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  1. #1

    Default Road Trip to Upper Peninsula of Michigan

    Urban’s Ashes - Day 1

    I left home at exactly 7 AM and drove to Aiken, SC to pick up Tom, my travel buddy for the trip to Lexington, Kentucky.

    Upon arrival at the McDonalds Restaurant, Tom produced a surprise. His 92-year-old father, Urban, passed away last week and his last request was that his ashes be taken back to his home in Wisconsin for interment. Therefore, we are now carrying Urban’s ashes with us; hence, the title for my journal – Urban’s Ashes.

    We made great time all the way to the Kentucky border. Then we stopped for a map and got into a conversation with the docent at the welcome center. He suggested that we go over a few miles to see Cumberland Falls, and then I saw a picture on the wall behind him of another waterfall. When I asked, he said it was “a few miles” from Cumberland.

    We took his advice and went off route to Cumberland Falls, a nice waterfall with a ¾ mile hike to it from the road. Cumberland Falls is the only waterfall in the Western Hemisphere that has a “moonbow”, a rainbow that shows at night when the moon is full. We could have stayed to see it, had we been inclined to do so, because that night there was a full moon in a cloudless sky. However, we had to move on.

    Then we headed for the other waterfall, called Yahoo Falls. It turned out to be about 25 miles from Cumberland in the wrong direction from our destination. In addition, the last few miles were over dirt road.

    When we finally reached the trail to Yahoo Falls, after 6 PM, we discovered that it required a hike of 1½ miles out and the same distance back to the parking lot. We took a pass on Yahoo Falls (and cursed the docent for misleading us.)

    The drive from Yahoo Falls to our hotel took over two more hours, and we arrived at 9 o’clock. On the way, we passed a Kentucky town called Somerset. There was a classic car show in town, and the people—hundreds of them—were sitting along the road on lawn cars or on the hoods or tailgates of their cars or trucks.

    The cars were parading up and down the street along with the regular traffic, so we were surrounded by several of them. It was reminiscent of the Subaru commercial where the couple drives a dirty car into a town and gets to be the first care behind a parade. What a hoot! This went on for about five miles before we broke out of town and could resume speed.

    We finally arrived at our hotel in Lexington at 9 o’clock.

    Oh well, it was nice scenery along the way…

    We found this sign at the bottom of the ¾-mile trail to Cumberland Falls. We could have driven down there in about two minutes instead of walking all that way.

    Cumberland Falls is no Niagara, but it does have one feature that no other falls in the Western Hemisphere has—a moonbow.

    I hope you can read the sign to learn about the moonbow. I wish we could have stayed to see it, but our hotel was still several hundred miles away.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I'd love to see that some day

    This is first I had heard of a moonbow. Pretty cool.


  3. #3


    Urban’s Ashes – Day 2

    We hit the road this morning at about 7 o’clock and drove north through Indiana. Indianapolis was a bit confusing, as it always has been for me, and we managed to make a wrong turn on the loop around the capital. However, it was only a short detour and a quick turnaround to get back on track.

    We went up the eastern side of the state on I-69, though my earlier planning had mapped out a route straight up on US31. We got to Amish Acres in the town of Nappanee, Indiana at 4:00 PM and watched a short movie about Amish life and customs. Then we toured the grounds and eventually went to the “Threshers Dinner” in the restaurant.

    Tom had never tasted shoofly pie, so I gave him a taste of mine. He wasn’t captivated by it—it’s an acquired taste—and he opted for blueberry pie for his dessert. The dinner was also great, with tender beef, chicken and all the trimmings, well worth the $18 price.

    We only had about an hour to drive to our hotel in Dowagiac, Michigan that night, and it had a hot tub, so I was happy. However, the place was a bit rundown, and I was a little disappointed at the accommodations. We were glad to be on the road the next morning.

    The farmhouse is very clean and commodious. It looks like it was meant for a large family.

    The Round Barn Theatre is the permanent home for the play “Plain And Fancy” which depicts the conflicts of the secular and Amish worlds in a humorous way.

    The Meat and Cheese Shop was wasn’t open when we got there, but it would have been nice to have bought some goodies there.

    The Soda Fountain and Fudgery was also closed up. All we could do was take pictures of the outside.

    The sign is self-explanatory. This is a nice farm to visit.

    Life in the slow lane is the way in Nappanee, Indiana

    The restaurant for the threshers dinner is a converted barn. The food was excellent. I even had shoofly pie for dessert.

  4. #4

    Default Urban's Ashes - Day 3

    Our day started out poorly, as I took a morning shower, only to find that the tub didn’t drain properly and I was standing in ankle deep bath water by the time I turned the water off. The hotel was not in the best of condition, and regretted having chosen it, since it was really off our route of travel. At least the rain that had threatened us yesterday had dissipated, and we drove in bright sunshine all day.

    Our plan was to visit several lighthouses along the Lake Michigan coast between Benton Harbor as the southern point and Northport at the top of the Lower Peninsula. We began early, but the time and distances to lighthouses were longer than advertised, and we were soon behind schedule. We only saw three before we realized that we had to change our plans. The whole upper part of the trip was skipped, and we made for the town of Grayling, Michigan to visit with Tom’s sister.

    With a two-hour visit behind us, we trekked onward to Traverse City where we were to meet with a high school alumnus and her husband. They live in the hilly country outside the main city. The trip up was pleasant, and the famous cherry orchards of Traverse City didn’t disappoint us; they surround the entire area.

    Dan and Barbara hosted us for the two nights we were in Traverse City, and took us to some good restaurants, which abound there. Whitefish, the staple for northern Michiganders, was on the menu, and we followed that with some ice cream at a place called Moomers. It had been voted the #1 ice cream parlor in the country a few years ago, and it lived up to expectations. There were even some dairy cows in a pasture to look at while we tickled our taste buds.

    Some fine local wines, and a homemade variety that Tom had brought with him highlighted a long chat after we arrived back at the home. We finally retired around midnight after a pleasant evening of dining and conversation.

    White River Lighthouse was pretty, but it was closed to tourists and far off-route.

    By the time we arrived at Little Sable Point Lighthouse—pronounced “sahble”—we discovered that we were about two hours behind schedule for the day. We didn’t go up in it, though it was open for tours.

    A couple of people were up in the light tower.

    We did get a few pictures of this pair of swans nesting in the marshes near the lighthouse. There are some eggs in the nest, too.

  5. #5

    Default Day Four

    Urban’s Ashes – Day 4

    The day started off with the aroma of coffee and breakfast. Our hostess, Barbara, had put together a strata the day before and refrigerated it overnight. She baked it in the morning and the smell was terrific!

    In case you don’t know, a strata consists of a French or Italian bread loaf, cut in half horizontally and placed in a baking pan. Then the scrambled eggs, sausage, Pepper, mushrooms, onions and any other meat or veggie you want to place in there are layered with cheese and the whole thing baked. It is a yummy dish.

    After our sumptuous breakfast, we left for our first tour, the Music House Museum in Acme, Michigan. We didn’t know what to expect, but we certainly weren’t disappointed. The museum holds a rare collection of mostly hand-operated musical players that imitate the piano, violin and even a whole band of different instruments. Our guide, named Tom, was very knowledgeable and not only explained the various instruments, but also “played” several of them for us.

    The tour lasted for two hours and culminated with the most magnificent instrument of all, a 30-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall amaryllis, which played as a band with many instruments and movable panels and such. It is one of only a few left in the world.

    Thoroughly entertained, we next went to lunch at a Thai restaurant and had a very spicy and tasty pasta dish. That was followed by a trip up the Leelanau Peninsula to the town of Northport and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse.

    Next we headed south to Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park along lake Michigan. Barb, Tom and I headed up the dunes toward the beach while Dan stayed in the parking lot. It turned out that Dan was the smart one, as it was a three-mile walk through sand and over high dunes to the lakefront. I only made it to the top of the second dune, and Barb got about two-thirds of the way out before she quit.

    Only Tom made it all the way out and back. However, he left his cell phone with Barbara, and she promptly called Dan to request that we go into town and pick up a six-pack of beer. Dan and I drove about ten miles into the town of Empire, got the brew and had it waiting for her and Tom when they arrived back at the parking lot.

    We then drove about two miles south and up a road that accomplished almost the same objective as the hike. It was the easier way to get over the dunes and see the lake, and it only took about 10 minutes, where the walk had consumed two hours. Live and learn…

    Dinner was at a jumping place called The Boone Docks, and then it was back to the house for an evening of chatting and wine tasting. Tom and I had brought some of our homemade wines and Barbara had some very nice commercial ones. She even gave us a bottle of “chocolate Lab” wine from Pleasant valley winery in Hammondsport, NY to take with us.

    Day four was a total success, and we are looking forward to the trip to Mackinac Island tomorrow.

    Tom, our docent at the Music House Museum, was a good speaker and he played several of the player pianos and band instruments for us. Here you can see the effort it took to play this piano player

    The Link player piano used a continuous band of perforated paper (you can see it coiled up at the top) and would play for forty-five minutes without repeating a song. Edwin Link, inventor of the Link Trainer for pilots and Howard Hughes of “Spruce Goose” and movie fame invented it; aviators in the music business.

    Here is a Wurlitzer theater organ manufactured in Tonawanda, NY at the former factory that I just drove past less than two weeks ago at my high school reunion. It’s a small world.

    This huge amaryllis just barely fit in the museum. It played a whole band of instruments with moving panels and a cacophony of sound. Believe it or not, it sounded like a full band was playing.

    The Grand Traverse Lighthouse was a fine example of the 114 lighthouses that surround Lake Michigan.

    I can’t visit Traverse City without taking a picture of the world famous cherry trees. They produce a huge crop, and some years much of it is left to rot to keep prices up for the growers. I wish I could have brought some home to make wine.

    This was the start of the three-mile hike over the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park. I made it over this one and the next, but that was it for me. Tom said there were ten in all, and they were all as big as this one.

    Our host and hostess, Dan and Barbara, were great people and showed us Traverse City and the surrounding area. They opened their home and their hearts to us like we were family. If they ever wanted to run a B&B, they would be good at it.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-13-2010 at 04:52 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Whoa! Those cherry trees look great

    Yeah, those are some mighty fine looking cherry trees!

    Nice report thus far.


  7. #7

    Default Urban's Ashes - Day 5

    Urban’s Ashes – Day 5

    The day started with that glorious breakfast again, this time punctuated by fresh raspberries, and then we were all off on our separate ways. Dan and Barbara were on the way to Chicago, while tom and I were heading up the coast to Mackinac City to catch the ferry to Mackinac Island. Mackinac is pronounced “Mackinaw” and is sometimes spelled that way, too. The natives prefer the ‘c’ ending.

    Our first stop was in the town of Charlevoix to see the world’s largest cherry pie—well, the pie was actually baked in 1976, so it isn’t a real one anymore. Charlevoix held the record until 1987, when Traverse City baked a larger one. That record stands to this day.

    We stopped twice in Petosky, once to see the resort area and marina, and then again to search the beach for a Petosky Stone. They are plentiful, but hard to find, because they look pretty much like a regular stone. However, if you cut one in half and polish the inner sides, you get a beautiful colored coral. The Petosky Stone is like a geode, but without the void in the middle.

    Anyway, we didn’t find any Petosky Stones, and I was obliged to purchase one at a gift shop later in the day.

    Harbor Springs was next, but there was some sort of town carnival going on, and we were detoured around the town. Just outside of town, there was a sign for “the tunnel of trees.“ We never saw anything that looked like a tunnel, but we did drive for many miles through a deep forest to the town of Cross Village. Our goal, the Legs Inn, is a famous restaurant that is both eclectic and has good food. Even though we had gone slowly up the coast, we were an hour too early for the restaurant. It wouldn’t open until 11 AM.

    An oft-repeated phrase that Tom uses on this trip is, “It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission,” and he lives up to that cliché. There was an employee entrance at the side, and Tom sidled on in to take some pictures. Nobody challenged him, so I didn’t see him for about twenty minutes. He got his pictures, which I can now share.

    We opted to pass on the lunch at Legs Inn and continued on to Mackinac City. Once there, we purchased tickets for the Star Line ferry and boarded for a fast trip out to the island. There are three ferry lines, and each vies for the fastest trip, though I don’t know why. The views are magnificent from the bay.

    The only modes of transport on Mackinac Island are horse carriage, bicycle and shanks mare (walking). We took the carriage ride and saw all of the attractions in about 2 hours. Then we did walk over to the Grand Hotel and down through the town to the harbor.

    The Grand Hotel is not to be missed, and it would be great to stay there if only I could part with some big bucks to do so. It even costs $10 to walk in the door, though Tom and I did sneak into the lower shop level for another few pictures.

    The ceilings above the long, long porch of the Grand Hotel are painted sky blue because the birds are fooled into thinking it is open sky above and unsafe to build their nests. Whoever thought of that was a genius!

    The fast trip back to the mainland was different. The captain warned us prior to leaving the dock that there had been some spray reaching the upper deck on the trip across. He cautioned those of us who were on that open deck to consider going below. I, of course, ignored that advice, as I wanted the great view again. The results were disastrous! By the time we reached the dock at Mackinac City, I was completely drenched. The water was cold, and the breeze was stiff, but I laughed the whole way as wave after wave hit me. I had to place my floor mat on the seat to keep from soaking the upholstery in the car.

    We crossed the Mackinac Bridge and stopped briefly at Bridgeview Park to snap a few photos of the five-mile-long bridge across the Strait of Mackinac. This denizen was ignoring the sign and begging for food there.

    There was one more sight to see before we checked in at our hotel in Sault Ste Marie. We wanted to visit the Soo Locks on the St Mary’s River. We got there too late to watch a freighter go through, but we did see a small service boat transit from the lake Huron side to the Lake Superior side, a 21-foot rise. The whole process took only about 15 minutes, and we were able to view it from a raised platform by the McArthur Lock.

    The hotel was a welcome sight, and we took a well-deserved rest to prepare for the next day’s journey across the Upper Peninsula.

  8. #8

    Default Urban's Ashes - Day 6

    Today was our first day on the Upper Peninsula, and the schedule was full. I wanted to go along the coast all the way up to Whitefish Point before turning west through the heart of the peninsula. The goal for tonight is Marquette, a coastal town on Lake Superior, but prior to that, we have lots of lighthouses and waterfalls to see, and a sunset cruise on Lake Gitchigoomie.

    We left Sault Ste Marie and headed directly to the Point Iroquois Light Station at the head of the St Mary’s River. We arrived there too early for anyone to welcome us, but there were some people there clearing away some invasive plants, and we conversed with them. Our tour of the grounds was unobstructed, and we both took several pictures of the nice white lighthouse and the keepers house attached to it.

    Next it was on to the town of Paradise—I always wanted to go to Paradise—and then up to Whitefish Point. There have been many shipwrecks in the vicinity including the one made famous by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot, the Edmund Fitzgerald. It sank in a storm on October 10, 1975. The Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point has the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald and it is rung 29 times every October 10th to commemorate the souls lost.

    There are several buildings and, of course, the lighthouse at Whitefish Point. Only the lighthouse is not open to the public, but the others in the complex are open by fee only, and we didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so we passed on the tour.

    Tahquamenon Falls was next on the agenda. It is only about 25 miles from Whitefish Point. There is a lower falls (7 of them to be exact) and an upper falls with a road and a hiking trail between them. My friend Barbara forewarned me that the hike is strenuous and long, so we drove between the two. Even so, we worked up a pretty good thirst, so it was our good fortune that there is a brewery and restaurant on the grounds by the upper falls.

    Munising Falls

    Alger Falls

    Wagner Falls
    After a refreshing brew and a light lunch, we departed once again for a long drive across to Munising. It is just about at the center of the UP, and is the launching site for the cruise we had booked. We arrived ahead of schedule, so we had plenty of time to explore the many waterfalls in the area first. We were able to see Wagner Falls, Alger Falls, Munising Falls and Miners Falls before our 7:30 departure from the dock.

    The sunset cruise To Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore turned out to be a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride up the coast and back. It was a great ride, and Tom and I took a total of about 100 pictures between us. (No wonder it’s named Pictured Rocks) And even though it had been threatening rain all afternoon, we actually did see the sun set over Lake Gitchi… Lake Superior.

    Arriving back at the boat dock at 10:10, we headed out for our hotel in Marquette, a forty-mile drive away. Strange, but it never got fully dark until just after 11PM. I guess we really are “Up North”.

    Tomorrow we go even further north up to the Keweenah Peninsula to the town of Copper Harbor. I can’t wait!

    This is Castle rock at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The roots of the lone pine are stretched across the chasm to nourish it.

    This rock formation resembles the sterns of a fleet of sail ships.

    This is called “The Vase” and it looks like a flower vase with trees in it.

    This is the origin of the name Pictured Rocks. They look like an artist painted them, and many people see buildings, trees, and even people in the colors of leached minerals. This scenery runs for about 42 miles from Munising to Grand Marais, Michigan along Lake Superior. (The native Indians called it “Lake Gitchigoomie.”)

  9. #9

    Default Urban's Ashes - Day 7

    Today is our day to travel to the top of another peninsula that extends off Michigan’s
    Upper Peninsula into Lake Superior. It is called the Keweenaw Peninsula, and at the far
    end is the town of Copper Harbor, so named because copper was once the main export
    from this peninsula and the harbor there was a major shipping point. Today, Copper
    Harbor is where the ferry leaves for Isle Royale National Park, a 55-mile, half-day ride.
    We won’t be taking the ferry on this trip, but it is there for those who wish to make that
    The day started out badly, because we missed the stop for Canyon Falls on the way up
    to the town of L’Anse. We did stop at a visitor center in L’Anse to inquire about the falls,
    but decided to see it on the way back to the hotel later today. The girl did give us good
    information and maps for our continuing trip, however, so the stop wasn’t wasted.
    We breezed through Houghton and Hancock, two towns joined across the Keweenaw
    Waterway by a vertical lift bridge. I had hoped to photograph the bridge in action, but
    there were no boats in the channel when we crossed to Hancock.

    We took a side trip from the small town of Ameek on Five Mile Point Road and stopped
    at the Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn. This is a very isolated and pretty lighthouse that was
    built in 1917, later decommissioned, and then converted into a Bed and Breakfast. It is a
    little pricey, but a wonderful place for a honeymoon or a weekend getaway.
    Since we were already on the coast, we changed our planned route and went up to
    Copper Harbor on M26, Lakeshore Drive. That took us through Eagle River and Eagle
    Harbor. Eagle Harbor hosts the Society of St John Monastery and their enterprise, a
    small shop called The Jampot. The brothers (in monk attire) bake all manner of breads,
    pies and cakes, and can jellies and jams that are truly “out of this world!”

    Stepping into the little shop, we were immediately overwhelmed by the aroma of baked
    goods. How could anyone resist that temptation? Tom and I bought a fresh-baked
    muffin to split—it easily weighed a pound—and I bought a piece of whiskey-soaked fruit
    cake to take home. The place does sell online, if you care to try some of their goods.

    The store is between a cascade named Jacobs Falls and a beautiful building, which is
    the monastery. We took several pictures of both before departing.

    After reaching Copper Harbor, we found the turnoff for the Brockway Mountain Drive, a
    scenic hill road that overlooks the lake and several other inland lakes as well. The drive
    is ten miles long, but I found that only the first four miles out of Copper Harbor were the
    scenic part. There were numerous overlooks, and even a little gift shop/snack stop at the
    crest. The remaining six miles down to the Lakeshore Drive were through forest, with no
    overlooks and little new scenery, so I wish we had turned around at the top and gone
    back to Copper Harbor that way.

    The view from Brockway Mountain Drive over Copper Harbor is only marred by the tree in the middle.

    This view is looking north from the crest of BMD.

    Facing south at the crest, Lake bailey and Eagle Harbor are in view. All views are good.

    A stop for lunch in Copper harbor was followed by the drive down the third scenic drive,
    US 41. It goes down the middle of the peninsula. I found it less attractive than the other
    two roads, but it was the fast way out and back down to Hancock.
    On the trip back to Marquette, we did stop at Canyon Falls, the site we had missed in the
    morning. It was a rest stop along the highway, and there was a trail leading to the falls.
    It turned out to be about half-a-mile long with a surprise ending. The falls was visible
    only from the side above the brink, and the trail seemed to end right there. I learned
    later that the trail actually does go beyond the sign that says, “Trail ends”, but you have
    to know how to get to the continuation of the trail. It is a few yards away and not
    marked, but the locals know about it.
    We arrived back in Marquette in time to go to a fine place, the Vierling Restaurant and
    Marquette Harbor Brewery,
    Marquette_Michigan.html where I had another great filet of whitefish and Tom enjoyed a
    salmon salad. Then it was back to the motel for a soak in the hot tub.
    All in all, it was a great day of touring and dining. We even found a gas station up on the
    Keweenaw Peninsula run by Native Americans that sold gas for fifteen cents less than
    the prevailing price in the area. You can bet that we tanked up there.

  10. #10

    Default Urban's Ashes - Day 9

    Urban’s Ashes – Day 9
    Well, the first thing I have to relate is that we are now no longer carrying Urban’s Ashes.
    We finally delivered them to Tom’s brother, John, last evening. So, may I say here,
    “Rest in peace, Urban.”
    We started out down the coast toward Milwaukee and made a little diversion to the
    suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin—Tom taught me how to say that, “Wis-CON-sin”—to
    have breakfast with a friend and former employer of his at a Denny’s. We enjoyed an
    hour or so of good conversation and then were back on the road to Chicago and points
    Now here I have to be a bit critical of my travel buddy, Tom, and I hope he won’t take too
    much offense. My GPS had us routed down through Chicago, and since it was Sunday
    morning, I thought we would have been fine. Tom disagreed and routed us around
    Chicago on I-294.
    Well, I missed the first tollbooth, because I was driving in the center of the road and
    happened to be in the I-Pass lane. That got me really upset, and I had thoughts that I
    would arrive home and find an arrest warrant waiting for me.
    I stayed to the right for the rest of the loop and stopped at the other four tollgates. At
    one, I confessed that I had neglected to pay the toll, and the woman handed me a pink
    ticket and said I could pay later. Whew, that a relief!
    (When I got home a few days later, we sent the ticket in with a check for $2, the
    maximum toll for those who couldn’t determine the actual amount. I hope that gets me
    off the hook.)
    We skirted Chicago, and entered Indiana on the way to Indianapolis. Everything was
    uneventful from then on, and we eventually passed the Indy 500 racetrack—I never did
    see it, but it was there on the left somewhere—and continued on down into Kentucky.
    We stopped for the night at a town named Horse Cave, Kentucky, at a somewhat
    questionable, but comfortable hotel. I realized when we got into the room that I hadn’t
    taken a single picture. There were five lighthouses that I had planned on visiting along
    the Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan, but as it turned out, we never saw the coast at all,
    and spent our time trying to get through the metropolitan areas.
    Since I didn’t take any pictures on day 9, I have decided to use the space to show some
    of the pictures you haven’t seen. I think you’ll enjoy them.

    This is my “dream retirement home” on the Upper Peninsula. We couldn’t resist
    taking a picture of this collapsed building.

    This is the South Haven Lighthouse in Michigan. I don’t really believe that is the
    keeper’s house out there on the left, unless he’s a midget. (It’s actually the fog
    building, where the foghorn is kept)

    This is a hand-carved walnut, gold leaf player piano that belonged to Mr. And Mrs.
    Frederick Fisher—he of “Body by Fisher” fame at General Motors. Even the piano
    bench had the gold leaf on it. This was one of the first player pianos that had foot
    pedals to produce expression to the music it played. The Music House Museum
    has the only one in existence.

    These stone pieces are examples of the lighthouse keeper’s hobby at Grand
    Traverse Lighthouse.

    This is my friend, Barbara, making the phone call to request a cold beer to be
    waiting for her on her return trek over the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes. We got
    her a six-pack.

    We explorers made it halfway to the North Pole on this trip, and here’s the proof!

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