We slept in late, and then began pondering the scope and scale of the task that awaited us. Our little Dunc seems to have fully recovered from his allergic affliction, and so he "helped" here and there by rearranging items around a grandma-free Grandma's house. Visitors included the local telephone man, who bestowed DSL internet service upon the humble cottage so we can stay in touch with the great big Internet, and then Cousin Margie came by with food for us folks and rave reviews for the trip e-mails (yes, we're humble...) A bit later, Mother Nature decided to see what she could do to stress-test those new electronic connections by sending down a lightning strike onto one of the poles only a few feet away from the house. Fortunately, Midway Telephone's infrastructure held up to the high-voltage harassment, and nothing was damaged or interrupted (much). For dinner, the family made a rainy walk across M-28 to a new eatery that recently opened in an old Trout Creek service station, and enjoyed visiting with old family friends (and Suz's high school math teacher) while enjoying a warm meal on a cool rainy evening.
Duncan, now puffiness-free
On this beautiful still-summer-on-the-calendar-but-looking-a-lot-like-fall day, we loaded up the truck (sans trailer this time) and headed onto the northerly reaches of US 141 & 41, rolling past the multicolored foliage to the bayside burg of L'Anse, by the windy waves of Lake Superior. This town now possesses even more members of the Carlisle clan, as Suzanne's mom is now a resident of the Skilled Nursing Unit (called the "snu") at the Baraga County General Hospital. The SNU operates as sort of a nursing home adjunct to the hospital, and takes care of Suz's mom and other very experienced Yooper folk. We paid a long visit on Mrs. Carlisle as Duncan did his best to liven things up (when he wasn't dismantling medical equipment, that is). Suzanne's sister Vicki also dropped by on her way between her many many jobs, and the scene degenerated into an all-out Duncan-tickling competition to entertain both SNU residents and staff.
After the big and little fingers were done with their stuff, we gave one last hug & smooch to Mrs. C and headed out to other destinations around the corner of Keeweenaw Bay. Late lunch was at the Baraga Drive-In, where a perky carhop slid us pizzaburgers, moo sandwiches, and smooth frozen custard, and then a stop by Vicki & Pete's place to borrow a tall ladder and say a short hello. Then to the local IGA store for foodstuffs and sundries, where the local carryout clerk (who for some reason bears a very strong resemblance to the rest of the family... ;) hauled our goods and our kid out to the truck for the return trip. Then back down 41, 141, & 28 to Trout Creek as the setting sun brightened the turning leaves, and back to the Carlisle chateau for the evening.
Scenes from a fine U.P. day
This morning started in a relaxing manner, as Suzanne began the careful transfer of items most fragile into boxes for travel, while Richard assisted by keeping Duncan occupied with less-fragile items and activities (theoretically...)
Later in the afternoon, the weather and skies seemed to indicate that this would be a riding kind of day. So we let Duncan get out the Fisher Price tricycle and cruise the driveway and acreage propelled by his scootin' little feet, while Richard got the Bike Friday out and the trailer assembled for a longer-range adventure. When Duncan had triked to his satisfaction, we scooped him up and plopped him in the trailer and Richard and he set off down M-28 to do some exploring - and more importantly, give Suzanne a few hours of peace and quiet for some more heavy-duty picture and knickknack packing.
The twosome cycled down the highway to Agate Falls, a picturesque spot on the Ontonagon River where the water rushes past the falling leaves under the rusting expanse of the old Duluth South Shore railroad bridge (still in use as a part of a rail-trail). Dunc loved running down the boardwalk to the falls and back up the leaf-strewn hills, with his dad (trying to keep up) behind. Then a big round of ball-kicking up and down the hillocks and grassy spots, a snack for kid & pop, a stop in the gift shop to find a few amusing items for former Yoopers and non-Yoopers, and then a ride back toward Trout Creek as the rhythmic humming of the tires on the asphalt lulled Duncan into a restful doze in the trailer as his dad spun the pedals up front and contemplated the quiet highway and north-country scenery.
After the bike and trailer were put away for the day, a walk across the road for some to-go pizza from the Trout Creek Family Restaurant made for a satisfying dinner, and then we settled in as the wind began to whistle and little pitter-patters of rain began to fall outside.
Riding the open highway to fun falls frolicking
Today's front page news story in the local paper: "Skunk joins in car-animal mayhem" (really!) - but let's back up a bit to catch some earlier excitement.
It was a dark and stormy night at the little house in the big woods as a powerful storm blew eastward and rattled the tin roof and clapboard siding with lightning, thunder, torrential rain, and a clunk of hail now and then. Would've been OK except for the areawide power outage, which made a dark Yooper night quite a bit darker for nearly three hours or so. Pleased to report that the ice cream in the freezer survived intact, though.
Today's Lesson in Applied Physics: heavy-gauge extension cords aren't all that stretchy - especially you put a truck on one end & a house on the other. Background: we had to use the truck's auxiliary battery during the overnight power outage, and once the rain let up a bit Richard ran it out and plugged it in to recharge. The only problem was when we went to drive into town for lunch later in the day, Richard was distracted by other issues on the trip out to the truck, and the inadvertent result was that our 100 foot extension cord became two distinctly separate cords by the time we noticed the brief tug as the wire done went 'snap'. Oops. No big problem, as Richard repented from his inattention by digging out the toolbox and reacquainting the severed strands - and although it's only a 93 foot (or so) extension cord now, it should still serve us well, as long as we pay attention next time.
This weather front was an interesting one, with the highs now nearly in the 80s as we lunched in the Little Old Schoolhouse restaurant (and yes, long ago it was indeed Suzanne's first grade classroom, only without the waitresses). Then into the White Door grocery for a few items, and then a stop at Aunt Iris & Uncle Freddy's for some fun chatting with wacky relatives as Duncan engaged in feline entertainment of his own chasing and petting a sometimes-cooperative set of cats.
The warmin' stormin' fired up again near evening time, and we stayed snug in the house as the rain resumed (nearly 3" in the past day or so). However, a cold front chasing the warm one across the Midwest caught up with us, and the temps started downward as the local news mentioned a tornado watch for the Peninsula and the wind kicked up to screen-door-tattering velocities. But the evening concluded without serious damage or other consternation, and another Big Trip day went in the books.
Playing nice with the pretty kitties
The warmth of yesterday was a dim memory this morning, as the outdoor thermometer reported very low 40s at wake-up time. Fortunately, the rain & hail of yesterday were also a dim memory, as the sun blazed brilliantly down through the color-changing trees. This brilliant sunny first day of fall warmed up quickly, and about noontime Duncan & Richard were rarin' to hit the road again, and Suzanne was also rarin' for some nobody-underfoot time to get more packing performed. And so the trailer and Bike Friday were rolled out and prepared for another round of exploration.
Now Richard thought he was in reasonably decent shape, but the combination of uphills, headwinds, and the perception that Duncan was getting ever denser by the minute made the first few miles down Calderwood Road a bit of a... challenge. But the temperatures and scenery were most cooperative, the low gears were kicked in, and Duncan and his chauffeur settled in for a fun ride to Bond Falls, another set of Upper Michigan creekish cascades in the area. At the falls, Duncan had great enjoyment scooting up and down the trail and dashing back & forth on the platform to view the thundering waters. Then a snack and ice cream under some shady trees, back in the trailer, and a return trip up the road - which only seemed uphill in both directions for a while, but then (after a refreshing stop at Da Flowage bar & grill along the way) turned into a rewarding downhill-with-tailwind cruise back to Trout Creek to see Suzanne as she recovered from a busy stuff-sorting day of her own.
We were hoping for a happy ending to the evening while watching the Arizona-California game on the satellite TV, but a furious Wildcat rally fell short against the Berkeley bunch and so we were a bit blue at the end of the evening and had to settle for dreams of future victories.
More falls fun
We awakened from another semi-restful northwoods night, and busied ourselves with Sunday morning chores as Carl Pellonpaa and the Finland Calling TV show played in the background. There's starting to be some leaves accumulating on the ground now, and so part of the morning's work was to do some heavy-duty raking. Duncan did his part, but we found out soon he had ulterior motives for his willing assistance as he then revved up the tricycle and gleefully crashed through the piles over and over again.
The truck was limbered up and loaded and we headed east over to Sidnaw to pick up some yummy road food to go from Mom's Kitchen, and we munched our way up highway 41 past the big Ford Motor logo by the lake in Alberta up to L'Anse to again spend quality time with Suzanne's mom, while Duncan spread cheer (hopefully not too annoying cheer) to many of the other residents there at the SNU. After all the hugs were hugged out, we went down to the waterfront park by the still-cold waters of Lake Superior and let Duncan loose on the playground paraphernalia. Slides were slid, springy horses stampeded, and Dunc and his dad had a most oscillating time on the see-saw.
After we finally pried our son's fingers from the blue tubing of the teeter-totter, we drove along the Superior shore over to Vicki & Pete's place to say hi to the family. Suz's sister served a most excellent picnic-style dinner, with sloppy joes vying with Vollwerth's frankfurters for the attention of our taste buds. Then pie on top of that as we watched several of the local deer wander down from the hills almost right up to the house. The big & little deers nibbled the apples right off the trees in the yard, and showed very little fear of the fully-fed folks only a few feet away on the porch (although I think I did hear Truckasaurus quietly say "stay away from my front end, buddy!")
After the sun set across the waters of Keeweenaw Bay and the deer departed, we pointed the truck down the highway and made our way cautiously back to the old family house, watching for other deer that might be showing poor traffic safety skills. Although we saw a few sad places where other deer got sent to that great meadow in the beyond via front-bumper express, we made it back in a happily unen-deer-ing way, and rolled our full bellies over and turned out the lights on another good Michigan day.
Oh deer - more northland food 'n fun
They say headwinds create character. Much character was created today.
Richard's missions for the day, in reverse order of priority:
The most efficient way to accomplish both goals in the maximum amount of time was to roll out the bike & trailer again and use human power to make the 20 or so mile trip to Bruces and back for the parts we needed. The only problem was that the breezes were deciding to be a bit blustery today, with a shifting 15-25 MPH wind in the face for much of the trip. This seemed like an excellent training opportunity (both physical and mental), and so Duncan & Richard turned into the wind and launched on the highway on their day's mission.
An average speed of about 8 MPH gives ample opportunity to teach a 2-year old many words, such as the ones seen on the signs as they passed by. Richard attempted to refrain from teaching Duncan any other new words, especially when a strong gust would hit them flat in the face. One notable thing is that no words were needed for the drivers on M-28, as every one of them (RVs to logging trucks to locals) passed us in a friendly manner with many feet to spare.
The twosome made it to Bruce Crossing, and the necessary parts were successfully located and purchased under the happy Hardware Hank sign at A&A, as Duncan attempted to persuade his dad to let him bring home a fine die-cast John Deere tractor toy. That Deere was a bit out of our budget, though, and instead Richard & Dunc ended up at the Yooperway sub shop to share a meaty-good sandwich and Jilbert's ice cream (tractor? what tractor?)
Leaving Bruces on the 2-mile climb up Gem Hill, the Bike Friday and trailer were pushed a bit by the now-friendlier wind, which made the climb a bit more fun as F-15s dogfighting in the skies above made for quite a spectacle. But then the road turned south right into the teeth of a brisk breeze, and Richard leaned hard into the wind to just keep moving (where's Marcel Marceau when you need him?) One other noticeable thing about the weather was that it definitely met the description of "unseasonably warm" - about this point, there was only about 8 degrees or so difference between the thermometer here and back in Phoenix. But the road curved, the wind shifted, the sweat was mopped up, and dad & son rolled back to a warm Trout Creek and a warm welcome from Dunc's mom.
A short while after the bike was stowed and the family was back indoors, those breezes bore some dark clouds into the area, and as night fell a lot of rain decided to fall as well. This dropped the temps a bit more manageably, and by bedtime the thermometer was showing a much more reasonable 60ish reading - with further cooling a definite promise for tomorrow.
Note: you're probably tired of bike photos by now, so instead you're getting trike photos from Sunday - which are probably much more fun. :)
Trippy trikin' thru golden leaves
It was much cooler than yesterday as drizzly clouds were our constant companion for this day's indoor sort n' pack activities. Richard tackled one big storage room while Suzanne continued plowing through priceless old piles of memorabilia, while Duncan went back and forth redistributing things as he saw fit (now stop that!) Cousin Pam came by for a while to say hi and to receive a hug or two from Dunc, and the day passed otherwise uneventfully as the rooms seemed to get even messier (a necessary prelude to ultimate tidiness, we think).
One trip out was to drop off a bike trailer full of recyclables at the town's "recycling bus", with Duncan perched on top of a large pile of old catalogs, magazines, and other paperphenaila. Our son was very helpful was the bike was unloaded at the drop-off site, grabbing cans and papers to toss into the (usually) correct bins.
Not much else to report, other than a narrowly-averted disaster involving an unseen crack in a shampoo bottle and a Powerbook G4, and so the day concluded with Suzanne poring through one last pile of family papers (aha! the family tree!) while Richard began to prepare for his AASHTO meeting later in the week.
There really is a plan to this...
Today was just a bit more stuffing, sorting, and packing of the Carlisle family abode, punctuated with a trip back to L'Anse for another quick visit with Suzanne's mom and sister. Not much exciting this day, other than finding a classic American-made "Whee-lo" toy at the local pharmacy, and it was just a good day to get out of the house and see the remaining fall colors, as lots of those brightly hued leaves swirled by the truck as they made their way from the trees to the ground.
And as a big full moon rose over the tiny town of Trout Creek, we returned to the house to prepare for our upcoming "roadtrip within a roadtrip" to Milwaukee for the AASHTO Annual Meeting.
Big moon, little town
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