At 11pm the night before, Cousin Chuck had invited us over for breakfast the next morning and he stated no time was too early. But clearly he had not evaluated the situation properly at that moment in time. We called at 9:30am and asked if they were ready for company and they said "Sure," but when we arrived the whole crew was still in their jammies and a bit "under the weather" shall we say. They were good sports though, fed us a delish breakfast, and we were on our way.
We headed to cousin Don's home a few miles away. It is a lovely home, which he advised he and wife Chris had built from scratch to their own specifications. Very cozy and warm and welcoming. We talked for a while, perused some childhood photos of the cousins, and then they invited us on a tour of the area. D is a newly re-elected County Commissioner, so he knows the area VERY well.
We swung by the locks and ascended up a high hill onto the Lake Superior State University campus. Their parking lot offers a grand view of the area, including the SSM International Bridge to Canada.
Next we went to the neighborhood where Chuck lived as a kid. His home had been torn down long ago and was now a vacant lot. He also pointed out the house where Mike's grandmother had lived and where he had often visited. We had looked for it a few days earlier but did not recognize it. It was being renovated and empty at the moment, so I took a few photos outside and inside from the front porch window. There was an enclosed staircase still there that Mike remembered as a kid and he was visibly moved at this sight.
Nearby is the historic Cloverland Hydro Electric Plant. This was constructed in 1902, is 80 feet wide and a quarter mile long, and at the time was the second largest hydro facility next to Niagara falls. It is still in operation. Very impressive. We discovered it is open for touring once a year, on Engineers Day in June. We plan to be there next June 28 for the event. We continued east along the St. Mary's and C pointed out a lot of interesting places and quoted some great local facts. We picked up one of his left-over campaign yard posters along the way.
We enjoyed an extensive tour and ended up at a very interesting restaurant. Wish I could remember the name of it. It was a little nicer than your typical cozy normal Up North kind of place, but the owner was obviously a hunter. Not an Up North hunter, going for deer, moose, elk, or the like. But a BIG game hunter. There were mounted about 20 some animal heads that definitely did not previously reside in the U.P. These included all kinds of horned animals, a zebra, an entire leopard in a tree, and an alligator. We are not into hunting in the least, but it was fascinating seeing some of these beautiful creatures up close.
After a tasty fish dinner we thanked our gracious cousins for the private tour and great reminiscing. We had caught up quickly and it felt like no time had passed since our last visit many years ago.
We parted ways with promises of not being apart so long and headed back to the casino.
One last try at the Veteran's Day spin special and another $5 won!! We left with more than we brought--a couple of bucks and some new happy memories.