Personal interpretations about traveling in Michigan:
I would never eat one of these but, I understand they are very good! They are available everywhere in the UP--didn't see them anywhere in Lower Michigan. (I think this may be attributed to the dense population of Scandinavian peoples in the UP.) This is a pastry in the shape of a half-moon filled with meat, vegetables and gravy.
Most conversations are followed with the word "eh?" Example: "I think it's going to rain today, eh?" The variations in speech between Upper and Lower Michigan was very noticeable. Again, due to the large population of Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish inhabitants. Those individuals that inhabit Upper Michigan, refer to those living in Lower Michigan as "trolls"; meaning they live "under the bridge" ("the bridge" referencing the Mackinac Bridge)
This has been one of the mainstays of the UP. Unfortunately, the logging industry decimated vast amounts of timber, right around the turn of the century, without regard to the environmental impact. Most of the timber you see standing currently, is 100 years old or less. 600+ year old timber only exists in but a few well preserved places. I think the state of Maine, went through something similar with logging in it's state, before safe-guards were put into place. Can you imagine removing EVERY single tree?
This was another industry, that permanently scarred the landscape of the UP. Most of the peoples that lived in the UP, were employed in one of two industries--logging...or mining. Copper. Most of the mining done in the UP was done in regards to this mineral. Iron ore was second. Large mines employed lots of people; some of these mines forever devastated the landscape with their "strip-mining" techniques. After WWII, and the automobile industry took off in the private sector, most residence took off for Detroit in search of jobs. What was a population of 300,000 was reduced to less than 100,000. Much of the "Old Money" still lives in the area (referencing the timber and mine owners & their families) Highway 41 (yes, it's the same road that meanders through Highland, Saint John & points south) was one of the main roads used to transport products from the mines, into the rest of the country; with it's starting point in a place called Copper Harbor. Houghton and Hancock (Houghton is on the south side of the river, Hancock is on the north--almost directly accoss from each other.) are on a main waterway, used transport iron-ore and copper from the region. Houghton still has the large skelton of a copper mill, where the melting of copper--then pouring into ingots--was done. Many places like Iron Mountain and Ironwood, received their names from the tremendous amount of iron-ore that was so prevelant in the UP; these places are now mostly known as ski attractions.
Hmm...let's see. If you want Subway's sandwiches, these are EVERYWHERE! There's a few McDonald's. Mostly small Ma & Pa type places (unless you are in one of the "larger" towns--I use "larger" loosely!) Tried an Italian restaurant in downtown Escanaba--I wouldn't recommend ANYONE to eat there! It resembled over-cooked microwaved noodles, Iceburg lettuce salad, and sauce that was probably reheated several days in a row, due to lack of customers! So the next restaurant was Mexican in St. Ignace (by the Mackinac Bridge) Rancid tortilla chips (huh???) and frozen tamales! The only thing that rescued us, were the beans and rice that was served with our meal! Okay, we tried one more time! This time it was at a Chinese/Thai restaurant in Manistee. This restaurant was just plain confused! Ever eaten the Chinese version of Pad See Ew? (The opperative word here is "EWWWW!!!") It resembeled more of some obscure Chinese dish with brown sauce! (Those of you that have dined on Thai food, know how unique and wonderful their cusine is.) They weren't even close on this one! Quiznos here we come!
This is in reference to those signs you see along side the road. You know which ones I'm refering to: "watch for falling rocks" (are we talking copper or iron ore here?), "deer crossing next 14 miles", (does it take them 14 miles to cross the road?) "bear-crossing" (bears???) "watch for snow-mobiles" (in July?) "moose-crossing" (yeah, right! I hate to see them insult some of the local residents by refering to them in this manner!) "watch for ice on bridge" (this is something that happens in summer too?) "turkey-crossing" (now, are we refering to the kind of turkeys with or without wings?) "trucks entering the highway" (and they would be coming from where?) ", "fog next 12 miles" (this one was true! especially along the stretch of highway 28 that runs from Marquette all the way to Munising MI.), "icey road ahead" (hmm...this is July correct?) "lane ends-merge right" (Right of where? If I merge right, I will drive off the road!) "watch for falling debris" (okay, I give up!). This is only a fraction of the "watch" signs scattered along throughout bothe Upper and Lower Michigan.
(To be continued!)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Michigan Road-Trip: First, let me publicly say thank you and kudos to the Herb Thyme Market crew; they made this road trip possible--they were the ones who managed the store in our absence! They did an amazing job with just a small amount of training! Most of our clientele were not even aware we were out-of-town...which is how it should be. I fretted over taking some time away from the store; the business has been in operation seven years(I work 6 days a week--with an occasional two day weekend) Stepping back from the day-to-day operations seemed a little scary at first; the crew assured me that they could make this work! THEY ROCK! Saturday 18 July: We opted to close the store at 2pm (this usually doesn't work...we always seem to have last-minute customers, and I won't say "no".) But, this day--it's as if things on a larger scale were falling into place. The only thing that became a "monkey-wrench" initially...we rented a SUV, with plans of camping our way up and around through Michigan. We needed something large enough to move all our gear...but not so large that it would be an environmental disaster! I moved most of the camping gear to the business on Monday; leaving the last minute clothes stuff, until Saturday. When the SUV arrived here for us to load up...I just about fell over at the size! "This is too small!" I burst out. "There's NO WAY we are going to get EVERYTHING in this vehicle!" was my next comment. I had to step back for a moment--thought of "I knew this was going to smoothly" shot through my head. My friend Pat, took a look at our gear...sized it up with the size of the vehicle and said, "I'm a good packer, let's see how much we can put into the nooks and crannies". And so onward we went--cramming things into cubby holes and crannies. It was like working a giant puzzle! Believe it or not...we got EVERYTHING packed in!!! (Pat, you truly do have "squirrel medicine!") I pulled it around to the front of the business; we closed out our books for the day...Michelle said a prayer for our safe travels...and we were off! Sunday 19 July: Wilderness State Park: This is on the very most northern part of lower Michigan--on Lake Michigan. The campground was very busy--lots and LOTS of children on bicycles! You need to creep around the campsites, due to dashing children oozing out of the trees, from under rocks--out of the sand...they were EVERYWHERE! I had made reservations months earlier--only to find out I have made reservations for Wilderness State Park-Porcupine which is in Upper Michigan clear over on the most western part of the state! So, they assigned us a new site (unfortunately, we lost the money paid for the night at the Porcupine State Park). As we approached the campsite, I was concerned about the lack of space between most of the campsites; I had never camped where everyone was so "up in each others business!" I didn't want to take the site initially, due to the fact there was barely enough room to set up camp! After getting out of the vehicle and walking around a bit, I changed my mind. We were less than 20 yards (literally!) from the beach! We were able to enjoy the most AMAZING sunset, right from our campsite; a hop, skip and a jump from the lake front! I have some awesome pictures!!! It had been so cool for several weeks prior to our trip, that the mosquitoes were not out and about; it was nice not to worry about wearing insect repellent to bed! Monday 20 July: Things to remember about camping: buy ice everyday; rise early to take a shower before all the hot water is gone AND you can't get into one; buy firewood (this is such a rip-off!) Don't travel with it though...emerald ash borer is very prevalent! You would not believe the devastation it has caused in the UP! Heat water before cooking for washing dishes; bring tarps and rain-gear; bring mosquito repellent; bring axe, fire-starter logs & matches; bring "pee-can"--getting up in the middle of the night can be a little more than just disorienting! Jackets--it's about 10+ degrees (minimum) cooler this far north. We had the opportunity to see wild-turkeys (no...not the human partying type!) along side the road on two occasions so far. Mackinac Bridge: If you have never seen this bridge, you are in for a REAL treat! I had managed to do a little reading on the construction of the bridge--pretty amazing! I have a friend that travels to the UP every year and has NOT as of yet, crossed the Mackinac Bridge--they travel to the UP via Wisconsin! (I made sure to bring her something from this area...figure if she won't come to the bridge--I'll bring a replica of the bridge to her!) You move slowly to cross--they were doing construction and what appeared to be bridge painting. As you approach the crest, looking out on Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Huron on the other--you feel as though you are on top of the world! Watching the ships and barges out on the Lakes...they seemed so tiny now. Tried to take pictures as we were crossing--anxious to see how they turned out! Road Signs: We soon discovered the "road-sign" mecca! These consisted of the watch for "deer-crossing" signs--"bear-crossing" signs--"snow-mobile" signs--"moose-crossing" signs--"watch for rock slides"--"watch for ice on bridge" and the "turkey-crossing" signs! By the time you "watch" for everything, it becomes impossible to enjoy the view because you are too busy "watching" for whatever might be crossing or sliding! Marquette MI: I have a guide, listing all of the health food stores that are members of the NPA (National Products Association); I made sure to bring this along, knowing we were going to take the time to visit several places. One such store was Marquette Food Co-Op--this store has kind of a "hippy" feel to it (which was really kind of cool!) This is where we decided to pick-up a few thing for out lunch, which we ate in the small park ajacent to the store. If you are ever in Marquette, be sure to visit the Co-Op! Van Riper State Park: The campers at the parks, are now starting to thin out--which is good...it's quieter and more spacious! This park is located outside of Marquette--closer to Champion in the UP of Michigan. Now that we are getting closer to the middle of the week, the State Parks are becoming quiter (or was this due to people just not traveling this year?) We also had a reservation here; we had a nice site--we noticed the campers were spaced into every-other site...which was nice to not have people "in your business!" After setting up camp for the night, I worked on starting a fire and putting together dinner. We dined on Organic Potatoes, Organic Broccoli florets, Organic baby Patty Pan squash, Organic Carrots and Organic Onion--which were cooked in the coals. The chicken was grilled right over the campfire. There's something about camping and cooking out...I just love it! Must be something "Native" in my blood! We didn't get so lucky about the mosquitoes this time...I got "tagged" twice on the elbow, once I stepped away from the campfire! Took this as the opportunity to hit the sack--realizing how late it really was...and the fact that it was still "light" out! This took a little getting use to--staying "light" later into the evening...throws the body-clock off a little! Tuesday 21 July: Onward to Copper Harbor--the very northern most point in the UP of Michigan! (To be continued!)
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The geographical area where I currently reside (which is not where I am originally from) qualifies as a "beer & butter" belt. Sadly enough, the population here, has taken on the physical attributes that go with it.
I people watch; especially when grocery shopping and dining out.
There have been rare occasions when I've chosen to dine at a "buffet". Now then, if you are generally a healthy eater, buffets are not necessarily known for their "healthy, low-calorie" menus. This must be what draws most people in this area to them...the fact that they are not "healthy or low-calorie", and you can run amok (whatever that is...) with what and how much you choose to eat. You must take the time, to seek out the better-for-you items at these places.
Observing what most people choose to feed themselves; (given the bounty of items to choose from.) there are a few that start with a nice green salad (although, iceberg lettuce is NOT my idea of salad material!)...with all the wonderful fixings. Only to LOAD it down with either ranch or blue cheese dressing (which kind of defeats the purpose of eating such a healthy salad!) Quite often, these are the same people that go for the macaroni salad, potato salad, crab salad AND cottage cheese on the same plate too! WHEW!
Then it's off to the hot items: this is another area I find people's dietary habits quite interesting.
There seems to be two very prevalent color schemes during plate assembly: brown (which covers most of the meats and gravy) and white (which covers all potatoes and refined white flour pastas.) Rarely (if ever) do you see green, orange, yellow or red items on this same plate! (Most people consider these colors covered with the "salad" they ate earlier...IF you can find it [salad]...buried under the "white" heavily slathered on salad dressing!)
Next, comes dessert: vanilla ice cream (no wait--it COULD be chocolate--that has color right? All be it in the "brown" category!) Along with the three (or maybe four) pieces of dessert (which is usually nothing more than food dye and sugar!)
The children that are dining with their parents, are just as bad (often worse) with their choices than the adults! These quite often, are the same children that can't sit still after their meal, (children are usually pretty active anyway) but, are now over-active after ingesting the heavy amount of starches, sugars and food dyes.
Hearing the statistics relating to obesity in this country--it's easy to see how those numbers have come about. It's disturbing! Unfortunately, the obesity epidemic seems to follow certain income levels as well. (That's another subject for another time...)
Okay. So, where do we go from here?
I could write a book on the people that frequent this industry--looking--for the "magic-pill"--(of which there's no such thing!) Supplements DO NOT take the place of better eating!
How do you teach people to eat better? I am only one person--one voice!
Let's start with two simple rules:
First: all things in moderation!
Second, think of a painter's pallet when assembling your plate of food--does it have the many colors of the rainbow?--or are you stuck in the "two-color" mode (white & brown)...AGAIN! When it comes to rich, fatty foods (and you KNOW what those are!)...see the first rule!
Sometimes, bad eating habits are so ingrained, it can be very difficult to help someone break free. It usually takes six weeks to break a habit...but, it's difficult to not go back to familiar territory...we see it all the time after the detox classes here.
There are no clear-cut answers. But, if you try following these two simple rules--it's a start!