Once over the bridge, and after the customary Yooper McDonald's pit stop, driving falls into a steady rhythm of quiet punctuated by the frequent Just look at the water! After awhile, though, even the water can't be seen, leaving me no other humors than to loudly announce the name of each Yooper Townlet on our route.
"What?" Yells TinyTuna, interrupting her third viewing of Mulan by ripping off the earphones in the midst of the battle with the Huns. "Christmas? Christmas? What about Christmas?"
"Relax," I tell her. It's the name of the town. See, there's Santa. And Mrs. Santa. And her ... (how do I pronounce this again? Oh yeah) ... Pass-tees. And right down the road is the Christmas Casino where all the good girls and boys play the slots so Mitten children will have new Xerox sheets to color in school.
I maybe didn't say all of that.
Yooperland has the greatest town names ever, and many of the good ones (like Vulcan, Norway, Phoenix and Florida) are omitted from this list. Plus, if you mispronounce them just a wee bit, it makes it that much more fun. There's Skankey (ok, Skanee) and Raco (where Rastro and Rorge from the Retsons racation), Assinins (we call it Assassins), L'anse and (Yogi) Baraga, site of the enormous Priesty Boy on the hill who squashed super huge killer spiders with his trusty cross and size 856 snowshoes.
Or not. But you gotta love 'em, because small towns give Yooperland its charm. Up here it's the land of pastys and taxidermy, snowmobiles and snowshoes, huntin' and fishin'. Maybe it isn't exactly milk and honey, but up here, it's heaven on earth.
As we got closer to our destination, I returned to my mantra: Just look at the water. By now we were on the Lake Superior edge of the UP with all its inlets, bays, lakes and rivers. It's so beautiful, and you are so far north, you feel like you're on the edge of the earth. I suppose it's like driving on the outside lane of the Mackinac bridge, but less scary and much, much prettier.
Finally, destination Michigan Tech. My home away from home for the next couple of days.
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