Old Things

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The drive from Munising to Barraga was not a fun one. There were a great many hills accompanied by most unpleasant traffic, and of course my gas mileage was awful. Lola and I can only do about 45 uphill, and only 40 up a big hill. So though I passed a great many interesting sites that I’m sure were wonderful, I did not stop because I was excited to get off the road. By the time I arrived in Barraga it was cloudy and threatening rain, but I could see how beautiful it must be on a sunny day. Even the curve of the road as you enter the Keweenaw bay area is lovely. Barraga is named …

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Down a long and beautiful country road on the Garden peninsula of the U.P. is the tiny ghost town of Fayette. It was once a huge iron ore refinery with docks, blast furnaces, a limestone quarry, stores and even an opera house. It was home to almost 500 people in the late 1800’s, and was run by the Jackson Iron Company. Soon after the company closed its doors, the town followed suit, and has been abandoned since the early 1900’s. The State Park is in charge of keeping things tidy in the old ghost town, and in my opinion it’s altogether too tidy. The grass is nicely trimmed, the buildings have new roofs and new siding…for some …

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Down a pretty lonely road surrounding Indian Lake outside of Manistique, MI, there is a state park called Palms Brook. It contains what the signs refer to as “Kitch-i-ti-kipi” or “Big Spring.” It is, in fact, the largest spring in Michigan, and, I will venture to say, the most beautiful. The park is small. The only trail leads straight to the spring, because, hey, what else would you want to look at? The color is a deep turquoise. This is from the minerals which bubble up from the bottom. Huge fish (“Maybe carp?” ventures one of the tourists) swim below the surface, which is clear as glass. A small ferry with a viewing cutout in the middle …

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Just behind my parents’ property, down a small path well worn down by many feet, there is a Hudson stuck in the mud. It has probably been stuck there for over 70 years, and seen many a harsh Beaver Island winter. The windows are gone, and so are the seats. The once red hubcaps are now grey, the once blue paint a mossy beige. I like to think that things haven’t changed that much, and that someone tried to drive their lumbering car down a footpath under influence of the drink, and then simply left it because it was too damaged to drive out again. If you turn away from the Hudson and look into the woods, …

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Today my mother and I quested to the south end of the island. We were looking for a road that led to a spring and an orchard, a small red line on the bottom of our map. We consulted our island guide, Ken, but he’d never been. He’s been to the outer islands, where nobody lives, and has a great knowledge of them, but not this little track in the woods. So naturally, I was interested. It was a long and windy drive down “East Side,” which is one of the less interesting names for the roads on the island. The King’s Highway bisects the eastern half, and is the only paved street. (The King was not …

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  Today my mother and I were convinced by our island guides Betty and Ken, that we visit a little-known spot, deep in the woods on the west side of the island, where you can pick fresh wild cranberries in the fall. A wild cranberry bog! We loaded up in our Beaver Island limo, and set off. The hike was lovely, the weather perfectly sunny and warm. Monty and Niko had their trail vests on as we hiked over a few hills. Now, let me explain something about the island, and probably upper Michigan in general. There ARE public lands for hunting and hiking, etc. There are also private lands for these things. But the further north …

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