Dwight Peck's personal website
A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The cabin on Lake Superior
Our annual summer pilgrimage to the Wisconsin Northwoods
On a grey day we're out for a not very scenic drive northward, 26 August 2020, gone slightly out of our way to look in at Wakefield in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP, as in 'Yoopie'; the inhabitants are called 'Yoopers').
Here's why we've come to tiny Wakefield, pop. ca. 1800 -- Randall's Bakery. It's distinctly worth the trouble, especially for the pasties [PAHS-tees]. The UP was heavily settled by Cornish and Finnish immigrants back in the days of copper and iron mining -- we're devoted to Cornish pasties, and once almost scored some of Ann's famous pasties on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, but they were sold out for the day. Evidently, though, the Finnish also have a pasty tradition that is much loved.
A disappointed Kristin at Ann's Pasty Shop, The Lizard, Cornwall, 22 October 2009
Otherwise there is not much to detain us in Wakefield, at this time . . .
. . . so we pass round Sunday Lake at the foot of the hill and carry on to Ontonagon on Lake Superior, just 15 miles east of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
The family's cabin on the lake, just 4 miles east of Ontonagon, is swapped off back and forth amongst family members throughout the summer.
Young Choupette hasn't been here before and will need an anxious look round before beginning to feel at home.
The Bunchberry cabin next door, for the overflow participants when required.
And newly, a tool shed converted into a tiny accommodation for the children . . .
. . . with a clever art project recently contributed by the gifted Karlin and Aubree.
There is one drawback to the Lake Superior property -- it's built on bedrock and has no piped water or sanitation. The cats are investigating, but they're fine, we've brought their catlitter boxes with us.
Every summer, a new rudimentary architectural creation
The lakeshore, in this direction, looks to have been spared the worst of the annual destruction by winter storms.
A few years ago, brother Eric and his entourage built a functioning tiki bar out of the driftwood.
The interior, with a vat of lakewater for washing dishes with. Drinking water comes from the supermarket.
Choupette's hobby is scaring the daylights out of me, but I should have learnt by now to trust the little gymnast.
She had no trouble getting back down either.
But a hard plastic slope turns out to be as good as a skijump for her.
A fine day, 27 August, we're hanging out on the beach with some light reading for those of us who can read.
And some restful contemplation for those who can't.
Loose sand was an unnerving experience for Choupette, but she quickly overcame it.
Enough of the sand, back to . . .
. . . the restful contemplation.
And sometimes some shade . . .
. . . except for those who prefer the sun (with suitable protections), and off and on, bouncing about in the surf, such as it is.
Scarcely to be believed -- Melvin just took a run at that sand bank and scrambled over the top. The last meter or so of that is basically an overhang.
Choupette is filled with admiration. And envy.
Next year she'll want to try that for herself.
It's time for a little stroll down the beach in the other direction, westward towards Ontonagon.
Just as one of the shoreside neighbors informed us, they got stormed out a lot worse than we did.
What a mess
The sandy beach comes and goes every year, but this time they've lost a few feet of wooded property.
Leaving fewer attractive beach relaxation spots
The potential good news is that next winter's storms might take all that away again. And dump it in Sault Ste Marie, maybe.
We'll squish back and rejoin Kristin with the lawn chairs.
Late afternoon sunlight on the beach
A glance at Houghton, Michigan
It's a very unbeachworthy, nasty rainy next day, so we go for a drive. This is Houghton, about 35-40 miles to the northeast, the largest city on the UP's Keweenaw Peninsula and in the 'Copper Country' region (viz. with fewer than 8,000 inhabitants).
And this is the main drag, Shelden Ave, named for Ransom Shelden who set up a store for the miners on nearby Portage Lake in the 19th century.
In the background is the Keweenaw Waterway, dredged out in 1873 between Lake Portage and Lake Superior, turning Houghton into a navigable port and the rest of the peninsula into 'Copper Island'. The small town of Hancock is on the far side, connected by the Portage Lift Bridge (after rail traffic was discontinued, the bridge's lower deck is apparently reserved for snowmobiles).
The Suomi restaurant at the foot of this street recalls the influence of Finnish-speaking immigrants in the 19th century; Suomi ('swamp land') is the Finnish name for Finland.
We've entrusted the car to Isle Royale St leading down to the waterway.
Extractive industries left the UP a long time ago, and the bosses moved on, leaving their workers behind -- the last mines around here closed in the 1960s, though the Michigan College of Mines, begun in 1885, apparently flourishes under a new name -- and nowadays there are precious few good jobs to be had anywhere. Houghton, however, is by all accounts (i.e., Wikipedia) an active and busy city with lots of community activities all the year round.
So, to be honest, we're clearly not seeing the town to best advantage today. And the mining era has not been entirely forgotten -- for example, the local newspaper is called
But anyway, this is just a look at the lay of the land along Selden Ave on a wet and grey day, for whatever that's worth.
To be added on the plus side, we've also learnt (from Wikipedia) that 'Houghton was the birthplace of professional ice hockey in the United States when the Portage Lakers were formed in 1903'. That should probably be double-checked.
The Mueller House, from 1864, later the Doghouse Saloon.
'No mask, no pants, no service' (it's slightly encouraging to find someone in Wisconsin or Michigan who, in late August 2020, is taking the covid precautions seriously)
The Vault Hotel, in the old bank building, looks cute but it's way out of our price range.
The Douglass House is evidently now an apartment house, with shops and a restaurant on the street level.
We return to our steadfast grey Volvo and prepare to continue our explorations.
We've just crossed the Portage Lift Bridge and proceeded to drive farther up the peninsula, bound for Laurium, but failed to become inspired, and turned back south again, heading for . . .
. . . appropriately enough, Misery Bay.
We were rather hoping to discover a little-known road along the lake shore, but here, at the outflow of the Misery River, our hopes were dashed.
Our hopes of a lakeshore drive were dashed, and we got wet into the bargain.
The headland to the west, farther away from this vantage, is the same one that we can see from the family cottage.
That, we firmly believe, is the Misery River.
Social distancing advice -- at least somebody around here cares. Not much later, Wisconsin and the UP exploded as national covid hotspots (at which time we vacated the territory promptly; but at this time, that was still in a more hopeful future).
Next up: Big waves on Lake Superior
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 November 2020.