Friday, July 26, 2013

2013-24 Houghton & Hancock Michigan Continued

Houghton Michigan, continued
Yooper Country

Houghton Michigan, Lift Bridge
I’m not going to cover all of the tourist attractions up here as this is my hometown and I’ve done all of that many times and written about it in past reports.  Do know that if you explore the U.P. you will be immersed in mile after mile of forests, lakes, lighthouses, Lake Superior, small mining towns many with colleges and universities.  Hiking, biking, rails to trails, fishing and hunting. Oh and tons of snowmobile trails and cross country skiing in winter.

View of Hancock Michigan

Quincy Copper Mine, now a museum

Michigan Technological University, Houghton
After a few more heavy showers the sky cleared up and after straightening out the outdoor carpets, cleaning off the side tables and chairs that had gotten thrown around during last nights big storm, I was peacefully reading a mystery book when I noticed a little critter coming down one of the stabilizer legs on the camper.  Now where do you think that squirrel came from and where was he off too.  

I got back to my book not thinking too much of it, when wiley squirrel came back with a mouthful of damp wet mulch.  Hmm someone was making a nest in my camper.  I opened one of the side compartments, then the front storage area and aha, there it was.  wiley squirrel had already chewed up a cotton tote bag and I could see serious signs of the mulch.  Opening up the cover over the battery compartment I discovered he’d already produce enough of the mulch to create a mighty fine den right on top of the battery.  All that wet mulch and a squirrel on top of a battery is not ideal safety wise.  I had visions of baked squirrel over smoking wood chips and eventually the camper going up in flames.  I didn’t particularly cherish the idea of a squirrel as a traveling companion either.  Out the den material went.  I sprayed down  the area with chemicals I hoped would disway further house building on the part of the little fella and went back to reading my book.

A short while later, I hear a loud chattering coming from behind me.  The squirrel sitting half way up a tree on a tree branch is now abusing me verbally with foul squirrel language which I won’t repeat here. But be assured it was mostly four letter squirrel words on his part.  Later, he attempted a circuitous route to get back to building his little den, upon which I sprayed him with said chemicals, getting him mainly in his tail as he leapt back into the woods.  I haven’t seen him since.  

had another nice evening with my sister Ann and friend Jim.  After getting back to Ann’s new apartment, she even had a birthday cake waiting for me.  Nice surprise.  I think it’s the first one I’ve had in 30+ years or more.  

Ann and Jim

The next day I was driving around and decided to check out the Quincy Copper Smelter down near the Portage Lake across from Houghton.  It would be open for tours in another hour, so I walked around the exterior of the site and tooks some great pictures of the place and some wildflowers and birch trees.  Our tour guide wasn’t all that familiar with the place but did give us an adequate tour.  A couple of the guys on the tour are actually Historical Archeologist who delve more into the recent past, like this copper smelting site.  They helped provide some insight into the workings of the smelter as well.  I was interested in some of the buildings other than the candy striped sandstone used on so many of the buildings.  The others were concrete and had well designed facades that made them look like large gray bricks or stone.  Interesting to see the length the original owners went to for a factory operation.  The assay office was perhaps the most complete.  Much work has been done over the past two years to stabilize and put new roofing on many of the buildings.  I mentioned how I had worked at a tourist site when I was in my teens called the Copperama, the site of another stamp mill.  The owner would craft beautiful bowls and other items out of copper at the end of the tour, all for sale of course.  I asked him one day where he got the copper from, as all the mines had closed down so many years earlier.  He said he’d gone to a dump or an old salvage yard and would pick up the copper tanks from old toilets.  The copper was thick and in nice sheets that he could cut and then form into those wonderful hand pounded bowls and trays.  

Well I don’t ever remember it going from the high 80’s a few days ago down to 56 like it did overnight.  I even had to turn on my electric fireplace.  Ann and Jim came over to the camper last night for dinner and a game of Mexican Train.  I went to Roy’s pasties and Baker and got a fresh loaf of NISU and my favorite U.P. dessert, Date Bars. A tad on the expensive side, but I figured if the dinner didn’t turn out, we could fill up on the bread and dessert.  Of course the salad and main course did turn out pretty good, so all was well.

On another visit to Ann’s new apartment, I’ve learned more about her community there.  It’s subsidised housing and is the very top of the line.  The place looks brand new and is kept in pristine condition.  Ann’s one bedroom apartment is on the top floor and her balcony looks out on the tops of all the trees.  it will be spectacular in the fall with all the fall colors.  

Ann has gotten to know many of the neighbors so it truly is a community of senior citizens enjoying a new chapter in their lives.  She even sits with many of them for an evening chat in one of the community rooms on the main floor, a circle of rocker/gliders gliding back and forth as someone tells another story from the past or present.   On Saturday they will have a potluck BBQ.  Another opportunity to get to know the neighbors.

I understand Jim has finally filled out the paperwork to get one of those apartments when one opens up.  Now I just hope he actually submits the paperwork. He’s currently living in a run down mobile home and it’s taking more effort each year to keep up and maintain.  Those snowy winters are not easy on homes up here in the U.P.

Ann and I drove up to Atlantic Mine to visit a shop that two sister run out of one of their homes.  They make rag rugs and stain glass pieces.  After looking at all the beautifully made rugs, I purchased a couple of them.  I have a great camper layout with vinyl floors covering the heavy traffic area and I thought it would be great to have a couple of the rag rugs down especially during the cooler months of the year.  It’s nice to have something handmade and from my hometown area. 

The two rugs I purchased
Well my last couple days in the area the weather has taken a turn towards fall type weather. Can you believe highs of 59-54-61 and lows of 46-46-50.  Time to turn on the fireplace.  Kind of hard to believe with it being the end of July.  It’ll be back up into the mid 70’s next week as I head across the U.P. in search of the elusive moose.  Will I find one.  You’ll find out next week.

Hancock shoreline homes and condos

formerly Suomi College, the first college I attended

Downtown Houghton

I used to live two blocks up the hill from downtown Houghton

more photos on PICASA


Kathy Schnedler said...

Doug what a great read. So want to hit the road! said...

I like the mill shots. Very interesting-looking someplace I'd go ghost-hunting...

walterterry said...

Another well written and interesting blog by Doug. If the UP only had mountains!

Keith Johnson said...

You caught some amazing shots. Definitely looks like some place I'd like to visit!

RV 123