Last Saturday we made the last-minute decision to take a weekend trip into MI’s Upper Peninsula (UP) – a land rumored to be steeped in raw natural beauty and ‘Yoopers’ happy to be living in near-isolation.
We set our sights on Tahquamenon Falls (closest of the UP waterfalls), made sure there were room-rental options to speak of in the area, and hit the road, leaving the rest to be sorted out as we went.
Just Another Day in Paradise
Our decision to get our room reservation out of the way before heading up to the falls set quite the tone for the first leg of our UP adventure.
Paradise – the itty-bitty town just outside the State Park and where we’d be taking refuge for the evening – offered up overnight options that fell a wee-bit short of the town’s implied promise. Nevertheless, the humble cottage we secured – full of decades-old textiles and a vibe that conjured up the comforts of generations past for both Jim and me – immediately drew us all in.
Never mind that no one at Moore’s Modern Cabins (a definite misnomer) seemed interested in minor technicalities like guest names or room keys.
Our arrival at Tahquamenon offered up mid-afternoon light reflecting beautifully along the falls, along with equally beautifully kempt grounds, thanks in part, I’m sure, to some well-worded reminders to visiting patrons.
Resting between falls (and the multiple 100+ step staircases) at the on-premise concession shop, we picked up ice cream, hot dogs and a new/throwback toy gun for Jackson (which we may still be withholding the rubber bands to).
Scouring the Lake Superior Shoreline
After the falls, we drove up to the North peak of Whitefish Bay, where Tahquamenon empties out into Lake Superior between Michigan’s UP & Canada. The sandy, rural back roads and driftwood-strewn beaches that we found there confirmed our suspicions that the UP might be a good replacement site for what used to be our annual camping trips to Jekyll Island.
The next morning we headed for the scenic drive that runs along the north-eastern UP coastline, all the way to Sault (pronounced ‘Sue’) Ste. Marie – (where, one day, we’ll actually venture across the border). Honestly – this was my favorite part of our trip. About 15-20 minutes eastbound on our shoreline drive, we came across what’s labeled as Houghts Landing in our MI atlas (though I don’t find reference to that anywhere else, so don’t quote me on it.) It’s one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve been to – the pictures below don’t do justice to the near-tropical landscape we stumbled upon.
Here, the aqua water’s edge pushes ashore, leaving a thin, scalloped rim of tiny black iron particles along the sand before receding back to swallow up more. That same iron (a byproduct of mining in the area) gives the boulders that dot the bay a rust-colored hue that stands in stark contrast to the teal and turquoise surrounding waters. The cold stream of a tiny, adjacent creek comes carving into the shoreline, as if to leave one last independent statement before assimilating into it’s Lake Superior counterpart – all the while affording Jackson the perfect path for running and splashing.
It was all absolute magic. (We were warned that might happen.)
The Not-So-Long Road Home
We finally tore ourselves away from the beach – our migration prompted by a slowly growing crowd (meaning maybe 10 other people) – to head on to the Point Iroquois Lighthouse – our last stop before a past-due lunch in Sault Ste. Marie, home of the famous Soo Locks. Seafood and (more) ice cream consumed, we lounged around in the grass, watching the massive ships rise and fall at the lock-master’s whim. (Are they really called that? I doubt it. But they should be.)
All told, our two days touring the UP felt much longer, in a really good way. The fact that we’ve still only just begun exploring it leaves me all the more optimistic that we’ll never run out of new adventures to pursue here in Northern Michigan and beyond.