August 4, 2019

Bound for the Upper Peninsula

Squished with three to four siblings in the back "box" of our 1960s era white station wagon, the middle seat carrying the younger ones, and parents leading us in the front, trips to our other home in Marquette, commenced. The cherished seating was in the car's "box" - no bench, only a nice square floor space in which to arrange our pillows and blankets, books and toys. Elbows flew in our face or sides, grumblings of "he touched me" "she's looking at me" - just a part of the road trips with nine people.

The morning of our trip the excitement was palpable as we would wiggle with anticipation of a trip over The Bridge. "A quarter to who sees The Bridge first" my dad would shout out … causing us to jockey for the best position to see the farthest and win this treasured coin. 

Mom made bologna, mayonnaise and butter sandwiches to eat at a picnic table on the west side of the Cutwater Bridge on U.S. 2.  I Spy games made the time slowly fly. 

A sibling prone to car sickness broke the monotony with her occasional venture outside of the car to deposit remnants of meals. This sibling wrote:
One time after I threw up in a paper bag, dad stopped the car and put it on the porch of a house on the way somewhere north. Must be he was feeling a little devilish that time. We used to take the ferry and I only remember the railing with mom holding my hair out of the way while I puked over the side. Also, we got to eat cold beans out of a can and sometimes got some cherry Nehi pop.

Mom and dad would be unsympathetic with our constant outbursts as we jockeyed to get the best spot in which to view Lake Michigan's waves. They eagerly continued driving the slow 55 miles per hour speed limit, occasionally pushing the vehicle to 60 in the eagerness to reach our U.P. family, or to pass a truck around a curve causing mom to shout "Donald" as we all grabbed hold of the back of the seat and scream. Once "in a blue moon" our father would pull the car to the side of the beach sand covered road along U.S. 2 allowing us to run out and put our toes in the sand and water of Lake Michigan. Most time though, we flew past these beaches as dad was missile-propelled to reach our destination.

The l-o-n-g Seney Stretch was interminably straight for 25 horrifically l-o-n-g miles. We all shouted with joy when we saw the curve in the road indicating the end of the stretch. Shingleton, Munising, Christmas, Au Train, were next, bringing us closer to Marquette, where we would eat a supper of pasties piled high with ketchup and blueberry pie, made fresh by our dad's sister, Janice. 

Eight hours of driving had to be hard on my parents, more so with seven vocal kids, but we were all bewitched into quiet when our station wagon finally rounded a curve on Highway 28 and we saw the peninsula jutting out into Lake Superior with Marquette's sparkling lights reaching out as if to welcome us back. 

Family, comfort, routines, familiar smells, cowboy coffee, acceptance, laughter with our cousins, and talking were all special joys of this homecoming. Click your heels together … truly, there IS no place like home!


  1. Dad would also cover his eyes on the curves on U.S. 2, we'd scream!

  2. I still remember our screaming. Dad was kidding and only closed one eye, but impressionable kids only felt fear.


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