Day 550: Ishpeming Fleming

Laetitia and her group left the Keweenaw Peninsula and drove east to Craig Lake State Park for a hike. Afterward they went kayaking in Sawyer Lake.

At happy hour that afternoon at a local Ishpeming, Michigan drinking establishment, Laetitia sat at the bar and watched a young man move through the crowd, talking to all the women who would listen about his favorite subject, himself. His line was that he was a former CIA operative who had to retire because of a wound received in the line of duty. He was going to be an author writing James-Bond-style thrillers that were thinly veiled accounts of his adventures with the “Company.”

As Laetitia watched and listened, the bartender whispered from behind her, “Dan tries this line on all the ladies that come in here. Some of them buy it for a while, but eventually most of them wise up. He was away from here for several years, but he wasn’t in the CIA. He was waiting tables over in Escanaba. He consistently flunked English when he was in high school, so it’s doubtful he will turn those adventures that he never had into a novel.” Laetitia smiled and thanked the bartender for his warning.

Since the plan of young Dan from Ishpeming
To pen thrillers like Ian Fleming
Of adventures at night
Means that he’ll have to write
‘Tis likely his prospects are dimming.

Day 549: Misery River

Out of Gladstone, the Mind’s Eye group headed northwest to the Porcupine Mountains State Park, where they spent the morning hiking and bird watching among the hills and along the Lake Superior shore. They had lunch at a restaurant that featured Cornish pasties. While it may seem odd to have pasties on a menu so far from Cornwall, such food offerings are commonplace in mining areas in the United States. When mining in Cornwall diminished in the nineteenth century, many of the Cornish miners left England and came to work in North America. They brought both their mining skills and their food with them.

The evening’s destination was Houghton, Michigan, a college town on the Keweenaw Peninsula. On the way they crossed the Misery River and passed a cluster of houses that also goes by that name. They passed through Houghton and paid a visit to Laurium, because several in the group wanted to see the hometown of George Gipp, the legendary athlete who played football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and inspired the phrase “That’s one for the Gipper.”

At happy hour in Houghton, the bartender’s story was about a Misery River native named Bob who retired to his hometown after a life abroad. During his career he had developed a taste for foods little known in the Upper Peninsula. To his chagrin, he couldn’t have his favorite products shipped to him because the delivery services the gourmet food merchants used couldn’t find the Misery River community on their maps. Laetitia turned the story into a limerick.

Bob found that no one would deliver
Pate de foie gras from goose liver
To his town, so it seems
That such haute cuisines
Are rare down in Misery River.