Color tour

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This trip happened because of a fight. I thought my husband had agreed to meet me in North Carolina next month after my week of Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault. We could do the B&B thing, I could share all my newly acquired wisdom with him, yada yada. Belatedly he happened to remember that he had a choir concert on the aforeplanned weekend. For some reason I took this to mean that I did not come first in his life. We fought. Or rather, I blew up and he looked puzzled.

I got over it quickly but suggested (demanded) that we do a getaway somewhere nice sometime soon. We settled on visiting the upper reaches of our state somewhere around the peak of fall color time. This year in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, that was last weekend. We went. We saw. We B&B’ed. And I was reminded of a few things that I have learned over the years about vacations with my husband.

There are only a few things we really like to do together. Hiking in a beautiful place is our favorite thing. It used to be biking until I gave that up a few years ago. Now a walk in the woods or by a lake or around a quaint town will do it for both of us. We had a few good days for that and the colors were fantastic, the trails uncrowded. We like to hike in silence, communing with nature. We let the chatty people pass us.

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Our other favorite shared activity is eating. This trip was not so good for that. The app developed by the tourist bureau for the Keweenaw Peninsula (the upper fin of the UP that juts into the maw of Lake Superior) lists restaurants by categories: “fast food,” “family,” “bar and grill,” “brew pubs,” and “seafood” (i.e. any place that serves fish). Notably missing is the category called “fine dining.” I guess we are food snobs. But the real problem is that we lack self-discipline because it’s vacation and we are looking for treats. A “black and blue burger” with fries and a beer sounds like a treat. But my aging body can’t handle that stuff any more, not every day, not even after a 6-mile hike. We have cut way back on carbs and even the best B&B breakfasts are carb-loaded and sit heavy in the stomach.

We make time for our individually favorite activities. For me it’s swimming. I didn’t bring my swimsuit, but it was 80 degrees one day and I would have taken a cold dip if I’d come prepared. I settled for baptizing my feet in the green waters of Lake Superior. As far as I’m concerned, the Great Lakes are the greatest thing about Michigan.

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Vic needs something industrial. We visited an old copper mine and he was right at home in a hard hat, descending to the dark, dank tunnel and examining the oversized machinery. Later, in the world-class mineral museum on the Michigan Tech campus in Houghton, I marveled at the beauty of the infinite varieties of stones and crystals, while he admired the museum’s classification system by composition. “They give the formula for each mineral!” he exclaimed. Whatever.

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I don’t sleep well my first night in a place. We stayed in two places, two nights each. One night I did not sleep at all. This happens no matter what the surroundings. A canopy over the bed in a room full of antiques does not help me sleep, especially when the bed is covered with a thick duvet. I get hot, then cold, unless I have layers of thin blankets I can throw on and off as needed. By night two I get it figured out and, besides, I am so exhausted by previous sleeplessness that I pop right off and can snooze for up to 10 hours. Ideal is staying in one place, period.

We tolerate road trips but don’t really enjoy them. We run out of things to talk about. Road noise and deafness make listening to music difficult. I get stiff and cranky sitting in the car for hours. We stop to eat to alleviate the boredom. Road food is hit or miss, mostly miss, although I had an excellent trout filet at Hermann’s European Café in Cadillac, MI. This trip had lots of nice scenery along the way but I’d rather see it on foot. It was worth the drive, however, because the UP is wild and lovely and you can’t fly there.

But it is far. On our last day we planned a hike and overnight in an intermediate place on the UP before returning home the way we’d gone up, via the Mackinaw Bridge. But it started raining before we got to the trail so we decided to come all the way home a day early. We entered “go home” in the GPS and, to our surprise, the lady told us to head south, right away, into Wisconsin, to get to our home in the southwest corner of Michigan. In what other state would you pass through three different states just to get from one end of it to the other? Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Look at the map. It took us nearly 12 hours and it’s closer than the all-Michigan route but not so pretty.

If it took a fight to prompt us to make this trip, the fight was worth it. Beauty, color, time together. We love our state!

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The driver’s sweatshirt reflects the scenery as we ride the trolley down a steep slope to the Quincy copper mine. Vic’s yellow hard hat also got into the picture, reflected beside the driver’s shoulder.

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