One of the reasons I think I have been enjoying the UP so far, and finding it such a refreshing place to visit, is that in some ways it feels rather removed from what I consider to be mainstream America. The lifestyle in the areas we have passed through feels more laidback with a slower pace of life than I have experienced anywhere else; and there is little evidence of the mass consumerism and sprawling cities and suburbs that are littered about in the other states we have passed through.
If there is one place on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that people fully expect you to visit during your time there, it is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I do believe that it may be written into one of their state laws or something that if you fail to avail yourself of the multi-coloured rock cliffs on the southern shore of Lake Superior, state officials are fully entitled to tie you to a wooden stake, dress you in an Ohio football uniform and allow people to throw pasties at you and boo you. It’s true. ‘Boooo’, they say.
With that fate on the line (and remembering how large the pasties are), we decide to see what all of the fuss is about and check out their rocks.
When I wish to remember something, there are two ways in which this can happen.
I can recall a person, place, event or whatever it may be as a normal memory in my mind; that is, one in my head which may have colour, sound and motion. An instant replay version if you will, a past scene being re-enacted. I can pull these types of memories to the forefront of my mind and think about them any time I choose.
The other types of memories I hold are of feelings; the emotional state of mind that I have at the time I am experiencing something. These aren’t the type of memory that I can instantly repeat or reply, after all I simply can’t make myself have a repeated feeling no matter how hard I might try; that’s not how these things work. On the other side of that, I might not even realise that something has had such a profound effect on me at the time. However, if these feelings are strong enough when they occur and imprint my mind, I find can often lead to a profound sense of déjà vu at times, where I’ll stop in my tracks and try to work out why I have the sense that I have felt this exact same way before.
And that’s precisely what happens to me one mid-afternoon as I cycle around the small town of Grand Marais, Michigan, perched on the shores of Lake Superior.