The purpose for this trip was to attend the reunion of Gail's grade school. On the way we did some sightseeing, visited with family and friends, and gave talks about Hubble.

Sightseeing and visits

Our first sightseeing stop was the Soo locks. The day was overcast and we arrived just after a large ship had passed through on its upward journey. We watched the Bide-A-Wee excursion boat pass through the MacArthur Lock. Then we watched a display in the visitor center giving status as the Greek-registered ship Chestnut approached from Lake Superior. Finally, the 607-foot vessel came into view and passed through the Poe Lock.

The Chestnut approaching from the west The Chestnut at the start and end of its descent
The Chestnut passing below the highway and
               railroad bridges as it approaches the Poe Lock.
               The closed upper gates of the MacArthur Lock are visible. The Chestnut has entered the lock and is
               about to start its descent.

The next day we took the ferry to Mackinac Island. The day began very foggy but turned clear and sunny in late morning. Transportation on Mackinac Island is by horse or bicycle because cars were banned over 100 years ago. The main industry on the island is selling fudge to tourists. My kind of place!

We rented bikes and cycled to the fort that overlooks the village at the harbor 150 feet below, and then on to Arch Rock. The fort was the site of one of the first conflicts of the War of 1812. A British force surprised the American soldiers before the Americans knew that they were at war. Outnumbered, the Americans quickly surrendered.

Typical street scene with horse carriage and bicycles Gail at the South Sally Port of Fort Mackinac
The Lilac Tree Hotel on Main Street in the
               village. A horse-drawn carriage approaches from 
               the left. Bicycles are parked at the curb. Gail stands at the southern gate through
               the stone wall of the fort. A little of 
               Marquette Park is visible 150 feet below.
Al and Gail at Arch Rock with Lake Huron 146 feet below Arch Rock from Lake Shore Boulevard
We stand to the right of the arch. There is
               a fence in front of the opening and small bushes
               grow on either side. A view of Arch Rock from Lake Shore Boulevard
               where we were cycling. A patch of sky can be seen
               through the arch and trees grow up the side of 
               the cliff. A white fence is seen at the bottom
               of the photo.

One interesting curiosity of Mackinac was that someone or some group had stacked rocks on top of one another along the eastern shore of the island. In some places, it looked like a village of these little guys had been assembled.

We skipped the 123-year-old Grand Hotel. It was not our cup of tea. We did, however, visit the American Fur Company store where French Canadian voyageur Alexis St. Martin was shot in the stomach in 1822. He survived, but the hole never closed. The surgeon at the fort, Dr. William Beaumont, used the opportunity to make many discoveries about human digestive processes. Despite the hole in his stomach, Mr. St. Martin outlived Dr. Beaumont.

A "family" of stacked rocks The 660-foot long porch of the Grand Hotel
Six or Seven piles of rocks on the rocky shore
               of Lake Huron. The blue water and blue sky. Six or Seven piles of rocks on the rocky shore
               of Lake Huron. The blue water and blue sky.

After Mackinac Island, we first headed to Crystal Falls for the Humongous Fungus Festival and then to Marquette.

In Marquette, we visited Murray at the Jacobetti Home in the morning. For being 95 years old, he seemed to be in fair health. He complained about not being able to see well enough to read. As usual he had trouble remembering and hearing. It must be very depressing for him, not being able to read, to hear movies, etc.

Murray in front of the window in the library 
               of the Jacobetti Home for Veterans

After lunch we visited with Carl and Ruth Ann, with nephew Chris and April, and with their boys. The boys were participating in the children's events of the Ore to Shore bike race. It was Caden's 8th birthday and he competed in the 4-mile, 8-and-9-year-old section of the Junior Rock race. Griffen participated in the Little Rock one-mile ride. Surprisingly, this day was one of the hottest of our trip. Usually Marquette is cool.

Caden finishes his 4-mile race Chris rides along with Griffen at the end of the Little Rock ride
Caden rides past the finish line Chris smiles at the camera as he rides
               past the finish line. Little Griffen follows

After Marquette, we first went to Iron River, pausing on the way to visit Horse Race Rapids on Paint River.

The Paint River descends in swirling rapids.
               A rocky cliff is seen on the right and trees
               and bushes on the left.

It was great to get together with some of Al's former classmates and teachers, and to hear and see the loons on Ice Lake.

After two days in Iron River, we headed to St. Paul to visit with the Burkes. While there we saw a performance of The Scottsboro Boys at the Gutherie Theater. This is, surprisingly, a musical based on the unfair trails and convictions of nine young blacks beginning in 1931. The musical was written by the same men who had created Cabaret and Chicago. It will open on Broadway this fall. We enjoyed it.

The program cover and a ticket stub
               from The Scottsboro Boys.

Our next leg took us to visit Linda, Gail's childhood friend, near Marshfield, WI. With her, we visited Jurustic Park, supposedly a re-creation of marsh creatures that became extinct when farmers moved into the area in the mid 19th century. The "curator" of the site, a retired lawyer, has an entertaining spiel. He will sell you some of the Little Critters for $100 to $300 each. If you decide to visit, get your directions off the Internet first; there are no signs to show you the way.

Linda and Gail in front of the Attack Dragon and other creatures The Marsh Dragon
Linda and Gail are standing with the Attack Dragon
               in the background. The Dragon has its head lowered
               and has a helicopter-like rotor spinning on its back.
               Near the right side of the photo is a deep-sea looking
               creature. All the creatures are rusty. Trees are in the
               background. The marsh dragon is sitting on the ground and is
               maybe 10 feet high. It has a club in its left hand.
               Its open mouth shows large teeth. It has two
               mesh wings. It is rust colored.

The last stop before Genoa City was Madison, where we visited with Maija. She took us to the farmer's market on the Capitol Square, where we bought gourmet popcorn among other things.

Gail's grade school reunion

A village of only about 1,000 people when Gail grew up here, Genoa City, Wisconsin, has not been without its 15 minutes of fame. A fictional Genoa City is home to the soap opera The Young and the Restless. More recently, disgraced Illinois politician Dan Rostenkowski died in his summer home here on Aug 11th.

Downtown Genoa City in 1936 Downtown Genoa City in 2010
A black and white photo showing a parade in front of
               the west side of Freeman Street on October 25, 1936. People
               are wearing overcoats and the street looks wet as if it
               is raining or has rained recently. A color photo of approximately the same area
               as the 1936 photo. The sky is very blue.
The 1936 photo shows a series of small shops. Behind the Tasty Eats / Beer Garden is a hardware store. Behind the hardware store is a nondescript, two-story building with an awning. That two-story building is the only remaining building in the 2010 photo on the right.

Gail's parents bought the hardware store when they moved here from Illinois. A few years later a new basement was being dug at the location of the Tasty Eats / Beer Garden - by then gone - when the hardware store slid into the hole. Luckily there was enough warning that everyone got out, and no one was injured.

The reunion included three consecutive classes from the old Genoa City grade school, the 8th grades of 1959, 1960, and 1961. We had a picnic at Veterans Park, toured the old school - now augmented with two additions and housing only kindergarten through third grade -, took class photos, and talked a lot.

The old Genoa City school
The twow-story brick front of the old school. The entrance
               is elaborate with pillars. 
               An evergreen tree is on the left and a playground on the right.
               The sky is very blue.
The Class of 1959
Seven members of the 8th grade class of 1959
               pose in the shelter dedicated to the First Swedish
               Settlers in Wisconsin. Gail is standing on the
               rignt, next to her friend Tina.
The Class of 1960
Fifteen members of the 8th grade class of 1960
               pose in the shelter dedicated to the First Swedish
               Settlers in Wisconsin. Our host Debbie Miller 
               is sitting on the left.
The Class of 1961
Ten members of the 8th grade class of 1961
               pose in the shelter dedicated to the First Swedish
               Settlers in Wisconsin.

Sherry, the woman in the red blouse, is married to a man who graduated from the Iron River, Michigan, high school a year behind Al. What are the odds that two couples from small towns (3,000 for Iron River and 1,000 for Genoa City) 327 miles apart would marry? They've got to be small.

Al's 2010 summer tour

Al gave presentations in four cities about Hubble and some of its history, its accomplishments, and how it works. Gail named it Al's 2010 summer tour. In Flint, Michigan, Al talked to about 70 students and staff at Mott Community College and to about about 80 members of the general public at Longway Planetarium. He came to Flint because a woman with whom he'd attended a summer science institute at Michigan State in 1961 had invited him. She is now Dean of Science and Math at Mott, and had rediscovered Al when searching the Space Telescope Science Institute site during Hubble's Servicing Mission 4.

The other presentations were to about 40 members of the general public at the Iron County Historical Museum in Iron River, Michigan, to about 50 retired faculty and staff from the University of Minnesota at Coffman Condomium in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and to about 65 members of the general public at Brookwood Middle School in Genoa City, Wisconsin.

The audience members ranged from elementary school children to retired physics professors. The feedback from everyone was positive.

Mott Community College Iron County Historical Museum
Al standing near a podium. On the left of
               the photo is a projection screen. On the right
               the back of a man's head, listening to the talk. Al standing in front of the stage at the
               Iron County Historical Museum. A projection
               screen is on the stage.


We were also glad to have had the opportunity to visit with Chuck and Marilyn the evening before our Flint visit, and with Guy, Niki and Troy in St. Paul. We are grateful to Bill and Julie, to Maija, and to Debbie and George for having invited us to share their homes.