This song kept running through my mind during the short time I was in town.

Why so short? Well, it seems that everyone wants to spend time at Kohler-Andrae State Park. It is a lovely spot, and I’d be happy to return.

Why? Well, first off, I got a PULL THROUGH SITE! It doesn’t look like much at first glance.

Doesn't look too great, does it?
Doesn’t look too great, does it?

Ah, but on the other side of my trailer, I have my own private world.

My private oasis
My private oasis

The other campers must have been there before, because they parked so that their doors faced their private fire circles and tables. But they missed out on the view from their door at sunset.

What a view!
What a view!

This park is right on Lake Michigan, and there are the loveliest cool breezes.

Michigan is that way!
Michigan is that way!

I could only get the site for one night, so I did the best I could with the time I had. I googled “What to do in Sheboygan” and decided to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. They were also having a fiber arts arts exhibit, and I’ve done my share of off-beat fiber arts. I had to see what they had.

The first thrill happened before I even got into the Arts Center. I found this little gem in the parking lot.


I think this is a food truck, but wouldn’t it make a great camper?

Wow! Wow!
Wow! Wow!

It even  has its own deck on top!

With my expectations suitably raised, I headed inside. There was a sign that permitted photography. If any of the artists I have included see this and don’t want me to show their work, please let me know. I will remove your work.

Here we go!
Here we go!

What a great entrance to the exhibit!

Starbucks on Robinson. April - December 2012 - 2013, Susie Ganch Pile
Starbucks on Robinson. April – December 2012 – 2013, Susie Ganch Pile

Oh, my, this is glorious! And, something that appeals to my recycling soul. It’s made out of the lids from a Starbuck’s she visited over the span of 21 months.

Interval by Alyson Shotz
Interval by Alyson Shotz

And how about this one? Talk about ethereal!

This sign on the floor tickled my fancy,

Please do not step on art

And this is the work of art being protected.

Bring Back the Funk
Bring Back the Funk by Polly Apfelbaum
A detail of Bring Back the Funk
A detail of Bring Back the Funk

There was even an artist, Amy Honchell, who used fibers to express geographical/geological themes.

Breaker Shaft Shifting Ground
Breaker Shaft Shifting Ground by Amy Honchell
Amy Honchell
Amy Honchell
Amy Honchell
Amy Honchell

Unfortunately, I didn’t take good enough notes to be able to include the titles of these other pieces. But, if you are curious, the show will be up until October 11, 2015.

Book ball

I thought this was marvelous, but I couldn’t find an identifying plaque.

Another artist’s work I enjoyed was done by Carole Frances Lung.

Frau Fiber vs The Industrial Knitting Machine
Frau Fiber vs The Industrial Knitting Machine

Lung, in the persona of Frau Fiber, raced one of Wigwam’s industrial knitting machines. Wigwam is one of Wisconsin’s notable companies, still producing their popular socks right there in Sheboygan. A process that took the machine minutes to complete took her an entire half-day shift.

Frau Fiber's sock
Frau Fiber’s sock

Carole Frances Lung was one of the artists in residence at the Kohler factory. This is a piece based on the overalls they workers wore when they were produced in-house. From what I remember, she wove the material and then sewed the uniform. Those are the pattern pieces used to cut the material. They are made of iron (I think) and have handles on them for moving them around. I was fascinated.

Cut and Sew by Carole Frances Lung
Cut and Sew by Carole Frances Lung

Speaking of Kohler, I was lucky enough to be able to take a tour of the Kohler Factory in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin.

The tour started at 8:30 the next morning, and I slept fitfully because I was a little worried about oversleeping. Since I didn’t have my campsite for a second night, I had to take my Flo, the Airstream, with me. The woman who took my reservation assured me that there would be room for me to park on the street. I suppose anxiety about parking also contributed to my restless night of sleep.

The tour was fantastic! If you ever get the chance to take it, I highly recommend it if you are curious about how things are made.

They don’t allow visitors to take pictures, so I  have none to share with  you. If you are interested, they do have some photos on line. Just google Kohler Factory images.

We met at the Kohler Design Center across the street from the plant. If you are a fan of plumbing fixtures, you might just want to spend and hour and drool about the lovely things that are available. Our tour guide, Jim, was a Kohler retiree. He had worked there for 47 years in several of the departments, so he could give us a lot of inside information.

The first section of the plant we visited was the pottery. When we entered, we saw a whole bunch of wall-mount urinals being unmolded. My glasses fogged up immediately upon entering, as the temperature is at least 80º and the humidity is 80% year round. We walked past more molding stations, drying rooms, kilns, glazing stations, quality control places, and packaging stations.

We also took a quick glance into the workshop for the ceramic artists in residence. It’s a highly competitive program, according to Jim. They get room and board, all materials, a workspace and collaboration with the Kohler employees to create works of art informed by industrial processes. They have to donate two finished works to Kohler. These works of art are displayed in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, around the factory and around the village of Kohler.

Then it was on to the place where the faucets are made.  This building is five stories tall, but we only skimmed through the bottom floor. Jim proudly described the workmanship and the finishes that were used. He spent a good portion of his career in this department.

After that, we went on to the foundry. Not only do they make bathtubs for their own lines, they make cast iron parts for other companies. The part I saw them working on was a brake drum, which is definitely not part of the Kohler plumbing line.

The bathtub casting was going on in a never-ending circle. It was amazing to see the molten iron being poured into the molds and the constant quality testing going on. A metallurgist was sampling the metal by the scoopful out of each batch of metal.

They unmolded the tubs, cleaned them off, heated them up, applied the enamel, cleaned off the drips and they performed quality control all along the way.

We also stopped in to the Artist in Residence studio in the foundry. This artist was willing to chat a bit. He had made a mold of a Fritos bag and had cast metal reproductions. He had a design he was working out on paper and he said he was going to experiment with applying enamels to the metal bag. He was from Ireland and had the most delightful accent.

The tour was three and a half hours long, and I was getting pretty pooped. I was very thankful that my truck was not ticketed, because the sign said that there was a two hour limit, except for residents.

I figured that, if I should be unlucky enough to get a ticket, I would argue that I was a resident since Flo was my home and my home was in Kohler.

Luckily enough I didn’t have to try to make them see reason.

Off I went to the next stop, Devil’s Lake State Park. Another one-night stay. These state parks in Wisconsin are just a-hopping!





Shut the door! Door Peninsula, Wisconsin

Je t’adore, Door Peninsula!

What a verdant state. Every place I’ve been so far has just been so lush and beautiful. Even the county campground I stopped at en route from Bayfield to Sturgeon Bay was charming.

Campsite en route

I had my own private path to the little lake! It even had electricity. I don’t strictly need to plug in, but making coffee in the morning is so much easier with my little electric coffee maker than with my French press. Neater, too.

The next morning, I got rolling and arrived at Potawatomi State Park, just outside Sturgeon Bay. The women working at the park are just wonderful. They picked out a site for me that was the right size. Even though it was rated for a trailer three feet longer than mine, backing it in was a challenge. But, I made it on one pass – on the second attempt. Sometimes, you just have to start over.

Potawatomi campsite 2

I got it in, snugged right up between the trees. When I went into the office to book an additional day, the ranger told me that she was impressed with how I handled my rig. My neighbors who saw me back in told her, and she said that she came to check it out. I was beaming.

There were two reasons I selected Potawatomi State Park. The first reason has to do with my first year teaching in Kalamazoo. Coming from Buffalo, NY, I knew all about the Iroquois Confederacy. Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. I had never heard of the Potawatomi.

So, when I presented the first lesson to my third graders, I pronounced it:


Little did I know it was:


The name has held a special place in my heart after that.

The second reason was that my friends from Porcupine Mountains were going to be staying there. And, as fate would have it, Dale and Cheryl were just a few sites down the road from me. We finally met up, but more about that later.

The forest the campground is in is so dense! I pulled in during the afternoon in bright sunshine, and the automatic headlights on my truck turned on. That is some serious shade.

Potowatomi Campsite

In spite of the narrow opening to the site, there was plenty of space under the trees. I could have held a jamboree in there.

Bench at campsite

Each campsite had the requisite picnic table and fire ring. In this park, each campfire came equipped with these study and comfortable benches. I thought this was a nice feature.

My site was just a little way from the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. This outcropping was right by Sturgeon Bay. I could have slithered down the embankment and into the bay, if I had wanted to.

Camping on the Niagara Escarpment

Growing up just a short drive from Niagara Falls, I was really surprised to find that the Niagara Escarpment ran all the way to Wisconsin.

I spent the rest of the day getting set up and taking care of business in the Airstream.

By the time I was on the road in the morning, my friends Dale and Cheryl were already out and about. I left the a note and went off to play tourist.

Bacon and Eggs in Egg Harbor
Bacon and Eggs in Egg Harbor

The first stop was lunch in Egg Harbor.

After a bit of sustenance, I continued driving up the peninsula.

Why did the big boat cross the road?
Why did the big boat cross the road?

The things you see when you are out and about!

A friend had recommended Peninsula State Park, so I went to check it out. It was truly beautiful. Some of the campsites were right next to a sandy beach. The sites, however looked even tighter than the one I was already in. And, they had these little warning signs posted:

Peninsula State Park

If black flies, mosquitoes, ticks and barn flies weren’t enough, now they are warning about the plants.

I saw one really cool thing that I am thinking of adapting; a little free library.

Little Camper Free Library

What a great idea! I could put my name on it and do this instead of those signs that people put out in front of their sites.

A little further along, I saw one of the tourist information booths that had free bikes for loan. As anyone who knows me, free is one of my favorite words. And, I had been wondering if I could still ride a bike. They say riding a bike is like…riding a bike. So, I stopped to inquire.

Ellison Bay Tourist info bike

Alma, the information specialist, took my name and other data, helped me get the helmet on and then went out with me to help me pick out a bike.

Unfortunately riding a bike isn’t like riding a bike, at least not for me. I just couldn’t make myself get on it. Last time I went for a ride, I fell off. I wonder if they make training wheels for grown ups? Or do I have to graduate to a tricycle?

Anyway, I had a nice chat with Alma, and she took the picture of me.

The Cherry Hut

I just had to stop in this store. I love The Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan and I wanted to see how this one compared. They had fresh, hot cherry pies here. Oh, my, it smelled wonderful! of course, I had to buy one. The rest of their goods were wines and preserves and such-like. I found them easy to pass up.

Fun facts to know and share
Fun facts to know and share.

Right about that time, I got a call from Dale and Cheryl. They were asking me if I wanted to join them for a fish boil.


Of course this was inner dialogue. I am not a fan of the fish, but I figured that since the opportunity presented itself, I should accept it. And besides, I wanted to see Dale and Cheryl again.

Dale and Cheryl
Dale and Cheryl

What is a fish boil? The one we had was potatoes, onions, carrots and whitefish steaks cooked in boiling salted water. The boil master said that it started in the fifties when the Norwegian fishermen in Door County would want to cook up a bunch of food for a gathering. So far, not all that thrilling.

Fish pot
Fish pot

The thrilling – and manly – part comes when they throw the kerosene on the fire.

Yes, you heard me right.

Kerosene. On. The. Fire.

They do that because it burns off the “scum” that accumulates on the top of the boiling water.


Fish boil 1

fish boil 2

fish boil 3

fish boil 4

fish boil 5

It burned off quickly, and we went back in to wait to be served.

My plate
My plate

In case you didn’t know, a whitefish steak is a section of the fish cut crosswise. It isn’t a fillet with the bones removed.

fish boil me

Believe it or not, the fish was good. I ate all three of my steaks. I made a good-sized dent in the potatoes, onions, and carrots.

We topped the dinner off with cherry pie. You can never have too much cherry pie, right?

Dale and Cheryl were leaving the next morning, so we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch.

The next day, I figured I’d check out the other side of the peninsula.

The first thing that caught my eye was this sign:

geographical marker signpost

Well, cool! I love geography! What could it be?

Halfway to north pole

In  case you can’t read the plaque, it says that the 45th parallel runs through a point that is half a mile south of this marker. I got the giggles thinking about all the places you could put signs saying that you are half a mile away from something or other.

I continued up the peninsula, admiring the prosperous looking farmland.

red barn


There were fields of corn, various grains, and orchards.

Cherry orchard

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close up.
Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.

I headed for Newport State Park.

Newport State Park

I decided to test out the water.

Wading in Lake Michigan Newport State Park

It felt so good, that I went back up to the truck and got my bathing suit. There is no photographic evidence to back up my claim.

After a refreshing dip, I headed back to Sturgeon Bay. I had seen these cool sturgeon sculptures there and I wanted to get a better look.

They were part of a display called, “Sturgeon Around the Bay”,  to be auctioned off in September. The proceeds would go to the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center and the individual artists.

Sturgeon pink and blue

Sturgeon all wood

Sturgeon rainbow

Sturgeon wood

Sturgeon random

Sturgeon slices

This one was particularly fun because the fish would rotate when the handle of the spit was turned.


And with that, the sun sets on my Door County adventure.




Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Bayfield, Wisconsin

After the great experience I had at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, I just had to see the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. After a two and half hour drive through the drizzle, slapping flies all the way, I arrived in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

I found their hospitable little lakeside city park, Dalrymple City Campground, and got set up. It was a bit of a challenge to get Flo backed into a site. I imagine that this campground was laid out back when tents and pop-ups were the norm. Payment was by envelope and the fee was $20 per night, electricity included.

The view out my door
The view out my door

Another neat perk was included, too – firewood! The public works department dumped off wood they cut up from trees that they had to take down and from storm damage. I thought that was mighty nice, although I didn’t take advantage of their generosity.

Free firewood! (Almost as good as a "Free Beer" sign)
Free firewood! (Almost as good as a “Free Beer” sign)

I had a seat on the sunset cruise for the day I arrived, but with the weather – gloomy, at best – I went to the cruise office and got my ticket changed for the next day.

Settled in and ticket changed, I went about restocking the larder. I headed toward the local IGA, but I couldn’t find a place to park. with all the tourists milling about, I was worried that I might run into one. The weather might be bad for cruises, but it is good for the local shops.

I remembered that I had seen another IGA the town just before Bayfield, so I headed back there. When I pulled into town, I noticed the name of the town – Washburn. I started thinking, “Didn’t Paul come from Washburn?” Paul was a guy I taught with at the American School of Guatemala back in the ’80’s. So, I sent of a text to a mutual friend that I had just visited a few months ago. By the time I had my shopping done, I had his phone number. I went back to the trailer, dropped my groceries and gave him a call.

He had moved to a town just a few miles away, and I zipped right over. We spent a couple hours catching up. He treated me to a beer and Extreme Peanut Butter Cookies.

Paul and me
Paul and me

The next day dawned bright, clear and beautiful. First off, I decided to check out the campground I was in. Some of the sites had million dollar views!

A view from one of the lakeside sites
A view from one of the lakeside sites
And the sailboats passed by, too.
And the sailboats passed by, too.

I stopped by the National Park Service office for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I was impressed by the drinking fountain that encouraged people to refill their own water bottles rather than buy water in disposable plastic bottles.

Water bottle filling station

3213 bottles saved to date
3213 bottles saved to date

I stamped my National Park Passport and looked at the interesting merchandise. Given the talk I have been hearing on the radio about selling off national forests and privatizing parks, this seems a little chilling.

Anyone want to play?
Anyone want to play?

I had a burger at Maggie’s and enjoyed the flamingo decor.

Maggie's Cafe Flamingoes

And then strolled around a bit.

Bayfield Harbor
Bayfield Harbor

There were lots a stores selling art, clothing and souvenirs. But, since I didn’t need anything more in my Airstream, I didn’t look.

I did find an amazing playground, however. In addition to interesting structures for climbing and swinging, they had a musical fish!

Musical Fish

It must have been fantastic in its prime. Now it is only partially functional as some of the hammers have broken. To play it, you pull back the hammer and drop it on the tube. It really sounded lovely.

The back of the musical fish
The back of the musical fish

The three and a half hour cruise was set to begin at 5:30, and the woman who sold me the ticket told me to be there at 5:00.

Superior Princess
Superior Princess

This is the boat, the Superior Princess. (I took the shot after the cruise.) I wouldn’t want to a take a trip on and Inferior Princess.

Now comes the tricky part about describing the trip. The high point is definitely Devil’s Island.

Devils Island 24

The island is riddled with caves. Some of them go as far as sixty feet under the island. The ship’s captain said that people in kayaks enjoy paddling into the caves. That sounds like fun!

I gotta learn to kayak!
I gotta learn to kayak!

The name “Devil’s Island” comes from the wild sounds that the wind and surf makes when it passes through the caves. Thankfully, the day was calm, so we didn’t get to hear the noise.

Devils Island 22

Devils Island 21 wide

Devils Island 20

Devils Island 19

Devils Island 17

Devils Island 16

Devils Island 12

Devils Island 9

Devils Island 2

Ah, but here is one problem:

Devils Island 10 lots of heads

Unless you managed to sang a prime seat, every time you wanted to look at something, you were looking through a sea of heads.

And another problem with the tour is that it was three and a half hours long. Do you remember the Vaughn Meader’s First Family album that came out in 1963? Oh? You’re not older than dirt? Well, you might want to give a listen to the bit that had Jackie Kennedy giving a tour of the White House.

I almost got the giggles when I thought of Jackie pointing out the paintings.

Island 2

Well, there’s this one

Heads in the shot

And that one

Island 3

And that great big one over there

Island 4

And that little tiny one behind the other one.

The captain told us things like “That one’s called Basswood Island because there were a lot of bass trees growing there.” A little later, “That one’s called Ironwood Island. They cut down Ironwood trees. They used them to make special furniture.” But he didn’t tell use what sort of special furniture it was.

And then he kept pointing out things that weren’t there. “There used to be three fishing camps on that island.” There used to be a quarry on this island.” “There used to be logging camps on that island.” A little knowledge is good, but there wasn’t enough context to fill the time.

Fish camp that was recreated by the National Parks Service
Fish camp that was recreated by the National Parks Service

He did have his little jokes, though. At this light, he said that the dark birds were cormorants. The seagull was on top because it was his job to turn on the light.

Seagull on the light

And then he promised to show us the driftwood factories.

driftwood factory

As cliffs erode away, the trees fall in and become driftwood.

The point of going on the tour at 5:30 was to see the sunset. The sunset was lovely!

Sunset 3

It wasn’t a bad tour, it was just long. Another possibility might be to find someone to just take you to the interesting parts. I saw this sign by a boat at the dock.

Custom tours

It might be worth looking into, if you want to see the Apostle Islands and not a lot of heads.

Flying hair








Fifty Shades of…


(I’ll bet you were thinking of a different color.)

Before I leave Michigan, I have got to say that this is one of the greenest states I have ever seen. Canopy

Of course, there are the trees.

6 Spruce tips Hartwick Pines

Trees on Painted Rocks

Ft Wilkins State Park

Balsam spires Ft Wilkins St Park

Light green trees, dark green trees, medium green trees. Then, the color changes with the light.

Some of the water is green.

Copper Harbor water and trees

green water 2 near painted rocks

Copper Harbor moss in water

green water near Painted Rocks

There is green in the rocks.

Copper Harbor green stone

Copper Harbor Rocks on table

copper slab at Quincy Mine

Rocks in Copper Harbor

Painted Rocks copper green

Green moss and lichens.

Returning to the earth

3 Tahquamenon Falls Moss

Moss or lichens on rocks by arbor

The ferns on the forest floor

The view from my door


As well as all the other plants

Wildflowers 2

2 Tahquamenon Falls

1 Tahquamenon Falls

Copper Harbor green berries

The pollen blowing through the air is green.

Pollen on my truck hood

Some of the benches are green, too.

Bench in Copper Harbor

And with all the rain that we got while I was there, even Smokey knows where it’s at.



Fun Food and Interesting Places to Eat and Drink: The Michigan Edition

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are a few foods and places I’d like to share. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Cops and Doughnuts, Clare, Michigan

When this historic bakery, which had been in operation since 1890, was going to close, the local police force rallied to the cause. They bought the bakery, and it seems to be larger and busier each time I have visited.

The novelty of cops owning a doughnut shop has brought in loads of publicity, and people come from all over. If you are passing through, why not stop? And while you are getting some doughnuts, why not buy a T shirt, mug, frisbee or key chain?

In fact, why not stop and buy something at one of the local stores? This bakery seems to be the anchor of main street and an engine of development. I have visited Clare at least five times, and each time I visit, the town looks more prosperous.

Let’s hear it for the boys in blue!

Cops and Doughnuts, Clare, Michigan
Cops and Doughnuts, Clare, Michigan
The obligatory mug shot
The obligatory mug shot
One for now and one for later
One for now and one for later

Spike’s Keg O’ Nails, Grayling, Michigan

Spike's Keg 'o Nails, Grayling, Michigan
Spike’s Keg ‘o Nails, Grayling, Michigan

The old neon sign is what drew me in. Well, that and the name. It was an atmospheric place – dark pine paneling and wooden booths that were carved with people’s names. Before I could whip out my Swiss Army knife, though, I noticed that there were signs all over that said that carving was prohibited by the health department. Violators would be thrown out and barred for life.

Since I am the law-abiding sort and I was getting hungry, I decided to skip the woodworking and just order dinner. To my everlasting disappointment, I didn’t order the famous SPIKEBURGER that was advertised on the sign. I had a hankering for a patty melt, and so that is what I got. With a side of deep fried macaroni and cheese. It’s a good thing that they had the music turned up, because it was almost drowned out by the sound of my arteries slamming shut. What was I thinking when I ordered that?

I tried to read the history of the place that was printed on the menu, but the restaurant was heavy on the atmosphere and light on the light. I did managed to pick out that Spike opened the bar the day after prohibition ended. It burned down several times, changed locations and owners, but seems to be chugging along just fine.

So, if you decide to have dinner in Grayling, why not head to Spike’s Keg O’ Nails? After all, it is the “Meeting Place of the North” – is says so on the sign. You might want to consider skipping the deep fried macaroni and cheese.

Lock VIEW Restaurant, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan

Lockview Restaurant Sault Ste. Marie

It has a view of the lock. The view is better than the food.

Palace Restaurant and Saloon, Sault Saint Marie, Michigan

If you are looking for a place to eat that is near the locks, and you don’t need a view, you might just amble down the street a block or two to Palace Restaurant and Saloon.

Palace Restaurant and Saloon, Sault Sainte Marie, MI
Palace Restaurant and Saloon, Sault Sainte Marie, MI

This restaurant is a fixture in the Soo. It opened in 1903 was a hotel and restaurant. As with Spike’s Keg O’ Nails in Grayling, it has changed hands many times. I assume that the Mexican theme came with one of the later changes. My burrito was good, and I’d gladly eat there again.

Palace Restaurant and Saloon interior
Palace Restaurant and Saloon interior

McDonald’s, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan

I know, not terribly exciting, but in a nod to the tastes of their neighbors to the north, I was pleased to see that they provide vinegar for the french fries.

Vinegar for the french fries at McDonald's, eh?
Vinegar for the french fries at McDonald’s, eh?

The Gay Bar, Gay, Michigan

My friends, Linda and Tim were in the UP when I was, so they came to take me to The Gay Bar.

Tim and Linda at The Gay Bar
Tim and Linda at The Gay Bar

Linda tells me that this is THE most photographed bar sign in the UP. I have no reason to doubt her.

The menu leans strongly toward hot dogs. In fact, I think I counted about 30 different ways you can get your hot dog.

One of the famous foot-longs at The Gay Bar
One of the famous foot-longs at The Gay Bar
The garnish in Linda's Bloody mary
The garnish in Linda’s Bloody Mary

If you like, they have a wide variety of souvenirs you can buy. They will even sell them to you on line, so you don’t even need to go to the UP to buy Gay Bar swag.

The Berry Patch, Paradise, Michigan

Pasty with gravy and applesauce at the Berry Patch in Paradise, MI
Pasty with gravy and applesauce at the Berry Patch in Paradise, MI

If you haven’t had a pasty by the time you get to Tahquamenon Falls, by all means head to the Berry Patch in Paradise, Michigan. I had never had my pasties with gravy. I would recommend spending the extra buck and getting a side of gravy.

Hilltop Restaurant, L’Anse, Michigan

This was another one of Linda and Tim’s suggestions. They said that I must get one of their cinnamon rolls when I came back through. I did. This puppy must have weighted three pounds!

The Famous Cinnamon Roll from the Hilltop Restaurant in L'Anse, Michigan
The Famous Cinnamon Roll from the Hilltop Restaurant in L’Anse, Michigan

I sliced it up and ate it for breakfast for several days.

The cinnamon roll all sliced up
The cinnamon roll all sliced up

Copper Country Strawberries from a Roadside Stand

Copper Country strawberries with Meijer Greek yogurt
Copper Country strawberries with Meijer Greek yogurt


Trenary Toast

Trenary Toast from Trenary, MI
Trenary Toast from Trenary, MI

After seeing the familiar brown bag in several stores, I decided to see just what Trenary Toast was. It is toasted bread that has toppings baked into it. It was an interesting and crunchy little snack.

Serving suggestion
Serving suggestion

Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant, Houghton, Michigan

Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant
Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant
Pannukakku with Nisu Toast
Pannukakku with Nisu Toast

A Finnish restaurant in Houghton, Michigan, one block off the main drag and one block from the water. The food was good, and how often do you have the opportunity to try Finnish food?

I made a return visit because the people working there had such wonderful positive energy – and I liked the food.

Gemignani’s Italian Specialties, Hancock, Michigan

Hancock Restaurant

An Italian restaurant in the Finnish part of town. It’s right across the street from Finlandia, University.

Streeet signs

I wonder what the ratio of K’s is to other letters of the Finnish vocabulary?


I love tomato caprese, but I’d never had it baked before. It was delightful, as was the bruschetta. This is definitely a place I would recommend.

And that is the end of my gustatory tour of Michigan. Just wait until I get to the fish boil in Wisconsin!


Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

It was a short two-hour drive from Houghton, Michigan to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. When you get to Ontonagon, turn left and drive along Lake Superior.

End of the Earth? Not quite
End of the Earth? Not quite

I checked in at the gate house and found my spot. I got out of the cab to decide how to attack it, and a neighbor, Johnny, came over to help. It was a large site, but rather undulating and the power outlet was on the wrong side. We eventually got it slid into place. I went about dropping the trailer and getting hooked up to the power. Then I discovered that my cord wasn’t long enough to reach. I started getting hitched up again to try to get it closer to the power, when another neighbor, Dale, came over to offer his assistance. What a friendly place!

We finally got it hitched up, scooched over and I plugged the cord in. The power still wasn’t flowing to the trailer. I puzzled that over for a while, and finally figured out that the surge protector must have given its all back at McLain State Park. I disconnected the faulty part and finally every thing was hunky and dory.

Dale introduced  me to his wife, Cheryl and we had a pleasant little chat. They are fellow Michiganders. (Don’t let my Texas plates fool you!)

The next morning, Dale and Cheryl came over to invite me to join them at the Fourth of July Parade in White Pine. I got myself into my most patriotic attire – my red AZO tee shirt, blue jeans and a white elastic hair tie and joined them. They were similarly attired.

Now, I am not a big parade goer. In the 29 years I lived in Kalamazoo, I don’t think I ever went to one of the many parades they had. But, no one ever invited me. I couldn’t turn down this one!

It was small-town fun at its finest.

Parade 1

We took up a position in the shade of a tree and watched the people on the other side of the street waiting for the parade.

Here it comes!
Here it comes!

The honor guard.

left, right
left, right

It seems like the big deal here was the candy. People threw it – mostly at children – from the floats and cars as well as walking along in the parade.

The candy caterpillar
The candy caterpillar

The candy caterpillar wove its way back and forth across the street. Not only did they throw candy, but they gave out bags to collect it in.

The lady and her kid
The lady and her kid

The poor little kid was getting rather tuckered out by the time he got to us. She picked him up and carried him the rest of the way.

Fanciful floats
Fanciful floats

There were fanciful floats. This float looked like it really could float.

Parade 7

The library was represented.

Parade 8

So was the fireworks company. I hear they do a booming business for the fourth. (*groan*)

Parade 9

The military had a presence.

And then came the cars.

Muscles cars
A muscle car
Old-timey truck
Old-timey truck
Flag-festooned car
Flag-festooned car

Another floatParade 14 float

This one had a musician who was giving all  he had to the one note he could play .

Parade 15 trombone

Parade 16

And what would a parade up north be without a snow mobile?

Parade 17 LighthouseOr a lighthouse?

Parade 18 waving ladyEveryone had a good time.

Parade 19 EndAnd then the parade was over until next year.

And even though we were a trio of oldsters with nary a child nearby, they treated us like family.

Our candy haul
Our candy haul

Ah, but Porcupine Mountains isn’t all candy and parades. There is also Lake of the Clouds.

Lake of the Clouds
Lake of the Clouds

You drive up and up and up until you come to a parking lot. They have a boardwalk from the parking lot to several vantage points overlooking the lake.

It is nestled between two ridges of the Porcupine Mountains. I imagine that it is much warmer than Lake Superior. While it is a mile long, it is only 15 feet deep. I satisfied myself with the view from the overlook.

Speaking of views, we had one really spectacular sunset of the three nights I was there.


Sunset 2

I just loved how the colors rippled across the water.

Silhouettes at sunset

Everyone enjoyed the sunset, even the kids.

I hear that the brilliant colors we were enjoying were due to the smoke from the Canadian forest fires. There are quite a few this season out west, and the prevailing westerlies and the jet stream are pumping them this way.

I ran into Dale and Cheryl when I went down to the shore to collect some pebbles.

Dale and Cheryl reading at the shore
Dale and Cheryl reading at the shore
Pebbles on the shore
Pebbles on the shore

My father always called me “fiddle fingers” – I was always making something. Here’s some of what I made with the pebbles and a spool of copper wire I saved from the tons of supplies I left behind.

One of the necklaces
One of the necklaces
Pendants and ornaments
Pendants and ornaments

I gave Dale and Cheryl some Christmas tree ornaments as souvenirs of their visit to the Porkies. They invited me for dinner!

They made pork chops, a rice dish and green beans, and we ate in the pop-up trailer. The food was good, the company delightful and the trailer was so cool! I have always wanted a screened porch, and this was a lot like one. If I wasn’t already towing a trailer, I might consider getting one.

Now comes the entomological report.

The flies were horrid for the last 24 hours I was there. These weren’t the black flies that attacked up in Copper Harbor. These looked just like house flies, but they bite! The ranger told me that they are barn flies. You know how mosquitoes will hover about and hesitate, as if looking for the right place and time to set down? These just descend en masse. I stepped out of the trailer and I any bare skin was fair game. There would be five or more right next to each other trying to get some of this prime pale skin. They seemed to prefer legs. Bug repellant did little to nothing to discourage them.

When it was time to hitch up the next day, I covered every inch of skin that I could, jammed Dad’s favorite hat down as far as it would go, sprayed myself down with bug repellant, just in case it would help and worked as fast as I could.

Flies still got inside the cab of the truck and I swatted them all the way to Wisconsin. They were even biting me through my jeans.

Luckily, I seem to have gotten rid of them. On to the next state – the Badger State!






Ho-Ho-Houghton, Michigan

Thanks to my friend Linda, who joined me for a day before the Copper Harbor adventure, I now know how to pronounce Houghton. It’s not HOW-ton; it’s not WHO-ton; it’s HO-ton. After all those years of teaching from Houghton Mifflin textbooks, I would have thought I’d have mastered it before this.

It snowed HOW much?!
It snowed HOW much?!

Driving back along US 41 from Copper Harbor to Houghton, I passed the snow gauge. The record was 390.4 inches in 1978-1979. That’s more than 32 feet! I guess I will stop feeling sorry for myself for the roughly 12 feet I shoveled during my last winter in Kalamazoo in 2013-2014.

I camped at McLain State Park, just outside Houghton. I had a lovely site right on the shore.

The view from my campsite.
The view from my campsite.
Rock piles
Rock piles

While waiting for the sun to set, I enjoyed the rocks. I collected a few and left these sentinels behind.

Someone I spoke with recommended Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant, so I had to explore it. I was intrigued with the idea of a Finnish restaurant.

Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant
Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant
Pannukakku with Nisu Toast
Pannukakku with Nisu Toast

The pannukakku is on the left side of the plate. The menu describes it as an “oven-baked custard-like pancake.” It was tasty. The waitress asked if I wanted the Nisu with it, which is cardamom toast. I figured I might as well try that, too. I really liked that coffee was included in the price of the meal!

The restaurant is in a building that dates back to 1869. It started life as a furniture store and was the home of the Houghton Knights of Columbus for a time. The Suomi Cafe opened in 1967 and has changed hands several times. The current owner is a young woman named Jamie, who started at the restaurant as a waitress.

While I know that there were a number of visitors there, you can tell that this is a favorite local restaurant. There is a warm feel to the place. In fact, it drew me back for a repeat visit. Also, they list the soups  for the next day on a white board behind the cash register. The first day I stopped in, they were advertising beef stew for Thursday. The next day, they were promoting their clam chowder for Friday.

I didn’t return on Friday. I’m not a fan of the clam.

Houghton is a delightful town with interesting shops and restaurants. It’s home to Michigan Tech. A former student of mine just completed his freshman year there. Too bad Tyler was back home in Kalamazoo, or we could have had dinner together.

Michigan Tech was founded in 1885 as Michigan Mining School. That was in the height of the copper mining boom in the Upper Peninsula. I wanted to know more about the mining history, so I took a tour of Quincy Mine and Hoist.

Quincy Mine sign

That green hunk of rock under the sign is copper, and, according to Donna in the gift shop, it weighs about 1000 pounds. That’s a lot of pennies!

The nation’s first mineral rush took place here in 1843, six years before the California Gold Rush. Immigrants came from across the world came to take part in mining the copper that was in demand for the Industrial Revolution and for munitions for the Civil War.

This mine began operations in 1848 and was in operation for almost 100 years. It was the second largest copper mine in the Lake Superior region. They called it “Old Reliable” as it paid out dividends to its investors consistently from 1862 until 1920. According to the guide, labor unrest in 1913 and the development of less expensive strip mining in other states lead to the eventual closing of the mine in 1945.

Old No. 2 Hoist House
Old No. 2 Hoist House

The first stop on the tour is the the Number 2 Hoist House. It was the pride of the company and a real showplace. It used modern construction techniques of cast concrete with rebar. It was a point of pride for the company; the building was faced with brick and imported Italian tile was used inside. Before we could go inside to see the Nordberg Steam Hoist, we all had to put on hardhats.

Nordberg Steam Hoist
Nordberg Steam Hoist

The Nordberg steam hoist was a marvel of its time. It used the energy produced by the steam so efficiently that it lowered the cost of operating the mine.

The spindle used to wind the cable
The spindle used to wind the cable
Steel cable used in the mine
Steel cable used in the mine

The cable wound around the spindle and ran over a series of wheels and pulleys to the shaft house. It lowered empty cars and pulled up loaded cars.

Rock car and man car
Rock car and man car

The miners would ride three to a seat on the car for as long as half an hour into the mine. The deepest part of the mine was 9,260 feet down the incline, which was 92 levels of mining. After the mine stopped operating, the mine filled up with water. Currently, all the levels beneath the seventh level are flooded.

After marveling at the Nordberg Steam Hoist, we donned heavy jackets that they had available for us and got on the cog wheel tram to descend to an entrance to the mine. Since it was almost 80º that day, sitting in the sunshine in heavy coats and hard hats was a bit uncomfortable, but necessary.

Temperature sign

Yes, it really was that cold inside the mine.

Current entrance to the mine
Current entrance to the mine

The entrance to the mine is through an old adid, which is an auxiliary opening to the mine. It might have originally been used for ventilation or getting rid of water, but it wasn’t for people and ore to enter and exit the mine. It was enlarged for the tour. Also, Michigan Tech used to hold classes in the mine, and they had a classroom built off to the side. Talk about your hands-on learning!

In the mine
In the mine

The electric lights were strung for the benefit of the tourists. The blue light indicates where US 41 crosses the tunnel, hundreds of feet above where we were standing. Miners worked with lights on their hard hats. According to the tour guide, in the early days, they worked by candle light.

The light of one candle in the darkness
The light of one candle in the darkness

Of course, the miners’ eye adjusted to the low levels of light. The tour guide was demonstrating how they drilled into the rock before power tools. There were teams of three. One held what I’d describe as a kind of drill bit and two wielded sledge hammers. They men with the hammers took turns hitting the end of the bit, while the miners holding the bit would give it a quarter  turn between each strike. All this hundreds of feet below ground by the light of one candle.

You would definitely want to stay on good terms with your co-workers.

She showed us improvements in mining equipment, which enhanced efficiency and lowered cost but put miners out of work. The most amazing feature of the section we toured was something called a stope. It was an inclined shaft that connected different levels of the mine. The one she showed us had been constructed before the Civil War. It ran at a consistent angle, connecting three levels in the mine. It was built by miners who never saw further than the light of one candle. Amazing!

After the tour, I wandered about the site a bit, AFTER I shed the heavy coat and the hard hat. I was assured that the coats were washed every six months and both the hats and the coats were sprayed daily. As a former teacher, I had to grit my teeth to make myself put on the hat. Images of head lice were dancing in my head. At least they weren’t dancing on my head.

Martin House at the Quincy Mine
Martin House at the Quincy Mine

Most of the miners lived in company housing. This house was the residence of the Martin family from 1913 – 1925. Joshua Martin was the miner, but he got to spend little time in the house he worked so hard to provide for his family of eleven. He worked twelve hour shifts six days a week. According to the information in the house, Joshua worked for the mine for 35 years. He was killed in a mining accident in 1921. The family continued to live in the house for four more years. I found no explanation regarding why they were allowed to remain. It could be that the mine owners were being generous. Maybe. I find it more likely that one of the sons grew up and was working at the mine and that is why they were allowed to stay in company housing.

Interestingly enough, these houses are still in use today. One of the tour guides said that her house was an old company house. It had been updated, though, with modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing.

One of the features of the older mine buildings that I particularly enjoyed was the stone they were build from. It is a layered sandstone.

Bacon, anyone?
Bacon, anyone?

Tell me that it doesn’t look like bacon!

I also enjoyed the rusting machinery left outside.

Viking helmet
Viking helmet
Odd spinning wheel
Odd spinning wheel
Industrial era exercise machine
Industrial era exercise machines
Manufacturer's pride
Manufacturer’s pride

Then I left the mine. It was after hours, anyway.

Here is one thing that I was puzzling about in Houghton. They have a lift bridge. I understand that. What I don’t understand is that it seems to have two driving surfaces and I drove across both of them.

Low bridge
Low bridge
Not-so-low bridge
Not-so-low bridge

I am sure there is a reason. I am sure there is someone who could explain it. That person isn’t me.

Another interesting feature is that Hancock, the city opposite Houghton, is home to Finlandia University.

Finlandia University sign
Finlandia University sign

Notice that little sign on the left side of the sign? Are you curious? I was.

Finlandia Sign explanation

Everybody loves a little Frank Lloyd Wright.

Directly across the street is a restaurant I would highly recommend.

Hancock Restaurant

Gemignani’s Restaurant, on the corner of Quincy and Ryan. Or, as they say in Finnish, Yalta Katu and Kukkula Katu.Streeet signs


A delightful last dinner in the area.

Next stop, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.



Copper Harbor

I was at Fort Wilkins State Park for four days, but it was kind of a “down” time. I wasn’t disheartened, but did find out why black flies are so roundly reviled. I got a bite above my right eye, which swelled up mightily. I also got two on my neck.

One of these eyes is not like the other
One of these eyes is not like the other

I asked the locals what they do about them, and was told that they a) are used to them and b) they wear the Yooper Cologne – bug dope. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to apply any beforehand. A store keeper did offer to sell me something that she said would take the itch away. I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t itching, and the chemicals in the products didn’t sound like something I wanted near my eyes.

I did pop Benedryl on a regular basis, as I seemed to be having an allergic reaction to the bites. Either it was the Benedryl or “black fly fever” which I found referred to in an article published by Perdue University. It described the condition as “headache, nausea, fever and swollen lymph nodes” but they didn’t suggest a remedy. So, I just followed my body’s cue. I slept. And slept and slept some more.

In spite of my reduced tourism activity, I did managed to see a few things.

The road to Miami starts here
The road to Miami starts here

Since I plan to spend time in Florida this winter, it’s good to know that I am on my way.

Copper Harbor Light House
Copper Harbor Light House

If there is a harbor, there must be a lighthouse. They give tours, but to get there, you have to take a boat ride. I wasn’t feeling perky enough to find out when the boat rides were, let alone actually take one.

Looking at the Copper Harbor Light House
Looking at the Copper Harbor Light House

So, I joined this young lady in looking at the light house from the shore.Rock in the water

The Copper Harbor Visitor Center was a very welcoming place. The volunteers there did their best to help all who came in. They had a computer that you could pay to use, but they let you use their wifi for free. Since there were no cell phone signals anywhere in the area, this was most welcome. They had some beautiful lighting fixtures which I think were appropriate for Copper Harbor.

Light in the Visitor Center
Light in the Visitor Center

They had rest rooms open around the clock, a spigot for water and a bike wash rack! I had never seen bike wash rack before. These might be common, but I am not the most athletic type.

Bike Wash Rack
Bike Wash Rack

With all the rain we’d had, I think the bikers could use washing, too. I offered to rinse the guy off, but he declined my offer.

Just how did I get those black fly bites? Well, it happened on the first night, when I went to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous!



No wonder I wasn’t aware I was being bitten.

January's destination
January’s destination

And now, I’m on my way, although I will take a few detours en route.