Opinion: Trip to northern Michigan


Commentary by Ward Degler

We spent the weekend up north. As in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the northern edge of Lake Superior. My wife’s grandson, whom we watched grow from infancy to adulthood, married a beautiful young woman born and raised in the area.

It took 10 hours of driving to get there, but the family was waiting when we arrived. There was no time to be tired.

In between villages in the UP are the last vestiges of wilderness. You can smell the history. Pioneers with axes and shovels.

The wedding was held in a small church in one of those spaces. An open area outside the forest. The air was crisp, the sky was blue. The church ladies served a meal for the reception that will not soon be forgotten. Later, we gathered as family to reminisce, knowing the bride and groom were poised for their honeymoon and their life together.

A couple of the younger and more fearless members of the tribe decided to jump into the lake. I did that once years ago while hunting agates along the shore. I saw one I wanted in deep water and dove for it.

Big mistake. Fortunately, someone on shore saw what happened and pulled me to safety. In case you didn’t know, the summertime temperature of Lake Superior is only slightly above freezing.

Several out-of-commission ore docks remain at the lake’s edge – giant structures where once trains loaded with iron ore dumped their loads into ships. Of course, no one can scan the awesome stretch of that lake without remembering the Edmond Fitzgerald, the ship that took its crew and cargo to the bottom one stormy winter night.

I didn’t walk the shore this trip. The agates are there, and one day maybe I’ll return to find them. But this trip was all about celebrating the marriage of our grandson and his bride.

The return trip took another 10 hours. We allowed ourselves to be tired when we got home.