Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Friday, May 25, 2012

Recent Saginaw Trip

I finally looked through all the photos we took on our recent trip to Saginaw.  I got a lot of "to" shots and "from" shots, but I didn't take any "during" shots!  Oh well, I'll tell you about the trip anyway.

We took Cocoa to the dog motel the night before we left Calumet, as we anticipated leaving quite early on the morning of Tuesday, May 8.  We did manage to get on the road before 7:00 a.m., and we began our day in foggy conditions.

Those conditions continued as we made our way south along Lake Superior's Keweenaw Bay.

The fog was lifting when we made our usual stop at The Pines. Gas is cheaper there, so we always stop to fill the tank.

We hopped back in the Traverse and traveled another 5 miles in the fog again to the Hilltop Restaurant in L'Anse.  The Hilltop is the "Home of the Famous Sweetroll."  These cinnamon rolls weigh in at over a pound each!  As long as we're making the trip downstate, we can't pass up the opportunity to get one for Steve's daughter.  We also admit to purchasing a cookie or two while we were there, but those never made it to Saginaw.

As we made our way south and then east to Marquette, we saw periods of blue sky, clouds and fog.

It was quite foggy when we made our next stop at the Huron Mountain Bakery in Marquette.  It's impossible to drive past this place, too.  They have great muffins and bread, and our stomachs were crying out for muffins to make it through the next phase of our trip.

We normally take Hwy. 28 out of Marquette and head east across the top/middle of the Upper Peninsula, but we headed south on Hwy. 41 out of Marquette instead.  This route takes us through some farm land and wooded areas before reaching Hwy. 2.

It was an uneventful trip across the lower section of the Upper Peninsula.  This is what we were seeing by the time we got past the Naubinway area.

BUGS!  They were out in full force.  That made the rest stop quite a bit shorter!  It wasn't long before we were passing by some of the St. Ignace tourist attractions.

Next, it was on to the Mackinac Bridge.

The toll is now up to $4.00 for a two-axle passenger vehicle, but the view alone is worth it.

The Mackinac Bridge was the last thing I photographed until we were on our way home 3 days later.  We had lots to do while in the Saginaw area.  As I wrote in a previous post, we shopped so much that we probably looked like Doomsday Preppers on the trip home.  We visited 3 Dollar General Stores.  Steve is very fond of their popcorn, so he stripped the shelves.  We also visited 3 Tim Horton's in search of their whole bean coffee to take back to the Keweenaw for a friend.  More of our money was left at the following establishments:  Menards, Kroger, Aldi's, Meijer's, Jack's and WalMart.  Steve went to the doctor and we both went to the dentist.  No cavities!  We had a tire rotation and oil change at Draper's, and we went to the Wednesday evening service at Community Baptist Church.  It was nice to spend some time visiting with old friends again.  There were 17 of us at Bob Evans for dinner on Thursday night. 

Steve had a haircut scheduled on Friday morning, and we had planned to hit the road immediately after.  We decided we wanted to spend more time with Steve's daughter and granddaughter, however, so we postponed our trip until Friday afternoon.  We really enjoyed the extra time we had with Carrie and Grace.  It was a beautiful day, so we spent some of it outdoors. 

We pulled out of Carrie's driveway in St. Charles about 4:40 p.m. and decided to take Hwy. 46 west to Hwy. 127 north.  We hadn't been down that stretch of Hwy. 46 for a long, long time and were stunned to see mile after mile of these.

We had heard about this project and had seen reports of it on the news, but seeing it in person for the first time was kind of shocking.  It's Michigan's largest wind farm in Gratiot County.  Gratiot County is comprised of mostly flat farm land, and these massive turbines are definite attention grabbers on the landscape.  I read that many landowners have welcomed the turbines with open arms, as they'll get $80/acre for leasing space for a turbine and a percentage of gross royalties.  The turbines will apparently generate enough electricity to power 54,000 homes annually. Still, I'm glad I don't have one of these in my backyard. 

We expected to hit lots of traffic on our trip north, but it wasn't bad at all.  We did hit lots of bugs, though.  This is the view out the windshield by the time we caught sight of the Mackinac Bridge.

As we began crossing the bridge, here was the sky out the driver's side window.

Here was the sky out the passenger side window at the same time.

A big lake freighter was crossing under the bridge.  Can you see it?

Neither of us ever remember having that experience before.  Here's a shot of the path that was left in the water to the east of the bridge.

Kind of cool, huh?  It's hard to get a good shot of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island from a moving vehicle while crossing the Mackinac Bridge, but here's what I caught with the camera fully zoomed in.

It looks much more impressive in this shot from the internet.

There wasn't really anything interesting to report on the remainder of our trip across the Upper Peninsula - except changes in the sky.

All viewing was done through our buggy windshield.

We hit some rain shortly after 12:30 a.m., and we reached the brick streets of Houghton a few minutes after 1:00 a.m.

We climbed out of Hancock and up Quincy Hill and pulled into our driveway in Calumet at 1:25 a.m.  We had really pushed it on the trip home and made excellent time:  8 hours and 45 minutes.  We unloaded the necessary things out of the Traverse, but we left the majority of items there until we got some necessary shut-eye.  We thanked the Lord for a safe and successful trip.

Steve fetched Cocoa from the dog motel early the next morning.  She ripped up her pillow the last time she was there.  We gave her an old comforter this time, and she ripped it to shreds.  She likes the people there, and they're very good to her, but it's not home.  We got your message, Cocoa!

All is well in the Keweenaw.

P.S.  Remember to click on any individual photo if you want to see a larger image.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


One of the fun things about living in a different house this year is the excitement of discovering what's blooming in the yard.  We've been eating fresh asparagus, enjoying a variety of tulips and here's what's blooming next to the garage today!
Irises!  4 large blossoms with more almost ready to pop!

It's in the 70's and sunny.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Doomsday Preppers?

The last two weeks have been busy ones for us, and I haven't had time to go through all the photos and write the post about our trip to Saginaw yet.  I promise to try to get that done this week.

One of the things we do when we travel to Saginaw is SHOP, and I mean shop until we drop.  Our Traverse was packed so tightly on the trip home that we probably looked like Doomsday Preppers.  We can assure you that we are not Doomsday Preppers, but we do like to keep a well-stocked pantry.  If Doomsday should occur, feel free to make your way to the Keweenaw.  We'll have plenty of provisions!  When you live this far north and so far away from most chain stores, many things tend to be more expensive.  Therefore, we take advantage of any trips downstate to save money on things.  Yes, I admit I'm pretty frugal, but I prefer to think of it as being a wise steward.  (You can't believe how easy it is for me to talk myself out of spending a dollar at the dollar store.)  Some of you are thinking:  C'mon, how much could you possibly be saving?  The savings I computed on the items purchased at just one store alone covered the cost of our gas to make the trip to Saginaw.  Anyway, I wish we had taken photos of the way Steve had the vehicle packed.  When you opened the back doors, you would see things like bottles of salad dressing packed in every nook and cranny.  It was quite amusing.

I noticed that grape tomatoes and strawberries were on special in Saginaw, so we brought lots of them back to the Keweenaw.  I took care of the strawberries first, as it was obvious they weren't going to last as long.  It was time for more strawberry freezer jam.  I didn't think to take a photo of the whole berries, but here's a photo of the mashed berries.

The next step was to stir sugar and pectin into the mashed berries and ladle the mixture into 8 oz. jars.

I ended up with a total of 25 jars:  24 jars in the freezer and 1 jar that went directly into the refrigerator.  Yum.

It was then time for me to work on the grape tomatoes.  We purchased 24 pints, and I was very impressed with the quality.  I didn't have to throw away a single tomato.

First, they had a bath.

Then, I sliced them in halves.

After tossing them with olive oil and some seasonings, I placed them cut-side up on cookie sheets.

I slow-roasted them in the oven for several hours, put them into freezer bags, and popped them in the freezer.

We'll pull out one bag at a time as we need them.  We love the taste of oven-roasted tomatoes on our salads especially during the months when fresh garden-grown tomatoes aren't available.

So, the strawberries are done and the tomatoes are finished.  The pantry shelves and basement shelves are overflowing.  We spent some time on our Eagle Harbor property on Saturday.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Second Bear Encounter - Update

When writing the post about our "Second Bear Encounter" on May 4, we told you we would update you when we had more information as to the ending.  If you haven't read that post, please stop and read it now.

The End of the Story:  We were all wondering if Bear's owner had informed the owner of the chickens as to why he had a dead chicken on his lawn when he returned that evening.  The chicken incident happened 2 weeks ago today, so Larry has had plenty of time to talk to Fred.  Steve finally saw Fred outside on Monday, and they had a nice chat.  The answer?  NO!  Fred had NOT been informed as to what caused one of his chickens to become deceased while he was away that day. However, based upon past experiences with Bear and previous dead chicken incidents, Fred figured it out pretty quickly.  Bear actually broke into the chicken coop to get the chicken; the chicken was not roaming freely on the lawn.  Fred said Larry has never accepted responsibility for any of the chickens Bear has killed, even though Fred's wife caught Bear in the act with a chicken in his mouth on one occasion.  Nope, no fessing up; no restitution for Bear's chicken dinner(s).

We have found people here in the Keweenaw to be very honest and respectful. We're not going to let him spoil our love for this area, so, all is still well in the Keweenaw!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Traveling Mercies

We thanked the Lord for a safe and productive trip to the Saginaw area as we pulled into our driveway early this morning.

Sorry the photo is so blurry, but that's about how it looked with our actual eyes by that time.  We were definitely road weary.  Our plans changed a bit, so we didn't leave St. Charles until 4:40 p.m.  We made great time all the way to the Keweenaw.  Traffic was light.  We saw many deer, but they didn't run in front of us.  We didn't see any elk or moose. Traveling mercies indeed!

We're tired, but it was a beautiful day here in the low 60's.  Steve mowed the lawn for the second time.  It was fun to spend some time with family and friends, but it's also good to be HOME again.  We'll write a post about our trip in a few days.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cliff Cemetery

It's time for the other post I promised when writing "Halfway to 118."  Some of you probably thought it was a little strange that we were traipsing through an old cemetery on Steve's birthday.  Maybe so, but we considered it an interesting adventure.  If you ask Steve, he'll tell you it was one of the highlights of his day.  He's really turning into quite the history buff!

One of the many copper mines in this area was the Cliff Mine located between Mohawk and Phoenix.  The Cliff Mine became the first successful mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula after a huge boulder of pure copper was discovered there in 1845.  The community that developed around the mine was sometimes known as Clifton.  What little is left of the old Cliff Mine and town site is accessible from Cliff Drive, a seasonal road that runs about parallel to Hwy. 41.  Unless you know what you're looking for, you could easily drive by the entire area and never realize that something used to be there.  This mining village once had two cemeteries.  There was a Protestant cemetery off Cliff Drive and a Catholic cemetery now accessible off Hwy. 41.  Many of the mine workers were Irish Catholics who had fled Ireland's poverty and poor mining conditions.    

Whenever we drive from Mohawk to Phoenix, we pass this sign along the road.
We pulled over on Steve's birthday and looked at the trail opening in the trees.

We had never explored this trail in the past, but Steve said this was the day.  No bugs or mosquitoes yet, so it seemed like a good day to me, too.  We locked up the Traverse and headed down the narrow path.  The village no longer exists, so the small cemetery hasn't been used in many years and has been almost completely swallowed up by the forest.  Many of the grave markers are long gone, but some stone and metal markers can be seen.  Among scattered markers that are broken or illegible, we found some we could read.  It always tugs at your heart when you walk through old cemeteries and see how many children and young mothers died.  We are truly blessed to be alive at this time in history when medical science has helped to greatly increase our life expectancies.

The terrain in this old graveyard is challenging.  It's not like walking on the well-manicured lawns of a modern cemetery.  The winding, narrow path through the trees requires careful, deliberate footsteps and an occasional climb over a fallen tree or duck under low-hanging branches. 

One of the first markers I happened upon was the broken stone of Margaret Wagner who died at age 33 in 1871.

We noticed some broken stones that seemed to have been carefully placed in a horizontal position or propped against a tree.

Several of the broken stones had been lovingly pieced back together.

Steve found the old metal markers to be especially fascinating.

Some thoughtful descendent had probably draped this artificial ivy on this grave marker.

Two areas were surrounded with metal fencing.  This one was large enough to contain various members of one family.

This fence looked large enough to outline just one grave.  Maria's descendents had also marked the site with a list of her descendents.  It shows they placed a value on Maria's life and memory and wanted others to know that she hadn't been forgotten.   

We also noticed the remnants of an old wooden fence that no longer marks a specific area of the cemetery.

Peter Kremer/Kremmer buried both his daughter and his wife and marked their passing with these very pretty stones.

Joseph Schick's family made this effort to remark his grave in more recent days.  We wondered whether he had a marker back in 1884 or had it disappeared?

I read a story on the internet of an elderly woman who was a resident of a local adult foster care home.  She has now passed away, but Joseph Schick was her grandfather.  She would take a yearly trip to this cemetery.  She said she and her father had planted this flowering ground cover on her grandfather's grave many years ago.  This ground cover has now overtaken almost the entire cemetery and is actually one of the prettiest things about it.

We're not sure where the borders of the cemetery are located, but we saw this old stone foundation near the back of the area where you can readily walk.

In the research I did one evening on the internet, I didn't find any definitive answer as to what the stones are from.

It was almost time for Steve's birthday dinner, so we made our way back down the narrow trail toward the road.

One last look back and I noticed this tree in the background with an unusual number and configuration of branches.

We thoroughly enjoyed our little excursion into the forest to explore Cliff Cemetery.

All is well in the Keweenaw.