Sunday, December 18, 2011

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. ~ Lao Tzu

Dear Hubby and I have never been known for being the sharpest tools in the shed.  This photo is proof of it.  In this part of the country, when people travel to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, they go in the summer months.  They go there to enjoy the beauty of the region and the majestic vastness of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Truly, they are inland seas, as my blog friend Alaine described them to me once.  Being a West Coast girl all my life I believed  there were no other 'beaches', no other 'shores' than those of the Pacific Ocean.  After crossing over the Mackinac Bridge, I changed my mind.  My first glimpse of the Lakes had my jaw dropping down in awe and all I could say, over and over, was "WOW!"

Do we go in the summer like most sane and sensible people?  Why, no.  We go now, in December, when it was in the teens and ice heaves like these are forming along the northern shore of Lake Michigan.  When the wind is howling at 40 miles per hour and the wind chill factor has the air temperature hovering at zero.  Why do we do things like this?  Well, partly because we're a little bit crazy.  And partly because we like doing things unconventionally.  This way we had the highways to ourselves.  This way we got to see what kinds of conditions the native "Yoopers" - as residents of the Upper Peninsula are called - live with in the off-season months.  From what we could see, they hunker down with plenty of wood stacked out in the woodpiles.  They have snow plows hooked onto the front of their pick ups or standing ready, leaning up against their garages.  The land is rugged and wild.  There are huge sand dunes and the wind whips off the tops of them in stinging sprays across the highway.  There are rough cabins and spectacular homes sharing space along the shore.  You can look out across the water and there is no land in sight.  It is, undoubtedly, some of the most beautiful land the good Lord has created on this earth.

I know before we moved to Michigan I'd heard of the Upper Peninsula.  I hadn't heard much.  I couldn't even remember much of the American History I'd learned about Michigan in high school...too many other states to learn about as well.  But since we've moved here just about everyone we've met has asked us, "Have you been to the UP yet?"  They ask it with kind of an affectionate pride in their voices, like they're talking about their kid or something.  When we'd say "No" they'd say, "Oh, but you gotta get up there!  It's one of the most beautiful places on earth!" and we'd smile politely and say, "Yes, we hope to soon."  And we'd talk about it but time just got away from us and we never made it during the tourist months.

But we made it in December.  And if you ask me, I think we hit it at its best time.  In its wild state.  When it felt like it belonged to no one but Dear Hubby and me.


CWMartin said...

So I'm guessing there was no swimming ... ;)

Loretta said...

It sounds beautiful! I so wish I had seen it when I lived up there.

"Abby" said...

Oooh, I've heard of the UP, read books that were set there, and always thought it sounded really cool (pun intended?). Do you have other photos?

As someone who grew up in the mountains, I was also in awe of the great lakes when we lived in upstate NY. It's not a lake if you can't see the other side! It's an ocean!

Alaine said...

I love the UP. My brother actually is living up there right now, training his friends dogs for the upcoming Iditarod. He used to live up in Iron River (above Wisconsin)and I loved going up to visit. You should get to Mackinaw Island next summer, if you can. I went when I was 5 and didn't care a bit. Gary and I went this past summer for a weekend and I fell in love with that Island and the homes. There's a road around the island that you can ride bikes on (there are no cars there) - the most beautiful scenery. *sigh* I need to get back there. I'm so happy you got to the U.P. in the winter - I think it's beautiful any time of year. And in the summer the mosquitoes are like humming birds. HUUUUUGE.