Michigan, Part 2
The U.P. is almost one third of the land area of the entire state of Michigan. It contains all of Michigan's waterfalls except for the Ocqueoc Falls which is the only recognized falls in the lower peninsula. The population is so unique that they are affectionately referred to as Yoopers. There are large populations of Cornish, Germans, Irish, French Canadians, and Finns and other Scandinavians. Yoopers have a distinct accent or dialect all their own. They also have foods not usually found elsewhere, such as pasties. Pasties are.. well, the best way I can think of to describe them is stew in a crust. They are pocket meals that were used by the miners as lunch. Easy to heat on a hot shovel and convenient to carry.
Before getting to the U.P. itself, I do want to make a stop on Mackinac Island. No personally owned motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, so we must travel by foot, bike, horse, or carriage. Because of the historical preservation and restoration the whole island is a National Historic Landmark. And more than 80% is Mackinac Island State Park.Steep cliffs and rock formations were formed by melting glaciers. Because this less than four square miles of island is so far from any other land, there are few mammals here. An occasional coyote sighting has happened. Bats are plentiful because of the many caves for them to live in. Insects keep them fed. Birds are abundant and there are beautiful plants and flowers for lovers of flora.
I visited Hell, Michigan in the mitten. Now I'm going to visit Paradise in the U.P. A fire in 1922 destroyed the natural growth in this area leaving land that is perfect for growing blueberries. Cranberries are also grown here. Paradise is home to the Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. In the winter you can enjoy all manner of winter sports. Here is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum commemorating the ships and sailors lost to the Great Lakes. Watching Lake Superior ebb and flow can be either relaxing or exhilarating depending on the weather and your mood. Tahquamenon Falls State Park features Tahquamenon Falls and is the second largest state park in Michigan. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "Song of Hiawatha" about this very place. Forty miles of hiking trails , the 24 miles of Tahquamenon River, and 13 inland lakes fill this 20,000 acre piece of nature. You can look for 125 species of nesting birds and bear, moose, and wolves. Paradise.
That brings us to Hiawatha National Forest which covers 880,000 acres and touches 3 of the 5 Great Lakes with over 100 miles of shoreline. This national forest has 2 subunits commonly called the Eastside and the Westside. It contains six designated wilderness areas; Big Lake Wilderness, Delirium Wilderness, Horseshoe Bay Wilderness, Mackinac Wilderness, Rock River Wilderness, and Round Island Wilderness. You will find hiking and biking tails. There is plenty of wildlife and a bird sanctuary.
Michigan's oldest city is Sault Ste. Marie. Here we will see the Soo Locks, the largest water traffic system in the world. A two hour tour will take you and the vessel you are on through the locks on Lake Huron. You will be raised about 21 feet to Lake Superior. In the locks you could be right next to Great Lakes freighters. You will continue along Lake Superior, under the International Bridge and railroad bridge into Canada. On the return trip you will enter the Historic Canadian Lock on Lake Superior to be lowered 21 feet to Lake Huron and a scenic cruise along St. Mary's River.
I haven't even mentioned Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or Portage Lake Lift Bridge. For a nature lover it looks like Michigan's Upper Peninsula is the place to go. Michigan's state motto is "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." The UP certainly fills the bill. Now you can understand why I say Michigan is two states in one. I hope you have a good time when you explore the UP. I'm going to see if I can find a ghost town and some old ruins to fantasize about. Let me know what you did.
U.P. Travel Guide
U.P. Hiking Trails Guide Book
Upper Peninsula Now
Upper Peninsula Lighthouses
Official State Site
Department of Natural Resources
Huron/Clinton Metro Parks
Pure Michigan Magazine
Offbeat Tourist Attractions