a TigerRAWk Film

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Shared Life: An Apocalypse Trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula (09.05.2020 - 09.09.2020)


The COVID-19 pandemic continued through the summer causing most things we would usually do to be canceled. Audiofeed was one of the casualties. It was originally rescheduled until Labor Day weekend then ultimately canceled as conditions failed to improve enough to safely allow gatherings of any substantial size. Without the music festival (or any other similar events taking place) and without our vacation to Russia that we had planned, there was a sense of restlessness. I had made a short weekend trip to Pennsylvania to take care of some documentation work but Elphie didn't come with me and hadn't had a chance to really leave the house other than appointments and groceries since the beginning of the pandemic. We did go out and about some in Chicago on our anniversary but it seemed she needed to just go somewhere. This apocalypse was taking its toll on her. We had other travel plans for the Labor Day weekend before the start of this year but we decided to shelve those as well. Those plans would have brought us back to the Northeast to hit a few states Elphie may have missed in her quest to go to all fifty states. So, with all else failed and/or shelved for an uncertain future, we decided to plan a short vacation. The border between the USA and Canada was closed to "nonessential" travel and there were also travel restrictions to certain states put in place by the city of Chicago which limited our options and we settled on essentially circling Lake Michigan by going into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As has become tradition for our travels, we searched Atlas Obscura, making a list of things that would interest us and Elphie planned a route. I added a couple other ideas as well that either were directly on the route or wouldn't put us too far out of the way and I think we figured out a decent trip between us. It was not so busy that it wore us out but we weren't bored either. We decided that we would stay in Saint Ignace, Michigan so I booked a hotel through booking.com that fit our budget and had amenities that we would like. We chose America's Best Value Inn. We decided on staying in Saint Ignace so that we'd only pay the toll for crossing the Mackinac Bridge one time.


Before I got started on much of any other editing, I used Motion 4 on my MacBook to once again create the title sequence as well as animated maps that I put throughout the project as we traveled from one spot to the next. I chose the Papyrus font because I thought it had a sort of "sandy" look to it along with something of a decayed appearance as well. It felt fitting to me as we were along the lakeside throughout the trip and the apocalyptic state of things during this year of a pandemic that shows no sign of relenting any time soon. Though in hindsight I think I would have rather done something different with the lead ups, I decided to go with still shots from the trip sitting on top of each other like photos tossed on a table. I used the zoom lead in sort of out of laziness and now I wish I had some something different to make it look like the photos were tossed into a pile instead. I would have liked to have the pictures synced up to their locations better but my attempts didn't seem to quite work. Instead of spending a lot of time to make adjustments, I just left it how you see it and moved on to work on the actual footage. I tried to have the state flags change with the crossing of state lines as well. Overall, I feel I could have done this entire introduction/title a whole lot better than this. But there are things I do like. I like how the lettering looks and the effect I used to transition the titles in give a bit of a 3D feel to it. I also like how the photos do look stacked. I think adding a border to each photo would help the aesthetic a bit and that might be something I will consider for future projects as I feel it might be the biggest thing lacking in accomplishing the idea I have had with these titles. Again, I do wish I had chosen a different method of leading this photos in but chalk it up to laziness on my part.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOitsqYL-KU

We left on Saturday September 5th, around noon and headed into Indiana. This was the 174th day of the apocalypse. We stopped to get groceries, gas, and had lunch before heading into Michigan. I had nearly run the car out of gas. We stopped at the first gas station off the exit to get a little bit of gas to hopefully get us to my preferred gas station (due to rewards), Speedway. And we did make it to Speedway, though it felt like a close call. I got some Mountain Dew for the trip as we filled the car then we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch before going to Meijer to get some groceries for the trip. All of this took a lot longer than we anticipated and probably put us a few hours behind our plan but ultimately, I don't think it adversely affected the trip too much.

Once we got going and crossed into Michigan, our first stop ended up being in Benton Harbor, Michigan. It was the site of a cult known as "House of David." The community had a baseball team, amusement park, zoo, and restaurants besides the mansion where leadership lived and the modest, small homes intended for the rest of the community. There was some scandal, of course, involved with this community but seems things certainly could have been worse. We were able to see the mansion, the home where Mary Purnell lived and ran the restructured community after a change in leadership occurred due to the scandal involving her husband and the original community. We also saw Mary's restaurant, the various small buildings that appeared to be for housing members, an empty field that was once the baseball field, and I think we saw the old auditorium that may now be a museum. We didn't explore too much, we stayed on the roads and we likely missed viewing more of what remained of this community by not walking around but we did see quite a bit.

We headed to South Haven, Michigan next to taste Blue Moon Ice Cream at Sherman's Dairy Bar. I found it to be pretty underwhelming. At first I didn't really taste anything at all. Then it began to taste a bit like the milk leftover in the bowl after eating Fruity Pebbles. There was a slight hint of a fruity type flavor but mostly just the flavor of milk. We ended up waiting in line for quite a bit for this ice cream. It stained our mouths blue as well.

We continued on our way to Saugatuck, Michigan so we could see a park restroom painted like a Seurat piece. While there, we also saw the Saugatuck Chain Ferry which is one of the last of its kind. It uses a chain to cross the river from one side to the other to ferry folks across. I think we had just missed its last run for the day by a few minutes. We also saw a black squirrel as we headed back to our car. It was a busy downtown area, probably due to the nice weather. A lot of people were in the park.

The next part of our trip was the longest stretch of driving for the day. We passed through Grand Rapids, Michigan. I pulled off the highway to attempt to go to an Arby's for Elphie to get some dinner but the directions we were given did not turn up an Arby's. Thankfully it wasn't far off from our destination, a small chapel called the Rimwood Chapel in Hersey, Michigan. We were able to arrive there before dark and see this little chapel. Unfortunately, the possibly new property owner may have decided to no longer keep it as a chapel. The cross that had been on top in pictures we had seen was now missing and there was a sign that read "Parker's Place" on the from of the tiny building...but otherwise, it was indeed the same building. I assume it was meant for kids to play in. We didn't hang around too much...we didn't want any trouble for snooping.

We drove another relatively long stretch to Indian River, Michigan. As the sun set, we stopped for Elphie to get some dinner at a McDonald's. As we drove along a lake, we were able to see some fireworks going off in the distance. Elphie was able to capture some of it with the camera. We passed a 45th Parallel sign along the highway. We stopped again for fuel and passed signs for Cheboygan, Michigan. I was reminded of John Candy, as Gus Polinski, in Home Alone speaking of how his band, the Kenosha Kickers, were "very big in Sheboygan." I thought it was in Wisconsin though. I'd realize later that Sheboygan is in Wisconsin and this was Cheboygan. I suppose the band could have been big in both cities. They were the polka kings of the midwest, afterall. We arrived in Indian River a short time later to see The Cross In The Woods Shrine. This was claimed to be the largest crucifix in the world. It seemed there was a bit more to see in the area but we were feeling a bit pressed for time. I walked up to the cross then down behind it. There were signs for the stations of the cross meaning it was likely a walk that goes with it stretched around us. I found a statue of Saint Francis then we decided to get driving again so we could get to the hotel before midnight. We did accomplish this by about a half hour!

We drove through Mackinaw City, Michigan then onto the Mackinac Bridge and paid a toll to enter the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As we drove through Saint Ignace, Michigan to find our hotel, we noticed most of all the hotels were full with "no vacancy" signs. We arrived at our hotel and it was packed as well with a lot of motorcycles and old timey cars. We got checked in at America's Best Value Inn and found our room. I moved the car closer to the room. We picked a room with a hot tub because, why not? It was a different type of tub than we had previously encountered. It was an elongated heart shape with jets that shoot up from below. It was also quite noisy. We came to realize we had no microwave as well so we had to go to the lobby to heat our food. We didn't utilize it but there was an indoor pool as well. Once we got settled in, I decided to try to get a shot of the moon with my camera. I got out my longer, more powerful lens and I was able to get a couple decent shots!

On Sunday September 6th, apocalypse day 175, we drove to a park on the north edge of Lake Michigan. I came up with a fun little plan to try to drink out of each of the Great Lakes because we now had a Life Straw! Up until this trip, I had touched the water of all the Great Lakes except Huron so I thought it was be interesting to be able to say I have had a drink from the waters of each lake! I got down to the water's edge and put the straw in the water and tried to suck up some water. It didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I didn't really read the directions either. I eventually was able to get enough water to have a decent swallow from the straw. I learned it didn't quite work like a conventional straw. It was more that one had to tip the straw toward your mouth and drink it like more like a sippy cup. I captured a few shots of the Mackinac Bridge from here as well as some other lake shots.

We drove up to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. We figured that even though we would not be permitted to cross the border, we'd get as close to Canada as we could. We also found that there was a Tower of History in Sault Sainte Marie and headed to see that. It was next to a church and apparently at one time property of the church but now serves as a sort of history museum for the city. There was an admission cost so we did not go up into the tower. We drove alongside of the Soo Locks and through the touristy downtown area then went over to a bay of Lake Superior to use the Life Straw to get a drink of water from that lake. I got a shot of the Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge and Canada while we were there as well. After getting this drink, which proved more difficult that the first time in Lake Michigan, we headed to finally get Arby's for Elphie then we headed to Kitch-iti-kipi...a natural spring. As we drove we experienced some early leaves changing and then some stormy weather. I captured a couple lightning bolts really but only one really showed up well on the camera.

We arrived before dark at Kitch-iti-kipi. It is a natural spring that has been preserved in a state park. There is a chain ferry that crosses back and forth operated by a wheel. We did not end up riding the ferry due to a large group of people. One is not permitted in the waters either. It had an eerie appearance with calcification on the trees that have fallen into the water. It is also very clear so you can see pretty far down into this deep spring. I used the Life Straw to get some water from the spring and we were able to take a taste of the water! Even though it was kind of out of the way, it really is a pretty cool place to check out if you are in the area. I am glad we took the time to visit.

We drove back to Saint Ignace in the rain. I pulled off to get a shot of the Mackinac Bridge at night before continuing back to our hotel.

On Monday September 7th, we decided to go to Mackinac Island. This would be the 176th day of the apocalypse. We had originally figured on going there on Tuesday. We figured it would be less busy and less crowded since Monday was Labor Day and it turned out there were quite a few tourist. Unforunately, the forecast for Tuesday did not look so good so we went on Monday. We drove down to park and found out, despite signs indicating otherwise as well as the information we had found online, that there was a parking fee. Free parking, it turned out was across the road. We decided to pay. We then bought our boarding pass for the Starline Ferry to cross to Mackinac Island. It was a bit packed but we made it on board and were able to sit not too terribly close together. I got a shot of the Mackinac Bridge and a little bit of the island as we approached from my aisle seat.

Once on Mackinac Island, we got some shots of the downtown area and someone making fudge...because apparently that's a big deal on Mackinac Island. We ended up getting some poutine to-go from Great Turtle and ate it in a picnic area by Lake Huron. I also went about getting some water from Lake Huron with the Life Straw. I had trouble again really getting water into it and after reading the manual the day before, I tried just getting a cup of the lake water and it worked much better. We had water as we walked. With this, I have now touched the waters from all five of the Great Lakes and drank from three of them. I am pretty certain getting to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie shouldn't be too much of a problem in the relatively near future to drink from them as well.

After getting the water from Lake Huron and getting some scenic shots of the water and Mackinac Bridge, we began to explore Mackinac Island a bit more beyond the town. We decided to walk where fewer people were on the back roads. As we walked we passed a Bark Chapel such as that which was set up by early missionaries to visit the island. We walked up a steep road, passing Fort Mackinac as we made our way to Skull Cave. Skull Cave is a place where natives placed their dead long ago. The skeletal remains have since been removed. Apparently at one time, this cave was at sea level and was created by the waves crashing against it. Skull Cave was one of the Atlas Obscura sites we definitely wanted to make sure we could visit. We walked a bit further up the road and visited Saint Anne's Cemetery where we walked around for a bit. We saw some native related artifacts on the edge of the cemetery as well as some of the oldest headstones to exist on the island. We also happened upon a relatively fresh grave. We didn't go further but apparently there were a couple more cemeteries just up the road a short walk.

We made our way through the woods to the east side of the island. As we walked we had to be careful not to step in horse dung as horse drawn carriages carted tourists around the island. We headed to Arch Rock but as we arrived on foot, so did multiple horse drawn carriages. Instead, I walked up a set of stairs to the Nicholet lookout and got a panoramic view looking east at Lake Huron. We walked into the woods a little ways on a rocky path and remarked about how it would be quite the tumble if one fell down the side of the hill. We went down to the Arch Rock. There was a crow on the rock. This was another place where the ancient waters once reached in a time long ago creating this spectacle. I went out on the viewing platform and got some more panoramic shots of Lake Huron.

From here, we walked back toward downtown, passing residences and mansions along the way. One was tucked in the woods away from everything. As we walked, I saw the Pirate Ship coming in to the port. We heard music playing as we walked. It turned out to be a concert going on in the park in downtown but it could be heard all through the island it seemed. We took a staircase down to an alley and walked passed a church, more homes, and other buildings as we entered the town area again. We saw the Pirate Ship and a model of the Statue of Liberty. At this point, we decided to get fudge. We went to a shop advertising the best fudge called Ryba's. Elphie got actual Mackinac Island Fudge and I got Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. After we ate that, we decided to board the Starline Ferry back to the mainland. We were about a half hour early. We got to see the Pirate Ship leave the port. As we rode the ferry, I got shots as we passed by the western side of the island as well as of the waters. We arrived at the port in Saint Ignace and went back for another night in the hotel.

On the 177th day of the apocalypse, Tuesday, September 8th, we decided to have a more relaxed day. We went to the Mystery Spot and took the tour of the illusions and oddity that it is known for. We also played some minigolf then solved the Fort Maze. I think we could have done it quicker but we made it through in about five minutes. While working on another project I learned that I could add a timestamp to video and decided to do that with the clip of us going through the maze. I got some footage of the tour which shows a bit of the illusions of the Mystery Spot. It was a fun little activity.

After this, we stopped a Lehto's Pasties to try this food. It was on Atlas Obscura. A Pasty is something like a hot pocket. a breaded pocket stuffed with meat and potatoes. It was meant to be a portable meal for workers and I can see how it would serve its purpose.

We returned to the hotel for our last night in Saint Ignace. I decided to document on video the strange heart-shaped hot tub in the room. We wanted to have a more relaxed day because the next we would be driving a long way with some long stretches.

On Wednesday September 9th, the final day of our little vacation and the 177th day of the apocalypse, we began by leaving our hotel in Saint Ignace at check out time to head toward Gladstone, Michigan. Along the way, I got some shots of Lake Michigan from the road. We passed the Top-Of-The-Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, Michigan but we didn't stop. It was one of the longer stretches of driving for the day for us. In Gladstone, Michigan, we made a short visit to Hoegh's Industries - a pet casket and crematorium company we found on Atlas Obscura. It was technically not open to the public but the owner allowed us a short time to look around and told us a bit about the company. He had recently taken over ownership it seemed.

As we left Gladstone, Michigan, we passed a train and I got some shots of Green Bay, the water, not the town. We crossed into Wisconsin through the towns of Menominee, Michigan and Marionette, Wisconsin. After passing Peshtigo, Wisconsin, we arrived at a pull off where a marker was placed for the 45th Parallel. On the plaque, it would seem that the actual 45th line is some distance to the north.

We continued on our way and made a stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the town, not the water because I wanted to see Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers. We did not try to go in but I wanted to see the stadium anyway. It is interesting in that it's surrounded on three sides by what would appear to be a typical residential neighborhood once you get off the highway on Lombardi Drive.

After Green Bay, we continued to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where a piece of Sputnik IV crashed. We arrived at the intersection as it was listed on Atlas Obscura. I got a bit turned around directionally and we looked on the wrong side of the street. It turns out that the street the piece crashed on is quite busy now....especially during "rush hour" which is about when we arrived. We did find the plaque and the ring in the road and got our shots of both then headed back on our way. I also got a shot of a strange sculpture outside the nearby art museum which apparently has a replica of the piece of Sputnik IV on display. It was rainy and cold at this point so we didn't stick around long.

We got some food then made our way to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Along the way, we passed Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I began to realize this was likely the Sheboygan that John Candy, as Gus Polinski, is referencing as the place where his band, the Kenosha Kickers were "very big in Sheboygan" in Home Alone. We were able to pass two towns that are pronounced the same, nearly spelled the same, and at least one of them is a pop culture reference, ha! As we continued I also got a shot of a huge flag then we "found" Waldo, Wisconsin. We drove through Milwaukee and arrived in Kenosha at the Mars Cheese Castle before it closed. There had been civil unrest in Kenosha during the weeks before this trip and apparently there was concerns of possible looting so the Mars Cheese Castle was boarded up. I was informed that my face covering was not permissible in the Mars Cheese Castle and was offered a medical mask to switch to. I complied. We got some shots and looked around a bit then I purchased some cheese curds.

We began our trip home. As we approached Chicago, the fog obscured the view of the city a bit. We made pretty good time and upon our arrival, we were greeted by Stein. I added a credits screen and the soundtrack list over the footage of our return after we passed downtown Chicago.

The trip went well, overall. Not too busy but we kept it interesting. I may have pushed a little bit with the trip to Kitch-iti-kipi but I think it was worth it. We may have been able to add it into the last day instead of driving out of the way to see it. Oh well. I enjoyed myself and I think Elphie did as well. We saw a number of interesting things and ate a couple interesting foods thanks to Atlas Obscura (and Gastro Obscura). That's often the goal of our trips so mission accomplished. In the video project for fall, we took some time to drive around to a few Atlas Obscura sites that were relatively near to us on the Southside of Chicago. We also made a special trip to Par-King Minigolf as we did not have the time to fit it in during this trip. Even amidst a global pandemic apocalypse, we were able to relax and have a good time and get away from home for a bit!

The additional soundtrack includes "WestDownRightUpLeftEast" by The Soil And The Sun, "Water" by J. Navarro And The Traitors, "Black Roses" by The Trigger Code, "Walk Around The Lake" by Isaac Joel, "Season Of Rain" by Josh Garrels, "Passing Islands" by Enlou, "Thunder Island" by Pomegranates, "The Silence Of The Sea" by Cut The Red Wire, "My Island" by Starflyer 59, "Downpour" by Black Swift, "Bootstraps" by The Uh Ohs, "In Time" by Silent Tongues, "Outta Here" by Lo Tom, "The Golden Age" by Joy Electric, and "Spring And Fall" by Seth Martin.

On a couple of previous projects, the Soundtrack portion of Final Cut Pro seemed as though it was no longer avaiable on my Mac Mini. While working through what I wanted to use for this project, I tried to open the program and it opened so I was able to return to the much easier and quicker method of making the audio files compatible to Final Cut Pro on my Mac Mini.

It was a similar thing with the Compressor program as well. I am thankful both are back to working on my Mac Mini. It works much faster that way.

This project was filmed using iPhone 6 and 8, Canon Rebel T6, and CrossTour CR900 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Animations, titles, and maps created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.

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