Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Brian's Birthday Bash, Part 1

Brian had a big birthday two weeks ago.  A very big birthday, the kind that needs to be marked as a momentous occasion with a very special trip or a huge party.  I asked him nearly a year ago what he wanted to do to celebrate and his answer, surprising me greatly, was that he wanted to go to the Keweenaw peninsula in Northern Michigan and visit a few copper mines.

Not really what I had in mind, but after all it was his big birthday, not mine. For my big birthday (next year) I have been thinking about asking for a trip to Scotland.  But it was his choice, so we headed to Michigan.

I had been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as an undergraduate geology student.  Our professors packed us into a bus every spring break and took us on a weeklong camping trip to study geology in situ.  One year we visited a zinc mine in Virginia, one year we went to Mammoth Cave and hunted quartz crystals in Arkansas, one year we studied dunal deposition in Florida (full disclosure, not much studying done on that trip) and during my senior year we went to the UP and visited several iron mines.  Brian, being a year ahead of me, had already graduated and did not get to go on that trip.  Apparently he has always regretted it.

So we headed to Michigan.  We had booked into a really wonderful B & B, Sheridan on the Lake, in Houghton, MI. Our room had a fabulous view of Portage Lake.
Bill and Barbara are lovely hosts.  And Barbara is a wonderful cook.  Like many natives of the Keweenaw she is of Finnish descent. We told her we had been to Finland, and she surprised us with a Finnish breakfast one morning.  Homemade cheese (Leipäjuusto), a Finnish pancake (pannu kakku) and a breakfast bread.  Delicious!

Houghton is the home of Michigan Tech, and Michigan Tech has a world-class mineral museum.  So our first day was spent at the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum.  We hadn't really planned on spending a full day there, but when you get two people with degrees in geology in a mineral museum, you cannot get them out.  Here is Brian with a gigantic piece of native copper.
They truly have a wonderful collection.  Many minerals from the Great Lakes states and tons of native silver and copper from the Keweenaw.

We headed toward the tip of the peninsula, searching for agates on the beach at Eagle River, touring a lighthouse at Eagle Harbor and exploring Calumet.  And ended up at Copper Harbor for dinner in a great German restaurant with a view of Lake Superior.  Enjoying schnitzel and watching the freighters go by.
Pebbly beach on Lake Superior.  Good place to look for agates.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse 
We ended the day by sitting on the dock at Sheridan on the Lake, looking for bald eagles (we saw several) and enjoying the sunset.
It was raining across the lake, and we could see a rainbow as well as the sunset. 

The next day we headed to the Quincy Mine for a tour.  The mine operated from 1846 until the 1970s.  They offer underground tours.
Number 2 Shaft House
The mine shaft we hiked into was originally 5 feet high and 3 feet wide.  Luckily, it was widened as part of a mining study by students of Michigan Tech.
Underground (7th level), examining the old mining tools and the copper stope. 
After the mine, we headed back towards Calumet, for a walk along the shore and lunch in a brewpub.

The Michigan House Cafe & Red Jacket Brewing Co.


Jay Dodds said...

looks like a wonderful trip!!

Stitchwhiz said...

Sounds terrific. Happy Birthday Brian!

Andrew Blair said...

From Jennifer: so excited to see and hear about your trip. Thanks for sharing, love your narrative.

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