This month marks the 30th anniversary of the first man walking on the moon. As I think back over the years about what I was doing 30 years ago today, I think about how much technology has changed since then and how much more connected we are because of it. I never would have imagined that Iíd have a live video camera sending pictures via the Internet from the third floor of my home showing the world the Portage Lift Bridge and the Houghton/ Hancock waterway. The Bridge Cam is a link to the world. The bridge has become the true gateway to the Keweenaw. Computers filled entire rooms thirty years ago. I never dreamt Iíd have three of them sitting in my den. Digital cameras did not exist, let alone the Internet. Microwave ovens were rare and cell phones, non-existent, who even knew what these were back in 1969?
Our spectacular view has been something that I always knew that I wanted to share. I just never knew that Iíd be able to share it with so many people. Thanks to technology, people from all over the world can now see what I have learned to sometimes take for granted. From the moment I first saw the Portage Lift Bridge and waterway, I fell in love with them. Iíve traveled to almost 50 states and several foreign countries, but itís still my favorite view. Iíll never tire of it.
It was one giant step for us when we moved from Lower Michigan to Hancock in 1985, my husband and I didnít mind not having a television for the first few weeks. Every day was a flurry of activity reclaiming our house from years of neglect as a student rental. Each evening weíd sit on the couch just looking out the window at the beautiful view of the Portage Lift Bridge. Weíd joke about how lucky we were to have such a view. As the months went by I came to realize that looking out our window was one of our favorite past times. Sometimes it was like our private movie screen. Each season was uniquely spectacular and so intense. We felt sorry for our friends in Lower Michigan because they had so little snow and no lakes or rivers around for miles. Our window became a picture perfect post card. Every day was different. Far away friends and family always remarked about how lucky we were to have such a beautiful view.
Fourteen years ago I thought we had moved to the end of the world. We were at least 200 miles from civilization, big cities, shopping malls, entertainment and cultural resources; or so I thought. Iíd look at "that bridge" and think how we lived on a remote island, cut off from the rest of the world, in the middle of Lake Superior. Actually itís the Keweenaw Peninsula and not an island at all. Without "that bridge" though, I did live on an island. I soon realized that I truly was living in paradise and knew why people call this area "Godís Country". Itís not only because of the view, itís because the people are friendlier here. They actually smile at each other and say hello to total strangers on the streets. Living here is like living in a small European city. The architecture and setting look European. The community has an international flavor because of the university and all of the ethnic groups that have settled here. I found that many of my neighbors and new friends here have done a lot of traveling worldwide. All in all, the people here were much more cosmopolitan than the people where I had grown up.
When I showed the Pasty Cam and the new Bridge Cam to a Hancock Rotary Exchange student that recently returned from Argentina, she said how great it was because now she could have her new friends back in Argentina really see what life was like where she lived. I knew right then that I had reached my goal for sharing my beautiful view of the Portage Lift Bridge and waterway. It wasnít even close to anything like taking the first step on the moon, but I was able to share my view, one of the most beautiful sites in the world, with the rest of the world.
I donít feel cut off from civilization any more, but more like I am in the center of it. This isnít Silicon Valley in California or Silicon Alley in New York, but to me it is more unique. Itís bigger. Itís Silicon Country, also known as the Copper Country, and a small piece of it originates from my home.
Previous "Through the Eye of the Pasty Cam":Return to the Pasty Cam
April 1999: "Keweenaw Moon"
May 1999: "Ten Websites that Matter"
June 1999 "Copper Country Mud"