Lake Nokomis Cranberries, Inc. and Eagle River

On July 28 we took a short drive (about 25 miles) over to the Eagle River, WI, area.  The first place we visited was Lake Nokomis Cranberries, Inc.  This is a huge cranberry farm and winery.

The area in which cranberries are planted on this farm is a one mile by one mile tract of land.  Cranberries are a unique fruit because they can only grow and survive under a very special combination of facts.  These factors include acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply, and a growing season the extends from April to November.

Cranberries grow on low-lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel, and clay.  These beds are commonly called bogs or marshes.  Many people mistakenly think that cranberries grow under water.  They do not.  When you see cranberries floating on top of water, they are actually being harvested.

We took a tour of the cranberry farm and learned SO much from our tour guide.  He was a very knowledgeable guy who is a retired attorney but helps on the farm.  I cannot even begin to remember all the things he told us about growing cranberries.  It TRULY is fascinating, so google it if you’d like to know more.

I do remember one thing.  Most of us probably think that Massachusetts is the largest producer of cranberries, however, that is incorrect.  Since 1995, Wisconsin has produced the largest crop of cranberries.  Currently they produce about 57% of the United States total production.  Massachusetts fell from first to second largest producer at that time.  It currently produces another 23-30%.  The remaining U.S. crop comes mainly from New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Here are some photos of the cranberry fields that will be harvested this fall.

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There were fields…

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…after fields…

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…after fields of cranberries!

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Believe it or not, there are actually cranberry plants in this field (I know – it kind of looks like a field of weeds!). It is a newly planted field this year and won’t produce a crop to harvested for three years!

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Close up of some of the cranberries that will be harvested this fall. Darn! I wish I could be here in the fall to see the harvesting! It sounds fascinating to watch.

The store and winery (it is a SMALL winery) was lovely.  There we sampled the four wines they make on the premises.  They were ALL very good.  In fact, last year they submitted three of their wines at the state competition and came home with one silver medal and two bronze medals!  Three medals for three wines submitted.  That’s pretty good for their first time!

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We bought some of their wine along with some dried cranberries, cranberry jelly, cranberry wine jelly, and some cranberry BBQ sauce. I can’t wait to try the BBQ sauce on some pork steaks!

Next we visited the small town of Eagle River, WI.  I just love all these small communities in this area known as the northwoods.  Each town has it’s own uniqueness.  The downtown areas are always interesting and filled with a lot of unusual shops along with the usual “tourist” shops.

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We had a wonderful time learning about cranberry farming, cranberry wines, and visiting Eagle River.  I can’t wait for our next adventure!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Day #1

We left the RV on July 23 to spend a few days exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We drove to Marquette, MI, which was about a three hour drive, where we had a motel room for a couple of nights.  Along the way, we made a couple of stops.

I have a teacher friend who grew up in the Upper Peninsula around the towns of  Ishpeming and Negaunee.  I heard him telling stories about his growing up in the U.P. on numerous occasions.  It piqued my interest in the area, and I knew when we started our RV adventures, I wanted to visit there.  Both those towns were on our way to Marquette.

Our first stop was Ishpeming.  The population of Ishpeming today is about 6,400.  At the end of the 1800s, many Swedes immigrated to Ishpeming when the copper mines in their hometown closed down.  The iron ore mines in Ishpeming employed many workers during the first three decades of the 1900s.  As a result Ishpeming’s population during that time was at its highest – about 13,000.

Here’s some interesting facts about Ishpeming:  1) The 1959 movie Anatomy of a Murder was filmed in Ishpeming and surrounding areas.  2) The Green Bay Packers played their first ever road game in Ishpeming on October 19, 1919.  The Packers won 33-0.  3) The National Ski Association, the forerunner of the present-day United States Ski and Snowboard Association, was founded in Ishpeming on February 21, 1905 by local banker and skier, Carl Tellefsen.  4). Ishpeming is the home of the National Ski Hall of Fame.

Ishpeming has a quaint historic downtown with beautiful hanging baskets of flowers and very friendly people.

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Back in Michigan!

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Ishpeming was the 2012, 2013, and 2015 Division 7 State Football champs!

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I have NO idea what that structure is, but I thought it was interesting.

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See the lovely hanging baskets on the street lights?

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People up here paint murals on a lot of buildings. I LOVE it!

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What interesting architecture!

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Next stop was Negaunee which was just four miles from Ishpeming.  The population of Negaunee is approximately 4,500.  The city was built during the early 19th century after the discovery of a rich deposit of iron ore in Marquette County.  In fact both the towns of Ishpeming and Negaunee developed as a result of mining this deposit.

The Jackson Mine was established in Negaunee in 1845 to mine the ore for shipment to iron forges.  The first forge to operate in the Lake Superior basin was set up in Negaunee during this time also.  Unfortunately, we did not get to visit the mine during our short visit to the town.

As the mining operations expanded, many immigrants settled in the area, bringing with them rich traditions that remain today.  One of those traditions is the delicious pasty (pronounced:  pass-tee).  I was told I could not leave the U.P. without trying one, so one day while we were driving around, we stopped and had a beef pasty (main ingredients:  flakey pastry crust with ground beef, potatoes, onions, carrots and rutabaga plus some seasonings).  It was delicious!  I am already salivating thinking about eating another one.

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Now … back to Negaunee.  The Michigan Iron Industry Museum is located on the outskirts of Negaunee near the Carp River.  Negaunee is home to Pioneer Days, a festival held every year the week following July 4th.  It is also the home of the only full-length natural-track luge course in the United States.  It is over 800 meters in length, features 29 curves along its 289 ft. vertical drop, and is maintained by the Upper Peninsula Luge Club.

Negaunee is a lovely town with beautiful historic buildings and the friendliest people.  It also had some of the loveliest old homes with beautifully manicured lawns (I only wish I would have taken some pictures of those homes! 😔 However, I didn’t want people to become suspicious of me. 😂). Here are a few of my pictures of Negaunee.

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This is the sign in front of the building in the previous picture. That is probably the most unique architecture for a school district’s administration building ever!

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It was getting quite late in the afternoon, so we headed to our motel in Marquette which was just a short drive of 11 miles.  We checked in and asked for directions to their historic downtown area.  We walked around the marina and a lovely park then headed up the main street.  We were tired and hungry.  Since we couldn’t find a place downtown with outside dining that would allow our dog, we headed back to the motel where there was a nice restaurant right next door with an outside porch that allowed dogs.  Here are some pictures of the downtown Marquette area and marina.

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That large structure next to the boats is an old iron ore loading dock. Railroad cars loaded with ore would travel out on tracks along the top, then dump their loads of ore down the chutes onto the waiting barges below. I can only imagine how loud it was! This one is no longer in use.

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Another view of the iron ore loading dock.

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This is a view of the iron ore loading dock looking straight down the middle.

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Marquette’s Fire Bell.

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Lovely park right along the shore of the marina.

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This is the WW II memorial from the information in the previous photo. It is in the park along the marina.

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After supper, we went back to the room.  We watched a little TV, and went to bed early because we knew we would have a long day exploring the U.P. the next day.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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