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Road Trips and Signs

Road Trip

Since we just returned from several weeks up north, our many miles on the road are still fresh in our minds. Today's blog post is a partial travelogue as seen through my bizarre eyes, interspersed with some signs and scenes captured along the way. Unfortunately when the camera was tucked away, we missed some good ones.

In my post called Face Time I mentioned that Megan and the kids spent a week here in July and linked to her blog post about what we did during their visit. We took them back to Detroit, spent a night at their place, and then went on up to visit our friends Fred and Cheryl near Cheboygan.

On the trip between here and Detroit, we take I-40 through the mountains. For decades in the area around Canton, NC, we have seen a series of brown signs with numbers from 1 to 10 and then back down to 1, and we've wondered what in the world they are there for. According to some of their local legends, those numbered signs were put there to help people in that area learn to count without their fingers, as part of a government project called "Educating WNC." But I have learned that the signs are actually for gauging how bad fog conditions are. There is some sort of formula for visibility that tells the NCDOT how dense the fog is, based on how many signs can be seen.

As we went along I-75 in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan we saw a moose crossing sign like this one.

Moose Crossing Sign

We asked our friends about the sign and learned that there are quite a few moose in their area. I would love to see one, but hate to hit one! We had a nice, relaxing stay with Fred and Cheryl at their home on Long Lake (one of the over 20 lakes in Michigan with that name!). Here's a picture from the deck of their house. Simply beautiful!

Long Lake

On Saturday we accompanied Fred and Cheryl to Pickford in the Upper Peninsula to enjoy some of the Hay Days festivities. There's even a Facebook page about it! The largest share of the events that are part of this annual celebration happen the first Saturday in August. Many former residents return for family reunions and class reunions. At 11:00 in the morning, there's a Hay Days parade. I think that just about anyone who wants to can be in the parade. There were old cars, "floats" of various sorts, horseback riders, emergency vehicles, and more. Many of those attending reunions rode on floats with others attending their event — Stewart Family, Class of 53, Class of 63, etc.

This was a slice of Americana we had no idea we'd be enjoying and would never have heard about apart from our friends. Cheryl spent a lot of time in Pickford with family living there when she was a child since her grandmother lived there. It was fun to see her reconnect with cousin, after cousin, after cousin.... You get the picture, even with no picture. 🙂 It was neat to see such a close-knit, small community in the total boonies of the U.P. It was so remote that we didn't have a signal for our phones.

Here's a picture of the float for the Stewart Family Reunion.

Stewart Family Reunion

I felt right at home in my John Deere t-shirt since there were several tractors pulling wagons/floats in the parade. Here's one:

John Deere

Here's a float with the winner of an essay contest.

Essay Contest Winner

Even the Royal Canadian Legion band came down from Sault Ste Marie, Canada, to take part in the parade.

Royal Canadian Legion Band

Here's the t-shirt of one of the volunteers who was sitting in front of us at the parade.

Happy Helpful Hay Days Volunteer

Near where we were standing I saw a curious combination of signs — the lower sign seemed superfluous to me....

Munuscong Watershed

The area on the way to Pickford is called Les Cheneaux (French for "the channels"), but pronounced by the locals like "less ya know". Sorry, I have no picture for any of that.

After a very pleasant time in northern Michigan, we returned to the Detroit area to help Megan and her family during and after her thyroidectomy. We were relieved and thankful to the Lord that the pathology showed no cancer! We were glad to be of assistance and enjoyed the extra time with them all. I'm sure Becka and/or Megan will blog more about that soon, so I'll link to their posts when they do.

Detroiters apparently love their donuts. There are so many donut places — not only chains like Tim Horton's, Dunkin Donuts, and Krispy Kreme, but also lots of family shops. Every day we passed by a place called Donut Castle. One morning our curiosity got the best of it, and so Becka and I decided to try it out. Becka was apprehensive about going in since we could see through the window that the customers were all males. Her presence certainly beautified the place. I jokingly asked the girl behind the counter if my wife was allowed to be there. She laughed and said that their morning crowd was mostly men and then afternoons were mostly ladies. Becka wondered if in the afternoons they served tea. 🙂 One of the girls behind the counter was the fourth generation of her family to work in Donut Castle!

I snagged a picture of this sign behind their counter.

Donut Castle

As we left Donut Castle, I spotted an odd sign in the window of the Taco Bell next door. Below is the picture I took. You can see in the reflection Donut Castle in the background and ivman pointing the camera out the car window.

All Two

With all the reflections, furniture inside, and signs from the other side of the building showing in that rather surreal picture, it may be a little difficult to see the poster itself. Here's one from the Taco Bell website.

Collect All Two

I wonder if Taco Bell's advertising team ever heard of our quaint word "both".... Besides, collect what?! Taco shells? Wrappers? What? Inquiring minds want to know....

Once Megan was doing sufficiently better, we made our way back to Greenville. On a little side trip to the Quilt Patch in La Follette, Tennneesee (I didn't get to hear how the locals mangle that French name — probably something like "laugh a lot"?), we saw a sign that I wasn't able to capture with my camera. The name of the business was Hazel's Hair Styles & Stuff. We wondered exactly what "stuff" Hazel offered her victims.

Signs that we especially watch out for at certain points in a trip are the signs for what restaurants or gas stations are at the next exit. Almost too late in our trip I discovered a website with the restaurants, hotels, and gas stations stores are within a three-mile radius of each exit or major junction in the USA! Here's a link to the site for future travels. We did make use of it during our last day of driving. The site has all sorts of other travel info and even has apps!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little travelogue — some oddities of travel, as seen through my eyes.


"Home is a memory factory." — David Yearick


Should you trust a stockbroker who's married to a travel agent?

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5 Comments on “Road Trips and Signs”

  1. #1 Carrie
    on Aug 14th, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I enjoyed this post very much. Next time you’re in Detroit, PLEASE look us up!

  2. #2 Glenn
    on Aug 14th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Hey, I can answer that one! My late wife’s family hailed from La Follette, TN, and they pronounce it something like Luh-FAHL-ut. Stress on the Foll syllable. I wondered that same thing when I first passed through there years ago before I met her.

  3. #3 Nancy
    on Aug 15th, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Hazel’s Hair Styles & Stuff brings to mind one of our “you know you are in small town America when” rules. You know you are in small town America when you combine disparate entities into one entrepreneurial endeavor . . . successfully, I might add. A local favorite from some years back was Watson Tire and Tread and Country Crafts.

  4. #4 Don Johnson
    on Aug 15th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Rob

    Speaking of donuts… I once read an article that explained how people in northern climes eat more donuts and drink more coffee than those further south. I read it on the internet, so it must be true.

    I did a quick search to see if I could find it again, but no luck. I did discover that per capita, we Canadians eat the most donuts. We are the home to Timmies, and when you meet someone for coffee, it’s usually at a Timmies somewhere. I was in Tims today, but I actually had a bagel instead… a Maple French Toast bagel!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. #5 menolly42
    on Aug 16th, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I will be making a similar trip to Detroit in the near future, and that website and the accompanying apps look like they will come in handy! Thank you!