Up close

Sometimes surroundings and perspective distract us from the beauty of a small part of our circumstance.

In each case below, if I showed you the full surroundings, you probably wouldn’t notice the pictured element.

We miss so much!

(The toad is smaller than my thumb nail.)
DSC_3627_aDSC_3686_aDSC_3700_aDSC_5117_aDSC_5664_aDSC_5137_aDSC_9998_aDCIM101GOPROWe celebrate Ross & Ryan’s upcoming birthday in similar fashion!

Found our new coach

DSC_0090_aDSC_0059_aSt Ignace has a weekend show for everything. This time the show was for Big Trucks.

We found this rig entertaining….you know, found us entertaining the thought of buying such a rig, then hauling loads to make some money on the side….

Just kidding.

These guys were serious about their looks. Check out this double-bottom dump truck: not just all its tires lettered, but color-coordinated lettering…outlined in white! The driver said his company has about 50 of these rigs, and the owners want the rigs washed every night!
DSC_0120_aThe owner of this spit-and-polish tractor also has a 1957 Chevy show car.
DSC_0130_aNot everything was completely serious. Here, the thought was serious but the execution (?!) was light-hearted.
DSC_0102_aIn St Ignace, no big show of vehicles of any kind is complete without a parade across Big Mac. The truckers do it with flair, parading at night while blowing their horns!

Makin a run for provisions

Sometimes we have to do boring stuff like hitch up the wagon and ride 30 miles for provisions.

Worse this time….had to go out of our way to stop by a farm for some of the stuff.

Ahhhhhh, see, that’s YOUR way of doing life….gotta do this, gotta do that, hurry up, we’re late….

Not us. Everything is an opportunity to go somewhere different and see something new. Out of the way is good.

And buying some of our food from the farmer…wow, that’s terrific!

Did I say farmer? I meant Farmer’s Daughter.

Robyn made two new friends at the weekly farmers market in Hessel. Betty was the dear, sweet lady who stopped by the coach a couple days after their first meeting, and invited Robyn to come to her farm and tour the 125 acres with her on the ATV! We pictured her in our post of Sept 1…at the farmers market in the Soo.

The other new friend was Kelly, who bakes goodies in her home and sells them under the name The Farmer’s Daughter. Her home is on the sheep farm run by her father and her husband.

We were leaving town for a new campground too early in the day to catch the farmers market, and Robyn arranged with Kelly to stop by her farm and pick up a supply of important foodstuffs (sweet rolls and scones!) the day before.

This was the scenery on our way to her place:
DSC_9701_aA sky that threatened rain, but looked glorious doing it!

Met Kelly and her mother at the farmhouse, and who should come through the kitchen right then but father and husband. We had a great time meeting everyone, and were promptly invited on a short tour of the farm!
DSC_9791_aTyler, the daughter’s husband, took us on his ATV out into the field with the lambs, because we could see a bald eagle eating something on the ground with several vultures nearby. Yep, a lamb had died. He said they keep several large Pyrenees dogs in the field with the lambs to protect from coyotes and wolves, but several young ones will still die from medical problems each year.
DSC_9818_aDSC_9727_aTwo huge fields held a huge flock of lambs and another huge flock of ewes. It’s near the end of the season for the lambs, who will be sheared and then sold about November. The ewes will become pregnant this winter and deliver next spring.
DSC_9824_aTyler took us across the road from the flocks to a small garden patch, to get some corn. He apologized for the crop, pointing out that he and his family are shepherds, not crop farmers. Shucks (sorry), he had nothing to apologize for…the corn was tender and sweet!
DSC_9825_aAs we left the farm/ranch/family home, up the road just a bit was a field filled with sandhill cranes!
DSC_9846_aAfter we finished with that interruption, we resumed our trip to the Soo for provisions.

Actually, we had taken so long with our detours, we needed to eat. So we tried a new restaurant called Lockview…that was across the street from the Soo Locks. Mmmmm, good Cajun spice walleye.

As we left…finally heading to the store for those provisions…we realized the International Bridge just a few hundred yards upstream from the Locks was all lit up in national colors! We took another detour, so we could catch a nice shot to share with you….
DSC_9936_aWhew, we finally headed to Wal-Mart. Doing life in an interesting fashion can take a lot of time!

We leave you now with this final picture that was taken on a different day, with an enchanted Ryan and a contemplative Ross!

Sittin on the dock of the bay

A local musician pushed a barge past our dock…you like how it’s set up as his stage with the instruments and even chair, lamp, and chiminea for mood? You like the colors he’s flying? The eagle was in view from another dock at our campground.
DSC_6334_aDSC_9638_aDSC_6650_aDSC_9677_aDSC_6681_aDSC_6700_aRoss and Ryan are pictured with the logs used to build the “crib” bases for docks. Ross was tickled to hear the chainsaw being used nearby!

Rollin, rollin, rollin

….keep those tractors rollin.

For three hours 907 antique tractors chugged across the Mighty Mac as part of the 6th annual Owosso Tractor Parts Antique Tractor Parade & Show!
DSC_8146_aSt Ignace is a very accommodating town…humoring tourists and all these other visitors that bring such massive traffic through the center of town.
DSC_8253_aOf course the center of town winds along the waterfront, so the scenery provides all kinds of distractions!
DSC_8192_aDSC_8380_panThey filled four large parking lots with all the tractors. Hotels on both sides of the bridge had scores of trailers parked around them, because the tractors had to be hauled to and from the event!

We had a little fun with Ross and Ryan. They were born in 1988, so we found an Oliver model 88 tractor. But we thought the clincher was the 1924 John Deere that was the first Deere ever sold in Michigan…representing the twins’ present age!
DSC_8368_aDSC_8341_aThis group was a great bunch of folks, who clearly let their hair down for this event. Although they got up early in Mackinaw City in order to parade across, and some of them had come great distances with the expense and effort all on their own shoulders, they were here to relax and have fun! One special tribute tractor was part of the parade, and was put on display beside vendor tents. It was a standout!

We went for the turkey

…and stayed for the fair!

Ever since we arrived in Cedarville, we’ve been hearing about an annual all-you-can-eat turkey dinner in nearby Stalwart. The town’s Presbyterian Church puts on this event to help its emergency fund that benefits the elderly with large winter utility bills or the expense of medical trips. We made our plans to attend.

Ohhhh baby, it was gooood!

We made several new friends as we sat filling our faces at a large round table…and made plans to meet them same time same place next year!

But what was that sound? We kept hearing cows bellowing or something….

Good heavens, Michigan’s Biggest Little Fair was going on right next door! The 108th Annual Stalwart Agricultural Fair, to be exact.

Take a step back in time…this event is intended to be just what you’d have found at your county fair 100 years ago!

Besides the youth livestock judging, the key event of the day…the final event of the fair…was the heavy weight horse pull.

I’ve seen tractor pulls for 40 years, and they’re noisy and wild events, with lots of smoke and mud-slinging.

This was a horse of a different color…this was hard work! Even the men handling the horses worked hard to keep up with the horses.
DSC_9318_aThe sled loaded with 5000 pounds of weight slid on the track too easily, so they ran a chain underneath across its middle! And kept adding weight….
DSC_8961_aAt 6500 pounds there were a few stumbles…
DSC_9292_aBut the winning team managed to pull the sled with 7500 pounds in it!
DSC_9110_aThe dark sections on the horse’s neck and front legs are sweat! Several of these teams were horses that had just been brought from Mackinac Island where they were used for freight and passenger transportation. They winter in a couple of farms right around Stalwart and Pickford.

Wow, we left the fair with our bellies full and our spirits pumped by all we’d seen!

And turned the corner, to be greeted by this sight:
DSC_9337_aIn the next three miles, we took all these pictures from the car!
DSC_9392_aDSC_8560_aDSC_9475_aDSC_9517_aDSC_9575_aDSC_9523_aSorry about that last one….couldn’t resist.

This apparently is a pretty fair migration route for birds, and we think these were migrating….but you just can’t know without spending months watching every day. We’re told bald eagles are fairly common in this area.

Grinding gears one final time for this post:

Ross and Ryan have their birthday September 30. We like to celebrate birthdays all month long, so we thought we’d share some of that by photos along the way:

Go west, young man

We like the sound of that….and already have plans to spend our winter months this year on the west coast!

But here and now, it also applies. We’re parked very near the eastern end of the UP, and there’s 350 miles to explore in a westerly direction.

We’ll do some of that next summer up here, but thought we’d do a little this time.

We already told you of stopping by Hog Island a couple weeks ago. That was about 55 miles to our west.

Our destination this time was double that distance: Manistique.

At first we were unenthusiastic. The town of 3400 people is the county seat for Schoolcraft County, and is the only organized community in the county of 8400 residents. Here’s a tidbit: the town was named for the river that runs through it and empties into Lake Michigan, the Monistique River. The town’s name was misspelled in its charter papers, and was stuck with the name Manistique. The river eventually became known by the town’s spelling!

Ahhh, these trips are occasions to be reminded that not everything good in a place depends upon sheer numbers of people!

But I get ahead of myself.

Along the way, our route passed within 8 miles of Seul Choix Station lighthouse. No, it’s not pronounced that way. “Sis-shwa” is correct, which seems to be kind of a combination of the French name and the Native American name. Turns out the 8 miles are 4 miles of gravel….
DSC_7711_aBut seeeeee….it was worth it! Click on the photo to see the lovely details in the lighthouse tower.

The shoreline in front of the lighthouse is fascinating for at least one thing….it has waves of tiny mollusk shells. They are zebra mussels, the rogue European mollusk whose voracious eating habits are disrupting the Great Lakes ecosystem.
DSC_7669_aOur day had begun with rain, and no respite was forecast. Ahh, but there can be a benefit to going west…you run out of the rain.

But not the clouds.

Yeah, well clouds can still be the photographer’s friend, because they diffuse the light and prevent harsh shadows.
DSC_7807_aAnd….because they cause some high drama near sundown!
DSC_7764_aDSC_7785_aThe trip west was clearly (sorry) worth the drive, and the final call at sundown was a definitely an encore performance!