Living on the East Coast, I have become accustomed to a faster pace of life than the one I lived during my first nineteen years. Whenever I do get back to the home of my youth, I marvel in the disparity between then and now. Corporate America has left its mark in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, although some locally owned entities seem to still take care of business. There is only one Elmer’s in the world, and it’s been selling groceries in Escanaba since the 1940s.
Ever since full-service gas stations began to give way to junk food packed convenience stores, not many stations have an air compressor for inflating tires, and those that do almost always charge for it. This air hose is at the Holiday Station in Iron River.
I always like traveling through Crystal Falls. Not only does it offer a picturesque view, but the hill on the main street makes the buildings look crooked.
My Great-Grandpa Chenhall, who died a decade or so before I was born, pushed for years to have a portion of U.S. Highway 141 paved. My dad recalls how his Grandpa Chenhall, before even saying hello to family upon arriving in L’Anse by way of U.S. 141, would walk straight to the road commissioner’s office to complain about the status of the road. I am sure he was a pain to the poor road commissioner, but U.S. 141 was eventually paved, and my great-grandpa’s obituary even refers to him as “Mr. 141.”
No trip to the Upper Peninsula would be complete without a pasty (the A is pronounced like the A in fast). A pasty is a sort of meat and potato pie, with an assortment of any number of other vegetables. Miners used to take pasties into the mines for lunch. While the mines are mostly closed today, at one time the Upper Peninsula was full of iron mines (hence names like Iron River, Iron Mountain, and Iron County) and copper mines (Copper Harbor, and “the copper country”).