Monday, July 17, 2017

Mackinac / Mackinaw

Mackinac Island.  I've wanted to visit for so long, but I was afraid that the reality would not live up to my imagination.

And, did it?  Ahhh, I'm so glad you asked.

First though, let's get this factoid out of the way.  The island is spelled Mackinac, but it's pronounced Mackinaw.  But don't confuse it with Mackinaw City, which is just across the water on the mainland. Why are they spelled differently but pronounced the same?  I don't know.

So, back to your question.  Did it live up to my expectations? Or was I disappointed?

Well, what do you think?

Beautiful, isn't it?  
I could live here.  At least, during the summer.
The best part...temp was around 65 degrees. 
In the afternoon.  In July.

But.  Lovely as it is, I could not live in this area of the island, 
which is nearest the dock where we got off of the ferry.
So many people!

There are no motorized vehicles in the island (except lawnmowers, 2 police cars, 2 ambulances and 2 firetrucks).  But there are horses and bicycles everywhere.  You could barely cross the street for all the bicycles.  And this whole area smells to put this nicely...remember I said there were horses everywhere?  Yeah.  The horses do what horses doo, and they doo it in the street.  The aroma can be quite overpowering.  Especially right at first.  

Can you see the horses on the street, and the wagon they are pulling?  That is the type of carriage we rode in to tour the island, and see all of those beautiful views above.  It was surprisingly comfortable, and our tour guides were informative and funny.  

So yes, it lived up to my expections.  As soon as we got away from the more touristy area.  Right there by the docks, and on the main street, it was more crowded than DisneyWorld.  

The island has a fascinating history.  I won't try to tell it, because some of you would be bored, and I'd probably tell it wrong anyway.  But if you are interested, this looks like a pretty good website:

So, no, I really wasn't disappointed, once we got away from the crowds.  I should have known better, but I really expected it to be much quieter and laid back, since there are no motorized vehicles.  But it is a tourist area after all.  And, since they use horses for much of their transportation, I should have expected the smell.  We own horses!  I do know what they smell like, for goodness sake!

There is no bridge to Mackinac, so the only way to get there is by ferry.  But there is a beautiful four mile long bridge connecting Peshtigo on the upper peninsula to Mackinaw City on the mainland.

I took this photo on the Peshtigo side.

Another odd little factoid.  The bridge is named the Mackinac Bridge.  But it goes to Mackinaw City, not Mackinac Island.  Why?  I do not know.

This bell was used to warn ships before they installed a foghorn.  This is what the placque says:
"South Tower Fog Bell
When the Mackinac Bridge was constructed, a bell was placed at the base of each tower to guide approaching vessels during times of poor visibility.  In March of 1961, a foghorn was installed. The bells have been silent ever since. On April 24th, 2002, the South Tower Fog Bell was removed from the bridge to be displayed at the Bridge View Park."

A sweet girl offered to take a picture of the three of us.  
Charlie Chihuahua tried to eat her.
(Sorry I don't have any makeup on.
Forgive me to subjecting you to this.)
(Tim is actually laughing in this picture.  
But he looks like he's about to cry.)

Castle Rock in the background.  
I'm not sure what Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox have to do with Castle Rock.  
But there they are.

Tim at the top of Castle Rock.
Again, he says he is smiling.

This week we are camping at Camelot RV Park in Jones, Michigan, just a few miles north of Elkhart, Indiana.  This is another area I'm super excited about visiting.  We plan to be here until Friday.  I hated to leave the upper peninsula, but there's always something else to see down the road.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Badger City/Marinette, Wisconsin & Menominee, Michigan

Today we arrived in St. Ignace, Michigan.  Tomorrow we will ride the ferry to Mackinac Island.  This is something I've looked forward to and planned for years.  And now I almost don't want to go.  Did you ever finally get to do something you've dreamed of for ages, and you built it up so much in your mind, that when you finally did it, it was not quite what you'd imagined, and then you feel kind of let down?  Yeah, that.  That's what I'm afraid of.

Plus, once we've gone there, I won't have that to look forward to any more.  I know that sounds silly, especially since there so many other things I have to look forward to.  But I've always acknowledged that more than half the fun of travel for me is the planning.

Okay, this is all just too too trivial.  Talk about first world problems!

But, anyway, as much as I enjoy planning, you know what I really love?  Finding out that a place I expected to just be a boring stopover to rest and do chores is actually so much more than I anticipated.

And that was the case at our last stop at Badger City Park in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.  First, the park itself was so much more than we expected.  It's beautiful.  Situated right between a pretty lake and an enchanted forest.  Well, it looked enchanted to me.

My "Enchanted" Forest
Just a few steps from our fifth wheel.

There was also a free concert at the park on Wednesday evening.
The band was pretty good.  They played a lot of 60's pop songs.
Tim walked over to where they were playing.
But I could hear them just fine while sitting inside the 5er.

Peshtigo was a lumber town back in the 1800's.  The lumber mill did a huge business.  Shipped lumber all over the country.  All of the homes and buildings in the town were built of wood. And the sidewalks. The streets were even made of sawdust.  It was practical.  All those horses didn't wear diapers, ya know?

In 1871, there was a terrible drought.  And the inevitable happened.  Somehow a fire started.  In about an hour an a half, the city burned completely to the ground.  A few people survived by jumping into the Peshtigo River, but over 1200 people died in that fire.  It remains the largest fire disaster in the country, even after all these years.

So why have you never heard about it?  Because on that same tragic night, the Chicago fire also took place.  There were actually four fires around Lake Michigan that night.  

We learned all of this at the Peshtigo Fire Museum.  The people there are quite proud of their fire.  Or, maybe rather, they are proud of the resilience and perseverence of their ancestors who rebuilt the town after the fire.  Reminded me of the people who rebuilt Galveston after the hurricane of 1900.

This is a mural in the museum, depicting the tragic fire.

The museum also contains many artifacts from after the town was rebuilt.

A wood and coal burning stove.


 A wedding dress worn in 1901.

Dugout canoes used by Native Americans.

A tin bathtub.

We enjoyed talking to the lady volunteer in the museum that day.  But she was concerned  that the museum might eventually close because the younger generation didn't seem interested in the town's dramatic history.  That would be sad.  We've been to several museums that were run by enthusiastic young adults.  I hope Peshtigo will be able find some young ones to carry the touch.  Oh.  Umm, bad choice of words.  I should just say "to carry on."

So, the park was great, the museum was interesting.

But wait, there's more!

Peshtigo is about 20 miles away from Marinette, a little town right on Lake Michigan.  And Marinette is right next to Menominee, Michigan.  It's really like one city, but in two states.  We drove there yesterday to see the lake.  It is the cutest little town.  

We stopped at a little city park, right on the lake.

Blue water, blue sky, white sailboats. Heaven.

Lovely old building right across the street from the lake.

Chiropractor building right on the lake, next door to the park.
We met the chiropractor's wife and chatted a few minutes.  She and her husband live on the second floor of that building.  Right on Lake Michigan!  She agreed that she is blessed, indeed!  

About a mile down the street sat this light house.  Or, I guess this would actually be a light beacon.  Because it's not really a house.  I didn't know there was a difference until today.
But still, isn't it pretty?

As beautiful, and fun and interesting as all of these things were, my favorite thing about this stopover was the people we met and talked to.  Everyone was so friendly!

There was the nice (and very talkative) man who ran the RV Park.

There was the lady at the museum, who is so proud of her town.

There was the chiropractor's wife in Menominee.  

And the man who owned the laundromat where we did our clothes.  He also owns a fifth wheel trailer.  He told us all about his recent trip, and asked Tim a lot of questions about our pickup.

And the lady who cut my hair.  Her name is Glenda.  We chatted about books, and Jesus, and different denominations (she's Catholic), and Texas (she's been to San Antonio), and life in general.  It was almost like being with my friends back home.  

(But not quite.  I miss you all so much!)

I see skies of blue and 
clouds of white.
The bright, blessed day
the dark, sacred night.
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good...  Genesis 1:31

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Iowa and Wisconsin

The Amana Colonies in Iowa were a little disappointing to me.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  But it was just a little too "touristy" I guess.  We did see some gorgeous farmland on the way, with perfect farmhouses and barns that were even better than the houses.

We visited an old schoolhouse (built in 1870) and saw a film about the Amana religion and their community.  That was very interesting, but I'm afraid if you want to know more about them, you will have to look up their website.  I don't think I can do their story justice.  But the schoolhouse and the film and the adjacent museum were very interesting.

 Toys from the 1800's.

The old wash house was next door to the museum.  
In this building, a group of women did laundry for the entire commune.  
Doesn't that look like fun? 

Ummm....NO! NOT FUN!

At the art gallery we saw lots of wood crafts.

This is the Lily Pond.  So full of lily pads you can hardly see the water. 
Wish we could have seen them in bloom.

We did see lots of pretty wildflowers.

On Saturday, we left Amana and drove to the Door County Peninsula in Wisconsin.

Okay, Wisconsin people, who can tell me the name of this wildflower?  
We've seen them growing everywhere up here on the peninsula.

We arrived at Harbour Village RV Park, between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, last Saturday.  By Sunday afternoon, I was ready to see that big Lake Michigan!  We found a little park with a beach and a pier, and I certainly was not disappointed!

While Tim went out on the pier to chat with the fisherman people, Charlie Chihuahua and I went wading in the cold water.  Well, I went wading, while Charlie tried to climb on top of my head.  He does not like water!  I really think he is some strange mix of Chihuahua and cat.

Oh, and did I say the lake water was cold?  I meant turn-your-toes-blue-icy-cold water!  And there were kids swimming in that stuff!  And it was a cloudy chilly day, maybe 75 degrees, so it's not like they could get warm when they got out of the water.
Tim is on the left.  He talks to everyone he sees if they have a fishing rod in their hands.

I don't know if you can tell. but there are some kids playing in this water. Brrrr!!!

Monday, I just wanted to see the lighthouses.  I had wanted to take a tour, maybe take a boat to some of the islands, but since our time (and money!) were limited, and we want to do a lot of stuff at Mackinac Island, we decided we would just drive around and find some lighthouses on our own.

So we did.

Sherwood Point Lighthouse
This was as close as we could get.  Big ol' No Trespassing signs everywhere.
The Coast Guard means business here.

Canal Station Pier Head Lighthouse

We walked down this loooonnnng pier to get close to it.

At the other end of the pier, back on dry land, is the Coast Guard facility 
and Canal Station Lighthouse.

We also stopped at a Farm Market and bought fresh strawberries and cherries and chocolate covered dried cherries and honey and cherry jam.  There are several cherry orchards here.  Yum.

Today (Tuesday)
Moved the 5er to Badger Park in Peshtigo, Wisconsin
Made reservations in St. Ignace
Did laundry
Had a conversation about RVing with the nice man who owns the laundry.  He owns a 5er too.
Bought groceries at WalMart in Marinette

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mark Twain and Walt Disney

I'm so far behind!  I still haven't even told you about Mark Twain and Walt Disney.  Since we left Bevier, Missour, we've been to Amana, Iowa and Door County, Wisconsin.  And tomorrow we will be in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.  But it's not completely my fault.  Our internet signal has been extremely weak to no internet at all.  Makes posting things difficult.

But, back to my story.  Mark Twain, or rather Samuel Clemens, spent most of his boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri.  As you may know, the books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are taken from experiences that Clemens had as a boy growing up in this charming little town.  And many of the characters in that story are based on real people that he knew.

Hannibal is about 70 miles from Bevier, so, perfect day trip for us.  The museum complex consists of several buildings.

Tim says he is smiling.

Huck Finn's Home
(Bet it didn't look this good when the Blankenships lived there.)
Here's what Clemens said about Huck Finn's origins in his autobiography,
"In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was.  He was ignorant, unwashed and insufficiently fed. But he had as good a heart as ever any boy had."

Just a restful and pretty area between buildings.

The Samuel Clemens home had some very nice displays.  If you enlarge the pictures, I think you can read his quotes on the boards.

Becky Thatcher's (Laura Hawkins') home as it looks now.

Here are a few quotes that I like from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain):

"I am old; I recognize it but I don't realize it. I wonder if a person ever really ceases to feel young -- I mean for a whole day at a time."

"Now and then we had a hope that, if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." from Life on the Mississippi

"Be careful of reading health books.  You may die of a misprint."

Hannibal is such a pretty town, right on the Mississipi River, just like Clemens described it.

Hannibal was also the birthplace of "Unsinkable Molly Brown." 
Her real name was Margaret Tobin Brown. 
The movie starring Debbie Reynolds was loosely based on her life.

Her childhood home (above) is also a museum, but it was closed the day we were there.

When asked by reporters how she survived the Titanic sinking, she is said to have replied,
"Typical Brown luck.  We're unsinkable!"

Not part of the museum, but we saw this car on the street in Hannibal.  I think we have seen at least one old restored automobile every day for the past two weeks.  
Sometimes we have seen a 6 to a dozen of them driving down the road.

Okay, I know I said I was just about through with DisneyWorld, but we were so close to Marceline, Missouri, where Walt Disney grew up.  We couldn't just not go there.  Anyway, I don't blame him for the direction his little mouse friend has taken.  Mr. Disney passed away before the plans for DisneyWorld were hardly off the drawing board.

However, most of the exhibits were in glass cases, so I didn't take many pictures there.  I'm tired of trying to fight the glare.

I need to explain about this picture.  When DisneyLand opened in 1955, Walt and his brother Roy invited their sister and her son to come to the grand opening.  She declined the offer, because she didn't like crowds.  But the whole thing was going to be covered by one of the big television networks, so Walt sent her family this television, so they could watch the opening on it.

Marceline, Missouri was more than just the town where Walt grew up.  It was his inspiration for the Main Street area of Disneyland.  He revisited Marceline several times throughout his life, and donated several things to the town.  This is the street sign for Main St. in Marceline.

And, this is the house where Walt Disney lived.  It's just outside of town.
I have no idea what it looked like when he lived there.  It is privately owned and occupied now.  Imagine being able to say you live in Walt Disney's house!
Okay, you must have know they were coming...Disney quotes!

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."

"Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."

That last quote perfectly describes my Cowboy!