IRON RIVER, MI, April 24, 2018 – Contrast Coffee has hired a General Manager at their flagship shop in Iron River. Susan Schuytema brings decades of experience in customer service and hospitality. She has worked as a journalist and most recently as the owner of a nationally award winning wine shop in west central Illinois.

“When we first came to Iron River for my husband’s interview last spring, (Paul Schuytema, Executive Director of the ICECA), I was so impressed with Contrast Coffee … not just the coffee, which was and is amazing, but the company’s commitment to the community. Although it is a different kind of liquid pleasure than from my wine shop, I immediately felt a strong parallel with my own business and the mission of the coffee shop. I knew when we relocated here that I wanted to be a barista and am thrilled now to be part of the management team.”

Schuytema’s success in creating a neighborhood “hang out” with her Illinois business Market Alley Wines gives her the experience to help Contrast Coffee’s Iron River location become a true destination for locals and visitors alike.

“Contrast Coffee is already a great hang out that is full of smiles and lively conversation,” Schuytema said. “Our job is to deliver incredible coffee, great every time, served with a smile and the sense that you’ve come back to that place you just love – welcoming, homey and part of your family.”

“I’ve always prided myself on excellence,” said Schuytema. “The Contrast owners’ commitment to creating a truly exceptional coffee experience is something that I deeply respect. They’ve worked hard to hone in on the best beans, the perfect roast, the perfect grind to deliver the absolute finest cup of coffee.”

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So one of my fondest memories when I was an almost-teen was a two week long canoeing and camping trip wth my Mom, Dad and poodle Nikki in Quetico Provincial Park in the Canadian Boundary Waters.

I still remember oodles of stories from that tip, but those are for another time. I do remember taking along Popiel’s Pocket Fisherman and fishing with freeze-dried peas as bait.

But for me, it was canoeing that was the real joy of the trip. The sound of the canoe sliding through the water. The tug of the oar. The water droplets dripping off the end of the oar into the still water.

Last fall, just before the weather turned, Susan and I got to spend a few days with our dear friends Terri and Tor at their cabin on Lake Vermillion in northern Minnesota. And they had an old Grumman aluminum canoe just like we had – probably just as old. Susan and I took it out on the lake and had a ball, and all of those old sensory memories came flooding back. What fun!

So we decided then and there to get ourselves a canoe. We live in a place surrounded by hundred of lakes – many as quiet and peaceful as the boundary waters, but just down the road from us. What could be more fun that paddling around a quiet lake together, bottle of wine in the canoe with some apples and Swiss cheese? I can’t wait!

So I did my research – found the best “starter” canoe for us. Found the best price (it IS cheaper buying a canoe in the winter – guess places want to move their inventory!), and ordered it online.

So we got notice it was shipped – coming to us with Old Dominion as the shipper – in the middle of late winter. I arranged the drop off – being winter, the semi couldn’t make it down our 900 foot driveway – so I was going to meet him on Highway 16, right at the end of the drive.

But when the driver got there, he got spooked – he didn’t even want to take the semi on Highway 16. I told him logging trucks motor down the road all day long in the winter. He wasn’t buying it. So he dropped the canoe right on the side of Highway 2 (our main highway up here) in the snow.

So there I was, alone in the 9 degree weather (I checked the temperature) with my Subaru and a 15 foot canoe wrapped in white plastic. What to do?

I left the boat on the side of the road and drove to our garage and got our canoe tie-downs and a pocket knife. I got back to the boat and cut off the first layer of plastic (sort of like a giant white canoe condom!) and then tried to figure how to get that bad boy on top of the car and secured – still wrapped in a second layer of plastic and my fingers chilled to the bone.

As I was fiddling around, a late model F150 stopped across the road – the driver regarding me from a distance. After about five minutes, he drove across highway 2 and pulled up behind me and got out. It was an older gentleman with long hair, a long beard and a Carhart hat.

He told me, in an unusually high-pitched voice “I had me an Old Town canoe like this – a good boat.”

He helped me get the boat up on my rack and I thanked him. He hopped back in his truck and pulled up next to me before he drove off.

He jerked his thumb at the canoe and said “You know – you can’t use that for a few months.” And then he drove off into the snow.


We love Chicago and used to make day trips there several times each year. (It was easy when you just hopped on Amtrak!) One place we always visited was Greek Islands … a traditional restaurant located coincidently in Greek Town!

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We use so much less ice in the UP than we ever have! I think we have used the ice maker in our fridge twice. And it seems totally obvious, but we had bloody Marys at an outdoor event and the ice never melted!

Outdoor chic – it’s a thing. There definitely is a Northwoods style that is laid back, practical, and warm during the winter! I can’t seem to stop buying knit hats!

During the summer, the grocery stores display corn on the cob (in husks) on ice. There must be a reason for this, I just don’t know what it is. Two of the things I will miss most about Illinois is the sweet corn and the summer tomatoes. Even though they will be for sale here, they just pale in comparison.

Saying “River” after the name of a river is not cool. It’s the Brule not the Brule River. It’s the Paint. Not the Paint River. It’s Cooks Run which is a bummer after I hash tagged #cooksrunriver dozens of times. (As a side note, I don’t really care if I sound cool or not.)

A sauna? It is pronounced the original Finnish way: SOW nah. And boy, are they popular up here. Speaking of Fins … my mom just got her ancestor DNA results and she is 3.5% Finnish! I guess that makes me a small percent too. Cool!

Anyone who knows me KNOWS I run hot. But even in the coldest of winter, everywhere we go is SO warm! I’ve only been cold once and that was last week with a super strong wind.

Oh, and as God as my witness, I’ve seen turkeys fly! For real! The wild turkeys roost high in trees and can fly about 1/4 of a mile. We saw dozens of them coming down from their roost and flying to the neighbors house (who feeds them.) And, according to Stella, their poop is tasty.

Also, flying squirrels are real and live here. Legit as shit. I saw one of those too! They actually have membranes that connect their front and rear legs and kind of jump then soar.

I had no idea porcupines also live up here. I’ve seen a few … all road kill.

We saw a couple of tundra swans flying over the house yesterday! And the woodpeckers are beautiful but one SOB had been pecking our house! Like, part of our house in on the ground. @#$#* woodpeckers.