Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Drive: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to Munising, Michigan

"Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars." ~Henry Van Dyke

July 1: Drove all day from Chippewa Falls to Munising, Michigan, which is where Jon grew up and where his mom lives. Didn't take any photos as I was working on the computer all day.

The most interesting thing that happened is that we almost ran out of gas. Jon was so excited to shoot for "home," that he forgot to watch the gas gauge. Luckily I do watch the road a bit even if I'm not driving or taking pictures. The van lurched and coughed, giving us the old "I'm just about out of gas" signal, and I remembered seeing a gas station in a little town about a mile back. Jon turned the rig around and we made it to the gas station just before the bugger ran dry. The fill took 25.47 gallons. Glad it coughed when it did!

Got to Munising, a town famous for its location on Lake Superior near Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and famous for its wooden bowls, rolling pins and other woodenware. The Munising Woodenware Co. produced wooden household products until the 1950's, so all the pieces are antiques these days.
Jon is a minor collector of these pieces of Americana, but Jon's father Ken was a passionate collector. Growing up on a dirt-poor farm in Kansas during the depression, Ken fell in love with Michigan's beautiful upper penninsula when as a young chemist, the US Army assigned him the job of studying the effects of cold, snow and ice on various types of rubber tires. (Yes, it really is Siberia USA up here.)

After his army stint, Ken moved to Munising to work as a chemist at the local paper mill. There Ken met and fell in love with Jon's mom, Tina. Ken died unexpectedly last January and the loss is still quite palpable. The photos on this page are of just a small sample of Ken's Munising woodenware collection which is displayed profusely on nearly every surface in the family's kitchen.

We arrived early enough in the afternoon to spend lots of quality time with Tina. The Fourth of July always brings friends and former neighbors back to Munising, so we've been able to join Tina in welcoming the returning loved ones. It has not been an easy time for her, and we are so glad to be here with her.

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