Sunday August 21 Ishpeming, Michigan
Sunday, the day of rest, and rest is exactly what we did. I managed to venture out in the late afternoon, driving around town, getting a whiff of the pungent aroma the town's combination sewage treatment/compost plant puts out. The worst thing was that while I had my window open trying to figure out what that horrible odor was, a half a dozen or so flies flew into the Explorer managing to vex me for the remainder of my sojourn. As far as the photo, it is a wind turbine that was supposed to be operational a long time ago, but is mired in lawsuits and gives one the feeling that if the cases drag out in court long enough, it will turn out to be a sculpture rather than a generator. Now you see why I like to drive around these small towns, you just never know what you will discover afterward through the magic of Google.
While I was being assaulted by the sights and smells of Ishpeming, Linda mounted her own assault, this one at our future travels. Splitting her time between what the next few weeks will bring with Labor Day Weekend looming, and next summer's Alaska cruise, she was one busy girl. We still aren't sure where we will be for the holiday but it is looking more and more like the Houghton/Hancock area. We want to thoroughly explore the Keweenaw Peninsula, using Houghton as a base, and if we like Copper Harbor enough then we will just move up their after the three day weekend when the state park will be empty. It's beginning to look like we won't be in D.C until mid October at the earliest, but why hurry, D.C. isn't going anywhere, and the weather then should be great. What a tough Life we live.
You might think I've put this food photo in as a way of weaning both you and me off the food photo binge I was on yesterday, but that's only partly right. And now, the rest of the story, which happened last night shortly before I went back to bed, but it really started a little earlier in the evening and that is where we shall begin.
Linda always has one item on her, to do before bed list, and the number of consecuetive nights that has happened stretches far back into the dim, murky past, "it" being dessert. While she often fixes "it" for both of us, last night the dessert hunger bug struck her earlier than usual, resulting in her downing a piece of yogurt peach cake, a variation of her apple yogurt cake. Of course I was oblivious to all this, only learning about it when I innocently asked, "What's for dessert?"
The answer being, "I already had mine, get your own." which was precisely what I proceeded to do.
O error of my ways, why dost thou plague me so many days? Why, O why, do I always do the wrong thing? Taking a clue from the manner in which she delivered her reply, I concluded asking her to get me something was not something I should do. Thus I did exactly what she told me to do, I fixed my own dessert, which turned out to be the wrong thing to do though I didn't know it right then. Seeing a peach laying on the counter, looking at the yogurt peach cake, and remembering we bought milk at the store, I used my imagination and came up with my own dessert.
First got down a bowl, into which I crumbled a piece of the cake, then the peach was sliced into small pieces atop the cake. A splash or two of Torini Vanilla Syrup, a dash of cinnamon, then I filled the bowl with milk and microwaved it until it was warm. "What's that you fixed?"
"You told me to get my own dessert, so that's what I did." which I followed with an explanation of what I had just concocted and which I was now eating with great relish.
"That looks really good."
"Do you want me to make you one?"
"No, I already had dessert."
The problem was that the glare in her eye was contradicting her words. O sweet innocence of man, why can't we ever please woman?
So now you know the why behind these photos. The what was a step by step, "What next?" from Linda as she had me tell her exactly how I had created my dessert of last evening. In the end she added her own flourish with a mound whipped topping crowning her creation. Make that creations, as she made one for both of us. Oh, and tonight it wasn't she who simply made dessert, nor did she ask me if it was time for dessert. No, she sat there until I broached the subject, then eagerly replied to the effect that she was more than ready. Had she been thinking about that dessert ever since I fixed "it" last night? Had she really been waiting on me to mention dessert so she could pick my brain about last night? Or was she just being the normal woman that man can never understand? Just another of Life's mysteries, encountered along the full time highway.
162.0 .6 1.3
Monday August 22 Ishpeming, Michigan
Food photo day
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and I will then take a photo of it so it won't happen again. While that isn't Linda's motto, it does convey what this food photo is all about. A few days ago we went back to the store where we bought this delectable spread, but looking at all the different kinds they had on the shelf, we couldn't remember which one we had bought. There was a discussion at the store, but I'll just leave it out as anything I would say about it as that would just get me into trouble, and rightly so. Today we are going back to Marquette with a planned stop at that store, hence this photo which will ensure the purchase of the right stuff.
Nothing like a photo of a half eaten half of a Jean Kay's beef with rutabaga pasty to highlight your day, is there? There was no choice in this matter because from now on, meal time in Marquette means a drive out Presque Isle Ave to buy a Jean Kay's pasty. This time we got one to eat and a half baked one to take back so we can bake and eat it in a few days when we start having withdrawal symptoms. As we were leaving the store, Linda was perusing the flyer they hand out pointing out that since they ship Fedex, somewhere down the road we can order in some more. As I say over and over, I sure got a good one in Linda.
It isn't hard to guess where we went to eat our lunch pasty. We have now been to Presque Isle Park for a picnic lunch four different times and we have come to realize just how lucky we were to see an ore boat loading that first day. As we drove up we could see one in the distance and I thought it was docking while Linda knew it was heading out on the Lake. All the while we sat there eating it never came into view, so as we were finishing I quipped, "It sure is taking a long time to come into the harbor."
"Sure, sure" was her only reply.
"Let's walk out to the end and see where it is" I suggested, thinking it was hidden right off the point. Problem was, when we got there, there was no boat in sight, then Linda pointed to a dot on the horizon. My, "Looks like you were right" brought forth her million watt smile. I must be getting old when I admit to being wrong so easily.
This photo should rightly be captioned, Woman searching for bike, a study in what will be" Photo by Bob. This is some preliminary shopping for when we are back at the coach house (in Texas), since she who has control over such matters has stated that we will be getting bikes for there. I have to agree one hundred percent, because with so many places down there where we can ride it really makes sense. Besides, I just had to have at least one photo that was about something other than food, though it does tie into food. Eat, get fat, exercise by riding bike, get rid of fat. Food, it does a tummy good.
Speaking of food doing a tummy good, Linda made a smoked trout chowder for dinner that was great. For her the jury is still out, what with her tummy saying it is great, but her mind unsure. I really do know what she goes through because fish anything was never high on my list of things I liked either. Eating a lot of bluegills that had an extremely strong fishy taste and were full of bones to boot, during my formative years likely has something to do with my own fish aversion. End the day with an almond butter and jelly pigout on crackers and top that with another of those yogurt peach cake desserts like the night before, this time with even more whipped topping, and we know why it doesn't get better than this. As for tomorrow, it is down the road another 50 or so miles to Baraga where we will spend a few days resting and recharging before heading off to the Houghton area for a week of some serious heavy duty touristing. Limitations? What limitations? We're full timers. We go where we want to go and do what we want to do. The Mamas & The Papas got it right.
163.0 1 2.3
Tuesday August 23 Baraga, Michigan
We were heading west today, which is why we first headed east. We realized the almond butter we had bought at the Co-op just wasn't going to last, so we drove back into Marquette to buy some more. As we drove, we talked about how much we liked this area, the park we are staying at, and how many things there were to do around here. The Explorer almost drove itself, and before long we were parked and ready to walk to the store. That was when I realized I'd parked in the wrong spot. We were near the produce store, not the Co-op. Now as I write this I wonder what it was that we forgot at the produce store, and looking at the nearly empty basket of grape tomatoes I think I know. Some days you just can't win.
Nothing like a photo of a filled stack of containers to make the statement about how much Linda likes her fresh ground almond butter. The most amazing thing was that we didn't buy anything else, and this time I can't even think of anything we should have, but didn't. Then it was back to the coach, and just before noon we left for Baraga, a little over an hour away, where we planned to spend a few days not doing much of anything. Unfortunately, once we arrived and discovered how much there was to see and do, it looks like our days of rest are going to have to wait.
This is not an archival photo, it is a photo of our current site. Linda did a quick calculation and came up with the fact that this is only the second time since July 5th that we have stayed at a site that had full hookups. We'd been in several RV parks that had full hooks during that time, it was just that the site we were at didn't have them. Linda was smiling because it meant she gets to use her washer instead of going to the ones at the park. When she uses her washer, no one takes her wash out and dumps it on the table because she was a couple of minutes late walking back to the laundry room. And even that time it really, truly wasn't Linda's fault, because the time they posted for the the wash cycle to take was off. So even though Linda set her timer to be there early, which she was, she wasn't. That's not going to happen here, though what will happen will be the smile on her face.
Another piece of Made on China junk from Walmart. We bought it because it was cheap and that was what we got. Of course it has run almost every day for over 5 years cooling the MotoSat equipment, but for $4.97 I'd expect a lot longer life. It's been cleaned several times before, but cleaning wasn't really helping it this time. It is just plain worn out from all that work. Maybe I'll just rig up a computer fan to replace it. It would take up a lot less room, be quieter, plus it should run and run and keep on running. And to top it off, I can most likely buy everything I need at a thrift store for under a couple of dollars, and maybe even under a buck. Got to stay away from them high priced $4.97 fans that only work for a while then quit, you know.
Met this little fellow while we were out and about doing some exploring of the area in the Explorer. I'd read about an old cemetery that was supposed to be near the location of an early church and orphanage that Bishop Frederic Baraga had started. It took some looking, including a stop at another cemetery that wasn't the one we were looking for, but at last we found it. The old buildings, what very little is left, are in ruins, and the cemetery was moved in the middle of the 20th century when the road was relocated, but we learned about the man about whom we had seen many references regarding his life and works in the Marquette area.
Afterward we drove over to the county seat, L'Anse, which is a cute little town that we want to walk around and explore during the next couple of days. There is also several unique museums in the area, one dealing with Henry Ford and the other a 1920' Finnish Farm, that are on our list. In addition, we are staying at a casino, so there will no doubt be the siren call of adult entertainment beckoning Linda to the penny slots. That is as long as there is no hint of smoke in the air, and they have penny slots. Linda enjoys playing, but only if the air is fresh and the stakes aren't too high. And isn't that one of the keys to Life? Knowing what you want to do and doing it.
162.0 1 1.3
Wednesday August 24 Baraga, Michigan
Not just sitting around
So much for doing nothing today. Wasn't going to happen, no way, no how. Linda has water and sewer. Linda hasn't got to use her washer for weeks. Linda was up early doing her thing. Linda was happy. Bob was happy. Life is good.
The morning was spent in catching up on a few other domestic duties in addition to washing that load of clothes. As I looked at the pile on the bed, there was certainly more than one load, yet all the little woman was washing was a single load. The mystery of the unwashed wash was soon solved when it was revealed that she was in no hurry to wash everything, and that part of it could wait until tomorrow. Now that is a first. Linda is one of those, right now and not a second later people. Was she actually becoming an all things in due time type, or was she not feeling good? She was feeling great, so it must have been something else. Maybe time will tell, or maybe I was just imagining things.
We did manage to get in some touristing, driving out to the town of Alberta where we learned the where and how of the wood that made the "Woodie', a woodie. As an aside, one of Linda's nicknames when growing up, long before I met her, was "Woody", a term she quickly informed me that would only be be uttered by me once, after which the wires that held my broken jaw in place would keep me from saying it again. Maybe I should have taken that as hint of what was come, a woman how knows what she wants and isn't afraid to say it. Lucky me, no strong silent treatment from her ever. Unfortunately for her, I can do a pretty good imitation of the strong silent type at times. And it always gets me in even worse trouble when I do, though I totally deserve it when it happens. Bad Bob.
Alberta was a town and sawmill that Henry Ford built and owned, in fact he owned over a half million acres of forest besides. When the operation was closed, the Ford Motor Company donated the entire town to what is now Michigan Tech, as a forestry research center. Today it carries on several roles in addition to that, one of which is to serve as a museum of a time when those Woodies were made. That day is long gone, but as the photo shows, some people carry on the tradition in different ways. Handlebars, the Harley wings, and oil pan to catch the drips underneath and twin tailpipe rockers. It's made from curly maple and can be yours for only $17,000. Nobody said Harley's are cheap, after all, quality costs.
The more we learn about Henry Ford, the more I have to admire his genius. The sawmill was set up so the sawdust and small scrap pieces of wood where automatically fed into a boiler's firebox in order to generate steam which was used to run the sawmill equipment as well as generate electricity for the town. The slabs were cut to size so they could be used in the houses for heating. Ford not only thought in terms of manpower efficiency, he also thought in terms of maximum efficiency in the utilization on material, and it changed industry. Was he perfect? No way, which has been amply demonstrated by more than a few of his biographers. As far as perfection is concerned, Linda is quite familiar with it, seeing manifested virtually all the time, every day, right before her eyes. [Editor's comment: he is making me a little ill with that last comment.]
Met this little fellow while we were out and about doing some exploring of the area across from the sawmill. I think Linda was totally oblivious of it, and I was very nice to not to point and yell, "A snake, there's a snake!!" But boy did I ever want to. Good Bob.
Back at the coach Linda did one of her favorite things, it may not have been cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels, but it was fresh baked cookies. And since we have peaches, she substituted peach sauce for the apple sauce. Later, just before retiring for the night I mixed up some ricotta and vanilla syrup, then getting several cookies out of the container, I asked "Do you want one or two cookies?"
"None? Aren't they any good?"
I could see this wasn't getting anywhere, but from the tone of the responses I was touching the edges of "don't go there land". It took her a minute, but then I heard, "I had more than enough while I was making them. You like yours baked, I like cookie dough."
It was something I didn't need to reply to, and I didn't. I may not understand women, but I do know that one should never rile a cookie monster. Linda was happy. Bob was happy. Life is good.
161.0 1 .3
Thursday August 25 Baraga, Michigan
Back in time
Back in time meant driving far, far back into the country to visit Hanka, a Finnish Homestead Museum. Hanka is a bit of a time warp, existing somewhere in the 1920's. They say that to get there, just follow the signs, and that is what we did and it got us there, along with a moment or two of wondering if this was truly the right road, with the road sometimes barely describing what we were driving on. It was looking more and more like our kind of place.
I just couldn't pass up on this photo. I couldn't figure out what the pair of shoes on the left was made out off, thinking that maybe it was some kind of specially treated leather. There was also something that looked like a handbag made from the same substance, and I was leaving the room I asked Linda if she knew what it was. I couple of minutes later I walked back in to see her usual huge smile upped by a few million watts and I knew she had figured out what it was. "They're birch bark shoes, look at the pattern of markings." That was all she needed to say because sure enough, that positively brilliant in so many ways woman that is my wife, was right just like she always is even if I might be occasionally reluctant to admit it.
Later I got to return the favor out near the barn. Always interested in outhouses, I peeked inside this one to discover that it just wasn't the old homestead outhouse, it had been renewed inside so that visitors could use it. Asking Linda if she had looked inside, when the answer was that she hadn't, I suggested she look. From the resulting laugh I knew she enjoyed it as much as I had. That catalog isn't there for reading material, it's there in case you want to "enjoy" the complete experience of using the outhouse just as they did in the old days. Toilet paper? Who needs toilet paper when you've got a Sears and Roebuck catalog.
Time flies when you're having fun, and it was almost 2 before we were back to civilization, eating lunch in the shadow of another lighthouse. This one wasn't operating and offered no tours, but a lighthouse is a lighthouse when you like lighthouses. We've also decided to pull an Ishpeming here in Baraga, returning to the casino for the Labor Day weekend. Knowing how the end of the summer usually gets celebrated at State parks and lakeside campgrounds, plus with more than enough to see and do around here, it makes sense to us. Plus it is only 30 miles or so from where we are going to be spending the next week in Houghton, making it barely out of the way. As if that mattered in the least.
Leaving the park, my mind was on missing potholes when I hear, "Stop!" Since I wasn't picking my nose or scratching certain places, things that come with being a man, I wasn't sure what she meant. Then, with more than mere exasperation in her voice it came again, "Stop! I said STOP!!" Once my head ceased wobbling back and forth, the result of my instantaneously slamming on the brakes, I could see her looking off to the side of the road into a small pond that was well coated with green scum. Knowing her aversion to swimming, that couldn't be why we stopped but just what was it? There followed a series of commands resulting in the Explorer being moved back and forth, all the while accompanied by the sound of her shutter clicking. Once satisfied, we moved on. Rather than show you the photos she took of a turtle on a log, I thought I'd relate what it took to get those photos of a turtle on a log.
Repair time. The front drivers side slide topper has developed a small tear at the leading edge where it fastens to the coach. Linda is a whiz at sewing and she thought she could sew a small patch that we (I) could then sew to the two sides of the tear and keep it from growing. I concurred, and soon she was sewing the patch double thickness.
Between Linda on the ladder, me laying on the roof, and a pair of needle nose pliers to force the needle through the layers of fabric we got the sewing done. Not the most elegant piece of patching, but if it works, great, and if it doesn't then we'll just get the topper replaced once again. If it does fail it isn't going to be because of the thread, as Linda came up with the idea of removing some from the previous topper, something we carry in a box in the bay just for situations like this. Smart woman, even smarter man for having married such a smart woman.
In our U.P. travels we have seen a bandshell in most every town we have stayed in. Tonight we decided that we would attend the performance over in L'Anse, having seen the sign announcing concerts at 7:00 every Thursday through the summer. Now we know something else to make sure we do the next time we visit the U.P., join the locals for a nice night out. The music was actually pretty good, even if it wasn't what we were accustomed to listening to, which was mostly early to mid 1900's folk songs and ballads.
The day began with a journey back in time and it ended the same way, and in between was lighthouse. A place, a word, a smile, a laugh, and all with the woman I love. What a peaceful easy feeling, one that was perfectly described by the Eagles:
And I found out a long time ago
What a woman can do to your soul.
160.6 .4 .1
Friday August 26 Houghton, Michigan
For historical purposes, this was the view to the front that we have had for the last few days, the only exception being that on Bingo nights, all the parking spaces are filled from 5PM to 9PM. Since we were leaving this morning the sky started turning gray about 10 o'clock, and shortly after the rain began to fall. First rain since we arrived, and that meant the coach would be cleaner when we leave, if and when it stops raining. I believe that is called putting a positive spin on the events that happened.
The view to the front just several hours later after getting set up at the City of Houghton RV Park. What a difference, and a real big thank you to the several readers who emailed us that we should stay here. The sites are back in, but with the 50 amp extension cord and the extension hose for the Sani-Con, we were able to pull in and have a water front view as well as a water front site.
Houghton is a wonderful town, the downtown streets lined with old buildings, plus there is the campus of Michigan Tech. We really got to see this street, getting to drive it twice, and therein is a story. Things were going well as we drove through town, traffic was heavy and the sidewalks packed as it is orientation week at the college, but Linda navigated us like a hungry homing pigeon. Then it happened, on the far side of town we were suddenly confronted with multiple lanes full of traffic, highway signs pointing in three different directions, and a driver asking the navigator which road to take.
This could have been a really hectic moment for the navigator, a time to come unraveled and totally freak out. Did our trusty navigator do that? No way. To my harried, "Which road do I take?", with total aplomb, she calmly replied "I have no idea." Fortunately I was not in the lane that would have taken us over the bridge and into Hancock, but I was in the lane that made a 180 degree turn and headed us right back into Houghton.
At that moment our trusty GPS took over from our slightly dazed, but ever vigilant navigator, telling us we were off route, something we both knew, and insisting we turn left at the next street as we passed street after street. The reason for my not turning was that Houghton is a city on a hill, and the way to the RV Park was down by the river on a one way street heading the opposite direction we were going. Meanwhile, we were high above that street, also on a one way street, the problem being that we were now heading back the way we had just come. Peering to the left as we crossed each of those streets leading down to where we needed to be, it was more than apparent that a mountain goat would have problems negotiating that hill without sliding down to the bottom. Eventually we arrived at the far edge of downtown where the two one way streets came together, and we could easily turn and head back the way we needed to be going.
This time our trusty navigator was able to direct us into the proper lanes, and soon we were stopped at the park and registering. While all this was going on I was repeating over and over to myself that it was not the navigators fault that we got to circle the downtown area, and besides, we saw some interesting buildings on the drive. For the navigator's part, that person felt the driver spent too much time looking at the buildings as he drove through town, and should have paid more attention to his driving. My take is that one of us has to look around, and if she's not going to do it, then I will. Something tells me I will never win that one, and so had better work on reforming my behavior before I really get into trouble.
Just to prove that I can only be classified as near perfect and not totally perfect, notice the water fountain coming from where a water fountain is not supposed to be? I once again forgot to switch the water valve from tank fill to city water after hooking up and turning on the water. I noticed the navigator didn't take any photos of our travels on the wrong streets that fell with her area of control, but let me have a problem with the water hookup, and if all the photos she took were to printed on photo paper, Kodak would have to to build another plant to supply the paper needed. I just have to remember that the rule is always to listen to women unless you shouldn't, and it is man's responsibility to know when do the one or the other.
Instead of driving around town like we normally do on days when we move to a new place, we walked into town since it wasn't that far away, it was crowded with students, we really, really needed the exercise, and we'd already driven it twice. Getting this photo was not as easy at appears. It took some real encouragement on the photographer's part to coax this vivacious young model out onto the platform cantilevered over the river. From the death grip she was using, they may have to repair the handrails to remove the indentations. However, it did not fall into the river, though when I walked over and stepped out on it, she immediately got off lest our combined weight cause it collapse. Luckily it didn't so all was well, but I certainly know she isn't going to be doing it again.
Dinner was one of those, we didn't get anything out of the freezer so what are we going to have, meals. In the end it turned out to be a variation on the cod stew we like so much, but substituting Bob Evans sausage for the fish, plus several other adjustments due to lack of ingredients. Ever better was being able to sit on the bench in front of the coach while we ate. Once again we have stumbled onto a special place, and we look forward to exploring the area around here which is loaded with more places to see than we can possible get to during the next five days that we will be here. Life is truly good, and we are blessed to be able to live it with each other the way we do.
161.4 .8 .7
Saturday August 27 Houghton, Michigan
Walking and shopping
We spent most of the day about 12 miles north of Houghton in the town of Calumet, a city that saw it's time in the sun come and go. Once the center of a massive copper mining empire, The C&H Mines, along with tens of thousands of people, today it is museums, old buildings; industrial, commercial and residential, as well as a place to just walk around if you are me, and shop if you are Linda. That's the great thing about both having a cell phone, we can go our separate ways, yet if one finds something interesting we can call the other and possibly meet. We started out together at the copper museum where Linda got her book stamped, but then it was off on our separate ways.
I was in a former catholic church that is now a museum when the phone rang. Talking with the docent I tried to answer the phone, realizing it was Linda, but hit the end call button on the screen by accident. Seconds later it rang again, and when I was able to actually answer it this time, I hear, "Where are you?"
"Here, where are you?"
I hear nothing on the other end as she processes what I've just said, and as the silence lengthens I wonder if I've really put my foot in my mouth this time.
"Get over here, I've got something to show you."
"Where's here?" I ask.
Once again I wait patiently while the phone rests against my ear, no sweet melodies of Linda's voice issuing forth. Then she speaks, "You don't like it either, do you?"
I had to admit that she was right as usual, and after a brief apology on my part I was on my way across the street to see her with a big smile on her face and pointing to a penny smasher. At least Zachary is going to be a happy boy, though I will be too when I crawl back out of the dog house. It sure seemed like a good way to answer the phone at the time.
Returning to Houghton in the late afternoon, there were some magnificent views as the road descended down to the canal, and with the GPS showing the back and forth route we were taking I thought it would make for a good photo. I'd forgotten that little incident with the phones, but she hadn't, though she did eventually dig the camera out of her pocket and take this photo which doesn't begin to do justice to what it looked like when she started the lengthy camera extraction process.
Still, to salvage something from this photo, you can see one of her purchases, a very pretty copper ankle bracelet. That made me happy about one thing, at least she hadn't bought a ball and chain to go around my ankle. I should probably also mention the cooper necklace she bought, though at another store, which goes perfectly with the twisted wire pendant we had made at the Ishpeming rock show a few weeks ago. For some reason I can foresee more copper in Linda's future before we leave the U.P.. Really though, copper is a great color for her and besides, with most jewelry being either gold or silver, it is rather distinctive.
Hadn't seen these before, hedgeballs to keep spiders and other insects away. What can I say, it just wasn't something they sold in California, but maybe they should have because Linda was battling spiders on a daily basis. Guess I was just lucky that she didn't buy a couple and put them around where she sits. I could just hear her say when I asked about why she would have done that, "To keep you from bugging me." Unfortunately she'd be right. Bob, Linda's cross to bear.
Linda actually had a great time today, and once I get used to eating dog food, I will probably look back on it as a great time also. Okay, so maybe I exaggerate just a little, but I bet that most men can relate to what my status was for a while during the day. Here is the coach goddess and human dynamo multi-tasking, by watching TV, doing a little surfing, and all the while checking the brochures and other printed materials as to what we will be seeing and doing tomorrow. Now if I could just get her to cook our meals she'd be the perfect wife. Something tells me she was thinking that if she could just get me to do a little planning for tomorrow's outing, I wouldn't be completely worthless.
161.8 .4 1.1
Sunday August 28 Houghton, Michigan
A very, very long day of touristing
Not every day in the full time Life is a day of leisure and easy living. Once in awhile we just get carried away and go whole hog on the tourist thing. For a day that was supposed to be a scouting trip to see if we wanted to drive the coach out to Copper Harbor and stay for a few days, we sure did a whole bunch of other things. Take this stone boat that was alongside the highway. Built by the WPA back in the 1930's, it was just something that we had to stop and see. It also set the tone for the rest of the day which was see something, stop and visit. After a scouting mission like this I wonder what the day would have been like if we had a list of things to stop and look at.
A few more miles and we see this snow gauge. I ask if she wants to stop, and the answer is yes, only it comes after we are past the gauge, still we turn around and go back. That may have been where I went wrong, and no it wasn't doing what she wanted, it was setting this pattern of see something, stop at it. It really wasn't all that bad, and it is with heavy heart that I must report that we did not have any interesting conversations to relate today, probably because we were just having to much fun doing what we were doing. Guess there was no need to stir the pot a little to make the day more interesting.
That doesn't mean that everything went perfect, just look at this photo that turned up when I downloaded the hundreds of pictures we took. To set the record straight, I took this one, and it probably contributed to the fact I went through three sets of camera batteries during the day.
Woman on a mission, which was to find a costumed interpreter in Fort Wilkens State Park. There weren't any, the season for them being over, but since we will be back, it was okay that we just hurried through the fort, not stopping to look at the exhibits. The reason we had made the drive out to the end of the peninsula was to see if it was worth coming back in the coach for a few days, and with the answer being a resounding yes, we will be driving here on Labor Day when everyone else is leaving. We even found a nice big flat site in the campground where we should be able to get online and have reserved it. There is no cell service here so if we can't get online with the MotoSat, it will be three or four days of no postings, but that is until after Labor Day, if it occurs.
We found a great spot to eat lunch. Tall shady trees, a pine needle carpet, and surround by tombstones. From the looks of the roads, or what passed for roads, through this old cemetery, we were likely the only visitors to have been here for a while. Near the entrance were two tall, massive monuments bearing the same name as a nearby, but long ago closed, copper mine. There is a story here and maybe when we come back we will find it in a book about the area. I can remember the old TV show, The Naked City, that used the tag line about there being a million stories in the naked city. Well, there are just as many, if not more outside the city, and I'd be willing to bet they are just as interesting, and more so. Now if we only knew what they were.
On the way back to Houghton we stopped at a lighthouse and took the tour. Maybe it had been a long day, maybe we have seen too many lighthouses, whatever it was, I was reduced to taking lighthouse photos down through the openings in the tower steps. At the risk of leaving 99 percent of what we did today out of this Daily Journal, it is going to end here. Some days that just do it gets you to do it whether you really want to or not. I must confess to not really wanting to write, but you just have to do what you have to do, and with this being written on Monday morning, neither of us has recovered from the long day of touristing, though we are do plan to venture out again today, possibly, maybe, perhaps.
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Monday August 29 Houghton, Michigan
Guess you could say we were chicken today
While we were not chicken to do anything today, we did decide not to venture out, but rather to rest and relax after all the driving of yesterday. For Linda that meant taking up pen, though in reality it was fingers to keyboard, and with that she got caught up on writing Because We Can II. On those days when I sit before the screen and wonder why I had to take up the "just do it", knowing that in the old days I would currently be taking an extended sabbatical from writing, I can take solace in listening to her mumble this morning about all the writing she was have to do in order to get caught up. Heh-heh-heh, I finally got one on her in the do it now line. We even found out our neighbors had done the same, two day, explore the peninsula thing just as we did, and that they also spent the day resting. Looks like this park is just full of really smart people.
Our only outing of the day, other than walking to the dumpster several times to throw away the trash, was a trip to WalMart to buy some charcoal and chicken. With this sort of being the home of charcoal briquettes up here, did we buy any? No, we bought the old fashioned kind, which just might have been an all time first for us. As for the chicken, we don't normally buy anything other than skinless, boneless breasts and tenderloins, and it really showed. They don't seem to sell split halves, so we opted to buy a whole, which I was going to try to make into halves back at the coach. We did learn how they get rid of the neck and other parts. Seems they stuff them inside the chicken so Linda could tell me she didn't want to have anything to do with them, and just throw them away, which I did.
Truth be told, Linda was more than just a little skeptical about my chicken half hacking skills, but with all the confindence in the world, though with very little knowledge of what I was doing, out came our biggest knife and with the accompaniment of loud bone crunching sounds, that big chuck of sharp metal sliced right through that hunk of dead fowl. The best part was that I escapped with all digits intact and Linda expressed new found admiration in my culinary cutting skills. Really, it was more luck than skill, but then again, sometimes it's better to be lucky and look great at something than to just be good at something and so, only look good at it.
Pehaps it is a sign of just how dull our Life is when we get this excited over something as ordinary as grilling half a chicken over charcoal along the banks of a river in the U.P. with the temperature being near perfect and a fabulous view stretching out before us. One does get jaded living the full timing Life. As for Linda, she had been assigned the task of determining the cooking time for this experiment, and I was trusting her not to foul up this fowl perched on the grill.
Linda's thing was adding some soaked mesquite to the fire, which would impart a special flavor to the meat. All I could see was some soaked wood putting out the fire, but what did I know. In the end it was proven that I didn't know anything, the fire having continued to burn away, and the mesquite generating smoke just as Linda said it would. I'll bet she was in charge of smoking the spirits at the still back over the hill in her younger days after looking at the masterful job of adding smoke to this chicken that she did tonight.
With the wind blowing the heat from the charcoal into the next RV site, and having watched out chicken not cook for long enough, we improvised, and made our own covered grill. It worked like a charm, and in seemingly no time at all Linda was wanting me to check on it's progress.
When I claimed ignorance on the ways of checking chicken doneness, she offered to demonstrate how it is down. If she was going to pretend that I was the chicken, I was going to really be a chicken and tell her she didn't need to fork me in order for me to understand what she was telling me.
In the end all was well, even to the point that I remembered not to lift the bowl off the chicken with my bare hands, which definitely rated some extra good Bob points. The chicken was just a litle over cooked, but for a first attempt when we didn't know what we were doing, or at least I didn't know what I was doing, it was great. Linda's work with the soaked mesquite was definitely in evidence, what with there being a flavor I wasn't knowledgeable enough to tell what it was, but had to assume it was mesquite. And since we used just paper to light the charcoal, it wasn't lighter fluid either. For a day when we didn't do anything, we sure did some enjoyable nothings, proving once again just what a tough Life this full timing thing is.
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Tuesday August 30 Houghton, Michigan
One of those days
Beginning with an apology of sorts, or maybe merely an excuse, because yesterday's Daily Journal could have been labeled the late edition. Lately I've been dragging my feet in the writing department, taking fingers to keys after having spent more time than I should mindlessly browsing the web in those early morning hours. So when yesterday's edition was published late last night it would be easy to say it was because I didn't feel like writing. Unfortunately it wsn't so. What happened was it was written by the time Linda got up yesterday morning, though she may have been a little later arising than usual because her sinuses have been bothering her the past couple of days, but irregardless, I simply forgot to ask her to do her editor thing like I do every morning, though I guess now I should say, almost every morning. I hadn't realized all this until noticed the program I use to write it was still open, and we quickly put two and two together. So a brief mea culpa and the hope it doesn't happen again.
Indeed, we got a later than normal start this morning, but once off, we visited the former mining towns that formed a line running south of Houghton. With Linda not feeling the best, she spent much of the time I was wandering around towns, inside museums and looking at old cemteries, in the Explorer either on the phone or the internet. That worked for both of us, plus I got to sing happy birthday to our oldest, she being 41 today. I sometimes wonder if Jenny doesn't really look forward to that annual event, full well knowing it will be 365 days until she is subjected to my off key screeching once again. First out in the spelling bees and the choir trials, that's how my early school years went.
I really loved this sign as it spoke volumes about the life of a small town history museum volunteer. I could just imagine the local school kids coming through on a field trip, crowded into this small building with most of the displays set at adult height, and being told to look and listen but not touch. Then they come to this table where all that pent up, want to touch energy is unleashed. Those were the days, my having been one of those kids.
With lunch once again being shared with the tombstones of a small town cemetery as we sat in the shade with a cool breeze blowing, Linda said she was feeling better. That didn't mean she was out and about as I continued my explorations, but it did mean that parking the Explorer in the shade, even if I had to walk a distance to see what I was looking for, was paying off. The result was comfort and healing for her and exercise for me, along with a wonderful dose of history, it just doesn't get any better than that.
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Wednesday August 31 Houghton, Michigan
And the rains came
We had plans for the day, but then the rains came and we decided to stay home all day. With whatever it is that Linda has still bugging her a little, it made sense to just relax, which was about all that we did. And while we saw two larger ships pass by in front of us on the canal, other than that it was nothing but watch the intermittent rain all day for outside entertainment. It was such a nothing day that we both spent almost the entire time inside our own little worlds, only venturing out to share our meals other than one exception.
It has been months since I last wore long pants and shoes, but for the mine tour, I was planning to wear them, and it surprised Linda when I came out wearing them this morning, since I certainly looked different than normal. The problem was the pants were too long and needed to be rehemmed, something Linda had thought she could do, but wasn't sure. I had thought the pants were merely cut different, but Linda informed me the inseam was longer than the label indicated, a fact she quickly proved to me.
I offered to help, but I think she had declared this to be a freedom from Bob day, so I was reduced to stealing quick glances and listening to the sounds of a woman at work. Then I realized those sounds weren't work sounds, they were frustration sounds. Didn't she know there is no such thing as a freedom from Bob day, because that was her problem, the bobbin she was trying to wind wasn't free to bob. Or at least it didn't want to turn. That old Bob-bin just sat on top of her machine and wouldn't spin to wind the thread on it no matter what she did. The only saving grace out of the entire thing was that never once did I hear her mutter something about it being just like the other Bob in her Life, neither of them do what she wants. But I bet she thought it.
I left her alone, and before long she had searched enough drawers that she found the misplaced sewing machine instruction book, soon after she had the top of the machine off. I could tell she was not a very happy lady and I was the cause. It was simple really, if I hadn't asked her to hem those jeans she never would have had this problem. And believe you me, I sure wasn't going to point out that even if I hadn't got her into this today, the next time she wanted to sew the same thing would have happened. Bob knows when to keep his mouth locked shut. Good Bob.
She cleaned and she brushed, she blew and she oiled, all things women intuitively know to do to sewing machines. Yet it was all for not, as no matter what she did, that bobbin would not bob. I was nice. I was gentle. I was caring. I was considerate. And finally she let me look at it. In the end it turned out that the solution to the non-turning bobbin wasn't deep within the machine, it was the shaft on the lid that was supposed to turn the bobbin. It was frozen in place, but once the problem was identified, Linda quickly had the bobbin bobbing as it should. This was accompanied by a statement of the exact day in 1974 she bought the machine, to which was added the fact that in all those years she had never had the top off and oiled any of this part of it.
At the end of the day, the pants were hemmed, I was happy, she was happy, the rain had finally stopped, and her sewing machine was set for another 37 years. When things are going your way, they are going your way. Us Bob's have got to stick together, otherwise we just frustrate the you know what out of the the Linda's of the world.
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