Picture Something so Beautiful...

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Monday, September 12, 2011

Never in a million years would I have ever dreamed that an entire vacation could be had in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  All these years I've sought out the super remote that require quite the journey with the belief that the more remote, the better the place.   After all, isn't this line of thinking we are fed by the Travel Channel, National Geographic, and the entire travel industry?   If we aren't jetting 12 hours to some exotic beach that made a list in a magazine, then we really aren't seeing the world, are we?

Yeah, I am somewhat guilty of this.   I've always figured that a beach on Borneo is going to be far, far more interesting than anything in the good ole U S of A.  Thankfully, the Upper Peninsula has opened my eyes to a whole new way of traveling and this part of the world is accessible to all.  And by all, I mean that even the decrepit old folks in their motorhomes seem to do ok up here.   I swear the median age outside of the hiking and kayaking venues is 82.3.   Go to a lookout pavilion near a parking lot and it's a sea of bluehairs oohing and aahing everytime a wave crashes into a cliff.   I pity them...they probably won't ever discover what it's like to be 10 miles from that parking lot down in the cliffs watching Lake Superior show off her strength. 

Dust off your atlas of the US, crack it open to Michigan, and find the UP as it's know in these parts.  (For the 70% of you who statistically can't identify Iraq and other places on a map, maybe Google can point you right to the UP).   It's remote, the landscape hasn't been stripped bare by some megacity, and it's full of scenery like nowhere else.  For all who paid attention in geography and have successfully located the UP, take your finger and trace a path east from Isle Royale to Houghton towards Munising.  Stop there just behind Munising and think about if you can even imagine spending your hard earned vacation here.  In the not too distant past I guarantee you my finger would have just kept sliding eastbound over the border and right up to Toronto.   Who in their right mind besides the motorhome crowd travels the UP?  That "who" has now become me (minus the motorhome...for now at least).

Six continents and countless hours on chicken buses, cramped planes and hot trains later I have found somewhere in my own backyard that holds my interest just as much as Bosnia, Botswana or Laos.   As with most anything in life, the best things don't come easy.   The part of the park we visited required a two mile walk through a forest just to reach the shoreline and cliffs.  And this was after a drive down a dirt road to the trailhead no motorhome could thank God ever maneuver.  I think the total hike was about 14 miles and thankfully this weeds out the masses.   The great unwashed visit the cliffs via a boatride or another side of the park where parking lots deliver the infirm 500 feet from the shoreline.   Me...I'd rather see it all under my own power and really appreciate the journey.   Remember what Candy said, we have to slow down and listen to nature, and the UP is the perfect place to soak it in.   

How can anyone not like a place where the locals are called Yoopers (I don't think it's nice to say that to their faces though), where they eat something called Pasties, 200 inches of snow falls a year, and the largest city is more like an overgrown town.  And the whole time I keep asking myself if this really is Michigan.

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