October 16, 2014 ~ West Branch, MI to Marquette, MI
Goodbye to summer and warmth. I needed to rearrange things in my van so I don't freeze at night and instead of sleeping ON the sleeping bag, I now crawl into it and add blankets on top. Sort of OK...
West Branch seems to be a gateway for Up North, and a gift shop attached to a restaurant where I ate a pretty dismal breakfast (a huge plate of mostly fatty chunks of corned beef and a few fried onions and peppers under two pallid eggs) had a large selection of touristy tchotchkes, many with the theme of drunken women ("Boozie Floozie"), along with black bears, the Great Lakes, hunting, cabins....
I75 up to the bridge was stunning with color, even under cloudy skies. Yellows and oranges predominated, but there were occasional brilliant reds, lime greens and all the browns and chestnuts of the oaks. Certainly the vistas rivaled those anywhere in New England and with way less traffic.
|Along I75 near the Big Mac Bridge - MI|
Particularly lovely were the bright yellow leaves of the quaking aspens moving in the slightest breeze, a silent tingling, and Maria's favorite tree.
I crossed the bridge and headed west along Lake Michigan, which was very calm today, and drove the auto route at Seney NWR. I had been here in June, and knew how lovely it is, so did a fall reprise...driving very slowly through seven miles of marsh and color, under grey skies with a modest number of waterfowl moving about. It was like a new cover of Gray's Sporting Journal as I rounded every curve, revealing another marsh or pool. Yellow leaves were floating down even without much of a breeze. Somewhat surprisingly, there were more vehicles today than on my summer visit.
|Seney NWR - MI|
I continued north from Seney and then west to Marquette along the shore of Lake Superior and through the Hiawatha National Forest. There was intermittent drizzle all the way which didn't diminish the wild beauty of this part of Michigan.
I was actually taking a long route to Iowa through the Upper Peninsula, but I just could not start out again and navigate the heavy traffic near Chicago. I realize I am traffic-phobic.
I stopped at one of the only Starbucks in the UP (the only one?) and sat two feet from a couple of students who were studying viruses and whose vocabulary brought me back to my days in the lab. Of course, with Ebola constantly in the news, they were having immediate knowledge of the power of a virus.
Speaking of Ebola...I am just now beginning to hear questions about how long this virus can live outside of the human (like on a hard surface, for instance), or how EXACTLY is it transmitted (like must one have an open skin lesion or breathe in viral particles or what exactly?) and it is true that a person is not able to transmit the virus if he/she has no symptoms? and how soon after a fever begins is an infected person contagious? I read that even the scientists really don't know enough (at this point) about Ebola. And there are the heart-rending stories and photos from western Africa that contrast with the real-time situation in the US (hysteria), which is probably making me dis-believe in politics and politicians more than any other issue - the fact that these men and women can use Ebola to further their chances of getting elected (re-elected). Supposedly intelligent folks....Republicans and Democrats. We are a nation of science naysayers.
I slept well cocooned in my car while the windows misted from the drizzle. But I have not mentally prepared for the fewer hours of daylight. Like, what am I going to do when it gets dark at 5 pm and stays dark until 8 am?
|Seney NWR - MI|