I’m a Yooper stranded in Iowa. Traveling there every year to vacation and explore, it saddens my heart to see the slow but constant decline. Some would say this is a good thing — ‘Don’t want no trolls’ attitude. However, in recent years, I think most have come to understand that if they continue to block industry from coming in, setting up shop and affecting the unique ecology systems (which is a good thing in my mind), they will have to promote tourism more heavily or die off. My sincere hope is that it is not too late to revive this beautiful section of Terra Firma.
Sure there are a lot of mosquitoes. That’s why they make repellant. Sure there is a lot of wet lands, marshes and swamps. People pay big money to see them when they go to Florida. In the U.P., they are free. Just head on down any back road and soon you’ll be in the thick of it….literally. What most people don’t know is that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has an incredibly diverse offering of eco-systems. Creeks, lakes, rivers and reservoirs are around every corner. Located along the journey are numerous falls, dunes, mixed, old growth and evergreen forests. In autumn, the colors are just as gorgeous as those found hundreds of miles away in the New England states.
Wildlife abounds in the U.P. It is a bird watcher’s dream, a hunter’s desire and fisherman’s feast. Depending upon the time of year, your walk to the deer blind or fishing hole includes a meal of Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Thimbleberries, June berries….. lots of berries. Or you may find one of 1000s of apple trees out in the wild, all grown up from discarded seeds from previous adventurers or passengers of a passing train, loaded with fruit ready for picking.
‘The Grade’ is a series of interconnecting retired rail lines which once transported lumberjacks and miners into the region, while carrying the byproducts of their labor, iron ore and lumber, out of the area. They are now utilized for ATV, 4WD and snowmobile traffic. You can literally travel across the U.P. from Sault Ste. Marie to Ironwood with branches going north and south, covering the entire U.P. like a spider web.
In recent years, there has been a decline in visitors to take advantage of these activities due to a lack of snowfall in the winter … something welcome by the majority of residents, not by those whose livelihoods depend upon the white stuff … and Michigan’s zero tolerance alcohol legislation. You can ‘pro-con’ this issue all day, every day and still not come up with a workable solution. Forcing sobriety on hunters, snowmobilers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts is simply going to drive them over the border into Wisconsin or Canada, which is exactly what has happened. This has devastated the region to the point where motels in many small communities have resorted to long term rentals at reduced rates rather than worrying about filling rooms with tourists. Or they are simply closing their doors completely with buildings left to decay in the elements. This makes it difficult to find lodging. But, if you plan ahead, there are more than enough rooms at the numerous resorts or private cabins to rent located throughout the region, which take advantage of prime locations on the many lakes and rivers.
So you are asking yourself by now, but what about you? The reason I started this blog, besides my daughters suggestion, was to promote the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and other incredible places I have been through my photography. To encourage others to get there and see them before they are gone. Mother Nature doesn’t always like what she’s sees in the mirror when she wakes up each day either. She is changing constantly, just like us. If you don’t go see her beauty today, it might be gone tomorrow and you will have missed a marvelous experience in this one life we have to live. It’s a wonderful place to lay your head at the end of the day, serenaded by the Whipoorwill and crazy Loons.
You never know. You might just become part of the picture if we should happen to meet along the trail. This Medical Technologist graduate from Michigan Tech — who was raised in Escanaba with four siblings , lived in Texas for 10 years where she met her Electrical Engineer hubby from Peoria — frequently treads the trails of this gorgeousland. If I’m lucky, I am accompanied by my Civil/Environmental engineer daughter or my computer whiz son. I always find time to escape the summer heat of Iowa where … yes, I truly feel stranded among the corn fields … to make the trek north. Come and join me some day. You too can experience the peace, solitude, and beauty off the beaten path in what, for me, is truly God’s country. It’s just a short drive away. Come on! Just follow the road!
The hot pasties are waiting for you, eh! Ya, you betcha!