With Tom safely tucked into school I headed for Moose Lake SAP in Moose Lake MN just south of Duluth. Upon looking at the map more carefully I realized I should have gotten off forty miles back and stayed in St Croix SP on route 48. So I did a U-Turn and drove back to Rt 48 and followed it to WI 77 to 53 North. I traveled through the lovely St Croix Scenic Riverway, making many stops to enjoy the beauty. I followed 53 to Lake Nebagamon, had lunch on the lake. A lovely, quaint community. Looks a fun summer destination. I advanced to Brule and Rt 2 East to Ashland where I saw Lake Superior finally. I purchased some smoked trout, whitefish and fresh lake trout. Can’t get enough of this fine delicacy. I continued up the road to Washburn and off on to County C to Big Rock Road and to a cute little rustic SP on the Sioux River. I used it as a base for the two days I stayed to explore this peninsula and the Apostles Islands. While flying in a plane over these islands in the early 60’s JFK was convinced by Rockefeller to make them a National Monument. Nixon made them the National lakeshore they are now. What a wonderful power the President has to designate land as National Monuments for us. Sand Bay is the destination for this peninsula to capture all the beauty of this area. Cornucopia is a hot spot for kayakers who wish to see the shoreline better and to see the caves. After being reintroduced to the Lake, I headed for the Porcupine Mountains on the Upper Peninsula. I found Presque Isle SP right on the Presque River that flows into Lake Superior. I took a site overlooking the Lake and looking due west. The sunsets rival any I’ve seen that set over water including Key West, Nantucket Island, and the west coast. Lake Superior is a wonder. I finally got a bike ride in and will stay here for four nights and enjoy the hiking, biking, bathing, and beauty of the Lake. Next to my campsite is a “Stairway to Lake Superior.” Presque Isle in the Porcupines is a must stop on every campers’ bucket list.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Tommy and I set off from my home in Berlin, Md on August 18 at 10 AM heading for Ledges State Park in Boone, Iowa. I arrived at Ledges on August 20 at 7 PM. I had dropped Tom off at ISU at 6 PM for orientation for Transfer students. Tom wanted a college life, a Greek Life, so he transferred from Springfield College to Iowa State University. He did his homework and got into a Frat house and he got tickets for football and basketball games. His dreams come true. Oh and he is majoring in Hospitality and Culinary. Upon entering Iowa, the state greeting sign proclaimed its motto: “Fields of Opportunities.” Miles later, Tommy reflected on the significance of the state motto and his situation.
10 AM we leave and follow Rt 50 across Bay Bridge to 97 to 70 to 68, which took us from the most eastern part of Maryland to the most western part of Maryland, to 79, which took us through WV to PA. Along the way we stopped at a local grill and had great food. I’m sorry I forget its name and town. If it comes to me I’ll post it. We camped in Ryerson Station State Park. We were the only campers.
Campers you might ask. Or not. Whatever. I have camped all of my life. Now I own a Scamp 16 foot deluxe travel trailer or a caravan. I consider it my first home and Berlin my summer cottage. We barbequed and had a fire and drank beer. Like the old days, familiar. I love how he takes over the cooking. He has been camping from the day he was born. It is natural to him. He went to bed before midnight and woke with the sun, a new experience for him right now in his life. He turned into a great navigator and learned a bunch about geography along the way.
On the second day we left PA returned to WV for a short leg and arrived in Ohio and followed 70 all the way to 74 in Indianapolis. 74 is a lovely road which we followed to our next camping site in DeWitt, IL. Clinton Lake SRA is near a nuclear power plant that uses the Lake to cool the coils and creates a lovely waterfall of steaming hot water that becomes a stream that meanders until t is cooled to reenter the lake.
Back on the road we connect to 80 at the Iowa border and Tommy is greeted with a message when he reads the welcoming sign to Iowa, “Fields of Opportunities.” After dropping Tom off at Orientation at ISU at 5:30, I went to Ledges SP and set camp. He called at 11 and we had dinner late and he crashed. Friday he spent on campus getting bank setup and other stuff in preparation for moving in on Saturday. After another good evening we were set for move in at 8:30. We were the first ones there. He was on the third floor of the frat house in a four-man suite, two bedrooms and a common room. Sweet. We did the usual stuff, unpacking, trip to Walmart, building this and setting up that. I was out of there by noon as the suite mates went to Walmart for more stuff. I went back to the camp and took a nap. I took a quick trip into Ames to visit the Olde Main Brewery, which has an outstanding Scottish Ale and a very decent Pale Ale called Clone Ale. When I got home about 7 it started to rain, which was expected and I was already ready. I was glad I was home because this was a terribly horrendous thunderstorm with great peals of thunder and large crackling lightning bolts. The water that came down flooded the campgrounds. My awning was repositioned to allow that amount of water to cascade off the corner a created a waterfall. Most the tenters bugged out leaving their tents for recover the next day. One tent was flattened.
At 4 in the morning I woke freezing. I donned my cashmere sleeping sweater, another blanket, and turned on the heat. In no time I was back to sleep and didn’t rise till 8 in a very cozy Scamp. The campgrounds began drying out as a strong wind made the hanging table cloth and tarp used to keep wood and fireplace dry dance beautifully to the music of the wind. Sunday is a day to rest and I rest and read. I start my road trip tomorrow. Heading north on 35 and will camp south of Duluth. It was the campsite I used when I left Duluth last May to meet Tom at ISU. Then I spent two glorious weeks at end of May on Hwy 61 from Duluth to Portage. This time I hang a right and plan to follow the Lakes on American side to south of Buffalo and head to Seneca Falls down to Ithaca and meander over to CT to see my granddaughters and then head home no earlier than Sept 21. That’s tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Dinner at 6, back to frat by 9 and we part company until Thanksgiving. Fields of Opportunities, Carpe Diem, son, Seize the bloody Day, Tom!
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Liting out for the territory. I’ll be driving my son to college in Iowa and then heading north to Duluth, where I was a couple of months ago, and head east to follow the Lakes on the American side to Buffalo and then to Seneca Falls and down to Ithaca as I head back home to Assateague by the end of September or early October.
Friday, August 14, 2015
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison is a welcome new entry by this fabulous writer. It is about love and not race, “Booker cut her off. ‘Scientifically there’s no such thing as race, Bride, so racism without race is a choice. Taught, of course, by those who need it, but still a choice. Folks who practice it would be nothing without it.’” In spite of this intellectual dialogue between two of our main characters, race is an important theme in this new novel. When Bride is born, she is black as coal and this shocks her mother who could pass as white. Both Booker and Bride grow up with their own personal burdens all based on love, seeking it and not having it until they meet each other.
This is a story we all can tell and know. “A city girl is quickly weary of the cardboard boredom of tiny rural towns.” What a perfect metaphor Morrison has created here about love and how it is depicted in so many of these rich characters. The fun of this book, unlike previous Morrison tomes that take us savagely through the brambles, this one is more gentle, even soothing as familiar themes are worked but with a gentle hand, sometimes with a salve. It is more comfortable as we in our latter years reflect on our own rough road.
How do we move beyond the rough patches and shed them? Do we? Should we? Morrison has an answer and tells it beautifully. “They will blow it, she thought. Each will cling to a sad little story of hurt and sorrow – some long-ago trouble and pain life dumped on their pure and innocent selves. And each one will rewrite that story forever, knowing the plot, guessing the theme, invent its meaning and dismissing its origin. What waste.’’ Will the cycle ever be broken as we go from generation to generation? Will a new child break that cycle or merely continue it? Bride’s mother’s response is “Good luck and God help the child.”
What a treat to be bathed in such genius. Thank you, Ms Morrison.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
After reading Into the Wild and his exposés on the Mormons, Jon Krakauer has always had my attention. Into Thin Air is his account of his ascent of Mt Everest and about those who succeeded and failed on this mountain in 1996. For me this is a sad tale of hubris, a lack of morality, and compassion for one’s fellow human. In a sport where teamwork is more important and crucial than any other sport, this lot in all expeditions certainly showed us the worst in mankind. I was disgusted by the behavior of almost everyone in this story and know I could never trust any of them even crossing a street. The poor Sherpas who had to deal with these assholes. No I have no use for mountain climbing and after reading this sad pathetic tale, I am even more discouraged by the sport. When money talks louder than common sense, well we know the endeavor is out of control and possibly dangerous. Also, why were there so many people on this mountain at the same time? Money!!!!
Those who had common sense survived. Those others who did survive in spit of not showing common sense most likely caused the deaths of others. Hubris is a dangerous companion. In any sport, when one breaks a rule, than bad things usually happen. Lots of rules were broken and the result was tragic.
I’m sure after nineteen years this adventure may have taught others valuable lessons.
Friday, August 7, 2015
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell is the creator of Rambo. In this novel he creates quite the motley crew of police investigating murders in Victorian England that suggest Queen Victoria is the eventual target. Thomas De Quincey, an opium eater, likes to tell people his mother added the De to make them more distinguished. The implication is that the opium gives him super powers of deduction, reasoning, and insight. He consumes enough opium in a day to kill a horse, literally. His daughter, Emily, is the scribe of the group, caretaker of her father, and love interest of the third member, a London policeman, Ryan, who has been wounded in an earlier incident involving Thomas and Emily. The fourth member of this odd quartet is another policeman, who is older, Becker.
Revenge is a horrid stimulus. The senseless death of his father, mother, and sisters starts in motion for the surviving son a cold and calculating series of events to avenge his family, fifteen years after the fact. The history lessons of this novel make the reading so enjoyable. The characters are characters and this historical fiction is riveting. Horrid because it can go sideways so quickly that the original intent is lost. It the end it is just horrible irony.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The Mysteries of Soldiers Grove by Paul Zimmer is a wonderful love story. He and she meet in an assisted living home and get another chance at love, adventure, and life. He, Cyril, is a collector of lives. He read as a child because his parents were drunks. She, Louise, was a French lass who traveled to a Wisconsin farm with her new American farmer husband after the war. This is a lovely story of reinvention, rejuvenation, rejoicing in life.
Cyril is overwhelmed when he tells Louise she looks like Christine de Pisan and she then reports about her life to Cyril, the giver of lives. He is so blown away he asks her to marry him. As I came to know Cyril, this was not only not he; he has never been with a woman. He is just flabbergasted that she knows this woman. Her response: “Of course, I ignored his proposal, but I must, however, advise him later to be more careful about such frivolities. Old women can be very dangerous – in ways different than younger ones.”
They are meant for each other and complement each other perfectly. This is a heartwarming story of love, trust, and concern for another in the twilight years.