Christie’s Chronicles:

The Michigan Welcome Center in Harvey is a wonderland of brochures. You also get a nice view of Lake Superior. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

When I went on outdoorsy family vacations when I was a kid, I thought one of the coolest jobs ever was to work in a ranger’s station or similar facility where many brochures were to be had for the taking.

I would be surrounded — at least on the outside — of a beautiful wooded area full of wildlife and people who were having a good time on their vacations. If the kids were lucky, their parents would treat them to suckers or pretzel rods.

Vacations held a special place in my heart, and probably other kids’ hearts as well, because parents drove them to and from the destinations, alleviating the hassles of highway travel. If you saved enough of your allowance, you could buy a cheap trinket that to you was invaluable.

My parents also bought all the meals. Even picnic lunches at a rest stop were exciting, as were breakfasts consumed inside the hotel/motel/inn room. My family relied on those assorted packages of small breakfast boxes that, after fighting over the Fruit Loops, you could flip open after tearing the perforations, pour in milk and eat straight from the box. It was adventure eating.

Anyway, back to the brochures, or pamphlets, if you want to call them that. I always had an affinity for them. They represented bundles of information, photographs and maps that you could tuck in a pocket and file away in a folder when you got home. In fact, when a classroom assignment required students to make folders on a particular topic, an easy way around it was to just put in a bunch of brochures.

It didn’t matter if the closest I got to that destination was the actual brochure.

I still find them fascinating. I can get lost perusing a map, looking at how the North Country National Scenic Trail meanders all over the place, and wondering how I could access Wylie Falls and Pinnacle Falls in Marquette County, should I be so inclined.

Did you know that Homeier is a hamlet in Powell Township? It’s close to other Antlers, if that helps, with Alder Falls only a short distance away.

All this I learned from the Road and Trail Cycling Guide for the Superior Region-Central, which also lists bicycle and tourist resources as well as other information. The only drawback is opening it up and having to refold it back to its proper position, but that’s my problem.

Recently, I went to the Michigan Welcome Center along U.S. 41 in Harvey. Talk about a treasure trove of brochures. Here I discovered the size and daily possession limits walleye and northern pike at Craig Lake State Park (as if I could actually catch them). I also got an idea of the locations of Harlow Lake and the Songbird Trail, two spots I’ve visited but never seem to recall exactly where I can access them.

Picking up a brochure on the Kitch-iti-Kipi, or the “Big Spring,” near Manistique, reminded me that I have yet to visit this place where “crystal-clear water allows you to see the bottom of this 40-foot natural spring,” according to the brochure. (Disclosure: I added the hyphens in the sentence, copy editor that I am.)

The helpful person at the front desk, noticing I was perusing the brochures, asked me if I needed any help. I I declined, even though I was grateful for the offer.

I was impressed. I had a feeling she knew exactly where the brochures for a particular topic or geographic region were located.

At one time, that might have been an ideal vocation for me. Now I think of how my feet would hurt having to stand for many hours. I suspect that people in these positions plan accordingly before coming to work, and wear the proper shoes.

Were it me in that position, I would constantly look for brochure stacks that were moved and not placed back in their proper alignment. I’m not the neat-freak that I was, but that’s the sort of thing that bugs me. I suspect, though, that staff frequently realigns them. They looked fine to me on my visit.

Assuming I will make a few more road trips in my time, I have a feeling that I will pick up a brochure or two to learn about places I might never visit. If I do visit them, at least I can complement the trips with suckers and pretzel rods, now that I have the financial wherewithal to do so.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 550. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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