Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Matter of Perspective

For those of you not familiar with Michigan, we are a state with lots of penninsula. A couple of weeks ago, I made the trek from southern Michigan "up north" to do some snow testing. We go way up in the Upper Penninsula, the UP, near the town of Houghton (upper left of the map). Its about a 600 mile winter drive crossing the Mackinaw Bridge between the Lower and Upper Penninsula.

As the Mackinaw Bridge is quite a landmark, you feel like you've made some real progress when you cross it. After all, you are almost half way. This shot of the bridge is a borrowed shot from another year. The foreground in this photo is ice, not land or water, and is more typical of the conditions we see in winter.

This year was strange, in that the cold weather came late and there was little ice on the big lakes in January. The shot below is of Lake Michigan from the UP side. As you can see, lots of clouds, but not much ice.

The people that live in the UP are called "uppers" or "yoopers". They call those of us who live in the lower penninsula "trolls" because we live "under the bridge".

The town of Houghton and the whole Keewanaw Penninsula are an interesting place. There is a lot of history to see, but the town itself is lively with a great sense of community. I like this shot of the old Miners Gazette building. Especially the way the stair rail to the door follows the border of the sign.

This shot is across the Portage River to some of the ruins of mining buildings in Hancock.

Actually, there is another bridge, the one between Houghton and Hancock. You see, the Keewanaw Penninsula is divided north from south by the Portage River. The Lift Bridge over the Portage is the only way to drive from the northern part to the southern part of the Keewanaw.

We cross this bridge every day to go up to the Keewanaw Research Center where we do our testing.

Last fall, one of my colleagues was up doing some testing at KRC and he invited one of the KRC workers to dinner down in Houghton. The response was something like, "No thanks. I don't like going down there. Nothing good every happens south of the bridge." Of course, he meant the Portage River Lift Bridge, not the Mackinaw Bridge. I guess, as a true yooper, he felt everyone in Houghton was a troll too.

As implied by the title, its all a matter of perspective.

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