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Monday, August 12, 2013

YOOPERS AND PASTIES AND A GREAT BIG LAKE.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. U.P. MI

They say be careful what you wish for. We longed for peace and quiet. We ended up with a generous dose of it and something even better. Recently, my husband and I went on a summer sojourne to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.....to get away from it all. If you know anything about the U.P....you'll know that it's ruggedly remote, surrounded by thick forests and three of the five great lakes and inhabited by very few people....mostly fierce, independent folk who proudly call themselves "yoopers" and seem to enjoy hard living and even harsher winters. Yoopers refer to us wimps who live in the lower peninsula, below the Mackinack Bridge, as "trolls". Many yoopers would like to secede from Michigan and form their own country....which they'd call "Superior". They probably wouldn't allow us trolls back across the Bridge.

We'd driven across the U.P. several times before....which is in itself, not exactly a walk in the park....considering the wide peninsula grips the farthest north edges of Michigan and runs horizontally from Wisconsin to Canada with a bit of Minnesota border (Duluth), tossed in for good measure. It takes a good, solid day to traverse from east coast to west coast of the Upper Peninsula on long, winding, monotonous, two lane roads where you see nothing but trees and sky and a smattering of quirky eateries with names like "Bear Trap Bar" (which happens to be a memorable place to eat.)

To me the U.P. is like hopping in a time capsule and heading back to the 1950s. No flashy, upscale hotels, fancy restaurants or glitzy shopping districts. Mostly two lane roads; lots of bears, moose and rustic simplicity. All spring and summer long, millions of flies (black fly, deer fly, stable fly) dive-bomb tourists and natives alike. With teeth sharp as razor blades, these flying killer machines inflict vicious bites and welts that could make even Wrestlemania-type bruisers scream for mercy. Obviously I don't work for the U.P. Chamber of Commerce. But hold on....there's positive news to come.

Admittedly, we were rather harsh on the U.P. during some previous, quick, drive-by visits. As much as we enjoy on-the-grid civilization, we decided to give the U.P. another chance. Oh so glad we did! On previous visits, we had glimpsed some of it's startling, raw beauty and knew there was more to the U.P. besides killer flies and pasties.(beef and potato stew wrapped up in pastry like a burrito.)  We said a boatload of prayers that the horrid swarms of flies would not be present.

Our prayers were answered tenfold. No flies. Alleluia! No flies! Instead we discovered dozens of scenic lighthouses, cool, cascading waterfalls, pristine primevil forests and the breathtaking Lake Superior shoreline. The largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Superior makes you want to weep in pure, joyful gratitude for the privilege of standing on its glorious craggy, rocky coastline; walking along its abundant, sandy, isolated beaches, viewing the magical vistas of sheer cliffs and high dunes, being astonished at the clarity of its Caribbean-like blue and green waters and understanding the vastness, grandeur and awesome power this enormous, wild and unpredictable lake commands of anyone who dares enter its waters.

We found our peace and quiet. Solitude. Relaxation. Daily picnics overlooking the mighty Lake. Simple food. Amazing coastal panoramas. We did miles of hiking and exploring. No crowds. Often we were the only two people in the woods or on the shoreline for as far as the eye could see. But more than that, for me, I was inspired by the care free nature of the enduring people who live there year round in bone-chilling winters and short-lived summers. I was awed by Lake Superior's spectacular, world class vistas. I was humbled by the lush, reverential, verdant forests carpeted in millions of giant, wild ferns, birch trees and sturdy hard woods....so deep and dense that one could become lost for a long time.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not a place I would like to live permanently. Too severe. Too rustic. Too isolated. But to visit the U.P. every so often, renews my sense of spirituality, frees me from the madness of the outside world and embraces me with coveted peace and quiet. Priceless.

I snapped 500 photos of our trip to U.P.  Here are just a few to inspire you to visit this incredible northern region of pure Michigan

Silver River Falls, Keweenaw Peninsula (U.P.)

Copper Harbor Lighthouse at most northern tip of Michigan on Lake Superior.

Primevil forest tree roots have a life of their own.

Wrecked boat...Casualty of Lake Superior's fury.

Drift wood floats along pink sand beach.

Isolated beaches lure a lone black bird.

Scarlet cliffs of Grand Sable Dunes.

Grand Sable Cliffs loom over Lake Superior.
Majestic "Pictured Rocks" glow at sunset.

You can walk for miles and miles and never see another soul. Lake Superior.

Munising Falls

Lone Sailboat plies the vast waters of Lake Superior.

 Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is enchanting in a sunset glow.






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7 comments:

J.P. Travis said...

You make me want to go back. I've had good times and bad times in the UP. Once we were camping and it rained so hard (for days) campsites at the sate park were slowly going underwater. My two daughters and wife played endless games of cards in the tent while I opened a lawn chair in the U-Haul trailer we used to haul the camping equipment and read books. Finally I ran out of reading material. So that was a crisis. Then a giant motor home pulled in next door and was running its heater full blast, the exhaust and noise directed straight at our tent. We stood there in the rain, cold and wet and miserable, looking in the big picture window of that motor home, watching them sitting at their kitchen table eating warm food with a television playing, laughing and happy and comfortable, and I have never hated people as much as I hated those people in that motor home. Ah, good times...

Coffeypot said...

I would love to visit there but I could never live there. I'm a woos. I don't do real cold very well. And I could never live anywhere that didn't have a Waffle House close by.

Mar-Ce Bennett said...

J.P., I love your anecdotes. You strike me as a possible Yooper, actually.

Mar-Ce Bennett said...

Coffeypot: true, no Waffle Houses. BUT there are a few Dairy Queens. Notably one in Houghton. Best peanut buster parfait ever! They didn't skimp on the fudge sauce or the peanuts. No place for food snobs up there!

ReformingGeek said...

Amazing beauty. I would love to go there one day. Glad you had a good time!

Timothy Hecht said...

Nice Pics.

Joyce Pitrone Hawkins--Wrinkles Don't Hurt said...

My folks were born and raised in the U.P. And yes, it is a different life-style up there. As one of your commenters said "no place for snobs..."

I take exception to your pasty description....(beef and potato stew wrapped up in pastry like a burrito.)

I would never compare such a great dish (the pasty) to a burrito or stew. lol A pasty holds meat and potato and lots of onions (for moisture and flavor)in a folded-over pie-type crust.

The pasty originally came from Cornwall England. In the U.P. the iron-ore miners would wrap them in newspaper to keep them warm and eat them with their hands at lunch-time. Oh...and don't forget to pass the ketchup, please.

There are lots of great places to visit in the UP...and if ALL of Michigan. Nice story.

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