Beaver pond along the "Triple A" road

Beaver pond along the "Triple A" road

Once a year we make our annual trek past Big Erick’s Bridge, down the Triple A two-track sand road, and out to the Yellow Dog Plains to pick wild blueberries.  Today was the day.

The sun was shining and the temperature slowly warming into the 60’s.  You have to drive really slowly down the logging road to reach the blueberry-picking land.  I drove out there, and apparently drove too fast, according to the passenger.  I was bouncing along at 25 miles per hour (over pit-run boulders, according to the passenger who is piping up in the background as I write).  The passenger drove home at a leisurely 15-20 mph.  We high-tailed it safely through a couple wash-outs which covered the road with murky rainwater.  We probably met about fifteen other vehicles during the course of the adventure:  a regular traffic bonanza!

Here’s what you have to do as you’re creeping along and another vehicle approaches:  you slow to a near standstill, hugging the shoulder of the road.  You have to watch to make sure you’re not about to drop off the side into mud, or run into boulders.  The larger vehicle preferably gives way to the smaller vehicle.  Since we were driving Grandma’s old 1995 Buick, we were kindly given the right-of-way quite often.

We laughed about this sign for five minutes.

We laughed about this sign for five minutes.

Congested area?  Who put up that sign?  This is one of the most remote areas in the state of Michigan! 

One of our several stops this afternoon was at “Eagle Rock”.  This jutting protrusion of rock which overlooks the Triple A road is a  Native American sacred site; Keweenaw Bay tribal members hold ritual fasts here during the spring and fall.  Kennecott Minerals proposes to build a copper and nickel mine in sulfide ore in the vicinity of Eagle Rock and this mine has been a controversial subject in the community for the last several years.  When sulfide is exposed to oxygen or water, it becomes acid and many folks are afraid of irreversible contamination of the land and water back here on the Yellow Dog stretch between Big Bay and Skanee. 

I could write a whole blog describing the entire scenario, but won’t.  Here is the Kennecott official page.  And here’s the point of view from the group Save the Wild U.P

Up on Eagle Rock (see the sandy road down below)

Up on Eagle Rock (see the sandy road down below)

It was peaceful to sit on the rock and breathe the fresh air and feel the cool late-summer breeze.  It was not-so-peaceful to imagine a time when this area might be filled with mining trucks and possible pollution and lots of people.  On the other hand, our county hovers between 20-26% unemployment.  My fervent desire is that people can find jobs, but in a manner that will not desecrate our natural environment.  I added that prayer to Eagle Rock and we ventured down toward the blueberries.

Sweetest blueberries on this planet

Sweetest blueberries on this planet

OK, we didn’t pick five quarts of wild blueberries like our 93 year old neighbor and his son.  Maybe if we didn’t have all those grape-sized cultivated blueberries (tiny grapes, anyway), we would have hunkered down for a long while between the pines.  Barry and I each carried a sour cream-sized container and filled them up.  After a short while, we smiled at a quart of wild blueberries.  And looked at each other.  Ready to go? 

Amazing find!

Amazing find!

But first, look at this find.  Do you know what it is?  You are looking at the underside of a shining copper-colored insect shell.  It lay hidden among the blueberry plants and I turned it over to discover this strange-looking “face” peering up out of the copper.  You really can’t tell how copper-colored the shell looked:  it shimmered in the sunlight.  The upper part of the insect’s body was black and smooth.  It felt like Magic.

So was it worth it to travel forty miles for one quart of wild blueberries, a sojourn on Eagle Rock and the sighting of a Magic Beetle?

You betcha!

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