Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Monday, April 30, 2012

Halfway to 118

Steve's favorite birthday was when he turned 50 in 2003 and brought home "his baby," the 50th anniversary edition Corvette.  If you know Steve, you know he loves that car.  It has 9,000 miles (mostly U.P. miles) and still smells like new.  He says this year was his second favorite birthday. . . because we're living in the U.P.  I told him we should do whatever he wants to do.  "Let's go for a ride," he said.  Does that sound familiar?  Hey, I think we just did that 6 days ago on my birthday.  We really are perfect for each other.

We hopped in the Traverse on the morning of April 27.  What's that on the window?

Frost!  Guess it got a little cold last night.  We turned on the defrost and headed for our favorite coffee joint.  The 5th & Elm Coffee House is just around the corner from us in Calumet.

Steve ordered 2 to go with double hits of cream.  Extra Bonus:  They now have a coffee card.  Get 11 punches and the 12th coffee is free.  The gal even gave us some extra punches because she recognized us.  Steve announced his birthday, and she gave him a "Happy Birthday," too.

OK, next errand.  Head over to the U.S. Post Office on 6th Street to drop some mail in the box. 

The exterior of that building doesn't look sufficiently old for this town, but the interior looks quite historic.  By the way, they have an "Out-of-Town" mail slot inside, but no slot for local mail.  Isn't that peculiar?  Next, we headed for the gas station to top off the tank.  I noticed the flag there billowing so beautifully in the breeze.  It was going to be a lovely day.

On our way out of Calumet, we noticed a sign for an estate sale.  Why pass it up?  It was our first estate sale since moving to the U.P., and we picked up a few things including an antique chair perfect for the enclosed front porch - just a spot to remove the shoes before entering the house.

Yes, we do plan to do something about that awful paneling when the weather warms up.  Steve pointed the vehicle back on course up Hwy. 41 and zoomed past the cliffs where you still see lots of taupe-colored bare trees.

We turned left on Hwy. 26 at Phoenix and headed toward Eagle River.  There's that sapphire blue water again.

Shortly before entering Eagle River, we passed the cemetery on the left.  It's a pretty, peaceful setting.

We took the long way through town.  If you've ever been to Eagle River, you would laugh at that last sentence. 

After our 2-block detour, we returned to Hwy. 26 and drove a short distance down this scenic stretch.

Then, we made a stop at The Jampot.  It was the bakery's opening day.  I warned Steve in advance that they might not have his favorite coffee muffins yet.  It's hardly peak tourist season.  Not only didn't they have his coffee muffin, they didn't have any muffins at all that day.  They were only offering some of their homemade candies, brownies, breads, jams and cookies - no sugar cookies, however.  We suffered and purchased 2 German Chocolate Brownies with Caramel filling.  We drove a short distance further and pulled off at the roadside overlook at Great Sand Bay.  It was time to crack the windows and consume our treats with some more coffee.  We brought along a thermos full of our own "Hamilton House Blend."  Here's the birthday boy.

After listening to the water, smelling the fresh air and satisfying the sweet tooth, it was time to be on our way again.  There's a piece of land you can see from that overlook that we wanted to explore.  We turned off the main road onto the path that leads to 4 or 5 cabins. 

From this area, you can look back at the spot where we were previously parked - near the yellow road sign on the left.

This family got creative with some driftwood on the side of their cabin.

Back on the road toward Eagle Harbor.  Oh, there's another road to explore just before entering Eagle Harbor.  Off we go!  Stop, what's that on the hill?  Steve's eagle eye rarely misses a deer in the woods.  Can you see it?

We watched several deer in that area for about 10 minutes before we discovered the road was a dead end.  There was a nice house at the end of it with a beautiful view of Lake Superior.  We turned around and decided to go on and explore the lighthouse area in Eagle Harbor.  I took so many photos there that I need to save them for another post.  I promise I won't forget.  We paused for a few seconds at this sign in Eagle Harbor while Steve made up his mind about what to do next.

He decided to skip Copper Harbor for the day and go to our property instead.  We walked around the property for a bit - talking about our dreams of living there.  A woodpecker (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) was pecking away at one of the trees, but he was so quick that he was difficult to capture on film.  He blends into the color of the tree, but I think you can find him in this photo.

Here's an old rusty object Steve found in our woods.  Wish we knew how it got there.  If you know what it is, please let us know. 

Time to leave, as we wanted to do a bit more exploring before dinner.  As we headed back down Hwy. 41, we noticed a deceased deer along the road with a flock of turkey vultures happily feasting upon it.  The vultures flew up into the trees as we came to a stop.  Wow, there was a bald eagle, too!  He flew into a nearby tree, and I zoomed in to get a good photo.  Unfortunately, he decided to take flight before I snapped the picture and I didn't have enough time to zoom back out.  He flew directly over us just above the vehicle.  He had an incredible wingspan.  It was truly impressive.  I must admit that I took a few photos of the deer carcass, but I won't share them with you.  The poor deer had his entire rib cage fully exposed and picked clean, but the rest of the animal was basically intact. 

As long as we stopped in this area, we decided to walk down the nearby trail to the Cliff Cemetery.  The cemetery hasn't been used for years and and has been swallowed up by the forest.  It's very cool.  I'll save those photos and description for another future post.  One more thing in this general area is the Keweenaw County Snow Gauge - some call it the Snow Thermometer.

The red arrow shows the total for the 2010-2011 season (174.5"), and here's what it says at the top.

We don't know anyone who is hoping for a repeat of the winter of 1978-79.  I believe the 2011-12 season stands at 196" as of today - still far below average.  We've had slightly more than that here in northern Houghton County.

Next, we made a quick detour to the old Centennial Mine located between Calumet and Kearsarge.  The exterior of the No. 6 shafthouse is still in good condition.

It was now time for Steve's dinner at The Hut Inn - a Copper Country landmark since 1952.

It was Friday, so all their fish dinners were on special, but Steve hasn't had a burger since December.  As a self-professed burger connoisseur, he had to go with the burger on his birthday.  I had fresh batteries in the camera, but I forgot the camera in the Traverse, so no photos were taken inside The Hut again.  Sorry!  I guess you deserve a description instead.  He ordered "The Hut Hut Burger - 1 pound of hamburger served on a French loaf.  Created for the insatiable appetite."  Toppings:  Onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mayo, ketchup and mustard, plus a side order of homemade fries.  The birthday boy also had a dish of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream for dessert!  Did he eat everything?  No, he had to get a doggy box for half of the burger.

Time to go home?  Not yet.  Steve remembered that he wanted to pick up a few Lake Superior rocks for his daughter's yard.  We still had plenty of daylight left, so we headed back to an area where he saw some good rocks.  On the way back up Hwy. 41, we again noticed the turkey vultures and the eagle.  They flew into the trees again, but I was able to snap some photos this time.  The vultures looked like something out of a creepy movie.

Bald eagles always look majestic.

I even got a couple of shots as he flew away.


Rock hunting was the last thing on the agenda before we returned home.  The sun was setting, so the breeze along the shore was cold.  Steve was determined to get a few good specimens, so he put on a warmer jacket and used his hoodie to cover his head.

I couldn't help but notice the sky.  Clouds had settled in, but it was still pretty.

With rocks in hand, we headed back up the hill to the Traverse.

We made our way home for a quiet evening.  Before turning in for the night, Steve somehow managed to consume most of the remaining burger.  However, his chocolate cake and ice cream had to wait until the next day!  He says he thoroughly enjoyed his special day.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

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