The next morning we were to meet Tony’s parents and his 2 uncles for breakfast at a cafe in Boyne City. As it happened, the cafe was across the street from an enormous wooden play structure. What is it with Michigan and these enormous wooden play structures? Never have I ever seen so many amazing wooden play structures in my life. California is all about plastic structures that burns-your-bum-in-the-sun and that lasts forever. And how is it that wooden playgrounds stand up so well to the extreme weather that Michigan encounters?
As I wandered through the play structure, following “William the White Rabbit” (again with the Alice in Wonderland theme), I noticed that I was walking through quite a few spider webs. Offhandedly, I thought to myself how busy those spiders must have been to spin their webs so quickly overnight and how bummed they must be that the tall human was destroying the carefully woven web of captivation. Then I learned a bit later (from talking to one of the other adults who was there with his grandson) that this particular playground had been closed for a good long while, and that it had just reopened that day, and the ribbon cutting ceremony for the reopening ceremony was at noon. The timing of it all felt rather fortuitous.
Eventually, though, we had to load up in the car, go back and pack up our stuff, and hit the road. As we drove back to the farm, I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to understand my delight when I found a giant metal chicken. There’s a story behind this, and if you’re ever interested, feel free to ask. But that giant metal chicken totally made my day and gave me the energy to face the day ahead.
Because… MORE ROAD TRIP (see previous post)!!! This time, however, we were following Tony’s parents as we headed to the area where Tony’s dad grew up, and where Tony spent many of his summers in his youth.
We made a stop at the Cross in the Woods shrine and parish. The walk out to the cross was the beginning of the ramping up of my mosquito phobia. Anywhere there is stagnant air in humid places, there is likely to be a mosquito or three lingering around, and if that’s the case, then they will find me. So I kept my step quick with an eye for avoiding the caterpillars that seemed to be dangling from trees like an aerial obstacle course. I didn’t know anything about this particular place, except for what the sign in the parking lot said, so all my reading about it has been done after our visit. When I saw it, it was rather jaw dropping… as one might expect of a 28′ bronze statue hoisted on a giant wooden cross. From their website (link):
The sculpture of the crucified Christ was titled “The Man on the Cross” by the renowned Michigan sculptor Marshall Fredericks. It is made of bronze 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick. It weighs seven tons, is twenty-eight feet tall from head to toe, and the outstretched arms span twenty-one feet. The figure of Christ is attached by thirteen bolts 30″ long and 2″ thick that were made when the figure was cast in Norway. Fredericks wanted to portray Christ in a peaceful way. It was his dream to “give the face an expression of great peace and strength and offer encouragement to everyone who viewed the Cross”. Christ is symbolized just at the moment when He commends Himself to His Father. The sculptor received special permission from the Vatican to omit the crown of thorns and the wound on Jesus’ side. In 1992 because of damage to the crucifix caused by weathering and pollution, it was decided to clean the corpus. The Jensen Foundation for Art Conservation spent several weeks cleaning the corrosion from the bronze figure. It was then lacquered and waxed. Fredericks requested that the Cross be painted in a light tan tone to emphasize the bronze corpus. The corpus is waxed by volunteers every two years.
After that, we headed to a McDonald’s/Gas Station/Gift Shop all-in-one combo place where you could fuel yourself, fuel your car and commemorate the visit with a souvenir.
We passed Moran Iron Works in Onaway, Michigan. On their vast lawn, they have enormous metal sculptures of the World War II aircraft carrier Bunker Hill and a bust of George Washington. According to Moran Iron Works’ website, Tom Moran (the owner of the company), is quite the artist and has done other items of art, which he either donates, gifts or displays throughout the state of Michigan. You can see his art here: Link
We stopped at a local grocery store as we neared our destination to stock up for the mosquito apocalypse that I was suspicious we were heading into. Tony also grabbed a small can of bug repellent in a cheery orange canister and nonchalantly dropped it in the wheel well near my feet. Then as our rental car reached more rural locations, our cell phone access got more and more spotty and finally disappeared altogether, coinciding with our arrival at The Kamp.
(Side note: According to local lore, all “hunting lodges” or “cabins” in Michigan are called Camps. I’m not sure why this is and, apparently, no one else really knows for sure, either. When I inquired, there were a lot of theories that were spoken, but no hard facts were presented. From the moment the name of it was mentioned, I changed the spelling in my mind to The Kamp, because “camping” to me is something you do in a tent. So, camping in a building is more glamorous and, thus, should be dressed up with a K from the very start.)
We pulled into the parking area of The Kamp and a cloud of mosquitoes greeted us with great anticipation. Like true vampires, they had somehow caught our human scent long before we even knew they were in existence. As we sat there captives in our car, 25′ from the Kamp’s front door, mosquitoes pinging our windows, our cell phone access gone, like a super hero, Tony bravely stepped out into the cloud of vampires to run into The Kamp to open it up for our occupancy. Four mosquitoes slipped in before he could shut the car door, and I grabbed that cheery orange canister of bug repellent and frantically sprayed them. Now, mind you, bug repellent doesn’t work quite like an insecticide would, killing bugs on the spot. No, no, it doesn’t, and I knew that. But I sprayed enough of it that they drowned in it, and from then until the end of time, the seats of the car should have been invisible to them. I had unbuckled William in preparation for going into The Kamp, and as he climbed into my lap, he bravely declared, “It’s OK, mommy, I’m the Bug Killer.” I stared at him in horror, for he was an innocent. An untested. He had never seen a mosquito in-person before this day.
My purse slung over my shoulder, my son’s hand in mine, and that cheery orange canister in my other hand, I opened my car door and yelled, “RUN, SON, RUN!” And I blasted that bug spray in a cloud all around us like it was a massive weapon of destruction with a tiny nozzle, while we ran for our lives to the door of the building. In retrospect, I suppose I could have just casually sprayed us before we got in the car after we visited the grocery store and that likely would have been sufficient. Or, you know, even as we exited the car at The Kamp, but that sort of rational, calm thought did not seem to make sense in the face of desperate, hungry, ravenous, starving mosquitoes who all had big eyes, sharp teeth, a kamikaze attitude, and hadn’t eaten all winter long, and here we were, served up in beautiful Volkwagen Jetta platter, just in time for dinner!
–To Be Continued–