Family Journal: Day at Northern Michigan University

Saying Goodbye to Owen at the Sawyer International Airport

We had an unexpected extra day for our summer vacation. American Airlines canceled our flight leaving Marquette due to a lack of pilots. American Airlines reduced the number of weekly flights leaving Marquette from 5 to 3. That has been a theme of the holiday; deficiencies in the workforce causing decreasing services. Some examples include waiting 45 minutes for our meal at The Library restaurant in Houghton due to a lack of chefs or my friend having to close a gas station he manages early regularly because they cannot find people to work. We had several discussions about the cause of the worker shortage with friends. My take is a combination of people taking early retirements, COVID deaths, and as a friend observed, young people don’t have to get summer jobs the way they used to because of increased affluence or different priorities. 

Ocean poses in front of Owen’s freshman dormitory

After finding out that our flight was canceled upon arrival at KI Sawyer International Airport, we quickly made new travel logistics. The airport is 90 minutes drive from Iron River. When the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base closed in the early 1990s, local officials converted it to a civilian airport. American Airlines had booked us on the flight the next day without informing me, so that part was taken care of. Our school travel coordinator spoke to the travel agent in Tashkent, and they re-booked our flights for the next day as well. There have been many flight cancellations, so there were seats on both connecting flights. I then changed our reservations at the Yotel, the hotel inside the Istanbul airport, for our 12-hour layover. Finally, we got a room at the Cedar Inn in Marquette, and with the typical UP hospitality, they found 1 room for all of us at $119 per night. 

Oliver in front of the NMU Fitness Center in Owen’s Dormitory Complex

My brother dropped us and the bags off at the hotel. In the morning, Owen showed us the Northern Michigan University campus. We stopped at the bookstore to buy some NMU swag. My takeaway from the tour of the campus is I like how they market themselves as a university in an outdoor pursuit destination. They promote kayaking, hiking, biking, skiing, etc. in various provocative ways. It must appeal to students from neighboring states and downstate Michigan to come to the shores of Lake Superior in a hip, progressive town to enjoy nature while getting a degree at a decent university. I was surprised to learn that the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is an NMU graduate. 

Black Rocks Lake Superior – Presque Isle Park – Marquette, Michigan

We went out to Presque Isle Park which is always beautiful! It was a perfect day, and as you can see by the photos, Lake Superior and the Northwoods were looking their best. Nadia and Ocean went shopping at many cute and independent shops downtown. Marquette is a liberal, democratic, progressive town in a mostly red-state culture of the Upper Peninsula. I see why Marquette County always votes blue. We were tired from getting up at 3:00 AM to catch our 6:20 AM flight departing KI Sawyer. We napped in the afternoon and went to the Fish Express Truck at the Third Street Market for delicious Lake Superior WhiteFish Tacos. 

We said goodbye to Owen the next morning at the airport. It always breaks my heart to see him leave us, but such is life. I am happy to see him mature and start to become an independent man. 

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