Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Webster defines Nostalgia:

1. a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former   place or time

2. a yearning for the return of past circumstances, events, etc

3. a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past

I guess I agree...and I guess lots of others must as well...and here's why...

I know "I'm not alone" in my love of lighthouses when there are books, calendars, pictures and plenty of others out there with me when we are visiting them, taking pictures, walking clear out to the points in all kinds of weather!  "Historical" groups raising money to keep them and refurbish when they are no longer needed and no longer being used.  They are up and down every coast, every lake, and loved by young and old!  Here are a few beauties we've visited recently along the Great Lakes...

Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse, Kewaunnee WI
Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light (c1882) Sturgeon Bay WI
Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse (c1899) Sturgeon Bay WI

Another one is old barns!  We've been traveling through "America's Dairyland", Wisconsin, and what joy it's been to see so many beautiful barns that's been saved and decorated with the heritage barn quilts.  They don't have to, they could have just replaced them with the more modern metal ones, but they chose not to, and many of us are glad they haven't!

And take a look at these three beauties from Michigan!

Like a number of other cities, Green Bay has created a wonderful National Railroad Museum that Jack and I spent almost a full day at.  What a collection they have gathered!  They have some "one of a kind" locomotives, such as the Dwight D  Eisenhower WWII command train and the Union Pacific 1940s "Big Boy" weighing in over 600 tons.  They even had a rare Aerotrain, something that was tried, and failed, back in the mid 50s. It was in pretty bad shape, but the model of it sure was a beauty, to bad it didn't work!  A guy by the name of Bauer collected "Drumheads", which I had never heard of before, they are "the colorful, illuminated signs hung at the rear of America's top trains.  Their mission was to help identify and promote the finest means of travel on the rails." He donated his entire collection to the museum, and what an incredible collection it was too!  In his bio, he said he wanted to collect "something different that no one else was collecting, but didn't know how big they were until after he ordered his first one and it arrived in three crates!"  Pretty funny, and it didn't seem to stop him! 
The Eisenhower, The National Train Museum, Green Bay WI
Marie in front of The Big Boy, The National Train Museum, Green Bay WI
The Aerotrain model, The National Train Museum, Green Bay WI
The Bauer Drumhead Collection, The National Train Museum, Green Bay WI
I even got to fulfill a "nostalgic dream" and go aboard a tug boat!  I'm not entirely sure why, but I've always loved tug boats.  They are just so cute...something about them being so little, yet so strong - pulling those great big ships!  I've always fantasized how cool it would be to own one and just tootle along the open waters.  But, of course, I've never even been on one...until the other day!  Kewaunee WI has the 1943 WWII Tug Ludington that they have carefully restored and allow tours on board, all for the grand sum of $1 each!  She was only one of 8 tugs constructed specifically for the war and participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy as "Major Wilbur Fr. Browder", towing ammunition barges across the English Channel.  In 1947, the tug was transferred to Kewaunee by the Corps of Engineers and renamed the Tug Ludington.  Since its arrival in Kewaunee, was the construction & maintenance of many harbors on the Great Lakes.  A conservative estimate is that the tug has hauled over 1 million tons of cargo since she's been here...a well deserved retirement, I'd say!  I was thrilled to have finally gotten the chance to see the insides of a "real workhorse"!

Let's hear if for all the people who keep our "nostalgia" alive!

...kicking back in Wisconsin,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Go Pack Go!

"Go Pack Go!" We all shouted with gusto, and as instructed, listened for the echo...and there it came, WOW!  You could almost see the 80,000 plus fans cheering as their team scored one more TD!  We were a small group of about 10 taking an hour and a half tour of the Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers Football team in Wisconsin.  You just can't visit Green Bay without going to Lambeau Field whether you are a sports fan or not!  What a great tour it was too.  They have three to choose from, we choose the middle one, not to short & not to long we thought.  You get to go from the luxury suites to view the stadium (and for the best echo effect) to the  players tunnel complete with sound effects of fans cheering as you enter the field itself.  For those of you that know Jack & I, you know then that neither of us are really sports buffs, well, to put it honestly, about the only football we really watch is the Superbowl, and we are lucky to even know who's playing in it the week before, so that tells you something!  Anyway, even we know who Vince Lombardi was, so it was really interesting to hear about the history of not only how he came to the Packers, but how the Packers themselves came to be.

By the time we learned about Curly Lambeau and how the team isn't owned by a "single owner" (because Curly sold shares at $5 each!) and is the only team in the National Football League to be owned by the fans, and saw how beautiful the field was, and the incredible size and unbelievable gift shop (there wasn't anything, and I mean anything-even a truck-that wasn't for sale), it made me want to be a fan!  Another really cool thing, one that you can't help but go "aww" at, is a time-honored tradition that the players have during training, that I don't think any other professional team does...See, their practice field is just one block from Lambeau Field, and prior to practice, young Packers fans line up near the stadium eagerly waiting for players to choose their bike to ride to practice.  The kids run alongside the player carrying his helmet as the player rides their bike over!  Now, I think that's pretty cool!

The field was originally build in 1957 and started out with seating for only 32,150, but over the years has upgraded and enlarged to it's current capacity of 80,735.  Our guide didn't think they could enlarge any further.  So that's probably it, and they sell out ever one of those seats.   I've never experienced anything like it.  The whole town is alive with "Pack Fever".  When you think that all of Green Bay is just over 100,000 people, that means almost everyone goes to the game!  Think about that, what town can say that?  The very cheapest seat is $78 and that was way up in the far corner at the very top, with the most seats costing around $100-$300...and they are all sold out, every game, every year, with a waiting list.  Season tickets are passed down to family members with about 80, yep, only about 80 going on sale a year.  Wow.  That's dedication.  That's love.  



...kicking back in Wisconsin,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The County Fair!

What do you think when you hear it's time for the summer county fair?  Well, if your from a big area, like Jack and I, where hundreds of thousands of people attend, you expect large crowds, bumper to bumper traffic, long lines for food, elbow to elbow as you walk down row after row of vendors hawking hundreds of items "you just can't live without", some you see year after year (yea!), some you can't wait to see "whats new this year".  Rows and rows of rides in the Fun Zone, multiple barns of animals to gawk at and learn all about, and endless entertainment, all day and all night, always ending with fireworks, of course!  A day filled with excitement, loaded with calories, arms filled with stuff you probably will never use and ended with exhaustion and wonderful memories.

We've spent years going to "our" very big county fair, so naturally, I've wanted to experience what it would be like to visit a small county fair.  The kind I've seen in the movies, where local people bake pies and bring jars of pickles to be judged, where they actually know each other!  So, when I saw that the Marquestte County Fair was starting the day we were about to leave, I suggested we stay on an extra day and go to it, after all, it was "senior day" too!  So, we did, and...what an experience it was!

First off, it wasn't in, we drove, and drove and drove, way out into the country, only stopping a couple of times, until we finally found it, tiny signs and all!  Paid our $1(each) and entered.

First area was a barn that housed the vendors (they had about 30, maybe?), their "Arts & Crafts" (photos, quilts, knits, sewing, collections, and yes, pickles! etc) vegetables, gardening, and one of the two entertainment scheduled "Wayne the Wizard" Magic Show.  A second barn was attached that had a nice display showing "Treasures of the Past" antiques and collectables, but there sure was plenty of room for the few of us to roam around and see everything!  No "elbow to elbow" rubbing here, and certainly no hawking going on, very quiet, gentle people here.

Outside, not much bigger, I had to giggle.  Jack kept hushing me to stop, but I just couldn't help it!  I expected to see "small", just not so "tiny".  The food area was about a dozen spots, at the most, and I know we were there on the first day and all, but I think Jack had to stand in the longest line of, maybe 5 people at lunch time!  We listened to the other entertainment during lunch, which was a trio playing music on the bandstand.  After lunch we wandered over to the animal barns and watched the judging of the 4 H kids and their lambs, which was pretty cool...not that we understood a thing about it, mind you!  I just know that my own grandchildren are in 4 H and work really hard with their own animals and compete in their county fair and really take pride in winning ribbons as well, so it's special when they are standing up there and the judge is rambling off his stuff and the crowd is clapping away at them, so we did too!

We went over to the Fun Zone, what there was of it, maybe a dozen rides, mostly for the little ones, a couple for the older ones and I only saw one game and a couple more food vendors, but I did spot one thing that our fair never had, and probable never will...Fresh Deep Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds! Ha!

With that, we figured we'd seen it all...and called it a day...

...on the road to Wisconsin,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Further adventures in the U P!

As we continue to venture forth in our quest to "see all that we can see" in the U P, brochures, magazines, AAA book, the Michigan map, the 1000 Places to See book, and all the articles I've saved all scattered around me...we gather ourselves up each morning and head  out as early as we can, fill the car up with gas and off we go for the (full) day!

Some of the wonderful sights we've encountered are...

The Upper Falls: Tahquamenon State Park (it rhymes with phenomenon).  It's one of the Michigan's most popular attractions, and deserves it.  They are truly beautiful.  They are 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide and amber-colored due to the presence of tannic acid in the river, which leeches naturally from the trees and plants within the watershed.  They are located in a lovely State Park, that in itself is a nice (short) walk to get to, and if so inclined has several other (longer) hikes to some great beaches as well.  We met another couple that was going to go agate hunting in the lake (Superior) below.  That's quite "the thing" here.  People don't seem to mind that the temperature is cold, and no, they don't wear boots, or wetsuits etc. just their short pants...their from Michigan after all, and used to the COLD!  ;-)  They wander in up to about their hips, looking for 'pretty' agates, and collect them.  Oh well, everyone needs a hobby!  Oh, the other thing we saw while we were there was lots of poison ivy!  We stayed real clear of that, thank you!  (they did have signs for us tourist!)

Where you have large lakes, you have lighthouses!  Lots of them!  Some you can get to, some you can' "out on the lake", or way out on a jetty, or by hiking miles to (I don't do mile+ hikes)...but the ones that are easy to get to, we do!  Trying to find them, though, isn't always so easy, nor is the drive to/from them always short - sometimes involving a full day, but hey, it's a "scenic drive", right?  Each are very different from the other, and that's what makes it so much fun!  Here are a few samples we've found so far...

Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Hiawatha National Forest

Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba Harbor

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City

 Round Island Lighthouse from The Grand Hotel,  Mackinac Island

You can't visit lighthouses without acknowledging the "other side" of the story...the shipwrecks that happen on the Great Lakes.  Lots of them, with records dating back to the early 1800's starting with the "Invincible" (ironic name, don't you think?).  We visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise MI (who could resist going to "Paradise"?) 
where they have the bell of the famous Edmond Fitzgerald as well.  It's a small museum, but well done, with a lot of detail and history.  It really shows how, especially before there was the sophisticated navigational equipment they now have, hard it was to navigate these waters.  Storms came up fast, fog came in quick and traffic on the lakes was really heavy - around 3100 vessels.  Now, there are about 200 of them on the lake.  Larger, but so much less of them, and such better equipment.  You can't help but admire the men who did and do work these waters, the strength and courage it took in all kinds of weather, day in and day out, year after year.  What a tough way to make a living.  These people in Michigan are tough boys, that's "for sure"!

One last very fun visit was to the Oswald's Bear Ranch!  We kept passing their sign as we drove in and out of our campground, and decided we just had to go check it out for ourselves.  The picture on the billboard showed a person holding a bear cub.  "Really?" I thought, to many years working for the San Diego Zoo made me a skeptic, but it was worth a visit, just to see.  So, off we went.  $20 a car, and you park and walk around their vary large compound.  It is truly a licenced family owned business that has been raising rescued black bears since 1984 and open to the public since 1997.  Once there, each bear will live its life out there.  They have four natural habitats with trees, fresh running water to swim in and drink pools that they separate the males, females and youngsters from each other.  It's the 6 month old cubs that you get to have your picture taken with and touch - and you bet we did!  What a hoot!  He was such a cutie too!  They give you a great big spoon filled with Fruit Loops Cereal to hold and while he is enjoying that treat, you can pet away!  His hair is so soft and thick.  We were told that it actually gets softer as he gets older!  The photographer uses your camera and snaps about 3-5 snaps and boom, your done!  $10

The place was well taken care of, and you could see family members everywhere hustling about tending to everything from the cash register to getting rid of a bee hive.  Jack sat and talked with the couple that started the place (they made us look young!) and they were still there, watching over everything.  I'm glad we went...and, I got to pet a bear cub!  So cool!

Not to many more miles left of this beautiful U P area, but one never knows what new adventure will be around the next bend!

...on the road in Michigan,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Canada by train!

On a whim we decided to see Canada, by train!  On one side of the International Bridge is Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and on the other side is Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, Canada.
I found a brochure that was about an all day scenic train ride that went from Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Canada along the coast line up to Agawa Canyon and back again.  It sounded like a great way to see a part of Canada without having to drive it ourselves and... we love to take train trips, so, a win-win, we thought!

The only down-side, for us, anyway, was that it left at 8:00 a.m. which meant that we had to get up at 5:30 a.m.!  That's early for us! But...we made it!  Major yawn.  That just meant we ate breakfast on the train...which was quite good actually!

The trip was quite nice.  Smooth, since it wasn't a narrow gauge, thank goodness.  They gave us a booklet that showed us our route with the mile markers and notes on each one as well as videos popped on during the trip with little stories about the area, it's history & geography which made it even more interesting.  The seats were very comfortable and the windows were quite large and very clean so taking pictures for the most part was pretty easy.

 I was surprised at how many small lakes there were, as we seemed to go from one to another and then another as we chugged along.
Mongoose Lake
Trout Lake
Mekatina Lake
The nice surprise was the beautiful waterfalls at the stop at Agawa Canyon.  We had a much needed hour and a half stop there to take hikes, have lunch etc.  The weather was perfect as we took our time walking through the beautiful canyon floor heading up to Black Beaver Falls.  We really didn't expect much, so when we rounded the bend and saw these spectacular falls our mouth just dropped open in awe!  Most of the passengers had gone off to a much longer hike up to a high lookout and only a very few of us took this hike, I think we made the much better choice!  It was so lovely just to follow the small river for awhile afterward, enjoying the wildflowers, watching the butterflies and listening to the birds and feeling the warmth the sunshine.

Black Beaver Trail at Agawa Canyon Park
Black Beaver Falls at Agawa Canyon Park
Jack along side Agawa River at Agawa Canyon Park
Soon we were on the train heading back.  Interesting, even though it was the same route, things do look different going the opposite direction!

Back in Ontario we had to make one last stop to get Jack his peanuts (you see, Canada still packages and sells Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts in glass jars, where, in the US, they only package and sell them in plastic jars=less fresh.  Thus, every time we are in, or our friends from Canada are visiting us, we stock up on glass jars of peanuts!)

...on the road in the U P,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: