Monday, July 26, 2010

Roadside distractions

 DA U.P., Mich. - Sometimes on the road, you check stuff out just because it's time to stop anyway. Or something seems to outlandish that you can't resist, no matter how ridiculous and touristy.
  Here are quick examples of each in the Upper Peninsula.
  Near L'Anse, I see an unassuming sign for the "Baraga Shrine." I need a break. What I find is inspiring. Father Baraga, originally from Slovenia, traveled around the U.P. in the winter on snowshoes to tend to the needs of the local Catholics. "The Snowshoe Priest" also worked closely with Native Americans and tried to keep them from being forcibly relocated. This was in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. It is cold and dark, and snows nonstop in much of the peninsula in the winter. Baraga (1797-1868) is being considered for sainthood.

  An hour or so later I stop at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming. (A Yooper is someone who lives in the U.P.) It's a funky "museum" of make-believe Yooper stuff, including a "riding lawnmower" - a grass cutter attached to a bicycle. The placing of the sign in the foreground with the rather large rifle in the background here struck me as, well, interesting. A confusing mixture of the serious and absurd.

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