Heading UP!

Heading UP!

Insights from Our Trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

My Boaz and I recently ran away from home for our seventh honeymoon. Seven years? Where has the time gone? We needed a break from our day-to-day stuff. We usually want to get away together for our anniversary. It was exactly what we needed. The Upper Peninsula ads caught our attention, so we packed our van, filled our cooler with food and drinks, then drove a few hours to experience what this wilderness area up north had to offer.

I thought you might be interested in some insights I gained along the way. The Upper Peninsula boasts many beautiful scenic places like the Lake Superior beaches strewn with beautiful rocks. You can enjoy the shark-free waters, clear and blue. Take in awe-inspiring lighthouses with mesmerizing histories, breathtaking rock formations, lots of towering trees, renowned places like Mackinac Island (we were there back in 2015 or 2016), the friendly faces of Sault Saint Marie, and quaint touristy towns.  The UP also has interesting foods like smoked fish, jerky, and pastries (aka. Pasties), odd sayings like, “Eh!” added to the end of a statement, camping, off-roading with ORVs and snowmobiles, along with remote camping in tents, RVs, and cabins. Oh, yes, did I mention poor cell service? Very poor. Wifi? Ha! If your lucky, which means lots of real-time couple connection, instead of being connected “out there somewhere in the Twitter-verse.” It’s worth checking out if you are looking for vacation ideas.

Heading into the U.P. by Mackinac Bridge.
Heading into the U.P. photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

Leave It Home

The nice thing about being disconnected from the rest of the world is leaving work at home. My laptop waved a sad goodbye as we pulled out of our driveway. My Boaz and I agreed that work of any sort had no place in our anniversary trip. Who needs chaperones along? If you have the Fear of Missing Out Syndrome, a trip like this might be your ticket to freedom from slavery to the Worldwide Web.

Recharge!

Trees carpet the Upper Penninsula—lots of trees. In fact, the tip of the Thumb and the Upper Penninsula is a significant source of wood. Lumbering had been a thing there in the mid-1800s (http://www.michigan-history.org/lumbering/LumberingBriefHistory.html). The tales of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox originated here. So, when you travel to the UP, it’s you, God, and His creation. There is no better way to recharge yourself than taking in nature in all its glory, then give out again when you get back home.

Celebrate Marriage

If there is anything to be learned from my first husband’s death and my Boaz’s divorce, is that marriage deserves our investment of time, energy, and resources. We go on honeymoons rather than anniversary trips, but most people don’t understand that concept very well. On our drive, we talked about our life together over the past seven years and our dating time before. Reflections help rekindle that spark, you know.

Going Buggy with Bugs

Of course, the great outdoors with loads of trees doesn’t come without a price—mosquitoes. They plastered themselves against the windows of the van as if peering through an all-you-can-eat buffet window, “Woohoo! Look at what we have here! Thank you, God, for giving us our daily blood.” The first place we stopped after going through the toll gate of the Mackinac Bridge was a Dollar General. We hurried in five minutes before closing to grab bug repellent. The man behind the register told everyone who came in the door that we needed to hurry. I made a beeline to the bug repellent, and behold, DEET. Ugh. I hate putting poison on my skin, but it was all they had. Maybe the locals knew something we didn’t, so I bought it with no regrets. Don’t go without yours!

Not All Beaches are Equal

Most people think of tropical beaches with palm trees sunning themselves in the brilliant solar rays of Hawaii, Florida, or California. The shores of Michigan are often just as stunning, if not more. Why? No sharks to eat you, jellyfish to sting your bare feet, or anything else that can swallow you whole. The UP boasts the best water that is crystal clear! It looked stunning with a gorgeous turquoise blue hue. We could see the rocks in the shallow waters with striking colors. The sand felt soft as I walked along the shore. Interestingly, there wasn’t a stench like some beaches of the Great Lakes. One that we went to with our family smelled horrible with a slimy brownish-green goo. UGH! Not Lake Superior. Its waters are the most pristine.

Munising Bay, MI.
Munising Bay photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

More than Meets the Eye

We stayed in an off-the-beaten-path motel in Grand Marais. Wait, Char, a motel?!?! Yes, a motel—The Voyageur Inn. We were skeptical, but it was the only place open for the two nights we needed. At first, upon our arrival in this small harbor town, we got lost. Our GPS took us to the street in front of it, blocked off by trees and houses. So I called the motel, and the kind, patient woman talked us through the streets to the front door, which looked more like the office’s back door. It didn’t look outstanding nor like a dive. As we talked with her at the desk, we noticed Bible verses on the décor—the owners were Christians. She could put us on the first or second floor, but she highly recommended the second floor for the scenic view.

Oh, my gosh! What a view! The harbor looked like a postcard. No wonder she recommended this floor. The room was immaculate–simple, but clean–with all of what we needed. Seriously, I’m glad it hasn’t become so commercialized because the charm would be lost. I highly recommend the Voyageur Inn, but hurry. The owners are thinking about retiring. Support the locals and our brothers and sisters in Christ, please. 

Pictured Rock Cafe", Munising, MI>
Pictured Rock Cafe’. photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

Deli review- GF friendly

As you know, my food choices are slim when we travel. Even though we packed a cooler of food and drinks, we were hungry for an authentic meal. I asked a woman in a gas station where I could find gluten-free food. She told us about a couple of places, so we set out to find them. The pizza place was out of the way, so we walked by Eh! Burgers, but they were swamped. When you have food issues like me, go where it’s not busy if you can. I felt drawn to a local coffee shop and book store for some reason. It must have been a God-thing because Falling Rock Cafe’ was spot on. It was busy when we walked in, but the woman at the register took time to show me their menu and a couple of food labels. Their bread was from Little Northern Bakehouse, a brand I buy every once in a while. I felt full after my meal. Where else can you get a healthy deli sandwich, browse through books, and savor the beautiful Munising Harbor?

Pictured Rock Tour.
Pictured Rock Cruise Tour. Photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

Falling Rock—Beautiful Lake Superior

My Boaz surprised me with Pictured Rocks harbor cruise tickets. Oh, my! God’s magnificent artwork made my jaw drop. The rock formations painted with purple, green, rust, and yellows from manganese, copper, iron, and calcium were surrounded by brilliant green trees and sparkling turquoise water. It made me think of God taking His paintbrush with brilliant strokes, saying, “Boy, are they going to love this!” The price for the cruise was worth it just in the Oohs! and Ahs!, but also the crew did a fantastic job presenting this scenery with personalized care for all the passengers.

We also took a bit of time to visit The Upper Falls at the Tahquamenon River near Newberry, Michigan. It didn’t disappoint us either. The state park turned the area into a series of hiking trails with some shops and restaurants near the entrance. The falls are known for their copper ore and go by “The Rootbeer Falls” because it looks like rootbeer. Tannins color the water brown from decaying organic matter from trees, leaves, and other botanicals. My hubby enjoys taking photos of me being “the tourist”. This time, he took a video of me which I didn’t know he was doing. We enjoy making memories and using photos and videos to capture our moments together. I arranged an album of some of our memorable moments for our anniversary.

Upper Falls.
The Upper Falls at the Tahquamenon River. Photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

Another place we stopped was the Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, Michigan, on the shores of Lake Superior. This is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank in November of 1975. This harbor is the most dangerous on the Great Lakes. Whitefish Point Station set up a lighthouse to help ships navigate safely into the harbor. However, several sunken ships now sit underwater near the harbor with their crews laid to rest within their hulls. We love to visit lighthouses and learn their history.

Whitefish Point Station.
Whitefish Point Station, Shipwreck Museum. photo by Charlaine W. Martin, 2021.

The beach boasted incredible rocks, many of which are colorful agates. Since the sand is so soft, my Boaz wasn’t crazy about going out onto the beach, but I was. He patiently watched me go out to check out the gorgeous beach and pristine clear water. On my way back, I found several beautiful rocks to take home. He smiled and sighed, knowing that I collect remarkable stones and seashells whenever we go to any beach!

Reflection

This Bible passage comes to mind when I think about the glorious scenes we savored together.

Psalm 8 ESV

How Majestic Is Your Name

 Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

When you spend time in God’s glorious creation this summer together, think of this psalm and say, “Oh, Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Many blessings to you!

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