Yooper and the Troopers


Hwy 41, Powers, Michigan, 2015.

Traveling Hwy 41 up to Copper Harbor, Michigan from my hometown Menominee where I grew up is something we did with my family when I was young.  We would drive up to the beginning of Hwy 41 to see the colors change in the fall.  When the colors are the brightest on the trees in the fall season they call it peaking. Copper Harbor is known to peak first in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s the highest point north.

I drove up before the colors turned. Everything was green. First I noticed I could smell fresh cut hay on the outside of Menominee. Driving past Powers I could smell the white pine in the air. The closer I got to Copper harbor I could smell the slightest hint of fresh water fish, not a dead fish smell.  I’m not sure it was the number of places I passed along the way that sold smoke fish or if that was the natural smell of the deep fresh water lake.  I drove with all the windows down letting my hair fly.

 Driving north I thought that I might see a tremendous amount of roadwork because of the harsh winters and heavy truckloads of timber, but I was wrong.  The roads that would change color from smoke grey to a deep copper, then to almost white, were smooth and spotless. 

 The high trees of a variety of greens shadowed the road on various turns throughout the day. The most action I saw of road repair was near the town of Powers then up through Norway.  The black lace pattern of tar repair on the side seemed to frame the road like some fancy wrought iron frame.  When I approached the small towns the action of lines appear down the center like as if someone was trying out a calligraphy pen with lines that flowed in erratic patterns. I thought of my mother who loved calligraphy and spent years practicing.

 Driving for miles and miles of what seem to be virgin forests and no mailboxes or advertising signs gave me the feeling of total independence.  I kept looking out to the side to see how far I could see and the forest was so thick and dense.  I thought of my time in the center of Australia where one could see for miles and miles except for the small bushes that occasionally blocked the view.

 I started noticing how many big four-wheel drive trucks went by with men wearing beards.  I never felt afraid. You see in the Upper Peninsula, if your car is stopped like mine on the side of the road, while I take photos, no matter if I’m wearing an orange vest like a road worker, people slow down and ask if I need help.  State troopers stop, women with children, big trucks and bearded men, kids riding around, they are all surprised when I tell them I’m ok, even though I clearly have a camera around my neck.  I suppose they wonder, there is not really a vista where I’m taking photos, and there are no animals around, what is she doing?