Copper Harbor U.S.A.

mom flying "Uh-oh," I said and dropped the bag of groceries. "Mom?" I thought she was right behind me. I was afraid to look, out of fear that she would be hanging onto the door handle, with with her feet flying straight out behind her. Or worse yet, she'd let go and was sprawled out on the wet grass, in the middle of the yard. I could see through the little window, that the trees were still bent in half. I wondered for a split second, how long it would take an ambulance to get there. "Mom!" I yelled and headed for the door. "Do you want to take a road trip?" I'd asked her a few weeks before. "You and me?" she'd said. "Yeah. I have a couple of vacation days and Sven is too busy to take off." "Where did you want to go?" "I was thinking of Copper Harbor." "Didn't you have a bad experience there?" She was right. I was in Copper Harbor one other time in my life. I was with Sven and it was in August. It was our anniversary and things hadn't gone so well. We'd rented a cabin on sight, right on the main drag, next to a bar.  The floors tilted and the refrigerator was so old that at five feet two inches tall, I towered over it. It was perfect. copper harbor refrigerator It was not a tent. Copper Harbor is a lovely town in the Keweenaw Peninsula, on Lake Superior. You can cover it by foot, in about twenty minutes. So, Sven and I did just that and then we drove up the mountainous road to the Estivant Pines and hiked among trees that were so ancient and big, they made us feel young and small. After supper we hoofed our way down to the lake and decided to go skinny dipping. Sven dove right in. He is like that. Do you know how cold Lake Superior is? Thirty three degrees. I could not wade in past my ankles. "To hell with this," I said, feeling like an idiot and I put my clothes back on. But not Sven. He was out there doing side dives and the crawl. He swam further and further out and I could see that he was reaching a point of no return. "Sven! Get back here," I yelled, over the roaring waves. I was pretty sure that the tide was going to take him away and all I would have left of him, would be a little pile of dirty clothes. Thankfully he washed up on shore a few minutes later. On our way back to our love shack, Sven grabbed my arm, put his index finger over my lips and slowly backed us up. We were wide eyed and silent and fortunately we did not disturb the mama bear and her cubs, who were out to dinner in a garbage can. It was fun to sleep next to a bar and to listen to all of the drunken, ruckus, while snuggled up in an old fashioned, full sized bed. Sven and I live in the country, so we don't hear a lot of drunken ruckus, other than our own.  We are blessed with occasional raccoon squabbles, whippoorwills, whippoor-willing and we can count on coyotes howling at a full moon, accompanied by Hunter barking at the coyotes and Sven yelling at everybody to shut up. But that is not the same as sleeping next to a bar. In the morning we ate breakfast at the place next door. The golden brown hash browns scored a ten. "Sven," I said, gazing out the window at the building across the street.  "Let's rent a couple of those mountain bikes over there." "Really?" he said, sounding defeated. "Yeah," I said. A twenty something, blonde kid, suited us up with helmets and bikes with pedals that had a spot for your toes to lock in and straps to go around your ankles. "Oh my God." I said. "Do not strap in my feet." He showed us all one hundred and fifty gears and sent us on our way. The two of us cruised out of town like we were a couple of kids and we pedaled our way into the woods, where sunshine was filtering through the trees, onto a rugged trail. We rode down to the lake. Life was good. But you know how it is. Good things never last. And mountain biking is no exception. Having so many hundreds of gears is nice. It makes riding a bike so much easier than back in the old Schwinn days, with the double baskets in the back, a bell on the handle bar and using your feet to brake.  But the thing is, to make the gears work correctly you need to have timing. When the pedaling begins to become difficult, it is sometimes too late to switch gears, efficiently.  It is sometimes better to switch gears before the pedaling is so hard.  But that would involve foresight.  And switching gears while pedaling on an incline, is not a suitable time to forget which lever makes the pedaling easier. You only get one shot in those circumstances.  While I was riding uphill, on a part of the trail that was smooth black tar, my legs began to grow weary. It wasn't a steep hill. It was just a long hill. I was standing up on the pedals and trailing behind Sven.  I switched gears. And son of a bitch, wouldn't you know it? I made the wrong damn choice. Instead of the pedaling becoming easier, it became impossible. My right foot was almost to the top of the ferris wheel, when I realized that it was not going to make it over the top. Had I been riding on that ferris wheel, in a chair that was swinging and swaying, way up there in the sky and realized that the motor just conked out? My curdling screams would have busted glass. The bike came to a stop. There was a half a second of awkward. And then I just hopped off. Apparently your ankles are not very flexible after you turn forty. It was just a hop. I landed on my right foot and something snapped. I sat down on the blacktop. "Sven?" He turned around to see me with my head between my legs. I thought I was going to barf.  When I feel like I'm going to barf it is one of three things, the flu, too much fun, or, I just broke something. I just broke something. The incident constituted a side trip to the hospital, some forty minutes away. And then since I wasn't stabbed, shot or bleeding profusely, we sat in the waiting room for a long time. It was really starting to suck the fun out of our afternoon. Then came the bad news. I had a detached Achilles tendon, which might require surgery. Then came the good news. They let me out with some shiny, crutches and Sven liked the pain pills they prescribed to me. We drove back to Copper Harbor and there was still daylight. So we went fishing. I was sitting there in the canoe with crutches, a paddle and a fishing pole and I got my period. "Jesus." No, it was not the best trip. "Well Mom," I said. We won't rent mountain bikes. We can just go for a hike in the forest." She gave me a look. "A short hike." "I don't know, Millie." "Come on." The planning began. We went online and found a very nice cabin. It was on the outskirts of town. It said on the website that it was right next to a restaurant. I called and made reservations. There was a little bit of arguing about directions, but all in all, between the two of us, the map and that condescending woman inside the Garmin, things worked out. The fall colors were brilliant.  We oohed and we aaahhed along the way between, convulsing hysterically, listening to a set of Louis Black CDs. After several stops, we crossed the border, into Michigan. And a little while later, we found Copper Harbor. But then, that know it all lady, inside that Garmin, had us pull up right in front of the same fucking cabin that Sven and I had stayed in, some six or seven years prior. "Well Millie," said my mom. "There is a restaurant right there and this cabin is on the edge of town." Photos can be so deceptive. [one_half]copper harbor millie[/one_half] [one_half_last]copper harbor mom[/one_half_last] My house looks real nice in pictures too. Oh well. It's always fun when you tower over your refrigerator and you get to mess with those rabbit ears on old T.V.s that come with three stations, that don't really come in and all the faces are green and pink, with those lines waving through them. We checked in and went next door to the bar for dinner and a drink. Our heads hit our pillows early. The rain began sometime in the middle of the night. It was raining still when we woke up. We sipped on coffee and read our books. "Millie. It looks like it is going to rain all day." "Darn it." "What should we do?" "Let's go for a drive." With the wipers on high, we drove about thirteen miles west to Eagle Harbor.  It is a very lovely place on a clear day. I'd been there with Sven. We were seated in a crowded restaurant and ordered lunch. Before we were finished, we noticed that the place was quieting down. It seemed to be emptying out. My mom glanced at the flat screen T.V. on the wall. "Millie, look at that." "Holy crap." The bartender, who was wiping off the vacated counter said, "Yeah, there is one hell of a storm heading this way. Where are you staying?" "Copper Harbor." "You might not be able to get there. Lines are down." "Oh, my God." We jumped back into the car and peeled out of there. Lake Superior waves were crashing up onto highway M-26 and splintered trees were laying all over the place.  If the Keweenaw Peninsula was into dairy farming, we would have been dodging flying cows, just like in that movie, Twister. We came to a screeching halt and then inched our way around a tree that was sprawled out across three quarters of the road, which put us too close for comfort to the rocky cliff that overlooked the lake, that at that point, looked like an ocean. Finally, we could see rooftops in the distance. They were Copper Harbor rooftops. We'd made it back. Our cabin was still there, but the power was out. "Now what are we going to do?" We decided to go to the restaurant by the water and watch the storm. And what a sight. We were lucky enough to be in front of all that glass, facing the great lake, with a beer in hand, in time to witness the Keweenaw Peninsula, Perfect Storm. And, since we are so much fun, we made friends with the employees. We were their only guests. copper harber fireplace The power went out. I helped to build a fire. And then those new friends of ours broke the news. "Sorry ladies, we are closing." Damn it. They packed us up with soup to go and locked the door behind us. We drove to the general store and picked up flashlights, a hat for Sven and a few supplies to take back to the powerless cabin that was still standing. I was by the refrigerator when I realized that I was alone. "Uh-oh," I said and dropped the bag of groceries. "Mom?" I thought she was right behind me. I was afraid to look, out of fear that she would be hanging onto the door handle, with with her feet flying straight out behind her. Or worse yet, she'd let go and was be sprawled out on the wet grass, in the middle of the yard. I could see through the little window, that the trees were still bent in half. I wondered for a split second, how long it would take an ambulance to get there. "Mom!" I yelled and headed to the door. "What?" she says. "Get in here." It was four o'clock in the afternoon. The sky was gray. The town was black. Everything was shut. So, we made ourselves a drink and we sat down at the kitchen table, ready to take on the night, with flashlights. [one_half]copper harbor millie at table[/one_half] [one_half_last]copper harbor mom at table[/one_half_last] And that is where we stayed, for the duration. The flashlights came in handy for safety and entertainment. Remember when you used to shine the light up your face, from under your chin? Sometime in the middle of the night, the rain stopped and the lights and the T.V. came blasting on. In the morning, while packing, Mom discovered that my bottle of Jagermeister was stuck to the icebox, due to the recent thaw. Never fear. I won the heated, twenty minute battle, using a hair dryer and a butter knife as my weapons. We went next door and ate golden brown hash browns. They were a ten. And then it was time to say good by. But before departing, I drove up the mountainous road to the Estivant Pines, to show my mom the place she never had to hike. DSCF9133

I think she was real happy about that.


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