Richard and Suzanne and Duncan's Big 2006 Road Trip #2
Stage 2 - U.P. Us
Trout Creek, MI

Day 9 - Tuesday, August 29th, 2006
in Trout Creek, MI
3 miles

A day of recovery.

Richard spent much of this day flat on his back - either resting from the events earlier, or under the truck with pliers and soldering gun trying to fix the speedometer sensor cable once and for all, or rasslin' the truck's front end back into a semblance of shape. More baling wire and tape was again employed successfully, and it looks like with this work (and about $100 in parts on order) that the truck will be OK for our remaining travel.

Duncan spent the day scampering around underfoot and playing with his new Little People Farm (with noises!) generously given to him by his grandma Lois.

Suzanne got settled in at her childhood home, keeping Duncan somewhat out of trouble and passing the time catching up on all the local news with her mom.

Truck got owie

Day 10 - Wednesday, August 30th, 2006
in Trout Creek, MI area
32 miles (on bike)

The weather up here has been excellent, in a cool sort of way: low 40s overnight, and mid-70s during the day - in other words, perfect winter weather back home in Phoenix. :) Richard took advantage of the temperate temperatures by going for a ride on his purple cruiser along M-28 over to Bruce Crossing & Ewen to pick up a headlight for the busted truck. This allowed him to run an errand, get exercise attacking the hills and creeping into the headwinds, and most importantly kept him out of the way of Suzanne, her mom, & Duncan for a good part of the day.

Duncan was let loose later in the afternoon to explore the Yooper woods, and explore he did, as he pattered around the pines and ambled about the aspens. He then developed a fun little game that raised our blood pressure somewhat - he'd sprint down the long gravel driveway lickety-split and see if he could get to the busy highway before his parents could catch him! Fortunately, the driveway is long enough to allow his pokey parents to snag him and scoot him back, at which time, he'd smile, giggle, and sprint away again. This went on for a bit until he was tuckered out, and then a restful night in the big woods was our reward.

There he goes again!

Day 11 - Thursday, August 31st, 2006
Trout Creek, MI to Ontonagon, L'Anse, and Skanee, MI and back
159 miles

Today's fun was a jaunt up US 45 to its very northern terminus, in the picturesque Lake Superior harbor town of Ontonagon (by the way, the other end of US 45 is in another harbor town a few miles south in a much warmer Mobile, Alabama). We felt the fresh lake breezes as we enjoyed Yooper treats at the Sip n' Snack, browsed the shops, and then stopped by at the Maple Manor rest home (which in a previous life was the hospital in which Suzanne was born) to visit Duncan's great-great-uncle Everett. Duncan's happy face and antics brightened the day of many of the home's denizens, and it was enjoyable to visit yet another very experienced member of the extended Carlisle family.

We headed off Ontonagon east on M-38, and as we passed the tiny town of Nisula Suzanne pointed out a remarkably odd headstone in the local Lutheran cemetery - it's a piece of rock from outer space! Seems that this cosmic chunk landed on the Simi family land many years ago, and so when they passed into the great beyond, the meteorite was recycled into a gravestone as a lasting memorial. Then on into Baraga, where the tribal BP station had very affordable fuel, and then we looped around the end of Keweenaw Bay under the benevolent gaze of the giant Bishop Baraga (the "Snowshoe Priest") statue into L'Anse, where we obtained the necessary parts to get Truckasaurus legal again, and also where Suzanne's sister and her family make their home by the lapping waters of the bay. We scooted up to Skanee to see the family's little hideaway in the woods, and then back to the main house for a yummy lasagna dinner and to reassemble the truck's portside lighting system.

After the dinner was done and the vehicle work was wrapped up, we sat for a spell and shared a few more roadtrip stories, and then back to Trout Creek down US 41 & M-28, watching most cautiously for those darn deer. This time we made it home intact, although we did see where one deer didn't (though it wasn't our fault this time - really!)

Cool times in the Keweenaw

Day 12 - Friday, September 1st, 2006
in Trout Creek, MI
2 miles (on foot)

The day started a bit slow after yesterday's excitement, as Richard tweaked the truck a bit and Suzanne performed basic support functions for Duncan and his grandma. Later in the day, we strolled off down the street to see some relatives in Trout Creek, and look at old photo albums and yearbooks to remember how things used to be years ago in Trout Creek and the surrounding areas. After this, we walked across to Abbott Fox Community Park to let Duncan play in the fresh-mown grass, and then a walk around the old mill pond and on into the old downtown.

In the days when the sawmill was running and the mines were drilling, Trout Creek was a bustling community, with clothing stores, jewelers, a busy Duluth and South Shore train station, a grade school and high school, three hotels, and a movie theater. These days, the sawmill is just an open field, the mines are shut down, the rails are pulled up, and the town is a far cry from its heyday back in the early 20th century. But Trout Creek still has some life left in it, and the church, grocery store, and post office are spruced up nicely and still in business. We walked the main street in front of Suzanne's old schoolhouse in the fading afternoon light, spying an old fire alarm box still hanging from a wooden utility pole. Then home westward into the sun, some pasties for dinner, and another cool and quiet night in the Upper Peninsula.

The people, places, and little visitors of Trout Creek

Day 13 - Saturday, September 2nd, 2006
in Trout Creek, MI
68 miles

Who loves a parade? The citizens of the town of Bergland do, as they turned out for their Bay Days parade, and we made the drive over on M-28 to join them in their festivities on the north shore of Lake Gogebic. The veterans marched proudly, the home-grown motorized entries puttered past (did that one say "the only good wolf is a dead wolf"?), Smokey waved from the Forest Service trailer, much candy was thrown, and a good time was had by all, especially Duncan.

After the last fire truck blinked and honked down the street, we were off to try all the other activities. We walked the numbers in the cake walk, and after a try or two, Suzanne walked off with a yummy colorful layered creation. Then it was off to the duck pond, and Duncan happily stuck his little hand into the water, pulled out a smiling blue quacker, and revealed that he had won the 'grand prize' - the choice of any toy in the pile. It took him a while to decide, but he finally made friends with a big floppy lion, and that fuzzy feline was his new best friend for the remainder of the day.

Then after a big BBQ lunch with some remarkably good grilled sweet corn (which we had to take down the road to one of Michigan DOT's roadside parks since there was no room left at the numerous Bergland picnic tables), Duncan passed out with his new fuzzy buddy still close by, and we drove back to Trout Creek for a stop at the local grocery store to pick up a few things and then a cruise around the back roads (found a garage sale, too!) before we pulled into the driveway and unloaded our day's swag. Then a dinner of some decent leftovers, of which it seems Richard ate a bit too much of, so he tried to settle his belly by watching the BYU-Arizona football game on TV, while everyone else more sensibly went to bed. The game started at the reasonable hour of 7:30 Arizona time, but went well into the wee hours of Michigan time. The Wildcats' play, though, didn't do much to make him feel better, and so he finally went to bed very very late, with his grumpiness mitigated slightly by the Cats' victory on a next-to-last-second field goal.

Bay Days blast in Bergland - fun for everyone

Day 14 - Sunday, September 3rd, 2006
in Trout Creek, MI
3 miles (on bike)

Our last full day in the Yooper woods was a quiet one, as we calmly prepared for the return half of the trip and enjoyed the wonderful weather for one day longer. The clothes were cleansed, the truck was carefully loaded with our usual stuff, and a few additional heirlooms/junk were selected for transport back to Phoenix. The only excitement for the day was when Suzanne's sister and her family dropped by for one more visit, and after that Richard rattled down the road on his two-wheeler carrying a hefty load of recyclables to the Trout Creek "recycling bus", where the cardboard and cans clattered through the hatches and into their appropriate bins. Then one more night in the small house under the starry northern skies.

Another day in da UP - family and other stuff

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