She Said–Postcards from Up in the Michigan U.P.–Day 1

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I can’t help it.  I’m posting this photo again because I just love it.  As mentioned, our baseball team won the District Tournament, so we headed up to the State Tournament.  And this year the State Tournament was in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula–or the U.P. Here are some postcards from our trip.

 (image from here.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The plan was to leave by 7:00 a.m.  Map Quest said the trip would be 7.5 hours, but I figured it would take a little longer pulling a trailer.  It took 10.5 hours.  But the 10.5 hours were a fairly easy drive over territory I didn’t really know.  It was a long day, but I loved the scenery and just having all the kiddos together close to me for a bit.

The 900 pound trailer pulled hard at 64 miles per hour, so I set the cruise right at 63 m.p.h.  Our first stop was for breakfast at Panera.  We picked eating places where I could easily park the trailer without having to back up because I had only one hour of trailer driving experience.

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If I had to pick one color to describe the state of Michigan, I would pick BLUE.  Surrounded by four of the five great lake, you are never more than 7 miles from a body of water in the state (lake, stream, pond, etc. . .)  We started driving north up Interstate 75.

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It was still early in the morning (notice the long shadows) when the landscape began to have rolling hills.

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And then even higher hills as we drove into the northern part of The Mitten.

A storm was approaching, and the kiddos were watching a movie called Tim Tebow–On a Mission.  I was listening in when I heard my “Low Gas” warning bing.  I checked how many miles I had left in the tank and saw “12 miles to empty.”  “Wait”, I thought, “The computer doesn’t know I am pulling a trailer, so I probably only have about 6 miles left.”  So I checked the map for an exit.  The next exit marked on the map was 6 miles away.  That is when I started to sweat.  It was hilly country and there was no way to conserve gas.  I sweat harder, and the storm approached.  The humidity level was high both inside and outside of the van.  I prayed.  I sweat some more.  My shoulders got tight with worry.  I watched the gas gauge fall.  Then suddenly there was an exit that wasn’t on the map and I pulled off.

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We had made it.  But just.  I stopped the car, then decided to snap a picture with my phone to send to The Hunni.  When I started the car again, the indicator read, “1 mile to empty.”  I sent that photo to The Hunni who was a million miles away.  (hee, hee)  I knew he would immediately text back!  “You had better be at a gas station!” he texted back.  “And you had better not be smiling!”

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It was a little mom and pop place that didn’t take credit cards, but I didn’t mind.  We had made it!

As I pulled out of the gas station the thunder storm rolled in.  The humidity level was high outside of the van, but inside we were fine.

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Right around lunch time we pulled off at the last exit before the Mighty Mack Bridge.  Thankfully I found a stop in a vacant lot to park without having to back the trailer up.  (Remember, I only have 1 hour of trailer driving time.)

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Burger King was the lunch stop.  We got burgers to go, as we still had many, many, many more hours to drive.

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My goal was to keep all of our meals right around the $20 mark, and at Burger King we came pretty close.

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And now for the bridge crossing.  I was a little nervous pulling the trailer, but everything went fine.  The storm had passed and I wasn’t worried about blowing off the bridge like the Yugo did back in the 80’s.  Really.  That must have been a fluke thing.  Stuff like that wouldn’t happen again.  Besides it was a little Yugo.  That had to have something to do with it.  I was pulling a 900 lb. trailer.  I was too heavy to ever blow off the bridge.  At least those were my thoughts as I crossed.

That night The Hunni saw something on the news that made his heart stop for a moment.  “It couldn’t be!,” he thought.  That night he called me and asked how the bridge crossing had gone.

“Fine,” I said, “Not bad at all.”

“Was there a rain storm when you were crossing?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “It rained right before we crossed, but it stopped.”

“What time did you cross the bridge?”, he asked.

“Oh, just after lunch–probably around 12:30 or so.”

This was what The Hunni had seen on the news.

A male driver wasn't hurt when his transport tipped over on the Mackinac Bridge on Thursday, July 18, 2013.

At 9:05 p.m. that day, a semi-truck had blown over on Mackinac Bridge.  Gusts of wind were reported at 79 m.p.h.  (Here is the news link.)  Now if that doesn’t make you sweat, you use stronger deodorant than I do.  Of course, I sent a “thank-you” prayer up immediately.

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But when I was crossing The Mighty Mac, it looked like this.

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We were happily drinking our cokes and looking out the window.

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Not in the least bit worried that we might blow off the bridge.  We crossed the Mackinac [Mack-in-naw] Bridge three more times on our trip, and I never again crossed it without a little bit of a chill running through my blood stream.

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Right after crossing the Mackinac Bridge we took a left turn and headed west–right along the shores of Lake Michigan.

We would stay south (right along the lake) until we hit Gladstone, then we would turn north and head towards the largest Great Lake–Lake Superior.  Did you know that all the other Great Lakes could fit into Lake Superior and there would still be room left over?

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There were several beaches, so we finally stopped for a short break.  The kiddos didn’t go swimming as we still had many, many, many, more hours to drive.

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Lake Michigan looked moody that day.  A storm had recently rolled through, and another one was on its way.  One that would blow a semi-trailer almost off the bridge.

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I had a moment of panic when I realized that the turn off was a Dead End.  Thankfully, there was a wide turn-around, so I didn’t have to back up the trailer (because you will remember that I only had one hour of trailer backing up experience.)

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Eloise sat in the front with me and we discussed many important things.

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I love her freckled face.

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After nearly running out of gas once, I kept the tank full.  Gas stations are spaced out further in the U.P. (upper peninsula).  At every stop Little Man would wash the windows.

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We had to reach the town of Ishpeming, by 5:30 for Opening Ceremonies.  We had hoped to arrive earlier to take advantage of the free supper for the players, but we just couldn’t pull the trailer any faster.

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We arrived just in time, and with a quick uniform change, Baseball Boy was ready to join his team.

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Opening Ceremonies were held in the Ishpeming High School Gym because of an imminent rain storm.  The town and the high school reminded me of my small hometown–familiar, small, loved.  On the high school gym wall were pennants going all the way back to the early 1900’s.  Team pride ran high in this city.

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The high school gym was humidly hot, but excitement was running high.

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Our team, along with 15 other teams, were introduced in turn.

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This was our competition.  These were our rivals.  I should have felt “against” them, but the boys were so cute (I know they would hate that word, but they were.), so I just loved them all.

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The Colors were presented by the local fire fighters, and then came the chords to the National Anthem.

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And if you want a truly heart melting moment, just listen to a gym full of 12-year-old boys sing the national anthem.  A little monotone, but somehow glorious.  “The hope of the nation”, said my heart.  “So much potential in this room.”

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The key note speaker was a local high school football coach whose team had just won the State Championship.  With Opening Ceremonies over (we were all glad to leave the humid high school gym), we finally headed to our hotel in Marquette–after a short stop to get one free meal from the local Lion’s Club.  Four kiddos devoured one piece of chicken, one roll, one drink, and one Culver’s custard.  They left a helping of coleslaw for me.

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We pulled into our hotel and were told that parking was at a premium.  This meant that I had to back the trailer into a parking space–and remember I only had one hour of training.  I tried several times, but never could get the trailer to stay only in one parking slot.  However, I had done all this without hitting any other cars, so I decided that I had better stop.  The Hunni had instructed Baseball Boy in how to hook and unhook the trailer, so that was his department.

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Unloading the van was my department, and when I popped the trunk the cooler tumbled out.  Blueberries, water bottles, and snacks all fell out.  The cream for my coffee all week busted and ran across the parking lot.  Suddenly the excitement of the trip was gone and the long hours of driving all collided.  We needed a real supper and a good night’s sleep.

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But when we checked into our hotel room we looked out on Lake Superior and a double rainbow.

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Gorgeous.  There is nothing like beauty to revive one.

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Lake Superior.  I had never seen her before, and she was grand.  Deep, cold, moody, and right now she was wearing a rainbow as a tiara.

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(Ever since Niagara Falls, I sometimes get a moisture spot in my camera when it is damp out.)

Despite the late hour, it was still light outside.  We consulted our map for a local restaurant, then headed out. . .

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. . .walking.  Marquette is a university town (University of Northern Michigan), so there are many local restaurants.

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The river front streets are quaint and clean.  The lighting was that late summer golden light, and everything looked “silver” lined.

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When we saw the sign on the wall of this restaurant advertising local white fish, we stopped.

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The folks in the restaurant all seemed friendly despite the fact I was the only one with kids in the restaurant.  Prices were okay, so we ordered away.

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The atmosphere was warm–exposed brick wall with paintings of ships and lakes.

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I ordered a salad with feta, walnuts, red onions, and a citrus dressing.  The kids ordered White Fish Chowder, but Baseball Boy found it too rich.  Little Man didn’t and ate the rest of Baseball Boy’s chowder.  Our bill wasn’t $20, but just over $30 with the tip, so I felt we had stayed close to our $20 a meal goal.

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It was still light out, so we walked down to the lake front.

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The light became “bluer” the later it got, but you could still see just fine.  This photo was taken about 9:00 p.m.–right about the time that semi-trailer was being blown over on Mackinac Bridge.  This is a train pier–used for dumping iron ore into big barges.  We didn’t know too much about this pier at the time, but we learned more when we visited the Maritime Museum.  We will fill you in them.

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Along the lake front were Tall Ships.  We had seen billboards about them on our drive up.  These old ships were touring the Great Lakes this summer to commemorate the War of 1812, and these Tall Ships were going to be in Marquette the few days we were in town.

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They looked interesting.  Perhaps we could see them tomorrow.  But right now the light had changed from a twilight blue to a deep cobalt blue.  It was time to head back to the hotel and sleep.

We had made it.  10.5 hours of driving, but we had made it.  We had not run out of gas.  We had not blown off the bridge.  We had arrived just in time for Opening Ceremonies.  We had listened to a gym full of hopeful 12-years-old sing.  We had seen the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, and the cold coast of Lake Superior.  We had been together.  Thank you LORD.

And with that we all said, “Good night” and dropped our heads onto white, starched pillows.


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11 Responses to She Said–Postcards from Up in the Michigan U.P.–Day 1

  1. Christie says:

    I could just cry over that spilt cream for your coffee! I am thankful, however, for the many blessings you experienced on this day–glad that you shared them.


  2. bethany says:

    you have the most delightful way of telling a story … thx for taking us along for the ride! and I’m with Christie, Michael read over my shoulder and we both moaned at the spilled cooler pic …


    • whitsendmom says:

      Thanks for the complement. I almost didn’t start the Postcards–Up in the Michigan U.P. because I thought they might be boring. So thanks again.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Spilled coffee cream??? AWFUL….so glad to learn of Michigan…never have been there. Guess you will let us know “the rest of the story”….


  4. Bel McCoy says:

    So glad to see something of Michigan…never have been there.. So sad to dump the ice chest!! But losing the coffee cream is AWFUL. Guess you will tell us “the rest of the story”.


  5. brooke says:

    Oh! I can’t wait for the ship museum day. You see, my Caroline’s AG Doll is “Caroline” who lived during the war of 1812 and whose father was a ship builder–we’ll just love to see something about the actual ships!
    Can’t wait to see more about the tournament as well. Boys and baseball!


  6. Care says:

    How delightful this read was….makes me home sick for the U.P. My Honners and me went to that same restaurant in Marquette on our “Take your spouse to your favorite camping place” road trip last summer.


    • whitsendmom says:

      I had no idea the U.P. was so beautiful! I kept being amazed, and kept regretting that it has taken us 9 years to get up there.


  7. Anonymous says:

    It has all been said…but, you do a great job of blogging !!


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