Archive for July, 2010

Ultra-Van sighting, Lake Superior

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

At 75 cents, Marquette’s local paper, The Mining Journal, is a sixteen page bargain although 13 of them are devoted to advertising.  Here’s what I learned; two very nice men, Heikkila and Rossway, both with impeccable credentials, are running for the County Board.  Here is what they propose:

  • lower taxes
  • abolish crime
  • decrease spending
  • increase jobs
  • better highways
  • promote tourism
  • legalize lynch mobs
  • educate our brats
  • balance the budget

Regardless who wins, we are assured logical, informed, independent thinking will prevail.

The most interesting column, however, The Police Log, tells us that Tues. at 9:06 AM, on the corner of Crescent and Lakeshore, a driving complaint was reported from the previous day, presumed to be road rage.

Sigh.

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Wakefield, WI, a 22′ high chief in need of botox requesting a urine sample from Jack

Our next stop. Bessemer, MI, to inspect a “restored” 1965 M-Benz 4dr sedan that had failed to sell on eBay. It was a total piece of cr@p, bondo in and out the w@zoo, & poorly finished in a gawdawful metallic diamond blue by a biker on meth.  It would be worth his $3000 asking price if he left $2500 in cash, stuffed in the trunk, with his lab supplies.

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4 cyl., 45 HP, bubbled chrome, and a tow bar

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How it should look

“Hey, it runs”, sure, but I’ve wasted 15 minutes assaying a heap of iron oxide….next stop,

Ashland, WI, on the south shore of Lake Superior, ‘Gateway to the Apostle Islands’. The municipal park and campground, strategically located on a stunning stretch of beach, marina, and waterfront splendor of swans, is in the shadow of the famed Ashland Oardock.

dscn5204.JPG40 foot high monument to the Industrial Revolution

Built from 1914-1916, it extends 1800 feet into Lake Superior, and was capable of loading large freighter ships faster than a Geico commercial.

The Kreher Park also had a celebrity trailer visitor, the famed Ultra-Van (Hutchinson, KS), featured on the Travel Channel’s hour long special of vintage RVs.  Custom-crafted on a chevy corvair chassis, it stood out like a rock star amid karaoke wannabees.  If you want to be noticed, this unit was the pheromone of the motorhome world…a steady stream of gawkers looking under your skirt.  Sweet, it resembles the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile without the mustard and bun.

dscn5192.JPGThe irresistible smiley facedscn5194.JPGVoyeurs taking a pee and a peekdscn5195.JPG“Now that’s a cute butt”

Back to that political race, I wouldn’t vote for either of those guys even if they did all the things they promised.  However, if they could eliminate road rage……..

Blaney Park, MI, in the afternoon, 1940

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Leaving the cabin sanctuary in DeTour, Lynn, Jack, and I head westward across the upper peninsula to fulfill an obligation in Minnesota five days hence.  The blue highway route along MI-2 skirts the northern shore of Lake Michigan; small towns, scenic turnouts, lumber trucks, and pastie shops.

At MI-77 we turn north toward today’s goal, Blaney Park, to dissolve seventy years of progress and relive those thrilling days of yesteryear.  A warm day, but not uncomfortable, envelops this small well-worn town, pop. ~ 50, figuratively in the middle of nowhere.Several compulsory antique shops are dotted among the vestige of forgotten glory; an empty olympic size pool with a stagnant pond of algae and tar paper residue, an overgrown netless tennis court, moss covered shuffleboard lanes, and a cedar grove that once served as a golf driving range.  In the midst is the fully operational Blaney Park Lodge, little changed from 1940, run by an elderly couple in their 80s.

Here’s the kicker.  Howard still offers rooms with private baths, for two people, at $39 a night.  But wait, there’s more.  This includes homemade breakfast and fresh coffee in the morning.

And pie and ice cream in the evening.

Who needs the Hampton Inn ?

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Howard, applying a fresh coat of paint to the front steps

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The Lodge as seen from across the highway

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Lynn and Jack pose under the gauze of a four poster bed

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Narrow, haunting hallway with art deco lighting of the 30s 

This area, and 33,000 acres, was once, in the late 20s, the home of a large timber operation.  The lodge was built to accommodate the lumbermen, and when abandoned, became an upscale resort for returning WWII veterans, complete with an airstrip for practice pilot training and room for thirty planes.

A few miles north is the incomparable, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 96,000 acres of untouched primitive great lakes watershed and forest. Imagine, 150 square miles, unmolested.

On to MI-28 at Seney, MI, where it stretches westward to Shingleton, MI for 25 miles without a single bend in the road.  Reputed to be the straightest (and most boring) section of highway east of the Mississippi, uninterrupted, all you need is cruise control and auto pilot and you can take a half hour nap while driving.  Next stop, Marquette, MI, on the south shore of Lake Superior.

If you are taking nitrates for chest pain

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

fifteen minutes may save you 15% on car insurance, if Sally Fields bones don’t petrify from an overdose of Boniva during the commercial break.  Do third tier celebrities with cheap cosmetic surgery really lose weight on the UPS delivered diet plans, and if so, why does the 99 pound Oprah (as seen in her “O” magazine) appear to be a morbidly obese Charles Barkley in drag everyday at 4 PM ?

Perhaps I need to turn off the TV.

Like the nearly 400 million Americans who aren’t on the guest list for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding this weekend, we have selected an alternate entertainment venue.  Apparently neither she, nor her ambassador mother Hillary, had the foresight to register at Target or Sam’s Club, so we can take the money otherwise reserved for her elaborate shower gift and head west to Saint Ignace for fun, fudge, and ice cream.

Saint Ignace, aside from being the gateway to Mackinac Island (#1 tourist attraction in the state of Michigan), is also home to the Castle Rock.

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As seen in the Curt Teich colorized postcard, circa 1955

and Indian Village, America’s oldest souvenir shop founded ~ 1797.

Or whenever the neon teepee was first introduced.

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Your source for genuine Indian spears (rubber-tipped)

St. Iggy, to the locals, is a picturesque waterfront town.  Real estate is plentiful and cheap, as are the motels.  The names mirror a dry town in Nevada;

  • Sands
  • Flamingo
  • Dunes

Or the cottage style of the 1940’s, complete with quaint mildew;

  • The Cedars
  • The Evergreen
  • The Pines
  • Tradewinds

And the ubiquitous, nautically-themed, so-so beach community restaurants;

  • The Dockside
  • Galley
  • Bay View
  • Driftwood

They have the best summer car show south of Canada and north of Minneapolis.dscn3345.JPG      dscn3334.JPG   dscn3372.JPG  dscn3373.JPG

Above, an Amphicar, a failed project in the 50s.  Both a car and a boat, it was sore excuse for either.

The USCG icebreaker, Biscayne, useful in rescuing amphicars

A 50s Ford lowrider truck towing a Serro Scotty

And below, an unidentified colorful character to match

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The now slow recovering Michigan economy can still provide cheap thrills.  In St. Ignace you can buy homes with water views, on the water, or in the water for next to nothing, except that you must endure a month of spring, a month of fall, and seven months of winter.

(full disclosure: I have no financial interests in St. Ignace and am not a paid spokesperson for the chamber of commerce, although I have lusted over the lady who renews boat licenses at the DMV)

It’s nearing four o’clock, time to tune in to the Oprah show for the newest buzzword, “teachable moment” ( find two better words in the English language that can convincingly signal saccharine insincerity.)  It will either be about food, women, and God, or the latest fad diet, ‘how to lose forty pounds by Friday eating four minute fondue’.