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Vacationation Part II

Recently I told you a little bit about our vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we enjoyed nature’s calming influences along with a number of doses of history to ponder.

After four days at home, our cats gave us that “there they go again” look, and we packed our bags and headed out again, this time to our nation’s capital. This time we drove to a bus which took us to a train where we spent the night getting what sleep we could muster.

In addition to visiting with our daughter while in D.C., we, not surprisingly, went to museums. The Corcoran Gallery has an exhibit on war photography which is quite moving, as you’d expect. It was broken down roughly into before, during, and after sections, and the people who chose the pictures did a great job, in my opinion, of telling the story of war in a non-sensationalized way, but it was all the more powerful because of it.

We also spent several hours at Arlington Cemetery, keeping with the theme, and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. The soldiers on that guard detail really know the meaning of respect and tradition.

We also trekked to the place where more recent burials have taken place, specifically to see the graves of the members of Seal Team Six who were killed after word of their involvement in the killing of Osama Bin Laden was revealed. We didn’t talk much for a while after seeing those tombstones.

One of the highlights to me was our trip to the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. We’d been to the building on The Mall, but this one had plenty of interesting planes and rockets and helicopters (Oh my!) to look at and learn about.

A big part of being in the D.C. area is the constant energy that all the residents (from every part of the world) and visitors (from every part of the world) bring. For some the area is one of economic opportunity, since unemployment is relatively low due to all the government expenditures. For others, their trips to D.C. are a pilgrimage to the history of freedom that our country represents to the rest of the world. We may take it for granted, and not guard it as rigorously as we should, but people from other nations seem inspired by what our nation has accomplished.

So, vacation number two was far from relaxing, but it was energizing. And tiring, if that’s not too much of a contradiction. I can’t look at the White House or the Capitol – no matter who is in charge – without having an emotional response. I’ll take that home with me, and maybe take some inspiration from it until the next vacation comes our way.

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Vacationation

This summer we had two fairly short vacation trips, with four days in-between to regroup and do laundry. We really didn’t plan to do our trips so close together, but it just worked out that way. I’ll be talking about trip one this week, and trip two next week. They could hardly have been more different.

Last year we spent several days exploring the eastern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, home of the “Yooper.” What we found was an un-crowded, naturally beautiful area with some interesting history and fun activities, like the sunset cruise to view the “painted rocks” on the Lake Superior shore.

This year we spent our time on the middle and west side of the U.P. Most of our time was spent in the Keweenaw Peninsula – a peninsula on a peninsula. Sticking out into Lake Superior as it does, the Keweenaw enjoys cool breezes in the summer, and tons of snow in the winter. The record high seasonal total of 355.90 inches was recorded in the winter of 1978-1979. The low record of 81.30 inches was recorded in 1930-1931. Eighty inches doesn’t seem very low to me.

Fortunately, we were there in the summer, and it was beautiful. We took several hikes – one of them in an old-growth forest with trees that were over 450 years old. We had some great meals, and took another sunset boat trip, this one brought us ten miles out into the lake where we met up with a thousand-foot long ship, and ran alongside it for ten minutes or so before heading into the sunset – literally.

We did lots of rock hunting which, I have to admit, is surprisingly mind-clearing. And, as always happens on our vacations, we hit a half-dozen or so museums, covering mostly the copper booms of the past, and the contributions made by immigrants from all over the world.

We spent some time in the city of Calumet which was the center of the biggest copper boom. It remains a nice town, even though the population is one-twentieth of what it once was. A resident is quoted as saying that for people who want to live in Calumet, that has to be their career, meaning that they’ll do whatever it takes to make a living so they can live there.

We saw a number of eagles up fairly close, and when we went up to a scenic overview in the Lake of the Clouds park near Ontonagon around sunset, we saw, several hundred feet below us, a cow moose and her calf stepping into a small river.

Like last year, we found the area to be un-crowded and beautiful. There were no water parks or roller coasters, but that’s not what we’re after these days, so it was a good trip. I’d go again.

Where did we go four days after we returned? Check out my next post.

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