This is an unusual travel day for us. After an hour's drive to Ironwood, Michigan, we parked the motor home at the grocery store parking lot, and unhitched the car for some local touring. We drove the car down Black River Road to Copper Peak. On a special day like a 37th wedding anniversary, Mark has some unusual stops planned for us. To start with, we're going up the only ski flying hill outside of Europe. We got a two-for-one ticket deal because it was our anniversary. As we pulled into the parking lot, this didn't look like the world's largest artificial ski jump.
The ride up that very steep chair lift is only the first step of our adventure today.
That 810-foot chair lift ride rises us 365 feet to the crest of the hill. Then we could see the rest of the ski jump.
The next part of our journey upward is an 18-story elevator ride to the next level of the ski jump.
The last part of the journey is the walk to the top on steps that allow you to see straight down--not for the faint of heart.
Their brochure describes the last section by saying, "the truly fearless can walk an additional eight stories to the top starting gate." With the wind blowing, it did make some people turn back. Even Mark is holding on to the gate at the very top.
We are now 1180 feet above Lake Superior, with the highest unobstructed 360-degree vista in the Midwest. On a clear day you can see 40 miles in every direction--into three states and even Canada.
But more importantly, you can see down the jump where crazy skiers can fly straight down the course.
While many people will take the elevator back down, of course we wanted to try the steps on the right hand side of the ramp.
From here we can see that the sides of the ramp are showing signs of age. This facility was built in 1970, and hosted the world cup in 1981. But because of too much wind and too little snow, it closed to skiers in 1994. Now it's a summer attraction instead.
After we walked to the bottom, we took a picture to the top.
Coming off that ramp, the skiers could then fly down that flowery field to make their landing. The owners are now repurposing this hill and ramp into an uphill run. The Red Bull 400 was held here this summer, where participants are vying for the fastest time they can run up this steep hill and part of the ramp.
The winners' podium is still at the bottom of the ramp, where we got an anniversary picture after tackling Copper Peak.
We don't usually do selfies, but that is our only alternative while sitting in a chair lift. We could still see the top of the jump as we made our way down the mountain.
For those courageous souls that make it to the top, bumper stickers and tshirts can be purchased at the gift shop.
Our next stop of the day was down Black River Road to do a little waterfall sight-seeing. There are five falls down this road, but we only had time for one. We chose the hike down to Potawatomi Falls.
We only have time for one waterfall because Mark had another planned activity. He knows how much Denisa likes a good factory tour, and he found one in Ironwood. We are visiting the Stormy Kromer factory. Those from the north recognize these caps that were originally designed in 1903 by the wife of a railroad engineer who often lost his cap in the wind. That extra flap around the crown can be tied tighter, and also pulls down over the ears in the coldest weather.
This company thinks big, outfitting a large Michigan snowman with his own Stormy Kromer cap.
In the factory, we saw the computerized cutter getting the maximum pieces out of each stack of fabric. Mark liked the fact that such a sophisticated machine was held together with duck tape.
At least one piece of each garment is monogrammed with the company name, and we got a close-up look at that machine.
That Stormy Kromer name comes with a life-time warranty. Those hats are expensive, but it could be the last cap you buy.
Denisa has sewn all her life, so she was fascinated with the speed and accuracy these ladies were sewing those perfect curves.
This woman is adding the trademark extra flap that makes their caps unique.
Anyone that has done any sewing would be impressed by watching this woman assembling a heavy wool coat--another part of the Stormy Kromer line.
Their clothing lines include vests, coats, and shirts that seem to be heavy on plaids.
Besides Stormy Kromer clothing items, the parent company, Jacquart, has contracts to produce several other lines. We watched as these women began the process for assembling Dometic RV awnings. We have some of those on our motor home!
Jacquart also has the contract with the Doctors Foster and Smith company to assemble their very popular pet beds. This worker was filling the inner bags with recycled plastic, while another was stuffing them into the bed liner that was sewn here.
We also saw another portion of the factory working on the awnings used for this company's playground equipment.
We posed for another anniversary picture under one of those giant Stormy Kromer caps that will go to stores making sizable purchases this year. It's been a great day, and a great 37 years wandering God's wonders together!