martha's life was suddenly over, leaving her family with a huge hole in their lives and in their hearts.  I mean, where's the justice?  Made me feel sad, guilty at being able to enjoy life, angry, confused and unable to understand how these things happen.  I know things like this happen to lots of people every day, all over the world, but just when it's someone you know and you've just seen, it just brings up a lot of emotions, all over the lot.  Brought back a lot of focus on the teachings I learned while I was a student at the Zen Buddhist monastery, that you really do have to learn to live in the moment--not the past, not the future, but the right here and the right now.  It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day hassles of life, even when it's going great, that it's easy to take things, and all too often people, for granted.  So the only thing I know to do is to try my best to appreciate each and every moment I have in this life, and to resolve to better strive to do what Dr. Craddock has said, not to let a day go by when you don't do at least one thing to make the life of someone else better.  Hope all of us can do this--and avoid beating ourselves up when we fall short, but to make every effort to tell someone in our lives how special they are, that we love them, or to go back and do our best to make amends when it's appropriate.  Thanks for bearing with me, folks.  God bless each and every one of you.

Shot from the RV in Wakefield--may seem a little quirky, but this scene appealed to me--with an RV in the foreground, a big flag behind and a church steeple in the background.  Sort of captured a lot of what was going on, I guess.
 Interesting totem in Wakefield, Michigan
 So hard to get a good picture that shows all the wildflowers along the road while we're driving; just no way to get the full impact, but it's just gorgeous to see all the different colors as we are driving along

 Aspens with wildflowers in front

 Fall is not far off y'all!

 Houghton, as we approached the lift bridge taking us to Hancock, Michigan

 Driving into Hancock, lots of beautiful brownstone buildings, now right up against the road
 Finlandia University--tip 'o the hat to you, Timo!

 Old mine
 Ruins of some of the mine buildings
 Love these white boarded churches
 Always fascinates us to drive through these "tunnels of trees!"

 Gorgeous big stand of lavender!
 In Copper Harbor, the boat that goes to Isle Royale National Park

 Lovely old building by the water
Copper Harbor Lighthouse
 Campground at Lake Fanny Hooe:)!


  1. That is a beautiful part of the country and its the right time of year too:)

  2. I lost two friends this year to a brain aneurism, one was a college classmate and my age. Sure does make you pause. I asked my doctor about it, and basically, not much you can do. But we have decided to have one of those life screening where they check for artery blockages. If there is a problem, it can usually be fixed before it gets you. Of course, these are not covered by insurance unless there is an already determined problem.

  3. Chuck, so sorry for the loss of your friends--always hard, especially when it's someone your own age. Good luck with the life screenings--hope all is okay.