So, Michigan, Petoskey — Along the lake, east side

Last report,Montana: this one from Michigan.

I may or may not work backwards through North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but certainly not today.

Road themes: Skies. Road lengths. Things that stand up high above the horizon and earthly surrounds (cell towers, grain elevators, water towers, honking big electrical grids, small power lines. Cemeteries (although some are called memorials — or are roadside rests which turn out to be memorials).

The last theme turned out to be our most memorable outings of the last couple of days.

But those who die and are publicly lauded along northern routes turn out not to be victims of great battles, military men and native Americans of various tribes (although they too died, I’m sure), but rather workers of the world, miners and bridge builders. Some, for example, are memorialized at the viewpoint for the Mackinac Bridge — the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere.

[Ed. note: We call comments of this sort — “The longest…” etc. — Wikipedia moments, since neither of us could think of a single suspension bridge elsewhere in the world. But the likelihood that we will actually remember to check this out is fairly remote. Go ahead and google it if you like].

At any rate, the monument at the Mackinac Bridge memorializes 5 workers who died, including one diver, in the making of the bridge.

Gaining knowledge about the making of these bridges, whether the Brooklyn (on a documentary Netflix) or this Mackinac, makes me not want to cross them.  I like looking at them, but had there been a ferry I would have taken it. They (Mr. Vanderbilt and company) thought about making a bridge for crossing this wild bit of water in 1886 but it took until 1957 to actually complete it. And it was about 20 years in the actual construction [another Wikipedia research I’m not going to do tonight]. The workers’ memorial also names the unions that were involved in the making, a bit of history I was proud to see.

The other bit of memorializing of the dead came earlier in the last two days, in Wisconsin at a roadside stop. The stop was a “Scenic Viewpoint” of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, but just across a swale was a lovely little cemetery.

No identifying signs for the cemetery were visible and there was no visible entrance. We walked the length of it and back, checking out the headstones for interesting sculptures, reading the names, looking at the floral arrangements and dates, noting the bushes and trees that grew up and tilted the headstones, and admiring the tidiness of a burial ground that wasn’t an obvious part of a municipality or congregation.

Then we noticed two things: names that were not  Anglo or very Germanic, like Kero and Koivisto and Payette and Dubay and Viviano. And then there were the pervasive Madonna statues:

There were the inevitable poignant bits: the rough wooden cross, with no identification:

And the sunken gravestone:

But later, as we stopped at more roadside markers and rest areas, we realized that this was iron ore country — Iron Mountain, Iron City (memorialized for us in the beer), Iron River, Ironwood — towns along the Gogebic Range where vast quantities of iron were discovered and mined. We stayed last night in Escanaba, where a folk song sings of ‘the red iron ore.” And this cemetery is a kind of memorial to the workers who came from Finland and Scandinavia and Italy and elsewhere to work the mines. Catholic countries, it seems, although not necessarily a Catholic cemetery.

So once again, we note that we — and this trip — came about because of the work of those who came before, some written on grand statues, some buried with gravestones, and many undoubtedly simply gone. But their work lives on.

On a more mundane note, part of the absence of this blog has to do with our forgetting that we had to cross Wisconsin. Wisconsin got its revenge, and we pulled into our motel last night at 8PM after driving over 400 miles. Totally against the rules of cats and travel.

However, the hotel delivered our dinners, the Olympics carried on, and I slept late this morning. Today’s trip was under 200  miles, and this internet connection is actually working. Jer reports he can’t get the NY Times online, but I told him that the news wouldn’t have changed any since last week, so he took a nap. And now it’s off to dinner. We are in Petoskey, on Lake Michigan, along with thousands and thousands of others. It’s high tourist, high children, high dogs, high vehicle season. We are grateful for the room, for the internet, for the restaurant across the street (provided the traffic doesn’t get us as we cross), and for those living and dead who made all this possible. More when energy, internet, and brain allows. –June

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11 Responses to So, Michigan, Petoskey — Along the lake, east side

  1. Carla says:

    Am loving your descriptions of this journey. I find that often, without any forethought, our trips take on certain themes.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy safe travels.


    • juneu says:

      Thank you, Carla. I realized I couldn’t write a linear account of our trip because it all seemed to merge into one very long road. So I’m using my photos as prompts to find themes.

      And of course, once the idea of themes worked its way into my brain, then the photos became more deliberate and more thematic. Thank you also for the safe travels blessing. We’re doing our best.


  2. Olga says:

    I find that on long journeys there comes a point when there is only a constant now – a total in-the-moment-ness. The past and the future are on different pages, and the double page spread of the present extends to all horizons. This accounts for the lack of importance of checking irrelevant facts, etc. I am just so grateful that you are affording me the pleasure of accompanying you as I sit on my sofa!


    • juneu says:

      Hi Olga, I find pleasure in your pleasure — the thought of sitting on my own sofa seems enormous at the moment:-) But today was very short, I had a much needed nap, we even stopped at a gigantic discount store and bought a couple of supplies. So life seems a bit more settled. In the momentness, indeed — otherwise the traveler could go a bit batty. Finding a much needed addition to the “camping” supplies takes on a truly large significance:-)

      Thanks for checking in.


  3. Lia says:

    I drove a similar route a long, long time ago– 19 years ago, in my first car. Of course, I didn’t notice the cemetaries across the road from the overlooks, or think about unions or nationalities of surnames. Thanks for the post, and glad you are surviving the upper midwest and hinky internet!


    • juneu says:

      We also drove this many years ago — early 1970’s.More traffic, I think, and grain elevators have been replaced by cell towers as the highest vertical relief. The mid-Michigan countryside reminds us of Atlantic coastal territory — New Jersey on the way to the shore.


  4. gericon says:

    Ok – I looked it up. There are 12 suspension bridges longer than Mackinac – 10 outside of the US. In the US, Verrazanos-Narrows and the Golden Gate are longer. You really need to at least post on FB, we start worrying when you are absent for too long.


    • juneu says:

      The quote used “western hemisphere” — we both wondered about the Golden Gate, but forgot the Verrazanos-Narrows. And “western hemisphere” really confused us.

      As for posting — hinky internet as well as exhaustion (not to mention the Olympics) really made posting impossible. I forgot how exhausting travel is. And how frustrating internet on the road can be.

      Thanks for checking in.


  5. delqlts says:

    It is supposed to be “so hard” not “to”! And after I corrected you for Internet. Tsk.


    • juneu says:

      Gee, Del, I can’t bring myself to use a capital “I” for internet. Hmmm, guess I should look up the reasoning for such a thing. I never was meant to be a copy editor.


  6. delqlts says:

    Always interesting to travel with you two – you have a different “take” than I and it is always something to make me think. You need a capital “I” for Internet. And you are entirely too old and infirm to drive more than 400 miles a day – TOPS! I know because I am in the same category! We will ruin our health pushing to hard to get somewhere. Check my Blog for a LBeach Madonna!


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