Monday, August 6, 2012

Why the Upper Peninsula is really Wisconsin

Why the Upper Peninsula is my favorite place, even though it’s technically Michigan (but it really should be Wisconsin, everyone there is a Packer fan anyway).

Wisconsinites are in a constant state of going to and coming from “up north”. The term “up north” means different things to different people, but usually refers to traveling to a rural Wisconsin location, to stay in a cabin, often on a lake or river, eat brats and sauerkraut, drink lots of beers, and breathe in some crisp green northern air.

My family is not from Wisconsin (shock and horror!), so when I moved here as a child I was very confused about where my classmates were going on the weekends. Their moms would pack up their van, they’d hit the road and end up God knows where, maybe Minoqua, Rhinelander or Eagle River, to name a few up north hotspots. It didn’t take long for me to become very, very envious. Not jealous. Seriously green with envy. You can only look at so many pictures of kids in neon life jackets, riding inner tubes behind pontoon boats with sun burned cheeks…

Fortunately for me, after years of sulking about my family’s’ lack of cabin, I scored a boyfriend who has his own lakeshore cottage (he’s still my boyfriend, and I’ve come to love him for other reasons as well). His is about 15 miles outside of Marquette, Michigan on the shores the magnificent Lake Superior. His grandpa’s family lived in the cabin beginning in the 1910’s. The cottage itself is perfectly kitschy and cozy. Quirky art lines the walls, unquestioned, and trinkets collected over decades fill the bookshelves. The classic rock radio station fills the plank wooden walls, giving a sense of timelessness that perfectly complements the furnishings and multi-generational gatherings.

I recently returned from my seventh trip to this northern retreat. I can’t speak for the whole UP—really, I can only speak for the 20 miles from Marquette to Big Bay. But let me tell you—these are my favorite 20 miles on earth. I really can’t describe this area—pictures are the best way to share the sheer and awesome beauty of the region. And sadly for you, being in the UP really is much better than the pictures.

I’m risking sounding cliché, but the UP changed how I think about nature—I never grew up camping and hiking, and traveling to the UP is to me, what nature should be. It is pristine, meditative and rugged.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest.

The kitschy/quirky art mentioned above.

The old and the new. Schlitz and Louie's Demise of Milwaukee Brewing Company.

We feed this chipmunk. Normally he eats peanuts. Here, he's trying new things and apprehensively chewing a tortilla chip.

Morning from the family's beach.

Little Presque Isle. You can walk across the water and hike the island.


Beautiful scenery--the water is outstandingly clear. It's too cold for extensive seaweed or algae, lending a crystal view during the summer.

Wetmore beach (probably my favorite beach)

Little Presque Isle.

Little Presque Isle.

Jumping off of Little Presque Isle. They did jump eventually.

Climbing rocks on Little Presque Isle.

Tony's Point Morning.

Morning on the rocks.

Camp. The tradition and history here is amazing. I'm so lucky that the my bf's family has shared it with me.

View from Sugarloaf mountain

View from Sugarloaf mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain!

Wisconsin made vodka + Mexico made soda = yum!

A secret beach--we had to walk a mile through water to get here.

Secret beach.

Secret beach, looking up.


  1. You can walk across water!?! My god, the second coming of christ!

  2. Also, lake superior doesn't have a high enough nutrient concentration to support a lot of plant material, which is why it is so clear. It has little to do with the temperature.


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