Geography played a cool trick on the state of Michigan. There is the main body of the state which resembles the shape of a mitten and is referred to as the Lower Peninsula. Then there’s this northern part that is separated from mainland Michigan by water and actually looks as though it belongs to Wisconsin. They call this part, the Upper Peninsula. Or UP. And if you reside in the UP they refer to you as a UP’er or a Yooper. Yoopers refer to people beneath the bridge (Lower Peninsula) as trolls. You will also find that Yoopers tend to speak a language of their own. Ex. “Hey, youse guys, how aboot we go fishin’ later, eh?”
Our trip to the UP allowed for one week. Our next trip will allow for much more time as there is so much to see and do.
Day 1 consisted of us just wondering around the LP side of the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge is currently the longest suspension bridge in the U.S. The suspension part alone is over 8,500 ft and the total bridge length is just under 5 miles. If you get motion sickness you might be better off renting a boat during rough waters then crossing the bridge on a fairly calm day to get to the UP. It gives a whole new meaning to the word sway.
Before crossing over take some time to check out the sites on the LP side of the bridge. This includes things such as Colonial Michilimackinac, a fortified village and military outpost. The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse just a few hundred feet from the bridge. And of course the town of Mackinaw City which offers free nightly laser light shows in Mackinaw Crossings.
Day 2 we spent on Mackinac Island. My guess is the island itself is approximately 8 to 9 miles in circumference. A nice hike for anyone wanting the bragging rights of saying they walked around it. This is a step back in time. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Your mode of transportation consist of bicycles or horse drawn carriages.
On the island you will find Fort Mackinac. This fort was built by the Brits during the American Revolution. It was to help defend Fort Michilimcakinac which the Brits thought would be raided by American Rebels. This fort gave the British an excellent vantage point when viewing the Straits of Mackinac.
Day 3 took us to Sault Ste Marie (the Soo) and the Canadian border. This is the oldest city in the Midwest, founded in 1668 by Fathers Jogues and Raymbault of the Sainte Marie Mission in Georgian Bay. If you do nothing else while there do take in the Tower of History and a boat tour thru the soo locks.
On Day 4 & 5 we started seeing the beauty of the UP. Places such as Hiawatha National Forest, Tahquamenon Falls S.P. and Whitefish Bay are just a few of Mother Nature’s gifts to this region. You will find museums such as the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point or many Old Lighthouses scattered all along the Great Lakes coastline.
Take a boat tour thru the Pictured Rocks or maybe a glass bottom tour of the many shipwrecks that Lake Superior claimed. There was so much to see and so little time scheduled to accommodate it. We didn’t have time to make it to the Northwestern corner or the Wisconsin border area. We will have to leave that for another time.
Day 6 was reserved for the southern coastline of the UP. However, on our way there we did pass a casino in Harris, MI. The Island Resort Casino just so happened to be featuring one of my wife’s favorite stars, Bruce Willis. So naturally we had to stop and take in the show. I must admit, I was impressed with Bruce and his Blues Band.
We spent the night in Gladstone at a must stay B&B. The Kipling House on Lake Shore Drive is within walking distance to the shorelines of Little Bay De Noc. This place is quite affordable and offers rooms with king size or full size beds. Each bedroom has its own adjoining bathroom. To top it off, the owner and operator, Robert Micheau is a longtime resident of Gladstone and offers a vast knowledge of the area.
Of course while there you are surrounded by some of the best fishing and kayaking in Michigan. It’s why they call it “Natural Playground on the Bay”. If fishing is not your thing then there are at least 3 golf courses within a short distance.
Day 7 and time to head back. We decided to drive the scenic route back home and spend as much time as possible on the shoreline routes. This brought us in touch with many more lighthouses and beautiful small harbor towns.
To close I would like to quote the late Henry Ford and what he had to say about the U.P. “It is one of the prettiest places in the world”.