A line in a movie finds a boastful naval navigator claiming he can fly through the Alps in a plane with no windows if his map is accurate enough. That’s me. With the right map, I can get myself anywhere, even somewhere I really don’t want to be. The U.S. military, in its infinite wisdom, plopped my Arizona blood into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a portion of the country that has recorded measurable snowfall every month of the year. So when I arrived in the bustling town of Marquette, the lack of clear directional signs annoyed a traveler like me. Let’s just hope that the local snow plows received the funding that seems to have been withheld from the city’s sign shop.
When I needed to branch out and find my way around the town away from the air force base, I asked for directions to a few specific locations described in the outdated information packet provided to me. More than one person told me to follow the road past the old Bunny Bread factory. To be clear, the Bunny Bread location must have wised up and high-tailed its cotton backside out of that sad, little town because it wasn’t there anymore. By its very definition, a landmark is a place that marks the lay of the land. If it no longer exists, it makes for a poor landmark; please don’t use it when providing directions.
I often describe the U.P. as the place where hell freezes over. The nearest city, Green Bay, can be reached in good weather, but it requires a six-hour round-trip drive. And while I am sure there are many fans, year-round coverage of only one sports team lacks a sense of variety and promotes off-season tedium. In fairness, hunters and winter outdoorsmen make ideal Yoopers, but I am neither a sportsman nor a fan of winter, so two frigid cycles of the seasons in the frozen wasteland can really beat a human down.
As an evil farewell gift, less than a month before our May departure from the region, Mother Nature dumps forty-five inches of snow upon us. And in a wicked twist of fate, the snow fall ends just hours after the snow plowing contract terminates for the season. The only hope to free our car from its frozen tomb involves a couple solid hours of digging out from the massive drift that hides it from our view. At our earliest opportunity, we squeeze the door open enough to allow Son #1 to watch us work from the inside of the car. And of all the places I have visited, this is one to which I will never return, not even if you pay me. It’s right up there on the list with Las Vegas.