The U.P., short for the Upper Peninsula, in case you are unfamiliar with the area, is the northern most stretch of Michigan. Wisconsin forms the southwest border of the Peninsula, the rest of it is surrounded by Great Lakes. Superior to the north, Huron and Lake Michigan south and east. Since we were on a mission to see all the Great lakes, the U.P. seem a perfect place to stay. We left Door County in Wisconsin and had a 260 mile drive to Log Cabin Resort on Lake Manistique in Curtis, Michigan. It’s in the center in the Upper Peninsula and would be our base of operations for our stay. We find this to be the easiest approach. We could move the RV from place to place but it’s more convienent (and less expensive) to camp centrally and use the car to do our touring.
On the way to our camp we stopped to do some food shopping and to have lunch. On our stop we made an exciting culinary discovery: Pasties (past, rhymes with last) It’s a food unique to the area. A pastry filled with chicken or beef, potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Kind of a hand held pot pie. Supposedly the miners would heat them in the morning, wrap them in newspaper and they would still be warm for lunch. Ours didn’t have a chance of getting cold. Groceries restocked and stomachs full we continue on to our camp and got settled in.
Our first excursion was a day trip to the Northwest area of the U.P. to see Lake Superior at Whitefish Point. Superior is, well, superior. A deep blue expanse of water edged with a beautiful white sand beach. It’s not always as calm as on this day. There have been over 500 wrecks in the lake, a testimony to the severe weather and danger faced by those who make their living on its waters. We paid a visit to the Shipwreck Museum to see the actual bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. We are still working on the lyrics to that Gordon Lightfoot song.
The day was sunny and warm (hard to believe they average over 200 inches of snow a year) so on the way back we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls. The river and falls were supposedly part of the inspiration for Longfellow’s epic poem Song of Hiawatha. I couldn’t find it, but the poem is pretty long. The trees of the area contain tanin which leeches into the water and turns it a deep golden brown. This is also one of only three spots in the state that have never been logged. We take the trail back through the old forest. It’s very quiet, the sounds muffled by fallen trees, ferns and moss on the forest floor, and eons of untouched history.
Another day trip takes us northwest to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 15 miles of colorful cliffs, towering 200 feet above Lake Superior, sculpted into natural caves, turrets and arches. We take a boat tour of the coastline, reveling in the beauty of these natural works of art.
The week flies by. We celebrated the Fourth of July with a camp parade. Everyone went all out with decorated bikes, golf carts, a tractor, dogs, even two goats. We have hot dogs and potluck sides and a few tunes by the Timmons, Ontario Drum and Bagpipers who were staying in the campground for the weekend. We canoe on the lake, play golf, explore the Seney National Wildlife Refuge , not to mention the usual fare, paying of bills and the other day-to-day requirements of life on the road. The Upper Peninsula was an unexpected pleasure, with lots to see and do. One drive we did not make was to Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac Island. It was a little too far to give us the time we wanted there, so we added it to our planned stops later in our trip when we come down from Ontario on the far side of Lake Superior. This is another advantage to road life, we can rearrange things to suit our schedule as needed. Finally it’s time to move on. We pack up and head west toward Minnesota and Lake of the woods for some Walleye fishing in Baudette.