She Said–Postcards from Up in the U.P.–Day 6

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today The Daddi arrives.  He was going to fly into Sault Ste. Marie [sue saint marie], so we needed to head across the U.P. to meet him.

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But before we could leave we had to cook our breakfast.  We were no longer in a hotel where we just lazily headed down to breakfast after we woke up.  Here we had to cook everything from scratch.  Not having camped in years, I was rather rusty at the whole Camp Cook thing.

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We started out with the two most important breakfast items–coffee and bacon.

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Next came pancakes.  I had made up a mix before I left, so we could have good pancakes on the trail.  (I will post the mix soon.)  The camp stove was kindly loaned to us from a friend and neighbor.  It was a bit windy, so I used some aluminum foil on the sides.

It took more than two hours to get every sleeping bag back in its sack, the dishes washed, dried, and packed up, the tent taken down and rolled up, the suitcases re-stuffed, the pillows added to their rubber storage container, air mattresses deflated, and the car trailer reorganized a bit.  Whew! camping for one night is a lot of work!  All the kiddos helped out (Kurt and Michelle’s as well), and for that, I was very thankful.

We were off!

We have to travel from Marquette to Sault Ste. Marie [sue saint marie].  Mapquest says it should take about three hours and fifteen minutes to drive the 165 miles.  I am guessing that it will take us closer to five hours with stops and my slow driving due to the trailer.

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We just get going, when we need to make our first stop–Walmart.  Although I just finished cleaning up breakfast, lunch is here.  We would like to picnic beside the lake en route, so we need sandwich fixings.  (I was thankful for the empty parking lot so that I could take up two spaces.)

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I’m not so sure about this whole “picnics are cheaper” idea.  I never walk into Walmart without spending more money than I had thought I would, and today was no exception.  We left Walmart with a $40 bill.  I think we could have eaten out cheaper.  I know, the plan is that we will continue to use the mayo and mustard on future sandwiches.  And the left over bread can be served at breakfast.  And the cheddar cheese will be grated onto scrambled eggs.  But my reality here at My Whit’s End is that the bread will get all squished.  The plastic container the cheese is in will have a hole in it, and the cheese container will fill with ice water from the cooler and my kiddos will say “EWWWWW!”, and won’t eat the cheese.  And the mayo will get left out of the cooler and will have to be thrown out, and I already have three mustard containers at home anyway.  And we will end up with another $40+ Walmart stop just for breakfast.

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And don’t forget the ice.  At every stop we buy ice.  Just another $2.50 here and another $2.50 there so that we can picnic and eat cheaper.

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But then we saw a pull-out on the side of the road with picnic tables and a Lake Superior beach view.

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We stopped for a very windy picnic.

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And here is my $8.00 sandwich–$40 divided by 5.  Just as I got ready to take a big bite. . .

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. . .a large bird flew overhead.  We all looked up and yelled, “A BALD EAGLE!”  I grabbed my camera and snapped a photo of the hind feathers.  The photo doesn’t look like much, but it definitely improved my opinion on picnicking.

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The kids walked down the slope to the beach while I cleaned up.  What a gorgeous day it was!  I looked out on my kids playing in the surf, snapped a photo, and smiled.  “They are going to be soaking wet, but what a fun time they are having,” I thought.  “Just look at Little Man, he is in jeans and they are getting soaked.  I will have to change him. . . . .WHAT!!!  LITTLE MAN IS DOWN THERE WITHOUT A LIFE JACKET IN WAVES AND THERE COULD BE A CURRENT!!!!!  RUN MOMMI RUN!!!  YELL MOMMI YELL!  WAVE YOUR HANDS AND RUN AND YELL!!

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Yes, they were wet, but they were all still HERE! and that was cause to celebrate with Drumsticks.  Now when you buy a package of Drumsticks while camping, you have to eat them all in one sitting because they melt after an hour or so.  So we did.  I don’t think I will have a Drumstick craving for a long while.

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I also had a Lighbulb Moment.  There was no way I could carry all my kiddos up from the beach like last time so that I could deposit them in the van with clean feet.  I found an old wash tub, filled it with water, and they all rinsed both their feet and flip-flops before entering.  We did this the rest of the trip, and we even tried it outside of our tent when we camped.  It worked for us.

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We started out again, but the kiddos really wanted to find a beach where they could swim.  The surf was too rough, and the wind too strong at our picnic stop.

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We continued east along Michigan Route 28 pulling out at every stop until we found one we liked.  (Please notice the life jacket on Little Man.  I put it on before he was even out of the car!)

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The air was warm, the sun was shinning, a wind was blowing–but not as hard as the previous bays– so we headed down to the beach.

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Other than one woman walking her dog, we had the entire bay to ourselves.  Some off-shore islands broke up the surf a bit, and made the beach a gentler (more gentle?) place for kiddos.

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And since it is my job to add a little element of worry to every moment, I wondered what exactly I would do on this deserted beach (lady and dog left) with very poor cell reception, hours away from family, and about 10 miles from the nearest town, if an emergency should occur.  I sometimes practice mental Rescue Scenarios, but this one had me stumped.  So I just offered up a “LORD, keep us prayer” and decided to enjoy the sun soaking into my skin.

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Beaches appeal to every age, but they are most enjoyed by kids.

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Especially little boys who still like to get wet and play in mud puddles and splash water and such.

But we still had several hours of driving before us, so after an hour or so, we loaded in the van again.

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I had hoped to take a glass-bottomed boat tour in Munising (never could get my tongue around that name), but we were running late.  The boat tour is two hours long and you can see three ship wrecks in the clear cold waters of Lake Superior.

 (photo from here.)

We probably could have fit in the boat tour if we had started a little earlier, had not eaten a picnic lunch, and had not stopped to swim, but I am glad we did each of those things–even the picnic lunch.  We were relaxed; we were rested; we weren’t rushed.

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The Mommi needed a “service stop”, so we pulled over in the 1950’s-looking town of Munising.

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Now here is my question.  Remember this flooring?  Remember when every single McDonald’s in the entire world used this flooring?  I think it was a 1980’s thing.

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At Munising, Michigan Route 28 leaves the coast and goes across the rest of the peninsula inland.  I might enjoy the piney woods, and the scattered meadows, but the kiddos wouldn’t.  At the Maritime Museum, I had seen a DVD that we had watched in the IMAX theather NINE TIMES.  We had a lot of company that year, and as Science Museum members we got into all the IMAX movies for $2.00 each, so it was a cheap way for us to entertain all our house guests that year.  The movie is called Mysteries of the Great Lakes, and as much as we love the filming, we fell in love with the music–Gordon Lightfoot with an entire symphony.

Here is a 2:30 minute clip on how the soundtrack to the movie was made.  Of course we loved the cello solo, but Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is now in our bones.  We love it!

 (photo from here.)

The Edmund Fitzgerald is a ship that sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.  She was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, and the work horse and pride of the Great Lakes.  Her crew of 29 all perished with her in a November storm.
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We were halfway through the movie, but we needed to stop and fill up with gas.  And it was here that The Hunni called me.

ME:  “Can’t wait to see you!  We aren’t making very good time, so we might be a little late picking you up at the airport.  The kids had a great day swimming and playing on the beach.

HUNNI:  “Um. . .I’m in Detroit, and just heard that my flight got canceled.”

ME:  WHAT!!!  NO!!!!!  When is the next flight?  Can you get in before midnight?

HUNNI:  The next flight isn’t until tomorrow night at 9:00.  I don’t know what to tell you.

ME:  But can’t they put you on another flight or another airline or SOMETHING!!!!

HUNNI:  Hunni, I am the twentieth in a line of very angry people.  By the time I get there, all sympathy will be exhausted.  I might just have to stay here in Detroit.  Maybe I can rent a car and drive the 7  hours up.  I don’t know what to think right now, but I just wanted to let you know how things stood.

ME:  OH HELP!  I was SO looking forward to seeing you and doing Mackinac Island with you.  I don’t even know if I can handle all the kids on bikes and me hauling Little Man.  I also wanted you to see the U.P.  It is so beautiful up here, and I don’t know when we will get up here again.  OH HELP!  I don’t know if I can finish up without you.

HUNNI:  I know.

ME:  So do I just keep driving?  I mean the reason we are heading to Sault Ste. Marie is to pick you up.  Should I just head down to Mackinac Island?  We don’t have a free hotel there, so I guess I would have to camp again. . . .I don’t know exactly what to do.  I guess I just keep heading to Sault Ste. Marie.  I guess I could do a tour of the locks with the kids and hang out until 9:00 in the evening and pick you up. ???

HUNNI:  I’m not sure, but I think the flight tomorrow is going to be overbooked.  I think there is a chance that I won’t even make it on that flight . . .

And so that is how things stood.  I was in the middle of the U.P. with very little direction in what I should do next.  Now let me here explain that being married to a pilot means this happens often.  The first rule of being a pilot’s wife is “Things will change, and then they will change again, and probably again”  You only have to read about my crazy Thanksgiving Day to appreciate how true this PILOT LAW is.  And Rule #5 when being a pilot’s wife is “Don’t force it.”  Lake Superior sank the Edmund Fitzgerald.  There was a gust of wind on the Mackinaw Bridge that tipped over a truck just a few days prior.  Don’t force it.

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So we climbed back into the car and started up the movie again.  I didn’t tell the kids anything yet.  Who knew how many times the plans would change??  I casually mentioned that there might be a change of plans, but left it at that.  I decided to keep heading towards Sault Ste. Marie.  I knew we had a hotel reservation there.  Other than that, I didn’t know too much else.

The Hunni called several times in the next hour.  Things were crazy.  Cell reception was spotty, but I got the general gist that he still didn’t know what he was doing.  Just when reception was at its worst (and I was driving in a very narrow construction zone) he called again.  I heard “I”M COMING. . .pick me up at. . .airport. . . . .”  The call was lost.  I called back.  No reception.  I couldn’t text.  I was in a construction zone and barely fit on the road.  I called back.  The call went through “WHERE? I yelled.”  I heard “. . .airport. . .boarding right now!”  I yelled back “JUST TEXT ME THE AIRPORT AND THE TIME!”  He heard.  I got a text that read,” Pellston, 10, boarded, phones must go off.”  “I just hope Pellston is in this state,”  I thought.

The construction zone finally ended, and I pulled off to find Pellston.  It took a bit, but then I found it a little below the Mackinaw Bridge.  We needed to turn south.  We needed to cancel our hotel reservation.  We needed to “book it” as The Hunni was going to make better time that we were.  But. . .HE WAS COMING!!!

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As I approached the Mackinac Bridge there was a sign flashing a warning,  “HIGH WINDS.  USE CAUTION.  TUNE TO 1610 AM.”.  So I tuned the radio to 1610 AM and heard.  “High winds.  Trucks and cars with trailers should use extreme caution when crossing.  Turn on hazard lights and drive 25 m.p.h.”

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OH HELP!  Five days ago, a fully loaded semi-truck had blown over while crossing this bridge.

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This was the photo in the news.  (image from here.)  The suspension wires kept it from going all the way over.

Of course we made it–otherwise I would not be writing this blog.  Once over the bridge we turned west onto little country roads.  I was tired.  We were hungry.  That $8.00 sandwich back at lunch was a long time ago.  In the U.P. there weren’t many places to stop, and now that we were so close, I figured we might as well try to pick up The Daddi on time.  Besides, other than Mackinac City (right by the bridge) there were no places to stop.  The kiddos ate a bag of pretzels they found.

It was dark, the roads were narrow, I was pulling a trailer, without any supper, and the kids were tired of being in the car.  My shoulders were tight, and my voice even tighter–right on the edge.

Then a huge harvest moon appeared in the sky.  HUGE!

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The moon looks small in the photo, but it was HUGE.  It was a beautiful site,. . .

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But an even better sight, was pulling up and seeing The Hunni standing on the curb.  We had had no communication since the last text, and I was hoping this was the Pellston Airport he meant.

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He got in the driver’s seat.  It was wonderful to no longer have to manage everything.  Then came the question.  Where are we going to spend the night?  It was after 10:00.  I had seen a State Park sign while driving in.  The Hunni called to make sure there were still some spots open.  Then we headed down some more back roads.  The only little store we passed had long ago closed.  No supper tonight kiddos.

We arrived about 10:30 (a little further off the road than we realized).  At 10:30, with a couple of flashlights, we backed a trailer into an empty spot, put up a tent, fought over what poles went where, then argued about whether we were arguing or not, got out cots, sleeping bags, pillows, and two asleep kids out of the van, found the bathrooms, and “hit the sack.”

And that is how life at My Whit’s End happens–often.



P.S.  If you are just now joining us, you might want to check out these previous posts.

July 18, 2013–Traveling Up to the U.P.-Day 1

July 19, 2013–First Day of the Tournament–Day 2

July 20, 2013–Kayaking in Lake Superior–Day 3

July 21, 2013–Maritime Museum–Day 4

July 22, 2013–Lake Superior and Sugarloaf–Day 5

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10 Responses to She Said–Postcards from Up in the U.P.–Day 6

  1. bethany says:

    love that you told the rest of the story in pics. love it. looks like a perfect day, and a great reunion :).


    • bethany says:

      ok, that was just my computer being wierd, didn’t see the words after the camping pics until I’d posted my comment!


      • whitsendmom says:

        No it was my computer. I lost everything for a bit, but finally was able to find an older revision where everything I had written was still there.


    • whitsendmom says:

      Thanks so much, but now that you can read the text, you will see how not so perfect it really was. Turned out great, but there was a big confusing part right in the middle. Kind of sounds like my life!


  2. Bel says:

    Tears when John came on the picture…..glad you met him even tho there was “no supper”.


  3. brooke says:

    Arguing about whether or not we are arguing…I Soooooooo know what you are saying. Especially at 37.5 weeks pregnant : )


  4. Care says:

    As we say in this pilot life household……”the schedule is written in sand at high tide!”


  5. Pingback: Newspaper Headlines from Here to There, Day 1–Pacific Coast Roadtrip: Flight to California–Journal of Journey | My Whit's End

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