Sunday, July 31, 2011

Upper Michigan

Our trip to Upper Michigan was fun time.  

Thursday morning we left Rice Lake & headed North for lunch with Rick & Mary in Mason, WI.  Her fresh egg salad sandwiches sure hit the spot.  Then on we went through Ashland into Michigan at Ironwood.  From Iron Wood we headed SE towards our destination of Caspian, MI.  I wonder how many logging trucks we met on the way.  There were some parts of the trip that seemed quite cell service and only trees to see.  

We arrived at Fay & John's house before supper and received a warm greeting.  Fay and John have been good friends for Dad & Ev during their winters in Texas.  They are warm hosts and provided us with anything and everything we could want during our stay.  After a delicious lasagne supper, we settled in for a fun time with penny poker.  This game has become part of the Texas ritual and it was fun to sit in an listen to them razz each other as we played.  In Texas they play at least once a week and have a full table of friends join in.

Friday morning, after coffee and some visiting, I headed off on my own to explore further North in the U.P.  Dad & Ev and John & Fay spent the day together and visited another one of their Texas pals as well.  

My trip took me as far north as Houghton.  A college town, built on a steep hill, with a rich history of mining and a portage between Keweenaw Bay & Lake Superior.   Equipped with a draw bridge so the big ore ships must travel through here.
A beautiful spot really.
According to Wikipedia:  When Horace Greeley said, "Go West, young man" he was referring to the copper rush in "Michigan's western Upper Peninsula."[9]
 The old mine and a mural of the mine made for interesting viewing.
A mine fire occurred on 7 Sept 1895. . At least 30 miners died.
 In Houghton's first days it was said that "only thieves, crooks, murderers and Indians" lived there.

I am interested in going back for a longer visit, the town has a nice boardwalk along the water and looks to have a few fun shops and saloons worthy of a visit.

An interesting part of my day came along when I stopped at a marsh to look at a restoration project.  
This was in the morning on my way to Houghton.
 I climbed up the 3 story wooden tower to see what I could see.
Red sled in the parking lot at Sturgeon Sloughs.
 I was listening to some birds and hoping to get a glimpse and photo of something interesting.
I heard a little crunching noise, and started thinking that a deer or other animal was about to walk into my sight.
Then I saw that the noise was a bicyclist riding into the parking area.
The young man climbed up the tower to take a look and we started a conversation.
He was riding his bike from Rhinelander, WI to Bayside, MI.
His route had taken him through Houghton as he needed to have 2 spokes repaired on his wheel, so he had to ride an extra 85 miles to find a repairman.  Now he was headed to L'Anse and then further East.  His goal is to cross into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie as well.  Quite a journey ahead of him.
His bike was loaded with packs on the front and back, so I asked if he was camping along the way.
He told me that he has a hammock that he sleeps in and it has netting to keep the bugs out so is quite comfortable.
He is a college student and is spending his last 2 weeks of the summer making this bike ride.
I have ridden as far as 50 miles in one day, but I have never ridden a route like this, with many miles to go day after day.  It was quite an ambitious trip he was on.
I wished him safe riding and headed on my way to Houghton.

After spending a couple of hours on my drive to and from Houghton, I decided to stop at a public marina in Baraga.  The marina jutted out into Keweenaw Bay and had some picnic tables, so I decided to stop and have a soda & snap a few photos.

The red sled parked in the marina lot at Baraga, MI

 I was messing around taking some photos of the flag at the marina.

These two seagulls looked like they were having an afternoon chat.
 Then I heard a crunching sound, I turned to see my bike riding friend rolling into the marina parking lot.
What a crazy coincidence.
We introduced ourselves and I learned that Steven is a college student from Elgin, Illinois who was an avid bike rider all his life.
A few years ago he was diagnosed with left ventricle deficiency and through many medications is once again healthy.  Along his recovery he was unable to ride bike and his weight had gone as high as 302 pounds.
Now he is once again in control of his health and this ride is part of that part of his life's journey.
His car is parked in Rhinelander, WI at his parent's cabin and his goal is Bay City, MI where his brother lives.
An inspirational story for sure.
We chatted a while about his gear, the bike, his planned route.  I was very curious and he was a willing conversationalist.
Finally I left him to enjoy the scenery, and again wished him safe riding.  After I was well down the road, I wished I had given him an email address so that he could let me know that he finishes.  
Maybe somewhere along the line someone will see him or I'll hear of his trip.
Either way, I am inspired to get my bike out of the garage and get it ready for riding again.
Back in Caspian, we had a delicious supper of pasties, a local delicacy of a crust filled with potatoes and meat and rutabagas.  Yummy! 
The folks and their pals played some more cards and then we were all off to bed after a fun day.
After coffee & visiting Saturday morning, we packed up to leave to return to Rice Lake.
Dad & John and Fay & Ev
 John is a former greenhouse owner, and he has some beautiful flowers in his yard.  This elevated box of petunias is a show stopper!
Bee balm always makes me think of 'bad hair days'.

I don't think I have ever seen prettier marigolds.

A little windmill is sporting some baskets of tiny purple petunias.
Our trip home was nice, again we saw many trees.  Our route this time took us through Eagle River and then we stayed on 70 all the way past Winter to Hwy 27.  We had a lunch at Two Sisters Saloon in St. Germain, WI.
Great Packer bar and our lunch was very excellent.
We had to take a piece of homemade carrot cake home.
As we were eating lunch, I noticed an email on my phone that alerted me that we were about to have severe thunderstorms in Rice Lake.  As we loaded up to head out of the parking lot of the restaurant, we noticed the dark clouds were closing in from the West.
Our drive got pretty tense in short order.  The rain and wind was so bad that I could barely see to drive at all.
Add to that a tree down on the road as well as flying debris and I soon found a paved road where I could pull over and park.  We waited out the worst of the storm and then continued home without any more excitement.
We were 3 weary travelers by the time we got home, but we had enjoyed our Upper Michigan vacation!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Upper Michigan

The folks and I are on a little vacation to the U.P. I took off this morning on a day of adventure exploring around the area close to Lake Superior.
Houghton, MI is a very cool town and sitting here next to the portage is mighty fine.
Life is good!
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hectic around here

It seems like it is kind of busy around here.  Having Dad & Ev here is lots of fun, but the days do seem to slip by me and the blog gets ignored.
Last weekend was Lucky Days in Luck, WI and my 40th class reunion.
It was a very fun weekend in Luck and I really enjoyed seeing my old friends/classmates.
Today, Rick and Mary were here for lunch and a visit.  This afternoon the weather was so nice that Dad and Ev & I sat on the back deck and watched the birds and chatted until well into the evening.
I managed to snap a couple of pictures at least.
Petunias on the back deck
Little wild flower at the edge of the woods

Thistle Flower - I better get this cut down or I'll have a yard full.

Wicked looking, eh?

But pretty in an odd way.
I happened to notice a spider working away on his web.
I could barely see the web in the sunlight.

He is a hard working little guy, and now it is supposed to rain, will check on him in the morning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adversity is the mother of invention, I guess

A couple of weeks ago the bears came to my yard and pulled down all my bird feeders.  In the process they bent the poles on all the feeders.  This was about the 3rd time that they have ruined all my feeder poles, so I gave up and decided 'No Mas'.
Then I started thinking about what I could do differently that might still allow me to have feeders again.  Dad and I started talking about what we could build using a 4X4 for the pole, so at least if the bears knock it down, it won't be bent in half.  We kicked around anchoring a 4X4 in cement in an old tire, then we talked about cement in a wash tub, and finally we got the better idea of supporting the 4X4 with an old fashioned Christmas tree base.
Marking the holes for the steel support bracket.

Bases are done for all three feeders.

Base and pole in place with top shelf support

Feeder at back deck with 'annex' of oriole feeder on the side.

Backyard feeder with suet feeder annex.

Front window feeder with both suet feeder & oriole annex.
 A much improved view out the living room window!
The design allows for the feeders to be easily removed at night during bear season.

I learned alot from Dad during the manufacture of these feeder poles.
I ran his table saw too, so that was great.
And we had fun coming up with the idea and during the project work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy about a storm

The heat and humidity has been just oppressive but tonight a severe storm ripped across our part of the state and I am glad.  The temperature dropped about 20 degrees and we could actually have the windows open, yippee!
I always call these clouds egg carton clouds.
The Pumpkin Patch barn was reflecting a nice glowing sunset.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Erickson Day Lily Success

Back in May, I was lucky enough to get 5 clumps of day lilies from Gary & Mary Erickson, who have an amazing flower garden in memory of their son.  This week, to my delight, one of the lilies bloomed and there is at least one more clump with a bud.  Gary tried hard to give me 5 different colors so it is a surprise to see what each of the clump of lilies produces.

 Here is the first to show a flower to me.

 The next of the lilies is this beauty, very light yellow.

The tiger lilies that were in my yard when I moved here, have really gotten to be big healthy clumps of plants.

 This year has been a particularly good year for these orange lilies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A visit to see Bryce and his Mom

Dad & Ev and I drove to Menomonie on Thursday to see new baby boy, Bryce and his Mom, Kaija.  I like to see the babies when they are 'fresh', so we thought it was worth a quick drive down.
Bryce got kind of upset with us that we interrupted his lunch.

But he got glad again on Mom's shoulder.

He seemed interested in his thumb...

or fist...

or sleeve.

He is a sweet baby boy and sure has a full head of hair.


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