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Monday, September 20, 2010

11 years ago today, Day 21

On Day 21 I crossed into Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  When I lived in Port Clinton, Ohio, the little town I mentioned yesterday, my nearest big city was Toledo.  The weather forecasts from the TV stations there always included a forecast for the UP, which took me a short while to figure out meant Upper Peninsula.  In the winter those forecasts were usually about three times as bad as they were down in my little town on Lake Erie, and I'd always been curious to see the UP ever since. 

The weather was chilly and gray to start with, and windy, the thunderstorm the night before having been the marker of a cold front passing overhead, setting the foliage dancing, but otherwise (aside from the foliage) rather unremarkable.  The highway was straight and flat with mile after mile looking pretty much the same as any other:

Not ugly, mind, but a bit monotonous

Eventually I came to Marquette, back on the shore of Lake Superior, about lunchtime.  Now, one of the other things I'd always heard about with regards to the UP was the fact that many, many Cornish miners had settled here during the 19th century to mine copper, and that they'd brought their cuisine, if that's not too fancy a term, with them.  Anyway, I love turnovers of any stripe, and I'd always wanted to try a Cornish pasty.

On my way through Marquette, just past Marquette University, I saw a small wooden lean-to shack on the side of a cinderblock building, with a large sign over the door that said, simply, "PASTIES."  That really wasn't what caught my eye, though.  What caught my eye was the line that went out the door and partway around the building.  This is always a good sign when it comes to food, in my humble opinion, so I found a parking spot and took my place.

I didn't wait nearly as long as I thought I would, but the time I did wait, huddled in my coat and wishing I had my hat, was well worth it.  I don't know if all Cornish pasties are as good as that one was, but what it amounted to was a thick, rich beef stew in a thick, flaky pie crust, and it was absolutely delicious.

Licking my fingers, I got back in my car and drove east along Lake Superior for a few miles.  I stopped at a roadside pullout.  The waves in this photo are a testament to how windy it was.  And cold!  Well, it was probably a nice fall day to a Yooper (yes, that's what they're called, or at least that's what the weathercasters on the Toledo television stations called them), but it was darned cold to me.

Waves on Marquette Bay

I turned southeast at Munising, and was soon on another arrow-straight road through thick woods that was indistinguishable from the one I'd driven that morning.  I did think about camping that night, but the weatherman on the radio kept predicting a hard freeze (I was kind of concerned about a freeze hard enough to warrant the descriptor by UP definitions) and the possibility of snow in the morning, so while I did stop briefly at Colwell Lake Campground, in the amusingly-named Hiawatha National Forest, I decided to go on to Manistique, on Lake Michigan.

This turned out to be a good idea.  This was the beach across from my motel:

Looks almost tropical, doesn't it?

I wouldn't go so far as to say it was warm, but the wind had died down and the sun was out, and it was a far cry from the weather at lunchtime.

I did do one stupid thing that night.  The motel room, while nice in itself, was next door to some seriously noisy people.  So I asked if I could switch rooms to get farther away from them, and was allowed to.  In the bustle I left my purse in the old room, and didn't realize it until it was so late that I really didn't want to bother the motel people (which in hindsight was pretty stupid, but I wasn't thinking all that clearly at eleven pm), so I didn't get all that good a night's sleep, worrying about it and waiting until it was a decent hour to go knock on the office door.

3 comments:

  1. Let's see - yes, they do call themselves Yoopers / Youpers (at least, they did when I went to Michigan Technological University at Houghton in 1980).

    We like to call northern Wisconsin and the Michigan UP 'miles and miles of miles and miles'.

    A hard freeze is 'cold enough to kill plants'. I would expect an overnight low in the mid-20's for a hard freeze - maybe as high as 28 if got down that far early and just stayed there all night.

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  2. Why on earth would a Toledo tv station have the UP weather reports? It's 300 miles away at least.

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  3. Miles and miles of miles and miles, yup [g].

    Let's just say it was cold enough that I was really glad I wasn't camping that night.

    And I have no idea why Toledo had UP weather reports, but that was my first-ever exposure, so to speak to the UP, and it was memorable.

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