WIDMSV – The Fourth of July – Keweenaw Style

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WIDMSV? What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

There’s something special about a holiday in a smaller town. It’s especially nice when it’s Independence Day and the weather is sunny and clear. We spent the day in Copper Harbor and the evening at the Eagle River Inn. It was so much fun.

We started the day going for breakfast in Copper Harbor. The place we had intended to eat wasn’t opening for breakfast that day, so we went to another restaurant, The Tamarack Inn. The service was spotty (which is somewhat understandable on a holiday), but we could tell they were trying to please. I had the fritter, French toast. AWESOME! Didn’t think I’d have to eat again for a week, though. We watched the remainder of the parade (which, sadly, we missed most of). What we did see and hear was the fire department with their engines all decked out with flags and bunting, people on bikes, people walking down the street all dressed up in red, white and blue, and others with their dogs in costume. It was a hoot! How, clearly, Americana is that?



From there, we drove up to the spot where US 41 starts! US 41 is a highway that has been nearby for a large part of my life. I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. Not far from there is  where US 41 becomes the ‘famous’ Tamiami (Tampa to Miami) Trail. It also runs through Georgia very near where Jim and I lived for so many years. As you can see from the photo, it runs from the very tip of the Keweenaw all the way to Miami, Florida.

We also got a wonderful surprise while we were taking photos of the sign. A male American Redstart was singing very close by. Before we knew it, he popped into view. Right after that, a Northern Parula started calling from just across the road. We waited and, sure enough, he flew right overhead and continued singing. I guess it’s never too late to look for ‘love’ in the Keweenaw.


From there, we headed back south (well, honestly, there isn’t much further north we could go without being in Lake Superior). We stopped at an outlook where the Eagle River flows into the Lake. Such a beautiful spot!


There were some really gorgeous flowers growing right by the river. I just had to take a photo. Then we walked out onto the rocks and saw some spectacular lake views.



Walking back up to the car, we saw this male American Redstart singing away. He was right over head and didn’t move when I focused my camera on him.


Then we headed to Studio 41 (http://www.studio41copper.com ).


What a fabulous place! It was hard not to buy everything in the shop – well, except for the price tags. Thing is, they represent several local artists as well as the works of the owners.

One of the items we bought was this gorgeous copper bracelet. The photo really doesn’t do it justice, and my almost constant wearing has dulled the shine to a lovely patina.

Another purchase are these fabulous maple leaves! They have these sculptures in many sizes, but this spray is just perfect for the location on one of our smaller living room walls.


After that, it was off to The Berry Patch once again. We enjoyed our ice cream so much the day before, we just had to go back. Of course, there’s something intrinsically American about ice cream on the 4th of July. In honor of George Washington (well, not REALLY), I had the tart cherry sundae. What a treat! The sweet, smooth, velvety vanilla ice cream with the tart cherry preserves… HEAVENLY! And, here, I’d thought I wouldn’t have room after breakfast. I guess it must have been all that walking in the fresh air.


We took the drive along the Lake Superior shoreline. This is such a gorgeous drive. The day was clear and, once again, the lake was flat and calm. I would love to have the time to paint all the beautiful views.

We stopped along the way at yet another lighthouse. This was in Eagle Harbor. They had built an observation deck with these informational plaques.  I thought they were very interesting.



Just where the road curls away from the shoreline you come to The Jam Pot (http://www.societystjohn.com/store/ ). They are a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite. The monastery bakes amazing breads, cakes and cookies, but we were there for the jam. What jam it is! They have so many varieties that it is virtually impossible to list them all, but we made sure that we bought bilberry and thimbleberry. They also have a full line of sugar-free jam.


Right next to The Jam Pot is Jacob’s Creek Falls. It’s so nice to find such a pretty waterfall so easily accessible. Even though it had been a drier than usual summer, the falls had plenty of water and it was so nice to enjoy the cool air and listen to the sound of falling water on rocks.


Once back at the Eagle River Inn (http://www.eagleriverinn.com/ ) we dropped off our purchases and headed down for the barbecue. That smoker that they built sure puts out some delicious que! A great pulled pork sandwich and a beer? That says Independence Day to me! We headed out to the beach to stand in the water and enjoy the company of new friends. There were a couple with their parents from Minnesota there. They also had two of the funniest, most friendly dogs (a Weimaraner and a German Shorthaired Pointer). We had a grand time visiting with both humans and canines.

A group of children came down the beach with their own version of a Lakes freighter. Interestingly enough, there was the life-sized version out on the lake at the same time.

We were really enjoying our evening waiting for the band to set up and the fireworks that would begin around 11 p.m. That was until a big storm blew up! There was a small boat that had come to anchor off the Inn to enjoy the band and the fireworks, but he had to head off in a hurry to beat the oncoming rain and wind. Mother Nature had her own fireworks in store for us! I thought the tent that had been set up for the band was going to end up in Wisconsin, but some brave souls held on until the storm eventually passed. By this time, we were up in our room and had decided to call it a night. We figured that they’d have to wait until another night for the fireworks and we were leaving in the morning.


We should have had more faith in the hardiness of the partiers. Sure enough, around midnight, the storm had cleared out and the fireworks were set up. The band had not stayed, but they had radio so the party continued and the fireworks went off. We really had an excellent view from our room as we faced the beach.

I was a little sad that we weren’t staying longer in the Keweenaw. I know that we will definitely come back. We will absolutely make reservations at The Eagle River Inn, and – this time – we’ll be able to bring our “kids!” One thing I can pretty well assure you of, is that we won’t be doing our travel to the Keweenaw in the winter. We saw this marker on our way south.








Up Next: Escanaba (In Da Moonlight?) and Kipling


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Our Fantastic Journey – Day 3

Day 3 (Memorial Day): Nashville, TN

 Our last day in Nashville. It was rather surprising to find out that Nashville traditionally doesn’t have any large Memorial Day functions. All the little suburban areas are left to do their own things. This year, I’m sure due to the floods, we didn’t find anything of note going on.

 Our sightseeing target for the morning was Belle Meade Plantation. This was especially interesting to me as it was one of the earliest – and best – thoroughbred nurseries in the U.S. The entry foyer was jam packed with portraits of the stallions who stood at Belle Meade. Our guide told us how the master of the house would invite guests in and spend 4 hours extolling the virtues of each of the stallions. I imagine I would have been enthralled by the whole thing, but understood that the majority of those there that they would have run screaming. This was the home of Bonnie Scotland who is one of the most important American foundation sires. His blood runs (what little there is from all those generations back) in every Derby ENTRANT for the past 10+ years. The house was really very nice, but the BARN… Those horses had lights (gas) and running water even when the house barely had them. The stalls were absolutely enormous and so plush – even by today’s standards. We could surely see that the real focus of the whole endeavor here was on the horses.

From there, we went to lunch at a restaurant we’d read about in “Urbanspoon” (an on-line website that has reviews of restaurants in cities all over the place). Havana Grill is a Cuban restaurant that had received excellent reviews in Nashville. We both love Cuban food, so we were anxious to try it out. The restaurant is in a decidedly Hispanic part of town, so we expected we were in for a treat. The building was pretty non-descript, but the food… DEVINE! We had Cuban sandwiches (which we should have split because they are HUGE) and split some black beans and rice. Everything was so good! Going to pay attention to Urbanspoon suggestions from here on out.

On to the Ryman Auditorium! The Ryman Auditorium is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up, I’d never had any exposure to country music. The closest thing would be hearing the barn dance caller when we would visit Aunt Jean and Uncle Frank in North Carolina. In the evenings on weekends, we could hear the music and the calls from down the road. I always remembered that as part of the most idyllic times in my life, but had never cultivated an affection or real knowledge of early American music or country music. Of course, later on I’d heard of the “Opry” and many of the performers (such as Patsy Cline, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl, Johnny Cash, and others), but was still not really a fan. I guess I still am not a huge fan of “Country,” but I do love Bluegrass. The Ryman is the “home” of bluegrass music.

We took the full tour, and it was completely enjoyable. However, the highlight of the whole Nashville experience might just have been when Jim got up on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium. The look on his face was one of pure joy! He tried to get me to go up on stage with him (God bless his heart), but this was HIS moment. He really does play guitar pretty darned well, and this is his favorite music to play.

I think he looks right at home on that stage!

After our exhausting day, we went back to the hotel to pack and get ready for the continuation of our trip south. There was only one more dinner target we had to hit. Martin’s Barbecue! We had heard about this place on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” and it sounded like just the kind of barbecue we love. We were both anxious to try the “red-neck tacos” that they had featured on the television show. Their “taco” is a large, cornbread, fry-cake filled with massive quantities of pulled, smoked pork and topped with really excellent coleslaw! Again, I think there was easily enough food in one “taco” to split, but we didn’t and were completely stuffed. They also advertised that they had Cheerwine! Cheerwine is a memory from North Carolina. It’s still made in the small town in western NC.