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Friday, October 9, 2015

Every Mile Is Saturated with Memories

Driving north under cloudy skies

We had one day on the road, two full days in the U.P., and a fourth day coming home. Ours was a short getaway this year but, as always, packed full and brimming over, overflowing with memories as well as with beautiful new sights. Memories make every mile dense with associations of other years, absent friends, friends no longer with us except in spirit. 

Miles of beautiful "nothing"

And then, at the end of the road --

Dear little Grand Marais

Ellen Airgood at the West Bay Diner (trying on my new sunglasses)

and multitasking -- talking on phone and signing books

Since H-58 is now paved between Grand Marais and Munising, we braved washboard (not as bad as we remembered from our last time, long ago) on the Adams Trail in search of excitement.

Finding the beaverworks was exciting, but I've always loved the simple expanses of seemingly empty cutover land, the vast stumpfields of the Kingston Plains. I did not try to find the bearing tree again this year but thought about it as we neared the intersection of the Adams Trail and H-58 on our way to Melstrand and on to Munising.

Mosaic of lichens

After our visit to Munising, we returned by way of H-58 so as not to miss lovely Kingston Lake, where we always talk about camping ... someday ....

One big change since the road along Lake Superior was paved is that there are very few places to pull off. Lots of "No Parking" signs. So we took advantage of one official parking lot and steps down to the water. Sullivan Creek is not as big and noisy and exciting as Hurricane River to the east, but the carving action of water through sand is always beautiful and always in flux. Clouds only made the light more glorious on the water.

But we don't need adventure and new scenes filling our days. Just hanging out in Grand Marais fills us with contentment. 

the dear little harbor

light and reflection

changes at the hotel

calm mornings and evenings

Our other day trip was to the east of Grand Marais, where paving runs out fast on H-58, and it's definitely washboard but worth the jolting, particularly for the lovely little rivers the road crosses.

Sucker River

Two-Hearted River (the real one)

Leaving is always difficult. Our time having been so short this year, we left without hurry, stopping along the way to appreciate scenes of "ordinary" Upper Peninsula splendor before ducking east to wander roads with wonderful names -- Ten Curves Road, Sandstone Road, Hiawatha Trail -- to St. Ignace.

Manistique River
Fall color was coming on strong by Wednesday

We remembered this old building in Trout Lake

Ready for camping?

We hadn't called ahead so could not blame my friend Mary for not being in her bookstore when we came by. After all, I was not in mine back in Northport, was I? I left her a note and hope she found it.

The triumph of this year's trip for me was wringing an admission from David, at last, that there is a difference in pasties. They are not all the same! (How could he ever have thought so?) My favorite pasty shop had sold out minutes before we got there on Sunday, so I tried one from down the road, electing to give it a try since it was made with venison. The gamey taste of the meat was nice, and there were rutabagas (not a pasty without rutabaga) but no onions, and overall it was a little too dry for my taste. I like a slightly greasy pasty. 

So on the way south, we found Lehto's open, and I got a "hot one" to eat right away and a couple of "cold ones" to take home. Big, golden-brown crust, sirloin, potatoes sliced paper thin, onions and rutabagas for taste, very dense and heavy and moist -- this is my favorite pasty, and taking a couple of bites with the memory of the pasty from three days before still sharp, David at last acknowledged the difference.

But his heart was set on a burger from Bentley's, our favorite St. Ignace restaurant. We were too late in the year to catch the big car parade -- or the big truck parade -- or (my favorite) the tractor parade, but there is always plenty to see from Bentley's front window, with ferries leaving for and returning from Mackinac Island just across the way. Bentley's is our last stop before the Mackinac Bridge.

The only book I took with me was the collected stories of Ivan Bunin. It was such a big book that I knew I wouldn't need anything else, and indeed I only got halfway through the stories, but they were perfect for the trip. More on that some other time.

We came home to learn that a dear friend had died the day before we started on our trip north. The thing is, I was writing letters to her in my head every day that we were gone and planning to write and send a real letter when we got home. For me, she was alive during those days. Do you understand?


Dawn said...

Yes I understand. You could still write it. Her family might like to here that you were thinking of her. Beautiful country up there.

Barbara Stark-Nemon said...

I do understand... and I'm so sorry for your loss of a dear friend. May she continue to live on in your memories...

P. J. Grath said...

Memories of that friend and so many others, of trips in former years -- all that made the time fly. We would be driving along and say to each other, "Seney ALREADY?" Miles that used to seem so long....

Dawn said...

Used to love the Seney stretch on my drive back 'home' to Hancock after a visit downstate.

Anonymous said...

Delightful... and a wonderful reminder of motorcycling through the same territory years ago. Thank you.

Karen Casebeer said...

Enjoyed this reminiscence, even though it was from a time in the past. Thank you. We've shared some favorite U.P. spots and experiences.