Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, New York


Here’s one issue in the Great North American Mostly Two-Lane Road Tour of 2007┬«: We finish our travels so late in the day that I’m kind of bushed by the time it comes to accounting for our whereabouts. To back up from today: We got to Tinley Park, in the Chicago suburbs, on Saturday, and spent the weekend in hometown environs. Then yesterday, Tuesday, we drove up to Milwaukee to meet some Berkeley friends who long ago removed to Ripon, Wisconsin (birthplace of the Republican Party and home of a small liberal arts college). In the evening, Kate and I took the new fast catamaran ferry across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, where we crashed in the decidedly oddball Shoreline Inn downtown. Today, we drove across the Lower Peninsula to Lake Huron, virtually all on state highways and back roads. We crossed the Bluewater Bridge from Port Huron, Michgan, to Sarnia, Ontario, experiencing for the first time a no doubt very mild form of the third-degree that travelers across international borders get in our new world (This from the Canadian immigration officer: “Do you have any weapons at home?”); then we drove across most of southwestern Ontario the same way, discovering a nice county-type road that went on forever and stayed close to the Lake Erie shore almost all the way over to Buffalo. After we recrossed the border there, we passed the minor-league ballpark downtown and decided to turn around and go to the game that appeared to be already in progress; the proceedings, between the Buffalo Bisons and the Ottawa Lynx, were already in the fifth inning when we sat down, but the price was right ($3 parking and $7 a seat) and the weather was perfect for a twilight game. The home side lost, and we headed south out of town on U.S. 219, headed for Salamanca and Allegheny State Park. We wound up in a big new chain motel in Ellicottville; tomorrow we’re headed for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

So, that picture up there: Approaching the hamlet of Selford, Ontario, we passed a sign promising a historical marker related to the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. I might not have given it a second thought except that Dad has told me that during the year or so he lived with his parents in Pasadena, they took him to see Sister Aimee preach in her Los Angeles temple. She was born in Selford in 1890 and was enough of a personage that her native province saw fit to commemorate her origins. We found two markers, actually: one was a plaque on a flagstone marker in front of the town school; the one above was hidden in some roadside trees; a local saw us wandering around and told us where to look — nice gesture.

In a way, the McPherson sighting was the second related to Dad and his parents today; I remembered as we drove out of Muskegon that they lived there nearly 100 years ago — Sjur Brekke was a Lutheran minister and had a parish somewhere in town sometime around 1910. I’ll get corrected on that if I’m wrong.