The Annual Rodeo Parade!
I wouldn't say this is my fondest memory, but as there are no other categories for "special events", I'll put this here. Anyway, every July Iron River sponsors the annual U.P. Championship Rodeo. Yee haw! Besides rodeo competition, there is also the root-tootin' Rodeo Parade! My mom usually tries her best to *miss* the rodeo, but still ends up going to the parade every once in awhile.
We always go to Pentoga Park,...
We always go to Pentoga Park, off of Route 424. They have an excellent beach with rafts, logs, and diving boards. The playground has new equipment, along with the same stuff I played on 30 years ago. They also have an Indian burial ground that the kids found very interesting. I have been going up since i was a child so I have many memories. The favorites are sitting by the fire, exploring the woods, and fishing.
Make sure you bring clothes for a variety of temperatures. It can be 90 one day and 50 the next. Nights can get very cool. Bring lots of bug spray!!!!! I could not find a battery for my very old Pentax in any of the stores in Iron River. The horse flies and caterpillars were very bad in June. We actually had to leave the beach because the flies were literally all over our bodies.
Iron River - A Good Place to Get Away From It All!
I go up to Iron River quite frequently, as my mother lives there. She has a nice log cabin on Sunset Lake just a bit out of town. I enjoy going there, especially in the summer. It gets quite cold in the winter, but the snow is usually very white and pretty.
Over the years, there have been efforts to consolidate Iron River with the surrounding communities. First, the school districts of Stambaugh, Iron River, Gaastra, and Caspian were consolidated back in the 70's. Then, more recently, the town of Stambaugh was merged into Iron River, so now Iron River is larger, and Stambaugh is no more.
There is lots to do in and around Iron River if you like the great outdoors. There are plenty of streams and lakes for fishing, and hunting deer and partridge is popular in the fall.
Makin' Maple Syrup!
Late March and early April are Maple syrup season in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Syrup is made from the sap of the Sugar Maple tree. Holes are drilled in the trees, and buckets, bags, or tubes are used to collect the sap that drips out.
Here, I give a little travelogue of Jack Hudson's syrup operation on the shores of Sunset Lake in Iron River.
In the old days, the sap was collected in buckets hung on the trees, with a tube driven into a hole in the tree that dripped into the bucket. Now days, many people use plastic bags as shown above. These keep dirt and other debris from falling into the collecting sap. The buckets or bags must be emptied by hand each day into a large collection tank.
"High Tech Sap "Network""
In recent years, some people have replaced the many bags or buckets by a network of flexible plastic tubes. The tubes go from tree to tree, with a tube from the hole in each tree flowing into the main tube, which eventually leads downhill into a large collection tank.
Here, you can see a tube running from a hole in one tree and connecting into the main tube that goes to one of the tanks. Using this method means that one does not have to empty a lot of bags or buckets. The sap all flows directly into the collection tank.
"The Sugar Shack"
The sap in the collection tank is pumped into another tank next to the "Sugar Shack". This building is where the sap is boiled down into syrup. This collection tank has pipes so that the sap can flow into the boiler inside.
Inside the shack, a large wood-burning stove heats a series of compartments in which the sap is slowly boiled down into syrup. The sap enters at one end from the collection tank, and goes from compartment to compartment, getting thicker as it slowly boils down.
This process produces a lot of sweet-smelling steam! Mmm... delicious!
"The Final Step"
Finally, the sap that has almost become syrup enters the final compartment. Here, it is siphoned off little by little. This much thicker sap is then boiled further over a stove until it reaches the right consistency and becomes syrup. It takes about 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
And then... bring on the pancakes!