By Yooper John Matonich
I have spent a good part of my life on the road. When I was working, there was always a meeting to attend or a client to visit. This doesn’t count the regular trips to the west end of the U.P. to get away for a while. All of the aforementioned trips were handled basically the same way. I would look for the shortest route and get there and back as quick as I could. There was never any time for side trips and lunch usually consisted of something off the shelf at a gas station. It was a treat to go through a drive through, but rarely was there time to stop and sit.
Right or wrong, I was raised to get the job done without wasting time as I was working for someone and owed them an honest days’ work. That mentality just spilled over into my personal life, so there wasn’t ever much time to simply loaf around.
Since I have retired, I am now just finding out what I have been missing. I still have to travel a little, but nowhere near as much as before. Another reality is that I usually have quite a bit of time on both sides of a trip as my calendar has lots of open spots on it. This has really given me the opportunity to take a few detours along the way and see some of the places I have been passing by over the years.
An example of that happened just the other day. When I was attending Michigan Tech back in the late ’70s, I would go home about every 6 weeks or so. It was only a two- hour trip, but there was a lot to do at MTU and I really didn’t want to miss anything. Many times the trip home and back was shared with others from the area and we all felt the same way about getting the trip over without delay. I remember seeing a sign on the way home in the little town of Toivola pointing down a road to a place called Misery Bay. I have seen the sign too many times to count and the name always catches my attention, but I have never taken the time to do anything about it.
While I lived downstate, I remember reading the editorials of a local paper owner who called his home Misery Bay, I believe after the place near Toivola. That piqued my curiosity even more and I never forgot about the place. I was asked recently to represent an advisory board I serve on at MTU during an evaluation visit by an accreditation board. I happily accepted the invitation and headed to Houghton. I enjoyed my time on campus and ran into a few folks I hadn’t seen in a while. When the luncheon was over I jumped in my truck and headed southwest. It was the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day and I really didn’t have any reason to hurry back. I was making my way through the small towns I had traveled through many times when my thoughts turned to Misery Bay.
I thought what the heck, maybe it is time to take a detour and see what I may have been missing. I hit the truck’s blinker when I saw the sign and traveled leisurely down the road. I knew Lake Superior wasn’t too far in the distance, so I wasn’t worried about a long trip to nowhere. I did reach the location called Misery Bay. It wasn’t much more than a sign and a few houses, but I can’t think of a place that made me smile more.
I can tell you that visiting Misery Bay wasn’t on my bucket list, but perhaps taking more detours should be and visiting this place is a great start. Who knows, I might even stop somewhere and have a sit down lunch instead of a bag of peanuts and a pop from the local gas station.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.