up vacation...

(It smelled of Fruit Loops and urine - YUM!)
We began our vacation by making a stop at the Oswald Bear Ranch in Newberry. Jerome absolutely LOVES bears, so this was going to be a nice stop.

We were told by a couple of our members that they had stopped at the ranch while the rest of us were doing the Pictured Rocks Cruise. I guess they got out of their cars and started taking pictures. The owner came out and started yelling "if that isn't the rudest thing I've ever seen". And got into it a bit with some of the members. Oops...they were taking pictures for one of our games (the ABC game). Oh well, they decided not to give the ranch a chance after that.

(Jerome getting a big smelly kiss from the baby bear)
(not a concentration camp, but where the bears hibernate during the winter months)

(Black Bear in French)
However when we stopped, it was a whole different story. The owner was extremely nice to us and we talked about his son-in-law who speaks fluent French, etc.

We were headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula - neither of us had ever been up that far in Michigan. Most of the UP seems rather impoverished and sad. We drove through Christmas and stopped to take some pictures of angry Santa and Mrs. Claus.
I had read on the website Roadside America that there was a road side sculpture park called the LakenenLand Junkyard Art. I definitely wanted to stop to see that.

(Little political statements thrown throughout the park)

This was created by a guy that had been unemployed and wanted to do something creative with his free time. He used junk that he welded together to create his sculptures. They are all pretty cool. You can drive through this park. It seems that the Township of Chocolay is harassing this guy because of all the "junk", so he asks that if you want to do anything for him, to send a note to Chocolay and tell them how this park has effected you.

This place was also mentioned in an article I read (and stole) from a magazine in the doctors office (Travel and Leisure)...don't you HATE it when people do that? I know, me too.

We tried to take the same route the journalists took from the article and visit some of the places they mentioned in their article.

Our next stop was the Drive-In hamburger joint in Baraga. This is where we had our frosty mug sensation :).
The trees were changing colors much more in this area than any other area of Upper Michigan (even in the Keweenaw).
We had packed into our MINI the supplies required to camp; tent, sleeping bags, foam pieces to make it easier to sleep on the ground. So, the idea was that we were going to find a campsite and pitch our tent. We did, the McLain State Park. We were at site 90 right on Lake Superior - about 20 feet from the shoreline. It was getting late and we only had about an hour or so of daylight left.

We started putting up the tent - it was a little windy, so we used the stakes to keep it in place. Put the sleeping bags in and opened the window and door so that it would air out.
Jerome got us a couple of Mike's Hard Lemonades and we sat on the benches provided by the park and enjoyed what we could see of the sunset. We could see that off in the distance there were storms brewing, but they were way out at sea. We decided we'd go for a small walk on the beach and then decided that we needed to get some wood from the office so we could have a bonfire that night. We started heading back to the office when out of nowhere, the clouds opened up and it started raining...HARD. It was a sideways, very chilly rain.

Jerome ran ahead because I mentioned that the window and door was open in the tent. When I arrived, it was dark and I couldn't see where we had pitched the tent. Then I saw Jerome struggling. The wind was so strong that it knocked down our tent. The only thing saving it from blowing away (or into the neighbors fire) was a couple of the very flimsy stakes and the weight of the sleeping bags.

We stood there trying to pull the tent back up when Jerome noticed that one of the tent posts were starting to break. OK, that's it, let's just roll this puppy up and shove it into the car and see if we can get our money back.

Then we needed to find a room for the night. Tried to use the GPS to find something and she directed us to places that must have been closed for over 10 years. So, we decided to continue driving - there are motels everywhere along the way, so the first motel we landed on, we stopped. It was a smelly, messy motel. The man running it said not to mind the mess, that they were in the process of moving and getting out of the business. However, this mess was a mess that you can tell was not from "moving" - it was just how they lived. Anyway, he gave us a room in the back corner. It was set up strangely, a huge open area where the bed should have been and then the bed was shoved in the area where you needed to get into the bathroom. The ceiling tiles were bowing and there were dark wet spots on them...right over the bed.

Well, we used the open space to our advantage and pulled in the rolled up, wet tent and set it up in the motel to dry. The drop ceiling helped with hanging the portions of the tent. In the morning it was pretty dry.
I said to Jerome that if anyone was watching us, they would have to wonder what we had in this large rolled up thing that needed us both to bring into the motel room.


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