Archive for the ‘Upper Michigan’ Category

While most teachers can regale you with stories about memorable students, both angelic and demon-possessed, most often our best stories are about our own epic classroom failures.

Once upon a time a friend of mine, Anne, was really and truly wound up, delivering a passionate lecture on Thoreau and his year at Walden Pond to a room full of 16-year-olds. She was on a serious roll.

Eyes blazing, cheeks flushed and waving her personal dog-eared paperback copy of Thoreau to the class, she knew every eye was riveted on her. This was one of those magic adrenaline-washed  moments that we all dream of.

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Time for the Big Finish.  Voice ringing with emotion, she declared “Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you that if Thoreau was in front of you right now, he would say ‘Throw off your fine designer clothes, grab your hoes and head for the woods.'”

It pretty much took her the rest of the hour to peel those kids off the walls.

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Prepping these shots, I couldn’t help but think of Anne and those cast-off over-priced designer tee shirts she and Henry David Thoreau were railing against. Hard to say if the pine snakes from my last post are big fans of Thoreau or not, but they do cast off their fine garments from time to time.

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Caution: if you suffer from ophidiophobia or a deep fear of snakes, stop here and catch up with me in a day or so. (Three images)

Yahoo! Time for our annual trek to Camp ZZ tucked deep in the heart of the UP. Four days of no electricity and no wi-fi, it is true, but a generator, pump, marine batteries, gas-driven fridge…you get the idea. Roughing it? Yes. Will CBS schedule “Survivor: U.P.” at this locale? Not so much. But there is no Starbucks within a hundred miles.

And I did draw a top bunk this time. There’s a weird time travel thing going on here: the guys who own the camp bought the bunk beds from Northern Michigan University in Marquette and installed them at camp. We all lived in the dorms at NMU mumblety-mumble years ago (the earth was still flat) so it is POSSIBLE that I have travelled all this way in my life just to climb into the same bunk I slept in as a 20-year-old.

This is a same-but-different aside,  but I have never returned to the house I grew up in since it was sold. It’s my understanding that it has been turned into a Ribs-to-Go joint. Wabi Sabi has an inventive mind, but even she could not fabricate that little detail.

We got up close and personal with a couple of the fulltime residents of the camp who are in charge of rodent and critter management: the pine snake or western fox snake (elaphe vulpine.) Three of them, actually, though I was assured that they do not travel in packs. Everything that I have read since I came home says that the snakes are from 3 to 5 feet in length. Huh! The first fellow shown here is 10 feet long, there is one checking in at 8 feet and then one at the prescribed 5 foot mark.

Even if snakes DO scare you spitless (and truly, I am not a big fan) put that aside for a moment, click on the images for greater detail and marvel at how beautiful their skin is against the wood.

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New CR 510 bridge spanning the Dead River in Marquette County.

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This version of the bridge is 532 feet long, stands 100 feet above the water and was opened in 2010 with a price tag of just under 7 million dollars.  In contrast, the old CR510 is 10 feet above the river and was built for a whopping $80,000. (I know: both a dollar and a foot went a lot farther then, right?)

If you look at the second picture in the post from October 12 , you can get a glimpse of the new bridge on the far right of that frame.

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We made a valiant effort to climb all the way to the river, but about 3/4 of the way down, the slope turned vertical and we nixed the idea of battling to the bottom.

It is incredibly windy on the bridge. I don’t travel with a tripod (Bad Wabi Sabi! Go wait in the car!) and one would have made a huge difference in the shots I took from the top.

One more look at the bridge from a traditional viewpoint

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and then let us slip down to where the trolls hang out.

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In the fall of 1919, the state of Michigan purchased a toll bridge in Pennsylvania and shipped it to Marquette. It was installed at the Dead River site and opened to traffic in 1921, serving as an essential link for logging, tourism and development in the northern part of Marquette County. The years of heavy use took their own toll and, as weight limits for the bridge continued to be revised downward, eventually it was no longer practical to maintain it for traffic. (When snowplows weren’t allowed on the bridge due to weight restrictions, the bridge itself had to be shoveled by hand!)

I’ll show you the replacement bridge later this week.

 CR 510 passes through the Huron Mountains in Marquette County, Michigan. Today’s post features the original CR 510 Bridge spanning the Dead River.  The bridge opened in 1921 and closed to traffic in 2010. Friend Karen scouted this location ahead of time and I am most grateful.

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Holy Zow! I drove to Marquette this week and the drive was exhilarating.  Fall color, which has pretty much pooped-out by an hour north of Green Bay, rebounded again as I entered the Huron Mountain range. As the road became increasingly more hilly and I was making the up/down climb into Marquette,  trees ramped up their drama until I found myself flying through a full-tilt carnival of colors and began to wonder if I’d somehow sailed right into a “Yes! Michigan!” calendar.

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Enjoy a shot of pure full-on autumnal glory and I will give you some background history on the bridge in my next post.

brd2It goes without saying that I’ll have to climb under there, right?

A nice Marquette County blend of house reds.

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Last post was approaching The Rustaliscious Resale and Architectural Oddities Shop from the left and now this building is just to the RIGHT of that shop.  I don’t remember the real street name, but I think it should be Wabi Sabi Way.

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In three days of questing and snooping and perhaps a certain degree of trespassing (shhhhh!) Karen and I were questioned only once as to what we were doing and that was behind this building. A friendly guy in his 20’s with the air of a co-conspirator said “Taking pictures for the judge?”

I smiled. Karen winked. We kept shooting.