The day began with us watching the two-wheel mayhem of Stage 1 of the Tour de France on the motel TV (wow - what a bunch of crashes), while Duncan "wanted to jump just like Spiderman" from bed to bed (can you tell what was on just before that?) Once our little superhero was cleaned up and clothed, we headed over to visit Suzanne's mom at the Bayside Village nursing home here in L'Anse to say hello.
After some pleasant time with the parental unit, we motored a few miles to the nearby town of Baraga for some classic 4th of July fun. We unfolded our chairs and sat down to watch the citizens of Baraga and several of the surrounding towns put on a parade. We stood at attention for the honor guard, and Duncan plugged his ears excitedly as the American Legion fired off a rifle salute right in front of him. Then the police cars and fire trucks came slowly by with their lights and sirens flashing, followed by the floats sponsored by the local businesses. About this time, the near-record heat was dampened by a bit of drizzle, and Duncan and the other kids (of all ages) happily scooped up the candy tossed from the trucks and floats long before it had a chance to get wet.
All this excitement was followed by another visit with Suz's mom, where Dunc excitedly gave a full-motion replay of the events for the benefit of his grandmother, and then a bit of dinner - which turned out to be personal pizzas from the local Holiday service station (most other places were closed for the day). This involved a mildly humorous situation (at least in hindsight) involving the price of the pizzas, the station's cash register computer, and some relatively new employees, but everything totaled out tastily in the end.
As noted yesterday, the sun takes its sweet time setting this time of year up here, and the clock in front of the local bank was showing 10:00 PM as the last rays lit up the low clouds in a most impressive display of red and yellow. But we were hoping to see other types of displays as we parked at the L'Anse waterfront and looked out across the bay. We were not disappointed, as after only a few minutes many of the locals had lit the fuses on their hoards of explosives, and bright booms and shrieking projectiles whizzed by at very close range. This was followed up by the main event across the water, as the town of Baraga put on an impressive professional show that lit up the sky and reflected brightly on the water. Once the last report echoed across the docks, we rolled back to the room about midnight to wrap up a busy and happy Independence Day and get ready for more fun to come.
Day 12 pix!
(click on 'em to open a larger version)
||Welcome to Baraga!||
||Ready for rain or shine|
||All rise for the passing of the Flag||
||Honor guard displays the colors|
||The time-honored Michigan patrol car - now with a LED "gumball"!||
||Pelkie Fire doggin' the parade|
||Classic Camaro convertible hauls the VIPs||
||A kingdom of queens|
||Smiling away on parade day||
||The Baraga band plays on|
||A float honoring freedom and faith||
||Mixing politics and puppies|
||The unmistakable skirl of squeezed cats, er, bagpipes||
||Baraga - home of the Pettibone Cari-Lift|
||Logging is still alive up in these parts||
||Yoopers in da woods for fifty years, hey?|
||Rounding up the clowns||
||A brilliant 4th of July sunset|
||It's 10 PM - do you know where your sun is?||
||Let the booms begin!|
||Fireworks lighting up Keweenaw Bay||
||A brilliant finish to our nation's birthday|
What was on today's list of exciting vacation plans...?
Two weeks worth. And so it was that we muddled over to the Place Of Maytags to cleanse our clothes of the grime of past travels. This went as expected, except that the laundromat's air conditioning was on the fritz during this unseasonable spell of higher temperatures, so let's just say we had warm feelings for the whole affair.
Once everything was spun, tumbled, and folded, Suzanne again visited her mom at her comfy Bayside digs, while the boys went out to play down at the waterfront park. The weather was trying to decide between warm & muggy or wet & rainy, and so Dunc & his dad cavorted on the slides & trains until the fun was punctuated by a curtain of rain. Then off to the Frostie Freeze (a long-time L'Anse landmark) for dinner, where Duncan again was amused by the side effect of a blue-hued tongue induced by a cool slushie treat.
Day 13 pix!
(click on 'em to open a larger version)
||The Place Of Great Cleansing||
||Feeding many Georges to the hungry machines|
||A rainbow of rather loud 66 shirts||
||The fog rolls off the Keweenaw|
||Geodesic gymnastics by the big blue lake||
||Leaping around the L'Anse playground|
||The colorful choo-choo has another happy passenger||
||Heaving the horseshoes|
||The bear said what?|
||Have a drink, Grandma!||
||Excited kid, relaxed Uncle Sam|
||Cool! My tongue is blue!|
The sun rose on a cool and very wet scene after the all-night rain, which made for a good excuse for just sitting in the room and catching up on trip write-ups and e-mail (one advantage of staying in the "big town" is access to a cell signal). We finally roused ourselves to depart the motel room for the day's activity - proceeding into L'Anse (which is French for "the place where they make ceiling tiles") for some shopping at the friendly stores along the streets of downtown. The Gambles hardware store held many items of interest and usefulness, and the Shorewood Forest gift shop had a quaint little antique bucket that somehow whispered "buy me buy me!" just loud enough to Suzanne to persuade her to persuade her husband to find a place for it in the truck. Also in the Shorewood is a bubbling little fish pond teeming with the flashing fins of giant-size goldfish and bewhiskered catfish, and the shopkeeper made Duncan's day by allowing him to feed the little funny finny characters. Lunch was very satisfying sandwiches at the Nite Owl Cafe as we looked at the photos of bygone Keweenaw scenes laminated into the tops of the tables. And, of course, another visit to Grandma Lois was also in the itinerary.
Later in the day, the earlier coolness was but a dim memory, as the sun came out and created a hot and muggy upper Michigan afternoon. But it was still a bit nicer than the blazing scenes back in Phoenix, so Duncan made a beeline for the playground for some excitable activity. The saws were seed, the geodesic metal pieces of the play structure were thoroughly climbed, and new friends played with our son on the merry-go-round and slides ("Son, I don't care what the other kid is doing - don't climb on the outside of that - oops, you OK? Good.") About this time, our nephew Peter & his girlfriend came by with their babysitting assignment, and we caught up with them on doings and happenings as the additional kid joined in the fun.
This playground was right on the shores of the vast blue expanse of Lake Superior, and eventually Duncan's eye was caught by the lapping waves and water. And even though the offspring was repeatedly ordered to "take your shoes off before you go in the water", of course he zipped right into the cool lake waters still fully shod (and clothed, for that matter), and splashed away the afternoon chasing ducks and driftwood as mom and dad listed to the band rehearsing for the weekly concert in the park's pavilion. A wet and happy Duncan was finally hauled ashore, and we were mystified as to how a small child could possibly bring half of the Lake Superior shoreline with him into the back seat - and so a few more minutes were occupied cleaning sand and muck out of the truck. Then another trip to Frostie Freeze for some blue-tongue-inducing refreshment, and back to the beds of the motel for rest with another Yooper day successfully closed out.
Day 14 pix!
(click on 'em to open a larger version)
||Had a rough night. Why do you ask?||
||Feeding the fishies at the Shorewood|
||Watch out! They're voracious!||
||Hangin' out with big Cousin Peter|
||Scooping up fun at the L'Anse playground||
||Spin it until the bodies fly!|
||Child with a Superior point of view||
||Wading in the cold waters|
||View across the Keweenaw||
||Flags fly in the Michigan breeze|
||Quacking up in the Great Lakes waves||
||Found me a cool rock!||
||Delving for driftwood|
||Smooches for Grandma||
||Frostie Freeze at your service!|
This was a good day for a mini-roadtrip to other Upper Peninsula destinations, so we loaded up the truck and set forth from L'Anse to Suz's former stomping grounds in the town of Trout Creek. First stop was at the Little Schoolhouse restaurant - which was in fact Suzanne's actual first grade classroom, now converted into a nice little eatery. In between the scrambled eggs and ham, Suz regaled the family with stories of how her teacher would "correct" her childish behavior if she was so brash as to talk in the room the way we were today. Then up to the post office to collect a year's worth of mail (after expired IGA ads and other wasted paper, not much), and a visit to the White Door general store to say hello.
Once our 'downtown' business was done (including helping out some ATVers with a bit of spare antifreeze), we crossed M-28 to drop in on Aunt Iris & Uncle Freddy's place, greeting the fuzzy cats, excitable dog, and of course the two fun folks within. Iris caught us up on all the doings & happenings out Trout Creek way, and Duncan snuck out the door for a while to swing & spring at the town park on the banks of the old mill pond nearby, while Richard filled up the traveling jugs with clean clear Trout Creek well water.
Then over to the Carlisle family home. As many long-time Road Trip readers are aware, this humble abode was typically our Yooperland headquarters. However, a combination of factors, including the bother of activating the utilities for such a short visit and the fact that Suzanne's mom is now over 40 miles away makes it uneconomical (and actually less convenient) than just staying in a motel. Given the current "very challenging" land and housing market in economically depressed Michigan, the family is still holding on to the house (and the wooded 17 acres with stream), and so we checked in to make sure everything was OK and to retrieve an item or two that didn't fit in the trailer during last year's stay. Even though the lawn was a meadow and the driveway was a bit overgrown, everything was fine (in no small part to the neighbors who also watch out for the place), and we carted off a thing or two and reminisced about all the times we'd spent inside its cozy walls.
Once items were stowed, we motored off to Bruce Crossing, where several of Suz's old high school friends (did we say 'old'? we mean 'long time', of course!) had arranged an impromptu reunion at Char's Restaurant near the US 45 junction. Good times were had and stories and pizza were shared as a rather hot U.P. day quickly became doused with thunderous wetness outside. Then next door through the puddles for some Jilbert's ice cream at the Yooperway store (and another blue tongue for Duncan), and then a return visit to Trout Creek on M-28 (sorry to see the store at Agate Falls burned) to visit the dynamic Cousin Margie and her most pleasant daughter Pam. Although Margie's kids are long grown, the toys were retained and carefully stored in the side room for the grandkids, and Duncan figured this was the most funnest place he'd visited so far.
And that was before he found the slot machine. Turns out that one of Margie & Emanuel's roadtrip souvenirs is a fully functional Japanese slot machine, and Duncan was entranced by the flashing lights and clinky coins (much like his mom is when she visits Vegas, but that's another story). Although we couldn't understand the instructions or the electronic voices emanating from the speakers and LCD screen, Duncan gleefully figured out how to get the reels spinning. And then he somehow triggered some sort of manga-themed bonus mode, which sent both slot and son into greater frenzies of activated excitement.
By the time we finished our long conversation and pried our two-armed bandit from the one-armed one, it was very dark and foggy outside, and so we drove most slowly back to L'Anse, trying to avoid any interesting situations. Did have one notable experience, though - we took in the sight of a large bald eagle right by the side of the road investigating an animal that had met a roadway-induced demise - but the eagle impressively flew away before we could adjust the cameras for the low light. Then on back US 41 to the motel, and a snug rest away from the dark and stormy night.
Day 15 pix!
(click on 'em to open a larger version)
||Welcome to Trout Creek!||
||The old Trout Creek railroad depot and bank|
||The Little Schoolhouse Restaurant - Suzanne's actual 1st grade schoolroom||
||Saying hi to Iris & Hunter|
||Freddy & his cat (or is it the cat & his Freddy? ;)||
||Dozing away a Yooper day|
||Picnic time at the town park||
||Swinging times at Abbot Fox Park|
||The overgrown driveway to the ancestral home||
||Loading out another truckload of loot from the old family home|
||Char's in Bruce Crossing - food and fun||
||Pizza on Wednesdays!|
||Suzie & Lois||
||The E-TC "mini-reunion"|
||Only thing with the blues is the ice cream||
||Another blue tongue!|
||Workin' the one-armed bandit||
||Hit the jackpot!|
Once we regained consciousness, our first stop was just a few feet up highway 41 at the Hilltop Cafe. Some might call it breakfast, and some might call it lunch, but we called it great, as we devoured the humongous rolls and substantial portions of steak and eggs. Then next door to the local Pamida store, where Duncan discovered a "cart monster" ready to gobble him up and good times (and good things) were had, in spite of a minor issue involving a soft drink & an unforgiving floor (our oops, but quickly mopped up).
After the duckie cap and baseballs were stowed away, it was time to again make a pilgrimage to the Bayside Village, where Suzanne had the pleasure of spending several uninterrupted hours in the company of her mother. Uninterrupted, that is, because the boys slapped on their helmets and saddled up on the cruiser / trailercycle combo for some Keweenaw-area adventure. Dunc and dad sped down the steep downhills and slogged back up the climbs, as the wind off Lake Superior kept the temperatures reasonable on a sunny day. There was one small mishap when the inner tube in Duncan's wheel gave way, but this was repaired quickly, with a replacement tube obtained in town from the friendly folks at the hardware / variety store. At the top of one of the climbs was our favorite Frostie Freeze stand, and the two bicycle power units enjoyed a sweet treat (and I think you can guess what color Duncan's tongue was when we were done... :) Then a plummet to the shoreline for some swimming and playground fun, and then a sweat-inducing ascent back to the Bayside to see Grandma (with bonus climbing for some exploratory wrong turns). But once the bikes were securely loaded and we bade farewell to Grandma Lois, we rolled up to the drive-in in Baraga for one more bad-for-us-but-so-fun-to-eat meal, and a return to the motel for a long night of reassessing, rearranging, and organizing our mobile lives in preparation for the long trip home.
Day 16 pix!
(click on 'em to open a larger version)
||A "nose" for good food at the Hilltop Cafe||
||Feeling ducky at Pamida|
||Cart Monster claims another victim||
||We will go thataway!|
||Ready to ride the hilly streets of L'Anse||
||Time for a new tube at Gambles Hardware|
||Ice cream time at Frostie Freeze!||
||Those blue tongues are contagious!|
||Hankering for an anchoring||
||Retired anchor looks out over a blue Lake Superior|
||Getting grubby in the Superior sand||
||Seeing the saw|
||Goofiness with Grandma||
||One more smooch!|
||Baraga Drive-In serving many happy vehicles|
Back to The Big 2010 Road Trip Page
Back to Our Big Road Trips Page
Richard C. Moeur's Home Page
Latest Historical Revisionism 21 July 2010Scripting: Richard C. Moeur