Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back for the weekend!


The Upper Peninsula was in the midst of a heat wave, temperatures actually exceeded 80°F! Fortunately, we brought two bags of long and short pantaloons, with matching shirts. And jackets. Oh yes; Jackets.

We were at K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base   International Airport after about five hours of travel, the attractive Finnish girl with a glorious tan had our Alamo rental car ready in about thirty seconds, and we were off for the metropolis known locally as Marquette!

Really; I think the whole process of rental car, grabbing bags and finding the terminal exit took at least five minutes. I really enjoy rural America, the hired help really want to help, and they are actually nice to us tourist types.


It was a fifteen minute drive to the Landmark Hotel, in the heart of downtown. Totally amazing, this was a gem of a Hotel, priced like a Ramada. They had a wonderful gourmet restaurant and a pub.

We entered our Lakeview room and found no fridge or stupid convenience bar. Instead, there were a bottle of red and white wine on the dresser, $15.00 each, if you drink them. Well, we took care of the white wine, I went to the ground and brought up a bag of ice and chilled that white wine, we concurred that it was a fine bottle.

View from room:

The Niece showed up about a half hour later, she was intending to catch dinner with us and ride to the Keweenaw the next day. The Niece has just finished her second year at Northern Michigan, the only bummer was that she received her first B grade ever, in Physics, no less.

The Niece's Grandfather had stopped by for lunch, earlier, so this would be her second real meal of the day. This meant we had to hop on down to the Hotel Restaurant.

We dined on steaks and chops, washed down with a fine Franciscan Meritage which we were pleased to see on the wine menu at an almost reasonable $78.00.

The evening was definitely moving in a positive direction, The Niece was animated and almost talkative to her ancient and well traveled, boring relatives from Florida. After dinnner, the Hostess directed us to the Pub where her husband was entertaining the small crowd.

Friday morning was beautiful, the sky was clear and blue and jackets were not required. We hiked to the water and checked out the local boating scene.

My ATM card was refused at the local banking facility. Huh??? I only had about ten bucks on me and a full day of traveling was ahead. I called the Credit Union asking for a status on my accounts; After all, I was in a far away land, and no doubt the recent activity may be construed as being out of character.

"Nope. All is copacetic and your accounts are good... By the way, would you like an auto loan?"


Gathered our pax for the Mohawk run, we were speeding West on good ol' Highway 41. The same road made famous by the Allman Brothers. Only excitement came not far from Baraga, a lunatic decided to pass the car behind me, us and the Tanker Truck in front, on a curve. Opposing traffic made them selves available for the soon to happen head on collision. Thankfully, the professionalism and attentiveness! of the truck driver avoided the collision by veering sharply onto the shoulder. I am sure the trucker neede a laundry stop after that maneuver.

I really hate selfish and stupid Maggot Farmer 's. They can't be content in just wasting their own miserable lives; No, they try to kill the rest of us who are being patient and safe.

Arrival at the family homestead in Mohawk was uneventful and we headed for the Cliff View Cabins and made our encampment.

The moment of truth came soon, and at 7:00 pm we were seated with the rest of Keweenaw County watching the class of 2010 graduate from Calumet High. One of the speakers was a graduate from 1948, he said, "CHS remains the best High School from before 1948 through 2010 and into the future!"

And he gave out five scholarships.

The crowd and the Grads were justifiably proud of their accomplishments. I really like the people of the Keweenaw peninsula. Once they know you can be trusted they will open up completely.

Of course, this is compared to the locals in my town, or more importantly, the Youf. (sp. int) Be they meth fueled or hate fueled, I always keep a wary eye out when out and about. Price you pay for living in the warmth of the sun, I guess. Keep your ammo clean and dry and your weapon oiled.

Saturday was the big party at the VFW. This particular VFW does not have a bar like the regular VFW's, so it is a pleasant place to use for parties. (What I mean is that there is not the usual heavy smoking that comes with most VFW's in these United States. I never visit VFW's for this reason, despite being a life member) All the usual characters came out for the great food and company in celebrating the Nephew's graduation from high school. Matter of fact; There must have been a hundred of these parties in the Keweenaw, and most people kind of float from one to another, getting full of great foods and loaded on free beer. Is the U.P. not great?

Some Saturday whine: Nobody would play horseshoes with me, I labored at the pits for a couple hours, practicing. Nobody would take up the irons so it was a bummer for me, I only get to play once a year. Darn it!

The family cleaned up the VFW and we dragged the rest of the keg to the fire pit at the Cliff View Cabins in Phoenix. We dined on the usual camp fire foods and sloppy joes, swapped tales of the Nephew's hunting and fishing exploits and had serious (As serious as it can get at 2330, on a clear night in the country, with beer) discussions of the future with the new graduates. Steve is off for Advanced Training with the Guard, followed by a deployment to Afghanistan in September. Mike will be heading to a Vocational School in Ohio, where he will become a Auto Technician.

The Spousal Unit and I retired about  Midnight, and fell asleep to the sounds of the rest of the family drinking and having fun. Apparently, the last went to their cabin at four in the morning.

Ouch. For them!

Sunday morning we crept to Slim's Cafe in Mohawk and had brekkies. Noon, we went to the land's end of the Keweenaw, via four wheel drive over some very questionable terrain. There was some fishing and a bit of sight seeing, mostly traveling rough roads. Jeep Cherokee's are very useful up there.

You are HERE:

I mean right HERE:

And this is what we saw and did:

Ore Ships on Superior with Spousal Unit.

Dad and Lad

It was a fine Sunday.

I went up to the Phoenix Bar to pay for our cabin, they charged us 200 bucks for three nights of a two bedroom cabin. Nice deal, I would stay there anytime again.

View of cabin with Spousal Unit and her Dad:

Monday morning, I was up at the crack of 0530 to fish with the Brother in Law. We grabbed cups of coffee and headed back to some place called Montreal Lakes. The Spousal Unit (Who has great doubts about my fishing talent) wished me luck, while sighing aloud, "I wonder if I will get fish for breakfast... Probably not."


About fifteen minutes later, we were on the side of an old road by a wandering creek, pulling the canoe off the pickup in a cloud of hungry mosquitoes. We pushed the boat into the water and Tom went off to park the truck.

I stood there, kind of holding the canoe in place while spraying myself liberally with Off bran repellent. I silently hoped it would work, because I was cold, miserable and really hating the sounds of the pests trying to fly into my ears.

Our honorable host was back about five minutes later and we pushed the boat underway into the cold creek among scrub bushes and grass. The Bug spray was working wonderfully as we baited our poles with night crawlers and a spinner spoon. As we paddled slowly, I cast out into the tannin darkened water, hoping for a bit.

About two minutes later I was rewarded with that wonderfully surprising sharp tugs on my night crawler. I tried to set the hook but was unsuccessful. Darn.

We continued around a bend and Tom called out that he had one on his lure!

He reeled it into the canoe and commented that he did not have a measuring tape to see if it was a "keeper".

I happen to know that I have seven inch hands so we used my hand to measure the fish. It was a keeper, so onto the stringer it went. We would not be "skunked" on this trip.

Night crawlers weren't doing their job as Tom reeled in another Speckled Trout. I was getting bites, but the worms were too big for the small mouths of the Speckies. I was offered the use of the lucky rod, which I accepted.

Next cast brought in a beauty, my first decent fish in years! The problem became that I kept pulling fish with each subsequent cast, so much that Tom was unable to rig his pole with a lure!

Being in a canoe, I would pull in the fish amidship, I was facing front so I had to twist back to land the fish. Tom would grab the fish, unhook it and put it on a stringer, while I casted for the next one.

It was fun for me, to say the least. The limit was five apiece, we had nine keepers on the string and the sun was getting higher, the bites became fewer. I suggested we get back to the house to clean and cook them, let's not be too greedy about getting more than we could eat.

Tom agreed, we paddled back to the launch site and pulled out of the water. It was 0815. Total fishing time was an hour and a half and we had almost the limit. What a great day!

The Spousal Unit was quite surprised at our catch, and we went back to Mohawk with her Mom, Dad and her Brother for a great waffle and fish breakfast. Memorial Day was having a wonderful start.

We departed at Noon for Grand Marais, where we had reservations for a motel on the water. Grand Marais is also the Mother in Law's place of residence, so she came along for the ride.

Did you know that many of Upper Peninsula roads are unpaved? They sure are. We drove about fifty miles on a dirt road from Marquette to Grand Marais. I drove that rental car a bit harder than I would my own, but the Impala held up majestically to the rough road.

We stopped by the painted rocks or Miner's Castle, don't remember the name.

Dirt road to Grand Marais:

The Spousal Unit's Mom wanted to show us her favorite spot in Grand Marais, what she calls her Beach Porch:

We dropped off Mother in Law at her place and went to our motel, on the waterfront across from the Coast Guard house/station.

No pool, no sauna, no ice machine, no clerk at the office. This was turning ugly.

The note on the window mentioned the keys were in the mailbox, which they were. We went to our room and found we were one of two occupied rooms. Oh well, that's how they roll in Grand Marais. They trust you until you prove untrustworthy. Very nice place, despite our disappointment with the inoperative parts of the facility.

Another view of the harbor:

We dined at the local microbrewery, the pizza was very good and the beer even better.

After dinner we walked to the fishing pier and watched the locals fishing for and catching whitefish. I took some great pictures of the sun setting at 2245 and wondered at what a full weekend it had been, me fishing that morning and us winding up in a very beautiful town, Grand Marais. We had some  more wine for about 30 minutes and called it a night.

The first two pictures are of a Memorial to two teen's who had a very bad day at the fishing breakwater.

The fishing Crew:

There was no remote for the TV. How did people survive thirty years ago?

Breakfast was held at the Train Car Diner (West Bay Diner) in the center of town, I mean village. Excellent food, a 1940's ambiance with good prices. I love these old diners!

Off to the Tahquamenon Falls, we were! Another fifty miles of dirt roads through a rural paradise, no other cars and me throwing a rooster tail of dust behind.

We got to the Upper Falls, which were the big ones. The park, like all the parks I saw in Michigan was clean, expertly managed and accessible to all. For six bucks. Did you know they have a Microbrewery at the Falls Park? Very civilized park they have there, oh yes!

The beer recommendation would be the Porcupine Pale Ale. I had two.

The Falls:

I shake my head at the great bargain and the bugs that immediately attacked. No problem, though. I am used to the flies and such, and besides; The Park is incredibly beautiful. My mind is definitely considering a relocation to the country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Lower Falls:

That thought bubble is burst by the Loving Spousal Unit, who reminds me that the sunny and warm weather is an anomaly, trying to trick us into moving to the Upper Peninsula. There are only two seasons up there: Winter and Next Winter. We just happened upon a fluke, a strange transient heat wave that would be gone in a flash. In fact, the tv weather people were concerned that people were being roasted alive without air conditioning!

More dirt road action including a phone booth and a gas station with added attraction, another car on our road!

Yooper Traffic Jam:

One more night was spent in our unmanned motel, we still hadn't checked in but found our room had been made up. Maybe there were invisible people running the joint and we were in an experimental station managed by aliens.

We departed for K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, International Airport at 0730 the next day. In the next two hours, we saw only five other cars heading our way.


We dined on some crappy airport food and called it a vacation. Mother In Law was picked up by The Niece and they went back to Mohawk, while we waited for the next hour for our plane to Detroit.

Home at 7:00PM, we finally relaxed in peace. What a week, and I am looking forward to returning to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

End of Mission.

Have a great weekend!



Gary said...

Welcome home! Looks like you guys had a really nice trip. Glad you enjoyed it and made it home safely.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Thanks, Gary!

I enjoy traveling but sometimes, the socializing takes it's toll. Stay healthy out there!

Buck said...

Wow. A tour de force post! Great pics and narrative. I'm thinking I won't do nearly as well with next month's trip out to Buffalo and Pittsburgh. We shall try, tho.

The last time I was up that way KI Sawyer still WAS an AFB. TSMP and I stayed in the TLQ for the duration of our visit... not quite as nice as your digs but the price was right for a young TSgt. The help was friendly there, too.

Your Spousal Unit is oh-so-right about the transitory nature of good WX up that way. There are few places better in these United Snakes than the UP in the summer and few (if ANY) worse in the winter. Ya gotta be HARDY to live up there year-round.