Our Favorite Roving Cafe

_DSC0010

We spent the first night of our holiday at St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – by plan. Probably this first day will be the most planned day on our trip because it was my 75th birthday and I wanted a Bessies Pastie for my birthday supper. You can learn why by reading this earlier post.

The second day of my birthday celebration (if we don’t count all the pre-birthday celebration days) was spent driving the length of the UP, that included eating lunch at my favorite cafe.

_DSC0050

The Bailey Lunch Cafe chose to locate on the shores of Lake Superior on this mid-August early afternoon. We had a table that overlooked a small bay east of Marquette and the sky was blue in the direction we were looking. Not so blue behind us as we had experienced periodic cloud sneezes that spattered our windshield with mist on the late morning portion of our drive.

There are a lot of pull-offs along this stretch of road but we had been to this one before – I have a photo of a wind-swept tree that is next to the dirt drive that swings from the main road and back. I don’t think there are any conveniences here – just beauty and wonder.

_DSC0040

We had a gourmet lunch of Honey Crisp apple slices, a selection of cheeses including smoked gouda  (my favorite with apples), a Parmesan and ranch cheese ball, multi-grain club crackers, sweet black cherries and a soft drink with two straws glasses. And we talked about this and that and what a great lunch we were having.

_DSC0046

After we cleaned up, Jim headed for the bed for a little rest while I took my camera outside, and we both rejoiced that each was doing exactly what we wanted to do in that time and place.

_DSC0036

_DSC0048

I love the mystique of Lake Superior, its breadth and depth, its power, its secrets. Today there was a special magic of interaction of light and water that made the surface seem iridescence.

_DSC0047

The only post-processing I did on this photo was to give the grass some strength in the composition.

Tomorrow we will follow US 2 through northern Wisconsin and into Minnesota and there is no telling where the roving Bailey Cafe will be when we get hungry sometime around noon.

Getting Ready

_DSC0103

Spring dune flowers in Upper Michigan

It is August and today the weather has that late summer feel, when I start thinking of Fall and our annual 5-week camping trip from mid-August to mid-September. I am so eager to go as we are returning to the Canadian Rockies, the western side of Glacier International Park, and down to Oregon to see our grandson’s family. I have menu items planned, our bed made up for warmer nights, have started stocking the cupboards with staples, and have meals in the freezer so we don’t have to do much grocery shopping while on the road. Next week I’ll be able to start packing in earnest as we will need both warm weather and cold weather bedding and clothes. I really want to get this show on the road.

At the same time as I am eager to move on into Fall and our travelling home, I have been spending time looking at the photos from our last camping trip with friends to the very upper portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Not surprising because both involve quiet, easy living. My request for a day trip was to go to Wilderness State Park that is situated where Lake Michigan narrows into the Straits of Mackinaw between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Our friend was asking if we would be able to see the Big Mac so I told him to pull over at a turn-off.

_DSC0110

I remember camping at Wilderness when our kids were young but the campground didn’t look familiar. That has happened several places because the shorelines change as sands shift resulting in the campgrounds needing to be redesigned and enlarged. What was the same was the sense of wildness and quiet. We were far away from towns.

It is a place where the kids learned how to entertain themselves with simple activities using nature’s toys. Maybe we don’t outgrow this pleasure.

_DSC0081

The vastness of each of the five Great Lakes pulls me into thinking about the greater questions of life as I gaze into the horizon. Sometimes we engage in small talk, but most of the time we just enjoy quiet time together.

_DSC0083

This is a beautiful wilderness in the summer months with warm sun and cool breezes off the water. In the winter the weather can be brutal although a lot of people enjoy the outdoor winter sports that are available. When I think of winter in northern Michigan, I think of Florida.

But before I think of Florida, I’m thinking of driving across Canada and down the Rocky Mountains into the northwest states. I’m thinking of traveling with our cozy little home behind us, spending time exploring the changing landscapes, eating healthy meals we cook ourselves, finding small pleasures along the way, and taking lots of photographs.

 

Lake Michigan, Harbor Springs

_DSC0074We went “up north” last weekend camping with friends. This wasn’t a new location to us, with lots of new areas to explore. No, we have been here before, many times so it was more like going “home” to the “up north” that includes anywhere above the midpoint of the Lower Peninsula into the far west end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We have vacationed at different places throughout this large area for close to 50 years so we can engage in many “remember when…” conversations. Conversations like; “Did we come here with … or …? Wasn’t this the place where Mike… or Sharon… or Carol …? Didn’t we have the …. camper when we camped here, was it in 1976? This sure has changed a lot – its not as I remember it.

It was a beautiful weekend in Petoskey, on the shore of Lake Michigan almost to the tip of the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula. The temp was in the low 70’s with a cool breeze to complement the warm sun traversing a very deep blue sky. On Friday we drove north along the Lake Michigan shore making our first stop at Harbor Springs. I did a little shopping but mostly tried to capture the spirit of the small towns that cater to tourists who are discovering the beauty of our Great Lakes for the first time or the people like us who have been going “up north” for decades. Many of the people were young families with strollers and young adults in small groups.

Harbor Springs was just waking up to summer, enjoying the laid back quiet before the throngs of summer visitors arrive. The planters were newly planted with bright summer flowers and spring iris and daffodils were blooming. There weren’t many boats in the harbor marina and hardly any people walking the streets or shopping in stores. A couple of shop owners told us this was the first week of being open, probably recently returning from their winter of managing stores in southern Florida.

The most obvious sign that we are in northern Michigan is the presence of fudge shops – lots of fudge shops. It appears that this shop is stocking up for the 4th of July week-end.

I resisted, although Lynn and Gary confessed to indulging in something decedent and very tasty. I am convinced, however, that I gained about a half a pound smelling the wonderful aroma coming through the door that was propped open to the morning breeze.

I really enjoyed meandering through the gift shops looking for things that I normally don’t shop for. I only bought a few little things but was reminded that this is a shopping area with a short season evidenced by their simple way of writing up an order. No fancy technology here – the clerk is getting my change from a small metal money box under the counter.

_DSC0034

As my purchase was being bagged the clerk said that if I liked cookies I should go to the next corner, turn right and cross the street. And of course we did.

We bought enough to split one now and another later, and some to share with our friends. The ones with chocolate were the best, but I didn’t need to tell you that.

Our friends were exploring somewhere that Hemingway is said to have frequented when he visited upper Michigan. While they were doing that, I was admiring a bronze statue of Hemingway that was for sale in front of an art gallery. The owner of this gallery had an eye for talent that resonated with my taste. Fate intervened to require that our credit card be cancelled and a new one issued the day before we left and Jim had the single other card we have as backup. Sometimes life just works out like it should.

_DSC0020

Funny how certain tiny events can evoke big and beautiful memories. We had crossed over to the shady side of the street and I had sat down on a bench to enjoy being who I am in that moment in time. As we sat, two boys passed in front of us, one a little older was striding with purpose, with a dollar bill in his hand. The second boy was younger, full of excitement, and bouncing down the street sideways. I overheard the younger ask if maybe they could get some ice cream at the general store that was their destination. The older replied with the authority of age that they would have to check the price.

_DSC0048

Those boys were me 60-some years ago. I remember the power of having money in my hand, especially money I had earned, heading for the corner market to make my decisions about what penny candy to buy – without adult supervision. I remember hopping along beside an older cousin I trusted and admired as we went down the street to the dry cleaners that also sold stamps for our stamp collections. Yes I remember this summer day from the being of a child, from the being of a young mother responsible for the fun and earned privileges of her children. And best of all, I experienced this summer day from the being of an old person with time and money to spend for small pleasures.

What was the best part of your day?

_DSC0043

JB read an article a couple of weeks ago that suggested identifying the best part of each day as a way of improving outlook and mental health. We had been on the Keweenaw Peninsula at the far northwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, camping with friends. JB and I wanted to go to a place northwest of Houghton where there is a covered drive that we have visited before and wanted to see again – along with some other sights that needed a little more exploring. Our friends didn’t want to drive that far, and probably didn’t want to ride in our truck that far, and golf was on their agenda so we struck out alone. This was good for my introverted personality that needed some alone time to recharge.

That night JB asked what the best part of the day was for me… I thought a minute or two and then we both said, “The picnic lunch on the covered drive.” It is a narrow road, just wide enough for two cars but only where there are narrow pull-offs. This works fine as we only passed four or five vehicles on the four (give or take a little) mile drive. Nothing on this drive except trees, up close to the road, and no picnic tables. We pulled over on one of the little bulges in the road and had a picnic in the truck. Just the two of us.

_DSC0032

Outside my window was a beautiful woods with a floor of sun-dappled ferns – and quiet and calm. I had packed crackers and humus and fig preserves. I also put in the cheese ball, an apple, and some trail mix I made from ingredients from our home-town health food store. And some of my home-made molasses cookies that have raw sugar on top that crunches when we bite into the soft cookie. What good eating as we sat and talked or didn’t say anything for long periods of time. Just sitting, knowing each other was there and being content with that.

Note: If you are ever in this area and want to get to the covered road, it is marked on the tourist information obtained at most retailers on the Keweenaw Peninsula. My directions are to turn onto the Portage Canal Road off highway 26 going south out of Houghton. The covered road goes between the Portage Canal Road and the road that goes to Redridge and Freda (old company towns for the mines). It isn’t far but make sure you have gas and a lunch because there isn’t anything out that way since the mines closed down many years ago.

Fishtown

_DSC0063

To the east of Traverse City, on Lake Michigan, there is a small town I like to visit to do a little shopping РI always know just what I want. The town is Leland and the shopping area I go to is Fishtown.  Fishtown is the commercial fishing district, just a couple of big docks, that has provided a living for the resident of Leland for over a century through fishing, lumbering, and iron smelting.

On our last visit I learned its current history. A few years back a developer was interested in buying up the property to tear down the buildings for some high-end condos. Some local residents got together and bought up the property to preserve the building by using them for small shops and charter fishing companies.

Our visit this spring was a couple of weeks before high tourist season began so we had a leisurely stroll around and then ate the picnic lunch we had packed. I can share the stroll with you but I’m sorry to say lunch is finished up.

And I bought what I needed from Fishtown – some fish sausage and smoked whitefish. So good with cheese and crackers and beer or wine.