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Archive for August 2nd, 2004

The Journey Home: Michigamme

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

The day after the wedding (Sunday), my relatives all met for breakfast. We were staying at the hotel at a casino (on the property of the LCO Reservation) and they had a very nice breakfast buffet. Mom and I were a little late after rushing to check out and move our luggage to the car… but we still got to talk to everyone and give them all a goodbye hug. We stayed later than anyone else. I was really interested in the photographs on the walls.

The photographs were historical prints of folks on the LCO Reservation, as far as I could tell. People in the pictures were wearing the most amazing beaded and/or embroidered garb! I was most interested in the clothing, which included a lot of geometric patterns that looked flowerlike or starlike, and an amazing assortment of leaf motifs. I had never seen anything like these leaf patterns before, they were lovely. It’s too bad that the photos were in black and white, I bet the colors were wonderful.

There were also pictures of people tanning hides, and grinding corn, and weaving. There were pictures of birchbark canoes, and at least three different types of indigenous housing… made from what looked like either hides and/or birch bark. and a few of them also at the bottom edge looked like they were made of twigs or thick grass woven together into thick mats. Most were shaped like a mound shape, some were almost rectangular, and there were a couple that were that cone-shaped home that we called a teepee (tipi?) when I was growing up. Mom, who was a first grade teacher for years, knew a little bit more about the housing types and knew the names of a few of them. Mind you, this is a very cold part of the country. It made me very glad I didn’t have to try to stay warm in that sort of housing… very very glad for my central heating system and solid walls!!! I just am not rugged. Perhaps they got stronger from this sort of outdoor living, but I know I could not do it.

Viewing all the photographs made it feel as if we were in a museum. Fortunately, we were there at the end of the breakfast shift and we were some of the last customers. That meant we got to look very closely at the photos. I was really happy we were able to do that. I’ll hope to find some time to look up more of their beadwork somehow. Maybe I’ll write and ask Kateri (the bride) if she knows any resources that are better than any others for that sort of casual research. I looked on the web and found the LCO Community College plus the US EPA site linked above. There must be more somewhere! I wish I had photos to show you for this part of the trip!!!

We hit the road at around 1:30 our time. It is really slow going in that part of the country. The best roads are two lanes, and you need to slow down to 35 miles per hour in every settled area. We were winding around near the Lake Superior shoreline so there were a good number of settled areas, although none of them were very populated. Often towns of this type really depend on income from speeding tickets to fund their police department, so you need to really go the speed limit or you will pay some steep fines and take even longer to get home!!!

On the way, we found ourselves at Michigamme again, my friend Marie’s hometown. I tried to reach Marie by phone but we could connect long enough to say hello and then we would lose the cell connection. I did tell her we were having lunch at the Moose Cafe in Michigamme but couldn’t ask her where to go to find her parents. We had a nice lunch and we did a little driving tour of the town. It’s quite a pretty place, I can see why people like it there. I guess there is a herd of moose that wander through from time to time and that attracts some tourist traffic, which surely helps the community.

We made our way slowly through the U.P. and crossed the Mackinac bridge just after midnight. We found another little mom-and-pop motel, not as wonderful as Sandpiper but just fine, a little way off the main road (which we figured would be quieter).

Monday morning I slept till about 9:30 and then mom got me up since we really needed to get me home and working again. This last motel did not have a phone in the room so I was not able to get my emails downloaded onto my laptop. Since I had just put up some sale items, I really wanted to be sure my customers were not waiting too long to hear from me.

Fortunately, as soon as we got to the lower peninsula, we had limited-access highways with a speed limit of 70. (In the U.P., the fastest we found was 55mph). When we woke up, we heard thunder several times and it was clear that the car had been rained on overnight… but we did not get any rain driving at all. In fact, the drive was wonderfully sunny and clear. It is clear it’s vacation time in Michigan… on Monday we found a lot of RVs driving south, probably folks who took long weekends to vacation up north. Several vehicles had license plates from other states, as far away as Florida.

We got home at 3:30pm, just in time for me to prepare my shipments for the post office. I was so glad to be home!!!

Photos (all taken in Michigamme): House with purple trim, quilt shop with garden, view of historic log cabin and town from side of hill, view of water, Moose Cafe from the outside, Fiesta tea set at Moose Cafe, classic car (Bellaire?) in parking lot at Moose Cafe.