28th September, 2004 // USA
The Fitness Center where i finally got my shower-
The Sandpoint Lighthouse-
The view of the bay from the top of the lighthouse-
The view of the marina from the lighthouse-
The couple on the lighthouse tour took this for me,...
Day 89, August 20th
i stayed warmer last night, but i can tell the weather is going to become a factor in my trip(even more so than rain has been). its been getting down in the low 50's here at night and a Jeep isn't the most insulated of vehicles. i'm glad i grabbed a thermal and some sweatshirts when i was home last. but i'm a little concerned about having a warm place to sleep at night. i can handle alot of things, but being cold isn't one of them.
i hurried and re-packed the car, then jumped in and turned the heat all the way up. once i got warm, my #1...first thing...top priority...do it or die task of the day was to shower. i was on Day 5 since i'd had one last(UUUUGHHH!) and desperate. Escanaba is a relatively big town for the UP(Upper Peninsula), and somewhat of a tourist destination, of sorts. it has a waterfront park and lighthouse museum, downtown main street with a few shops, several restaurants, and lots of hotels/motels.....an unproportionate amount of hotels and motels it seemed. but all these motels are where my plan to get a shower comes in. i was going to attempt to barter one- i would offer to clean rooms in exchange for the use of a room, specifically the shower in the room.
the first motel i tried was full and had no empty rooms for me to clean. i had explained where i was from and what i was doing so far from home( i never get tired of watching people's reaction when i tell them i'm on a solo cross-country road trip), and the owner actually said he would have gladly helped me out had he had a room for me to use. but as it turns out the town hosts the annual UP state fair every year, which just happened to be this weekend. ah-ha, now i understand why all the motels.
well, assuming they would all be full due to the fair, but feeling confident that he hadn't laughed at me or called the police or something i went to work coming up with Plan B.
Where could i find a shower? no truck stops around, motels are out, not sure i want to knock door to door (yet). where else would there be a shower? the YMCA occured to me as a possibilty just as i passed a fitness center. i've seen other gyms advertise free trial offers, or at the very least a cheap day pass. and so on the hope that this gym had a similiar program, i turned around with intentions of using their locker room for an hour or so, since i was sure that's how long it would take me to scrub the funk off. i crossed my fingers and hoped i wouldn't have to resort to knocking door-to-door ;)
i threw a change of clothes and some soap in my backpack, walked in under the pretense that i was interested in a memebership, and got in the place with just a signature on the guest ledger. the gym was in a very old building right on main street and the basement locker room wasn't the most modern i've ever seen. i've actually seen comparable facilities at some of the campgrounds i've stayed at.
but it was still the most enjoyable shower i've ever had. i had a leaky showerhead, smaller-than-the-stall shower curtain, and lukewarm running water- but believe it or not that was all it took. i felt like superwoman when i walked out of there, despite the comtemptuous look of disbelief i got from the girl at the front desk. i suppose i could have at least spent some time on a treadmill or something. but at the time, it seemed to me that sweating 30 minutes would have pushed me over the edge into a dirty, smelly place i may never have returned from.
feeling like the queen of sheba, i drove down to the watefront park to tour SandPoint Lighthouse, including a great view of Lake Michigan from the top. the nice old man whose job it was to collect your $1 admission, make sure you signed the guest book, and fill your head with as many old stories about the family that used to live and work the lighthouse as you had time for took my picture for me. there was only one other visitor during the half hour i spent there- a couple from connecticut who were on a road trip of their own. they were planning to drive the entire loop around Lake Michigan in order to stop and see all 40 something accessible lighthouses that sit on the lake.
i think lighthouses are cool and all, but i didn't share the same passion as the three of them. so i left them to their animated discussion and walked over to the waterfront park for a picnic lunch of tuna salad sandwich, crackers, and a pickle. i drove to the library to check my email(they only allowed non-library card holders 15 minutes of internet time), then parked on main street and walked down to the coffeeshop to have a cup of tea and do some writing.
after my tea, i went for a stroll down main street- i'm not sure the difference between a walk and a stroll but this was definetly a stroll, not a walk. i didn't have the need to purchase anything, or the money for that matter. and i didn't see anything or meet anyone noteworthy. but i did manage to avoid the gym where i had scammed my shower earlier.
after my stroll, i decided it was time to head to Whitefish Point. i wouldn't make it before the Shipwreck Museum closed, but i could spend the night nearby and hit the museum first thing tomorrow morning. it was still early afternoon, and the drive would only take about 3 hours, so i decided to make a few stops on the way. I spent a half hour or so in Manistique, a very quaint harbor town, walking along the Lake Michigan Boardwalk and out to the East Breakwater Light. what that is i'm not sure- it looks like a lighthouse and it seems to have the same purpose. but you shouldn't call it a lighthouse-Yoopers, (that's what they call locals up in the UP) will be quick to correct you.
I also stopped in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, about 10 miles or so before Paradise, and hiked down to the waterfall for a few pics. It was getting dusk now and i started to wonder where i would sleep for the night. I came to the "T" in the highway where the small town of Paradise sits and stopped in the gas station. i actually needed gas but decided i would get it in the morning since i would be parking in the station's lot overnight. the attendant inside had answered my question "Is there a park or parking lot nearby where i could park my car overnight?" with the answer "We have a parking lot- just wait til the Blueberry festival's over and pick a spot anywhere."
i had stopped at the "festival" on my way in the station since it was going on right in the parking lot. i say "festival" cause they're were only about 20 people there(but come to find out the town only has a population of a couple hundred). they had a tent set up where they were selling food, and haybales for seating in front of a stage area. the solo guitarist that was playing when i first got there was really good, so i went back out and listened for awhile until i got too cold(it was in the mid 50's)and headed over to the Yukon Inn just two doors down.
The "heart of town" is only about a block long with 7 motels/cabin rentals, 4 restaurants, a snowmobile rental shop, and the gas station making up the whole place. apparently, the winter is peak tourist season time here because of all the great snowmobiling and the long winters. and i can imagine the Yukon Inn(the only bar in town) gets pretty crowded in the evenings. its a fantastic place that looks just like its name implies it would look. i felt like i was in that old TV show Northern Exposure.
when i walked in, it was full but not crowded. and i was the only non-local in the whole place. or so i felt. no one made an extra effort to smile or introduce themselves at first, but i got alot of curious glances. eventually the waiter started chatting with me, then the bartender wanted to hear about my trip, and the next thing i knew the place was full of people and i was hanging out with Mike and his friends.
Mike was up here from Kalamazoo helping his brother build a cabin on Lake Superior. They were wonderful guys and looked out for me. Thanks to all of you for making sure i was well-taken care of. and thanks for letting me park on your property- i slept like a dream......
Lesson of the Day: When one door closes, another opens. But sometimes we look so long at the closed door that we miss the one that has been opened for us.
- Helen Keller
(taken from a plaque on the wall in the coffeeshop in Escanaba)
Total Miles: 150
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