Up the U.P.

The bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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.

Whitefish Point

Lake Superior at Whitefish Point, MIchigan

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

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.

Tahquamenon forest

Tahquamenon forest

Tahquamenon Falls

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.

Pict. rocks

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Natural Arch, Shore of Lake Superior

Natural Arch, Shore of Lake Superior

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.

Celebrating the Fourth at Log Cabin Resort campground

Celebrating the Fourth at Log Cabin Resort campground


About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. Remember that post about waiting out the Noreasters? Pasties would have been a great meal then. So easy you could do them in the camper even! Lean ground beef (raw), chopped up potatoes and onions, maybe a carrot or rutabaga if you fancy either, salt and pepper wrapped up in a refrigerated pie crust. Oven for an hour. Yummy! But besides that, I loved your post. We’ve never made it to the U.P. (always get diverted by Mackinac Island!) but it’s on our to-do list!

  2. Will this help?

    The legend lives on from the (Em) Chippewa on down
    Of the (G) big lake they (D) call Gitche (Asus2) Gumee
    The lake, it is said, never (Em) gives up her dead
    When the (G) skies of No(D)vember turn (Asus2) gloomy
    With a load of iron ore twenty-six (Em) thousand tons more
    Than the (G) Edmund Fitz(D)gerald weighed (Asus2) empty
    That good ship and true was a (Em) bone to be chewed
    When the (G) gales of No(D)vember came (Asus2) early

    The ship was the pride of the American side
    Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
    As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
    With a crew and good captain well seasoned
    Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
    When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
    And later that night when the ship’s bell rang
    Could it be the north wind they’d been feeling

    (A)  (A11)  (Dsus4)  (D)  (Asus2)

    The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
    And a wave broke over the railing
    And every man knew, as the captain did too
    Twas the witch of November come stealing
    The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
    When the Gales of November came slashing
    When afternoon came it was freezing rain
    In the face of a hurricane west wind

    (A)  (A11)  (Dsus4)  (D)  (Asus2)  (A11)  (D)  (Asus2)

    When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck saying
    Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya
    At seven PM a main hatchway caved in, he said
    Fellas, it’s been good to know ya
    The captain wired in he had water coming in
    And the good ship and crew was in peril
    And later that night when his lights went out of sight
    Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

    Does any one know where the love of God goes
    When the waves turn the minutes to hours
    The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
    If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
    They might have split up or they might have capsized
    They may have broke deep and took water
    And all that remains is the faces and the names
    Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

    Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
    In the rooms of her ice water mansion
    Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
    The islands and bays are for sportsmen
    And farther below Lake Ontario
    Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
    And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
    With the Gales of November remembered

    In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
    In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
    The church bell chimed til it rang twenty-nine times
    For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
    The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
    Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
    Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
    When the gales of November come early
    We have Pasties in OZ as well. Originally they were a Welsh miners handy food but wrapped in either a tea towel or muslin and taken to the mine site where they were still warm by midday. Once in the Army we marched all morning and by lunchtime we were given two pasties from a stainless steel box. We were hungry and I can still recall the wonderful taste.
    In OZ we have our own hand food called a meat pie. Depending on who makes them they can be the best meal around or at worst bland but never, never tasteless. Good bakeries have queues of people to buy their famous pies. In fact we have websites devoted to voting the best pie shop in the nation.

  3. Thank you for the words to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald…it was an old favorite of mine, great lyrics,just a lot of them to remember. I may have to download it so I can hear it again. So the welsh miners made the same culinary contribution in the US and OZ…tis a small world. Judith

    • Actually Judith in my haste to get you the words to the song, I forgot half what I wanted to tell you about the pasties. Actually the correct name is Cornish Pasties and originated in Cornwall. It’s important I include that bit of information in case the Cornish people are offended.lol

      • Yes, in the U.P. we were told is was the Cornish miners, so we all stand corrected and credit due is given. By the way, why did they give Australia the nickname OZ?

      • Aha! Good question. I am glad you asked. OZ is more of a name we have given ourselves rather than other people bestowing it upon us. We are a people of abbreviations, nicknames and deprecating humour. Take our name Australia. If we break down the name it becomes something like this, OZ TRAY LEA. So it is only natural (to us) to shorten the name to OZ. of course there is a Wizard of OZ so it is only natural for us to adopt that name into our psyche and culture. There endeth the lesson. Hope you enjoyed it. Cheers

  4. Lovely post, enjoyed the pictures and the word pictures. This area is on our list for travel in the future.

  5. Thank you. I’m enjoying what I have seen so far of your Alaska trip. That is on our list. Will be reading more of your past posts since we are considering just hitting the road after the summer and heading west.

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