Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in Maine

May 31st, 2015

Peaks-Kenny is a seasonal State Park that lines the shores of Sebec Lake in Dover-Foxcroft, which makes it very convenient to stop and hike after work in a peaceful, wooded setting. The 839-acre park is an area renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor opportunities with Moosehead Lake, the Appalachian Trail, and the southern end of Baxter State Park. For those wanting to spend the night, the park offers 56 camping sites among stately trees and large glacial boulders.

Tent camping lot at Peaks-Kenny State Park

Tent camping lot at Peaks-Kenny State Park

This weekend I took my first hike beside the mile long shoreline along Sebec Lake. The sandy swimming beach offers a beautiful view of Borestone Mountain, a 1600-acre nature sanctuary with a summit trail (Sounds like an interesting adventure for another day). There’s a grassy picnic area with grills for visitors, and a playground at the beach, . The many glacial boulders reminded me of my early childhood climbing days. That was so much fun!

Neat picnic table built into boulder

Neat picnic table built into boulder

On a clear day you would be able to see Borestone much better.

On a clear day you would be able to see Borestone much better.

A kid could rip out the backside of their jeans sliding down this boulder!

A kid could rip out the backside of their jeans sliding down this boulder!

You can rent kayaks and row boats for the day.

You can rent kayaks and row boats for the day.

There are ten miles of gentle hiking trails for me to explore through old-growth hardwood forests, hemlock and pines. Sebec Lake, which stretches 10 miles in length, has clean and deep water, making make it an appealing destination for fisherman seeking cold-water fish like landlocked salmon and lake trout and swimmers on a hot August day. Not right now.

Peaks-Kenny twisted tree

In fact, the weather has turned into a cold, rainy day. Lesson for today: get out for an adventure when you have the chance. You never know when it’s going to start raining on your parade. Especially in Maine.

The Imitation Game

May 30th, 2015

I may be one of the last people in the country to see “The Imitation Game”, but in case you haven’t, please let me tell you about what I rented from Redbox today. During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing worked to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

This review may take me awhile. My initial reaction is that it was astonishing, a magnificent achievement that stands tall as one of the year’s best movies. (Granted I’ve fallen behind recently) As the film continues to settle within my cinematic soul, this very well could also be the best film performance yet from the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch.

To be fair I’m fairly forgetful of most European history and probably heard the name Alan Turing in high school and college but either didn’t care enough to remember for long or have no recollection of his contributions. Sorry. Yet, his contributions essentially paved the way we exist today.

The Imitation Game was masterfully told, engrossing and disturbing. The director brilliantly explored the horrors of war along with the choices that doom mankind for all eternity while unraveling Turing’s story. Turing is one of the fallen heroes of our history and his story stands as one of the most tragic.

TV’s “Sherlock,” Benedict Cumberbatch continues to climb the ladder as one of the best actors working today. Though based on a real person, the talented Cumberbatch keep the viewers fixated on his performance. He captured the demons of Turing down to his bones. Unsure, arrogant, and dismissive to the world around him, and every once in a while, we get a front seat to his soul. Thank you Cumberbatch. This is why he deserved the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

The rest of the cast was also completely on their game. It was wonderful to see Keira Knightley on the screen again. This time as the feisty and fiery Joan Clark, she seemed comfortable, charming and perfect as I’ve ever seen her. She has all the things that make up an Oscar winner, including a scene that will bring you to tears and plenty others to offer comic relief.

The soundtrack was composed by Alexandre Desplat who has composed the fantastic scores for war dramas The Monuments Men and War Horse. This soundtrack is a bit warmer with long periods of strings. Desplat’s work compliments the film and it’s worth taking note of.

In my opinion, The Imitation Game is one of the best spy thrillers ever made and a realistic view at the spy game. Be warned, with the heartbreaking subplots you could find yourself in tears at the end.

The Imitation Game is a captivating achievement that I’ll likely remember for some time.


Friday Funnies

May 29th, 2015

I’m still transitioning from Michigan to Maine and dealing with setting up home and my computer. So my question to you is: What do computers, Yoopers and Mainers have in common? Short answer during May – June: Black Flies 

Long Answer:

1. Log on – Make the wood stove hotter

2. Log off – Don’t add no more wood

3. Monitor – Keep an eye on that wood stove

4. Download – Getting the firewood off the truck

5. Floppy disk – What you get from downloading too much firewood

6. Ram – The thing that splits the firewood

7. Hard Drive – Getting home from work in the winter

8. Prompt – What the US mail service isn’t in the winter

9. Window – What to shut when its cold outside

10. Screen – What to shut in black fly season

11. Byte – What the black flies do

12. Bit – What the black flies did

13. Mega Byte – What the BIG black flies do during trout season

14. Chip – Munchies for TV

15. Micro Chip – What’s left in the bag after you eat chips

16. Modem – What you did to the weeds growing in the driveway

17. Dot matrix – Old Dan Matrix’s wife

18. Lap top – Where the beer spills when you nod off

19. Software – The dumb plastic knives and forks at McDonalds

20. Hardware – Real stainless steel cutlery

21. Mouse – What makes the holes in the Cheerio box

22. Main frame – What holds the house up, hopefully

23. Enter – The only way to win those magazine sweepstakes

24. Web – What a spider makes

25. Web site – High corners of the ceiling

26. Cursor – Someone who swears

27. Search Engine – What you do when the car dies

28. Screen Saver – repair kit for the torn window screen on the camp

29. Home Page – map you keep in your back pocket in case you get lost in the woods

30. Upgrade – Steep hill

31. Server – waitress

32. Mail Server – male waitress. Darn few in Maine

33. MS DOS – Some new disease they discovered

34. Sound Card – One of them technological birthday cards that plays music when you open it

35 User – The neighbor who keeps borrowing your stuff

36. Browser – A problem moose in the garden or blueberry patch

37. Online – good sign there’ll be clean clothes this week

38. Off line – the clothes pins let go and the laundry falls on the ground – better luck next week


Pentecost and Memorial Day

May 27th, 2015

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 

This past Sunday was an odd conjunction of special days of people coming together with purpose. I’m talking about Pentecost Sunday and Memorial Day. I don’t ever remember that happening. Did you think about that? After all, Memorial Day is rather solemn while Pentecost is exuberant.

Memorial Day looks back and commemorates the sacrifices of the past. Pentecost, an event which grew out of the greatest sacrifice and triumph, looks forward to a new day.

The one recalls war. The other anticipates peace.

One emphasizes what people have done to secure a nation’s freedom. The other stresses what God must do if people would be truly free within.

One emphasizes our battles against flesh and blood. The other reminds us our greatest conflicts are not with human enemies, but with spiritual forces of darkness.

On Memorial Day, communities have parades to honor our country. At Pentecost, people of God march into all nations of the world to share the good news.

Our leaders make speeches on Memorial Day, urging us to remember those who gave their lives to protect America. On Pentecost, great is the company of preachers who point us to him who died and rose again to make the whole world new.

Families decorate graves with flags and flowers on Memorial Day. On Pentecost, we receive gifts from God who broke the power of the grave and will one day raise the dead to life again.

One day is an occasion for family picnics. On the other, God’s family gathers at the Table.

Memorial Day was designed to bring our nation together. Pentecost makes people from every nation one in Christ.

On Memorial Day, our leaders remind us that we too may be called to take up arms in defense of our freedom. On Pentecost, we lay down our arms and proclaim the ultimate power of love and service.

Memorial Day commemorates the sacrifices of a few in uniform who died for the many, that all might live in peace. Pentecost calls every man, woman, and child to lay down their lives for others that all might live forever.

On Memorial Day, our leaders tell us that our future peace and prosperity depends upon maintaining our military might. At Pentecost God reminds us, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

Memorial Day celebrates the common grace of living in a free and prosperous nation. Pentecost marks the extraordinary grace of God who has come to live within us.

One focuses on America. The other focuses on Christ.

Unfortunately, both events have fallen into misunderstanding and misuse over the years. It’s important we remember that each, in different ways, is of value and importance.

God bless America.

A Return to Sunday in Maine

May 24th, 2015

Every time I start a trip with a predawn flight, I think the same thing, “I’m chasing the sun!” Though the flight was canceled and I was flying east, the thought still made me smile. I smiled even more 18 hours later when I laid my head onto a pillow in my above garage apartment in Sebec Village, Maine. I’m back in Maine.


Sebec Village will be my home for the next 14 weeks. You won’t find Sebec in most guidebooks. It’s a throwback to another time where sawmills and woolen mills once harnessed the power of Sebec Lake. There’s one blinking traffic light in town and the nearest mall is an hour away in Bangor. The last stop on the Appalachian Trail is a few days by foot. Or at least I’m told, I don’t plan to test that fact.

I was instantly charmed by this Hallmark ready town the day after arrival when walking through the dandelions to get a photo of the town’s gazebo I was stung by a hornet that had found its way up my pant leg. Not to be topped by a hornet, a hummingbird flew into me as I knocked on my landlord’s door asking for help with the sting. It was as if nature was welcoming me in the only way they knew how!


And sitting at Steve and Sandy’s dinner table last night I lifted my eyes in time to watch a beaver work on a large hunk of wood. He pulled it onto a rock jutting from the surface of the lake. And not until it was just as he wanted it did he swim off towards his dam with it in his teeth. The sunset shimmered in his wake. It was hypnotic as I enjoyed both dinner and the show. This is going to be a jolly good summer.


That’s when I learned about infamous map dealer and part-time resident Forbes Smiley. Living in Sebec Village seemed to be a jolly time for him, too. For years Smiley lived in a farmhouse overlooking Sebec Lake among a row of apple trees.


According to his friends the tweed clad Smiley was a deeply caring middle aged man with a lively intellect and great reverence for the past. Then, during the summer of 2005 Smiley bewildered everyone who knew him by committing a crime worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. He was charged with slicing several precious maps from books inside Yale University’s rare books library using an X-Acto blade. Once a member of an elite circle of map dealers, collectors and scholars, the respected Sebec preservationist was exposed as a fraud.

Smiley moved to Sebec in the 1990s to preserve Sebec by buying the store and post office. Back then they were dark, dingy places where animals roamed. He set up a historical society and filled the buildings with the most expensive equipment to restore the town to its former glory. After his arrest everything closed and it ruined the town. The apple trees are in bloom on the trees smiley planted in front of his house, and a flatbed truck is parked out front as if he might come down the steps at any moment. The building stand quiet, people lost jobs and a town’s divided. Locals are left wondering what will happen to the Sebec Village Shops.

IMG_20150523_153516338 IMG_20150523_153708510_HDR IMG_20150523_153901966 IMG_20150523_153930260 IMG_20150523_154001163

Tonight, when the sun sets over the lake and the slap of a beaver’s tail shatters the silence I’ll imagine the jolly times to come over my summer in Sebec Village.

If you would like to read more about the map thief Mr. Smiley you can click here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/05/23/trail-martha-vineyard-rare-map-thief/qbFFssloEpByBZ4vK14DgL/story.html Or read the review of “The Map Thief”: http://www.wsj.com/articles/book-review-the-map-thief-by-michael-blanding-1405291313


Friday Funnies

May 22nd, 2015

I’ve been without internet connection for the past week. (I’ll be without again this weekend) In the meantime I’ve been thinking how today’s use of the internet has made this world a global village. It’s made our lives easy and fast. You can stay connected to the people on the other end of the globe and be updated on the latest news throughout world.

“Surfing the web” is not only fun, but at the same time it can be extremely useful for gaining knowledge of all sorts. You can be entertained with music, movies, videos and games. You can stay in contact with family & friends by email with photo attachments. The internet can be made more fun by sharing funny jokes and stories … or even a rather corny collection of jokes. However you use the internet, make your time fun filled.

One day, a ragged individual stranded for several months on a small deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean noticed a bottle lying in the sand with a piece of paper in it. Rushing to the bottle, he pulled out the cork and with shaking hands withdrew the message. “Due to lack of maintenance,” he read, “we regretfully have found it necessary to cancel your e-mail account.”

A man and wife were both in an Internet business, but it was the husband who truly lived, ate and breathed computers. His wife finally realized how bad it had gotten when one day she was scratching his back, and he said “No, not there. Scroll down a little.”

How do trees get on the Internet? They log in.

What is a computer’s first sign of old age? Loss of memory.

What is an astronaut’s favorite key on the computer keyboard? The space bar.

Have you heard about the Disney virus? It makes everything on your computer go Goofy.

What happened when a dragon breathed on several Macintosh computers? He wound up with baked Apples! (For my brother)


Last Sunday in Michigan

May 17th, 2015

After Tom loaded my luggage into the car and I prepared for one last night with the Luckeys, I longed for one last hike before moving on. Marion suggested Miner’s Castle which I hadn’t seen. Before I knew it we were in the car so I could have one last hike and look at the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior.

Summer tourists flock to Munising from around the world to enjoy over 73,000 acres of Lake Superior shoreline and National Park, and I hadn’t seen it. The cliffs are an ongoing work of art created by Mother Nature. Trace minerals seep from the cracks of the sandstone leaving distinct color stains from different minerals. Then with the help of wind, lake water, rain, LOTS of snow, lightning, and hail, the incredible natural wonder has eroded and been sculpted into the current form.

The afternoon was overcast with drizzling rain as Marion and I took the short walk to the Castle Rock viewing platform. Miners Castle is the most famous formation of the Pictured Rocks and it was easy to see why with the breathtaking overlooks of Lake Superior and Grand Island. Erosion over long periods of time has created very interesting rock formations that give this place its name. Including a major rock fall in 2006 that dramatically changed the look of the castle formation.

If you are in the Munising area you shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the shoreline and rock formation.

I want to thank the Luckeys for their generous hospitality and Marion for acting as my personal guide today. And now I must close the door and call it a night. Maine is calling …

Munising Miners Castle 1 Munising Miners Castle 2 Munising Miners Castle 3 Munising Miners Castle 4 Munising Miners Castle 5 Munising Miners Castle 7 Munising Miners Castle 8 Munising Miners Castle 9

Friday Funnies

May 15th, 2015


Last chance for Yooper jokes. I tried them out on a few Yoopers and learned that they enjoy a good laugh, even at their expense. If you’re still unsure where Yooperland is click here: http://dayoopers.com/whatwher.html

Who said Yoopers were behind in technology? After having dug to a depth of 100 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion, that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 200 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: ” California archaeologists, finding traces of 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, The Escanaba Press a local newspaper in Upper Michigan, reported the following: After digging over 300 feet in his pasture, Ole Olson, a self taught archaeologist, reported that he’d found absolutely nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Upper Michigan had already gone wireless.

You Know You Are A True Michigander (Yooper) When:

  1. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.
  2. “Vacation” means going down south to Petoskey or Green Bay for the weekend.
  3. You measure distance in hours.
  4. You know several people who have hit deer more than once!
  5. You often switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day and back again.
  6. You find 0 degrees “a little chilly.”
  7. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.
  8. You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events.
  9. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
  10. You think of the major food groups as beer, fish, and venison.
  11. You carry jumper cables in your car & your girlfriend knows how to use them.
  12. There are seven empty cars running in the parking lot at Menard’s at any given time.
  13. You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
  14. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
  15. You refer to the Wolverines as “we.”
  16. You know! All 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
  17. You can identify an Ohio and Wisconsin accent.
  18. You have no problem spelling Escanaba.
  19. You consider the lower Peninsula exotic. ya hey!
  20. You don’t have a coughing fit from one sip of Stroh’s.
  21. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a cow next to your blue spruce.
  22. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.
  23. Down south to you means south of Da bridge, the deep south is south of Detroit.
  24. A brat is something you eat.
  25. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new machine shed.
  26. You go out to fish fry every Friday at the Elks, Moose or VFW.
  27. You know how to polka.
  28. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.
  29. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

A Canadian decided to write a book about famous churches around the world. For his first chapter he decided to write about famous American churches. So he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Portland, Maine, thinking that he would work his way across the country from east to west.

On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read “$10,000 per call.” The Canadian, intrigued, asked a pastor who was strolling by what the telephone was used for. The pastor replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. The Canadian thanked the pastor and went along his way.

Next stop was in Concord, New Hampshire. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Portland and he asked a nearby nun what it’s purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God. “O.K., thank you,” said the Canadian.

He then traveled to Montpelier, Albany, Columbus, Detroit, and Chicago, and in every church he saw the same golden telephone with the same “$10,000 per call” sign under it.

Finally, the Canadian arrived in Paradise, Michigan, and again, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read “10 cents per call.” The Canadian was surprised so he asked the clergyman about the sign. “Pastor, I’ve traveled all over America and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I’m told that it is a direct line to heaven, but in all the other states the price per call was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?”

The pastor smiled and answered, “You’re in The Upper Peninsula, son. It’s a local call.”


Ohyeahdonchano I like da Yoopers. Yoobetcha I do!






May 13th, 2015

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

Hospitality is becoming an almost forgotten Christian virtue in today’s society. In the New Testament, however, hospitality was a distinctive mark of Christian communities.

Hebrews 13:2 makes it clear we are to show hospitality to people. Yes, even to people we don’t know. It’s so easy to get caught up in our jobs, churches, community affairs. Yet, the world is full of hurting people. People you and I can touch with a kind word, a warm smile, a hot meal or a gentle touch. And people who would be eternally grateful if someone just stopped and prayed for them.

So what does it mean to show hospitality? The definition states: The friendly reception and treatment of guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. This implies having people into your home for the purpose of kindness and fellowship. The Bible doesn’t instruct you to offer a fancy meal, or hire a maid for the day. Just to show hospitality.

I’ve been working in Munising, Michigan for the last 3 months. My lease on the cottage ended and the Luckey family opened their home to me for the last week of my stay. The realization that my time in Munising will soon be coming to an end, and I’ll be moving to Maine, hit me last night. But more striking was the realization that the Luckeys have shown me true hospitality and made me feel at home in theirs. Although I’m not a Yooper, they’ve made me feel comfortable. My host family have offered refuge in my time of need. I’m so grateful for their hospitality.

As Christians no matter where we are, we’re never far from home. God’s love is constantly around us. It’s present in our families, in our friends, in strangers, in sights and in sounds. It’s present in the sun that rises and sets on every horizon. It’s present in the winds that sweep the streets of Munising and the mountains of Tahoe. God’s love follows us to the ends of the earth and beyond.

God’s love is not a revelation, but a realization. When we allow ourselves to take in the world around us, we’ll realize the many gifts that God has tucked away in the most unexpected places in our lives. Even on a couch in a stranger’s home.

Why not take the time to offer a stranger a smile, a prayer, a cool drink or a helping hand? The rewards are many.


Sunday in Michigan

May 10th, 2015

This weekend I had to sit for an exam in Sault Ste. Marie in the northeast corner of the Upper Peninsula where Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes meet. I purposely arrived early to do a little sightseeing and started by seeking a point of guidance. What I found was the Point Iroquois Light Station.

Sitting high above the waters of Lake Superior, the Point Iroquois Light station marks the narrow channel between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. This light station housed three families and sits on a large piece of property, including a lakeshore boardwalk. The light and the land are now part of the Hiawatha National Forest. The light station is named for the Iroquois warriors massacred there by the Ojibwa in 1662.

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

The discovery of copper and iron ore in 1844 necessitated a passage from the St. Mary’s River to the steel plants of the lower Great Lakes. In 1865, the Soo Locks was opened and have become the most heavily used commercial shipping canal in the world. WOW!

The first lighthouse and residence were built in 1855. In 1870 they were replaced with the brick buildings that stand today. The tower is 65 feet high. After 107 years of service, the light at Point Iroquois became history. It’s been replaced by an automatic light in the channel off Gros Cap, Ontario.

I was absolutely freezing, but I still climbed the 65-foot light tower. On clear days, a visitor could observe the lake, and the ocean-going freighters as they come and go through the Soo Locks. And during the summer months, costumed interpreters are periodically be on site to tell the history of the lighthouse. I can imagine this area would be a beautiful destination in summer and fall.

Dancing Crane Cooffee House where I stopped to warm up. It's run by the Iroquois community.

Dancing Crane Cooffee House where I stopped to warm up. It’s run by the Iroquois community.

If you’re driving the scenic byway to visit Point Iroquois Light Station, you may want to stop and feel the peace of the Old Indian Burial Ground in Bay Mills. The spirit houses are now protected with lumbar, but during earlier times the houses were built of birch or elm bark. Inside the houses were placed tools and items needed to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits. There’s also a tree planted by a young girl at the head of her father’s grave. It’s a unique piece of Michigan Native American history. I enjoyed the serenity before continuing on to Sault Ste. Marie for the exam.

Spirit Houses now made of lumbar instead of birch bark

Spirit Houses now made of lumbar instead of birch bark

Old Indian Burial Ground

Old Indian Burial Ground

Once in Sault Ste. Marie I drove by the Soo Locks. I parked and walked along the locks. I was even lucky enough to witness two ships entering the parallel locks. It was fascinating glimpse of maritime history. People come from around the world to view shipping traffic pass through the locks. And today, I experienced the wonder of a living, breathing legendary history lesson! In spite of being closed during the winter months, about 10,000 ships still pass through each year! Seeing those ships entering the locks was special.

Soo Locks 1 Soo Locks 2 Soo Locks 4 Soo Locks 7 Soo Locks 11 Soo Locks 12

May you find serenity and be fascinated by your world this week.




Friday Funnies

May 8th, 2015

With all the traveling I do, including another assignment in Maine, I have people ask my opinion on where to retire. After thinking about it for a while, I’ve put together a few thoughts on that subject:

You can retire to Phoenix, Arizona where…

  1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away from your destination because you found shade.
  2. You’ve experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
  3. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town.
  4. You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
  5. You know “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door and it’s set at 500 degrees.
  6. The 4 seasons are:  tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?


You can retire to California where…

  1. You make over $450,000 and you still can’t afford to buy a house.
  2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
  3. You know how to eat an artichoke.
  4. You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighborhood block party.
  5. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
  6. The 4 seasons are: Fire, Flood, Mud, and Drought.


You can retire to New York City where…

  1. You say “the city” and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan….
  2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.
  3. You think Central Park is “nature.”
  4. You believe being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.
  5. You’ve worn out a car horn. (IF you have a car).
  6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.


You can retire to Michigan where…

  1. You only have three spices:  salt, pepper, and ketchup.
  2. Halloween costumes have to fit over parkas.
  3. You have seventeen recipes for casserole. And just as many for jello molds.
  4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
  5. The four seasons are:  almost winter, winter, still winter, and road repair.
  6. The highest level of criticism is “He is different, she is different or it was different!”


You can retire to The Deep South where…

  1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
  2. “Y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural.
  3. “He needed killin” is a valid defense.
  4. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Joe Bob, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.
  5. Everywhere is either: “yonder,” “over yonder” or “out yonder”. GOTTA LOVE THE SOUTH!


You can retire to Nevada where…

  1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.
  2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home,
  3. A pass does not involve football or dating.
  4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.


FINALLY. You can retire to Florida where…

  1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
  2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind– even houses and cars.
  3. Everyone can recommend an excellent cardiologist, dermatologist, proctologist, podiatrist, or orthopedist.
  4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
  5. Cars in front of you often appear to be driven by headless people

It’s a smorgasbord of choices to choose from!


Running Against the Odds

May 5th, 2015

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1

I’m not an advocate of gambling associated with professional horse racing, but I have always been intrigued by the races. Especially the Kentucky Derby with all its fanfare. It is referred to as “the fastest two minutes in sports.” Last Saturday’s Derby didn’t disappoint! I was encouraging American Pharaoh from the edge of the couch. It was an exciting two minutes!

Every year, horse breeders from around the world compete to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes to earn the Triple Crown. In order to be the champion you have to win all three races in a single season. Every horse owner, trainer, and jockey will do whatever they can to increase their horse’s chance of winning.

In horse racing people carefully analyze the odds of each horse to predict a winner according to their winning history, race track conditions, etc. Thankfully, for the horses, they are oblivious to what people are saying about them. Racehorses have been trained to the race with their eyes clearly focused ahead.

You and I, unlike a racehorse, tend to allow our lives to be swayed by other people instead of by God. We have to shake off distractions that come our way, because those distractions can hinder us from running the specific race God has chosen.

Recently, I read about a the 1946 Triple Crown champion named Assault. When Assault was a foal, he accidentally became injured by stepping on a stake. As a result, his right front hoof was deformed. He was tagged “the Clubfooted Comet” because of the awkward way he walked. But when he ran he was an amazing spectacle.

Like Assault, we may not appear to be anything great at the moment. However, that doesn’t mean we are destined for an average life. What will set us apart is our ability to keep pressing on despite the odds.

There’s an inner drive within a racehorse that propels them to run. Likewise the Spirit of God propels us to stay the course when we feel like quitting. Regardless of the odds or how difficult the race becomes we must keep running until our race is complete.




Sunday in Michigan

May 3rd, 2015

Not wanting to leave any U.P. stone unturned, I scouted 83 miles of US Highway 2 between Manistique and Naubinway, where it parallels Lake Michigan on the south side of the Upper Peninsula. The highway was originally used as part of two Indian trails before European settlers came to the UP.

I passes a wind farm on my way to Fayette State Park. Look at the size of those blades!

I passed a wind farm on my way to Fayette State Park. Look at the size of those blades!

I started today’s adventure at Fayette State Park near Manistique. Once a bustling industrial community which manufactured charcoal pig iron for Great Lakes steel companies, Fayette State Park is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the “banana belt” area.

In the mid-1800s, shipping iron ore from the Upper Peninsula to the foundries was an enormous cost. The solution was to build a blast furnace close to the mine where the ore could be smelted into pig iron before shipping. The town had to be close to ore docks, have a natural harbor, and be near the limestone and hardwood forests that were needed to smelt the iron ore.

Fayette Brown, the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site, turned Fayette into the Upper Peninsula’s most productive iron-smelting operations. Fayette had two blast furnaces, a large dock and several charcoal kilns after the Civil War. Nearly 500 residents lived in the town that existed to make pig iron.

During 24 years of operation, Fayette’s blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron. The smelting operation closed in 1891 when the charcoal iron market began to decline. Today attractions include a visitor center, museum exhibits, and a 26 station walking tour. Scheduled tours and the visitor’s center don’t open until mid-June.

Fayette Village from Sawmill

Fayette Village from Sawmill

Fayette Town Hall on the right

Fayette Town Hall on the right

Fayette Limestone Quarry

Fayette Limestone Quarry

Fayette Limestone Quarry

Fayette Limestone Quarry

Ruins of historic Fayette's lime kiln

Ruins of historic Fayette’s lime kiln

Fayette twin furnace complex from "docks"

Fayette twin furnace complex from “docks”

Fayette Company Store and Warehouse

Fayette Company Store and Warehouse

By the mid 1880's over eighty charcoal kilns were in operation within ten miles of Fayette.

By the mid 1880’s over eighty charcoal kilns were in operation within ten miles of Fayette.

I only had time for a brief stop in Manistique on the way to Naubinway, however if I had time I would have enjoyed spending a day there. Besides having a statue and claiming to the “Home of Paul Bunyan”, there is Kitch-iti-kipi Michigan’s largest crystal clear fresh water spring that I’d like to see. Also the Seul Choix Point Light, and a two-mile shoreline boardwalk that leads to Manistique’s Breakwater Light. I’m sorry I ran out of time. I’ll have to visit again someday.

Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan

Manistique Breakwater Light

Manistique Breakwater Light

My US2 destination was The Garlyn Zoo. The zoo was started as a family farm/zoo in 1994 and is a small, intimate family run zoo nestled in the woods along the shore of Lake Michigan. It’s a child-friendly atmosphere that would make a fun rest stop if you were in the area. There was a cool breeze while I was feeding the goats.

Garlyn Zoo entrance 1 Garlyn White Peacock Garlyn Llama

Garlyn Pigs

Which brings me back to the “banana belt” phenomenon. The southern side of the Upper Peninsula is referred to as the “banana belt” because during the winter winds blowing off Lake Superior warm up while moving over the peninsula, keeping the south side warmer than the north rim. This trend reverses in the spring when a strong southerly wind prevails off Lake Michigan acting like an air conditioner for the south side of the Upper Peninsula. This effect was very noticeable when I was at the Garlyn Zoo the temperature was 48 with a stiff southerly wind. When I arrived home it was a warm 74!

I don’t have enough time to report U.P. history in its entirety. However, I don’t want to leave readers asking the questions on everyone’s mind: Why would people fight over this land with horribly harsh winters and lack of vegetables? Why is the Upper Peninsula part of Michigan when it borders Wisconsin NOT Michigan?

The Toledo War. During the early 1800s there was a conflict between Michigan and Ohio (and I don’t mean a football rivalry). At that point what is now Wisconsin was part of the Michigan Territory. At the end of the “Toledo War” Ohio was granted Wisconsin and Michigan became a state, including the U.P. This was a huge financial victory for Michigan because the Upper Peninsula was a vast region of resources including lumbar, copper and iron ore. Considered to have produced more mineral wealth than the California Gold Rush, the Upper Peninsula supplied 90% of the United States copper supply by the 1860s and was the largest supplier of iron ore by the 1890s.

Now you know the story. The Upper Peninsula is a fascinating natural resource worth visiting.

May Day Merriment

May 1st, 2015

As a world-wide day of celebration, the first of May probably ranks second only to New Year’s day.  While everyone celebrates the New Year, albeit in different ways, May Day has many different customs depending on where in the world you live:

May Day – The first day of summer

Beltane – Cross quarter day. Half way between the Vernal Equinox and Mid-Summer solstice

Maypole dances in England

Walpurgis Night (Germany and Scandinavia). – Bonfires and devil worship May Day/Labor Day – China and Russia hold formal parades
Traditions may vary, however humor is universal. For example:

A couple of Yoopers were driving to the next town’s May Day Fair.  They came to a sign that said: May Day Fair Left.  … so they turned around and went home! True story.

A townie was looking for the May Day Fair, he stopped and asked Joe.  ‘Will this road take me to the May Day Fair?’  ‘Oh no,’ said Joe.  ‘You’ll have to go by yourself!’

Freddie was enjoying the animals section at the May Fair when a dirty, scruffy man came running in the opposite direction.  He stopped and asked Freddie, ‘Have you seen a cart load of pigs go this way?’ ‘No’, said Freddie, ‘Why did you fall off?’

Happy May Day! May the changes of the seasons bring you new beginnings and blessings.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.