Jett (jatg) wrote,

"Family History" or "So this is where I was born..."

On a road trip. Here's the latest entry:

Another beautiful day with no rain!

We awoke in Gooseberry Falls State Park and I talked Lisa into going on a run with me. Running alongside the shore and through some of the paths surrounding Lake Superior is pretty gorgeous.

We talked some more to some of the people we'd met the night before (Hi Sandy and Holly!) who were off on a hike to see the waterfall but we had to get going. We had a goal of being in Hancock/Houghton Michigan before night fell.

There was an aborted attempt to see the local lighthouse and then we were on our way.

A note about the Garmin GPS:
It has been most valuable and informative on this trip and I wouldn't have left without it. At the same time when roads in front of you are obviously closed and you're trying to figure your way around things that annoying British "RECALCULATING!" "RECALCUATING!!!" "MAKE A U TURN!" "TURN LEFT" when "left" puts you into a river or someone's long dirt makes you want to take that annoying little rectangle and hurl it out the window.

I woke Lisa up as we came to the Michigan border. She's been trying with varying degrees of success to snap pictures of the signs welcoming you to new states. We saw there was a visitors center up ahead and we pulled in.
I'm not sure I've ever really seen a STATE visitor's center but if I have Michigan's put it completely to shame. Inside was a room chock full of brochures and a very nice lady who started stuffing them into our hands. She had pulled out a map for Lisa and I pointed out where we were heading.
She started giving me stuff on Hancock, Houghton, the Quincy mining company, Michigan Tech and answered every question I had without missing a beat.
Man, I thought. Every state should make you feel so welcome.

Jett's DUH moment:
While I was being interviewed by Ed the day before I mentioned I had been born in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
"You're a YOOPER!" he exclaimed.
I knew people from upper Michigan were called that...mostly from the song "The Second Week of Deer Camp," but it wasn't until I was standing in the welcome center and looked up to see a bit "U. P." talking about the upper peninsula.

Jokes aside, driving through the upper peninsula is gorgeous. It is so green and there are trees on all sides. The little towns we drove through were really cute and charming but there was also something that felt a little sad, desperate and dying a little. There were a lot of abandoned houses and businesses...paint that was a little too faded, roofs there were too much in need of repair.
I knew Michigan was one of the states in the most financial disarray, disorder and depression but it made my heart sad to see the state it was in.

Before I realized it we were pulling into and through Houghton. I spotted 2nd street as we drove down from the highway and quickly looked for a place to turn right. We turned a few blocks ahead and turned around until we were back on 2nd. Driving up a few blocks Lisa spotted Douglas and we found a place to park.

This last New Years we all sat around my dad as he navigated around on Google Maps Street View and he showed us this very house. It was the first house I lived in but I have no memory of it since we left Michigan before I was even a year old.
Still though, I have seen some pictures of us in the inside and it was always just a bit of family lore to me.
"We once lived in Houghton Michigan. You were born in Hancock. Your father taught at Michigan Tech. Your mother hated living there. We moved to Idaho. "

The house looked dingy and the yard consisted of scrappy scrabbly weeds and some depressed looking flowers. The windows were dirty and the paint was peeling.

I knocked on the door and an asian man came to answer it.

I told him who I was and why I was there and wondered if I could possibly get some pictures and maybe please see the inside.

His English was heavily accented and he laughed and looked a little startled and embarassed. "Oh, it's so messy!" he said. "I am embarrassed!"
He told me he would go ask his wife and my heart sank a little.
It sank even more when he came back even more apologetic. "She says it is too messy. I am sorry."

I was sorry too.

Lisa snapped a picture of me with him and then a few of the exterior and it seemed as quickly as we had arrived we were leaving. I got even more sad as I pulled away.


I'm feeling better now. We're sitting at Joey's Seafood and Grill on Main Street/College Ave/Sheldon Ave and following the advice of my father I ordered myself a trout dinner. Hard to go wrong with a fish that was caught from the lake .25 miles away that very day.

I'm not sure what all we're going to see in this little area of my birth. The part I have the most connection we saw in about 10 disappointing minutes. I think we are going to go see the Quincy mine museum. I pictured up a few brochures of that...we'll probably drive through Michigan Tech just to see what took my family out this way and then we'll be wending our way through the rest of Michigan.

I wonder if I will ever pass through this way again.
Tags: road trip

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