A Night of Great Fun…An Unexpected Souvenir…Homeward Bound

So here we are at Tulppos’ in Bruce Crossing, Michigan. I read that as I write this it is now for sale, which is sad, because it holds such great memories for me. And those I will share wth you now.

Bruce Crossing, Michigan is small. Its mainly a place for folks to drive through on their snowmobiles or on their way to other destinations. It was named after its first postmaster, Donald M. Bruce.

Its about 6:30 pm when we arrive and we had no trouble finding a motel…in fact we drove right to it as we entered town. In we go to get a room. The lady behind the counter was really nice and when we asked for a room she responded with “are you really sure you want to stay here?”. Oh no…when the lady providing customer service is seemingly not recommending the place…it makes one wonder…doesn’t it?

We go and check out the room….its clean and well… its late so we take it. She tells us that there is a restaurant and bar attached to the place so we figure we throw our stuff in the room and head to the bar for some eats and beers. I throw my bags on the bed and head to the bathroom. I wouldn’t normally share my bathroom experiences, but this one is worth telling. I am about set to do my business and sit down on the seat….and then I go flying off the toilet… with the seat. Apparently the newly changed toilet seat had not been secured onto the toilet and was just waiting for its first unsuspecting rider…aka…me.

Now that the bathroom carnival ride was done…I head to the bed and in true Hollywood form, through myself onto it….all the way as I fall, expressing my gratitude for having a place to lay my head tonight and then….I disappeared….literally disappeared. Not due to billowy duvets or stacks of decorative pillows…nope…it was due to the fact that the bed caved right into the middle…both sides of the mattress launched high above my head as I lay there immobilized by mattress and laughter. Thankfully my partner stopped laughing enough to haul me out. At this point I truly am in need of a beer…so to the bar we go.

The place was pretty empty…only the bartender (Mary) and another couple who were also biking around the USA from Canada. We grab a couple of seats at the bar, order some brews and ask for the menu. At this point Mary tells us the kitchen is closed…ugh…no supper. I spot a rack of chip bags and say we will take a couple of those and we will be good. I open my bag….and it was full of chips…sweet. My partner opens his bag…and there were only…three chips in the whole bag. So…we laugh…and order a few more bags to fill our bellies.

We strike up a conversation with the couple beside us. She told us that she brought her own bottle of booze to the bar, and as long as Mary poured the shots, she could drink it. Smart lady…likely this is illegal…but she was going with it. So we all quickly moved from beer to booze…and that is when I decided we needed music to dance. I went to the juke box and started hitting buttons for some tunes. My new lady drinking buddy got up and started dancing too…and then…more people started coming into the bar. Seems like Mary made a few calls to her local friends and family and had said that a wee party was starting so they came out to join us. Oh, important to note here…and Mary decided she would start drinking too….I love this place. She came around the bar and danced a few songs with us and then her mom came in. Now, I wanted to make sure everyone was into the fun zone, so I asked her mom to come dance. And she did…and then she said she couldn’t anymore because…she had just had a hip replacement a few days earlier. Wow…what spunk she had.

Next Marys’ son called and I did what any good patron would do…I grabbed the phone from her and had a motherly conversation with him…what did I say…heaven knows…but he stayed on the line and then eventually came to join the party.

We stayed there until she had to close…which was way after the actual bar hours. So much fun was had. I do have to share with you that Mary decided to give me a souvenir of the bar. She literally jumped up on the bar and tore a large piece of the ceiling off and proudly handed it to me. The ceiling was made of styrofoam, painted black and made to look like we were inside of a mine or a cave. And now, lucky me, I had in my hands a piece of this to cherish for life. I felt truly blessed.

After a poor nights sleep balancing precariously on the edge of the bed so as not to get swallowed whole again, we get up, back the bike and get ready for the long journey home. I did take my souvenir with me because I didn’t have the heart to leave it…I figured it would be insulting to our friend, Mary. Once I realized that I had no where to put it on the bike or in my bags, I hopped on the bike with it in my hands…akward but managable..short term.

As we drove down the road for a while, I just could not hang onto this piece of memorabilia any longer and so on a lonely stretch of highway, with no traffic around, I set it free. Man, did it ever fly….far off into the ditch…a future discovery for another visitor heading out of Bruce Crossing. For such a small town, I have not experienced such hospitality, great fun and open arms as we did there.

We travel through small towns…Watersmeet, Iron River and Crystal Falls. Crystal Falls is an interesting spot. Orignialy founded as a hub town for the iron mining and timber industries that were in the area. It used to be mainly populated by war Veterans. It is also the home to what was, in 1992, the worlds largest living organism….a massive mushroom. This mushroom covered over 35 acres, mainly underground and had spores growing above ground that were 10 cm high. It weighed over 400 tons and was found to be 2500 years old. It fed the roots of the trees, but is also known to take over and destroy a forest. It exists to this day….mushroom risotto anyone?

Of course we stop for lunch…somewhere…and continue pushing on towards home. We drive through Spalding and through Escanaba. This is a port city on Lake Michigan….oh… I should mention we are driving with the great lakes beside us for most of this journey and its spectacularly beautiful. Ok, so back to Escanaba. This lovely town is home of the pastie…nope not the burlesque kind…but rather a tasty meat, onion and carrot filled dough that is fried and is deeelicious. Escanaba is a known as a safe harbor, so you will find the marinas filled with boaters, both local and from all over the world. There is also the famous House of Ludington Hotel, built in 1865, and it is where the famous Al Capone used its underground tunnels in the basement during prohibition…oh you naughty boy Al.

The next small town is Manstique, also known as Emerald City and it has a hidden gem….called Kitch-iti-kipi….or Emerald Springs. On the outskirts of town is the most beautiful spot to take a break and appreciate nature. A tiny natural spring surrounded by lush forest with a walk out built on it that makes the perfect observation point. The waters are straight out of the pictures you see in the tropics….ahhh….I just want to live right here.

Kitch-iti-kipi…..Emerald Spring…Manstique

We sadly leave the beautiful springs and drive on…through Brevort, St. Ignace, Kinross….and finally….

…we see it…the bridge…the one we crossed 3 weeks ago at the start of this journey. We are now is Sault St Marie, Michigan.

If you read my first blog…if not, why not do it now?…I did not have a passport when I entered the USA and not too surprisingly, I still don’t have one on my return home to Canada. The border guard asked his questions. and smiled when I told him of our journey. All he wanted to know is if I had a good time and I said yes. He smiled again, and said “Welcome home to Canada”. And we crossed the bridge.

Aerial photography of the Soo Locks on the St Marys River at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. I did not take this photo.

We drive the last few hours home in silence….I am reflecting on the journey I have had, the people that I have met, the laughs, the history, the beauty of the ride and the scenery….I wonder….will I ever have an experience like this again?

You bet I do….stay tuned…you are in for a real treat and some amazing adventures on my next blog….when I start my journey and take you to a place that stole my heart….Costa Rica. And yes…this time I travel with a passport.

Live your Life Jan

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