Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Northern Road Trip

I hope my readers had a great Labor Day weekend. Mine was a lot of fun. Saturday Travalon and I got on the road and drove to Rib Mountain, one of our favorite state parks. Not only is it the site of my photo on this blog, but it is 1.7 billion years old. How often do you get to visit something that old? We hiked with Rodney all over the top of it, then we drove north to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula, where Travalon once went to school. We hiked out to a beautiful split waterfall and then had a delicious Italian dinner at Mike’s Italian Restaurant. We stayed in Hurley that evening to visit one of the bars from the book, which was very beautiful inside, and then we walked all over town and visited a dive bar called the Alaska House. Everything was done up in red, white, and green for Festival Italiano, which seemed to be mostly about drinking and listening to a live rock band rather than anything specifically Italian. Hurley has been a hard-drinking town forever and got hit hard by federal agents during Prohibition. The Italians immigrated there to work in the now-defunct iron mines. The pool at our hotel was a 24-hour one, so we went for a late-night swim.

Sunday we got on the road and went to Mass in Ashland, where we planned to visit another bar from the book, but alas, it is out of business. Travalon said it was inevitable that we would encounter this, since the book is now four years old. We peered inside and saw the beautiful fixtures still intact. Then we drove to Bayfield and took the ferry over to Madeline Island, where we went to a bar from the book called Tom’s Burned Down Café. It is exactly what it sounds like: a bar that burned down years ago, so now it is open seasonally as an open-air place. For some reason the bartenders there didn’t like the looks of us, so it took them forever to acknowledge us and take our order. We went to a state park on the island called Big Bay and walked along its boardwalk, then we drove along the Bayfield Peninsula and headed back toward Wausau. We stopped around 8:30 for a late dinner at Little Bohemia, but they had the same issue with us as the bartenders at Tom’s Burned Down Café and flat-out refused to serve us. We have no idea why we seemed so objectionable that day… They said we couldn’t be served for an hour, even though there were tons of empty tables in the restaurant, so we went to the bar for some bar food… and they said they weren’t serving food, even though right then they WERE serving food to some other people. So we drove down the road a little way and came across a restaurant called Blue Bayou. It was a little fancy for the way we were dressed and even had a harpist to provide background music, so we knew it would be expensive but really good Creole food. And it was! I highly recommend this restaurant if you happen to be in the North Woods. So Sunday was a mix of terrible and wonderful.

Yesterday we swam at the pool in our hotel in Wausau. It used to be a Midway, so it has the pool in a wonderful atrium full of plants. Then we returned to Rib Mountain for a hike, and then we drove to Roche-a-Cri (a very underrated state park) and Ship Rock. I will post photos soon. What a great weekend! Three state parks and three bars from the book, even if one is permanently closed.

Famous Hat

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