Friday, July 31, 2009

#5 Copper Country

“…going down down down, about a slip down….”
The U. P. is copper country. The large amount of copper in the area spurred a mineral rush back in 1843. The U. P. was awash with mining operations up until around 1945. Mining companies such as the Quincy Mining Co. produced over three-quarters of the nation’s copper. These operations were not locally owned but owned and financed by Eastern investors. The tons of money from these mining operations flowed into their coffers to finance their lavish lifestyles. Nowadays tourists supply the cash flow.
We joined a tour of the Quincy mine and explored a 2,400 foot section of the seventh level. We got some idea of what it must have been like to work deep down in the dark, damp, cold bowels of the earth. Not very pleasant. As I listened to our tour guide describe the back breaking work and long hours of the miners I couldn't help think of that country song, “She got the gold mind and I got the shaft…”
Some of the mine workers were no more than boys. Fires, falls, explosions, cave-ins, and mechanical mishaps killed about one miner a week. Others went blind or lost legs and arms. Sure, some miners made enough money to buy a house (probably a shack by today’s standards) but as one woman in our tour told us, most of them died in their forties and fifties. Her grandfather who worked in the mines died at 45.
That’s the capitalist way I guess; the people work and crash while the fat cats get the cash.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

#4 The Upper Peninsula

The U. P. has a scattering of quaint little towns nestled here and there along highway 41 all surrounded by trees and water. It’s all so quaint, the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings. We drove up to the tippy top, up where highway 41 begins before it rolls south for 1990 miles and ends up in Miami, Florida. – Incidentally, the people up here in the U. P. are called’ “Da Yoopers” and they have their own language so to speak. For example when you go into a restaurant you might be asked, “Do you want table?” which means are you going to eat here or take out. And it’s not open or closed its, “open or shut”. Packing down the snow is “Panking down the snow”. Turn signals on your car are “Dickoos”. You don’t walk down the street with your wife side by side you walk “side by each”. And I’m not almost done with this posting, I am “pre-ner” done “ya know, ya hey, I done, Okeh?”.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

#3 Wagner and Munising Falls

Our little group of three has now grown to nine. Cousins Bill and Judy, with their sons Rob and David, came up from Chicago to join us. Then we hooked up with cousins Elaine and Bill who live up here. So with Elaine and Bill as our tour guides we set out to enjoy the beauty of the U.P. It was agreed to start out with a trip to Wagner and Munising Falls.
The weather was gorgeous as we slowly meandered up the path to Wagnen falls taking photos and marveling at the variety and beauty of Mother Nature …I could go on,….but I would rather talk about motel shower faucets.
Now I’m a peaceable man, I won’t even kill a spider or an ant; however, I have one thing to say about the person who designed the motel faucet…..OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!!
Why oh why do all motels have these one handle, impossible to adjust, shower faucets? Was the decision made years ago that it would be a good idea to have one handle un-adjustable faucets in all motel showers? Is it some sort of unwritten motel association law? Article 6, All motels must have difficult to adjust one handle shower faucets. NO EXCEPTIONS.
They all have the blasted things. The whole time you are in the shower you have to constantly tap, tap, tap the handle to keep the temperature somewhere near a comfortable level. You are either scalded or chilled in turn as you try to shower down. It makes for a frustrating beginning to any day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#2 Munising - Painted Rock Boat Tour

The ride up to Munising was enjoyable with trees lining both sides of the highway. We arrived in Munising in time for our five o’clock boat tour of the Picture Rocks on Lake Superior. It was a two hour tour in a large comfortable tour boat with outdoor and indoor bus-like seating.
As we slowly traversed the coastline we marveled at the beautiful colors and formation of the shoreline cliffs. It was apleasant way to start our U. P. tour.

Monday, July 27, 2009

1. Detroit - Rochester Hills

Flying across the country always makes me think, as I look out the airplane window, that should aliens from another planet happen to be observing from afar - in order to evaluate what kind of “intelligent life” populated this planet – they would most likely conclude that the inhabitants were a well ordered well disciplined peaceful people with a fair amount of intelligence. From 30 thousand feet up the straight line grid of fields with crops of corn, wheat, oats and barley, the straight lines and gentle curves of roads and highways, the well ordered grid patterns of the small towns and cities with tiny ant-like cars in well ordered lines moving peacefully along, stopping at crossroads when other ant-cars approach, it makes one think all is ordered and peaceful below and these humans must care for and love one and other very much.
But if these aliens were to land and have to navigate through airport security they would soon see how badly they had miscalculated things. For example, they would be dumbfounded to see all the time money and inconvenience millions upon millions of people have to endure just because a small handful of other human beings want to do them harm. It makes one wonder how the notion that the human species was created and watched over by an all knowing all seeing just and loving God continues to gain adherents.
It took me four rounds through the metal detector and several rounds of de- silverizing before I was able to put my boots, belt, and hat back on and continue on my way. What can I say, a cowboy needs his essentials; a sterling silver belt buckle, watch band, saddle ring, pen, silver laced name belt with sterling silver lettering, hat, boots, knife, …well you get the picture.
Be that as it may, we made it OK and just now Alice and I are at the Detroit Metro Airport waiting for cousin Doug to pick us up and take us to his condominium in Rochester Hills where we will spend the night before leaving tomorrow morning for Munising, Michigan.