Last weekend I drove about 700 miles. On Thursday, 350 miles, almost due north, through Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Then 350 miles back on Sunday. Quite a long way, really.
Why? The 60 hours in between. The company: I drove with my brother, reunited with old friends there. We’ve been meeting in the UP for more than a decade. Nature: the deep woods, the ever-changing, frigid lake, the wild turkeys. The food: tomahawk chops from Peoria Packing. Beef jerky picked up at Held’s in Slinger, Wis.
You’ll note that we brought our food. UP cuisine — pastiescq and doughnuts — not so hot. Though the town where we stay, Ontonagon, now has a juice bar, The Squeeze on Main, and I grabbed a salad there for lunch Friday. Not bad, if a little short on lettuce, more like a bowl of chicken, cheese and sliced apples with some greens mixed in. A Yooper salad. At least there were no Beer Nuts in it.
A six-hour-plus drive, but that was also part of the fun. Usually the car ride is seen as a necessary evil to get from Point A to Point B. Wasted time. But on this trip, the 700 miles was an unfolding diorama of beauty, the rolling vistas of farmland, shrouded in mist in the morning, glorious in the midday sun. Undulating fields of corn, yellow-tasseled and ready to harvest. Alfalfa in big round bales, each weighing a ton, either left to dry or because the farmers haven’t had time to collect them yet. The raw forest pushed back from the highway — deep green pines and white-trunked birches.
A lot of industry up there too. Even the town names suggest products: Winnebago, Land O’Lakes, Oshkosh. The vast Harley Davidson plant. Just passing through, I don’t see how you can feel anything but hopeful about America, despite our deepening problems. When didn’t we have problems?
Sure, there were scatterings of Trump flags, and “Let’s Go Brandon” signs. At least they’re concise. “I’m a dupe in thrall to a liar, bully, fraud and traitor,” is a lot to fit on a sign. I did sincerely marvel at yard signs plugging Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, which made me want to stop and ring the doorbell and earnestly inquire. “Really? Ron Johnson? The guy who tried to shrug off his sedition because it only lasted ‘a couple of seconds’? The man’s an idiot.”
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