Too Many Photos From My First Weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
I took a lot of photos during my long weekend in the Upper Peninsula to go to the Red Bull 400. I wanted to remember this trip. Despite growing up in Michigan, I’ve barely spent any time there before!
Did I take too many photos? You be the judge.
My Friday was spent driving. I went from the Detroit suburbs to Ironwood, and crossed the gorgeous Mackinac Bridge along the way. It’s the the longest suspension bridge (between anchorages) in the western hemisphere.
Ironwood is about as far away as one can get in Michigan. My motel was only about 1/2 mile from the Wisconsin border. The one thing that actually helped is that Ironwood is in one of four Michigan counties in the Central Time Zone. So I pulled into my motel at 8pm, but with the time change, it was only 7pm.
I stayed at the Royal Motel, a little mom-and-pop operation that was fantastic: clean, great staff, and it reminded me of the Rosebud Motel from “Schitt’s Creek.”
After checking in, I went to meet race friends for dinner at Don and GG’s, an Ironwood restaurant. I ordered a bacon and blue cheese burger…
…with a cup of black bean and vegetable soup instead of fries.
The next day was race day, which I’ve already covered pretty thoroughly. I left the race around 2pm to drive to Marquette, three hours away, where I was meeting up with my college friends Dan and Betsy, whom I hadn’t seen in 14 years, and meeting their 8-year-old son Eero for the first time.
Dan and Betsy have a wine store, Everyday Wines, which is super cool, and after checking that out, we headed a few blocks away to Zephyr, their wine bar and restaurant, where we had dinner. I would share more about the wine, but I don’t drink. I did try the saskatoon berry drinking vinegar on their menu, though, and it was delightful. Zephyr is delicious, and you should go when you’re in Marquette.
We started with a charcuterie slate that featured prosciutto arranged into a rose. A ROSE!
I ordered the Duck, Duck, Beet Salad, which had duck breast, beets, goat cheese, and other good things.
And I also had a cup of delightful split pea and ham soup.
The next day, Sunday, we went to Betsy’s parents’ house for breakfast, before taking a little tour of Marquette.
I ended up going on four hikes on Sunday, two with Betsy, Dan, and Eero, and two by myself.
HIKE 1 – Sugarloaf Mountain, 1.17 miles:
The first hike was to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, a few miles out of town. Here’s me and Eero enjoying the views.
Here’s me and Eero in front of a memorial to a fallen soldier. Eero, by the way, is super smart and observant, absolutely hilarious, and a blast to be around. And I’m not just saying that because he called me “the best guest ever.”
HIKE 2 – Presque Isle, .77 miles:
A stroll along the bluffs in Presque Isle Park in Marquette (not to be confused with the town with the same name in the lower peninsula).
Dan taught me that Presque Isle literally means “almost an island” in French, and is the french way to say ‘peninsula.’
We picked up some pasties for lunch after. A pasty (pronounced ‘pass-tee’) is an Upper Peninsula specialty – a meat pie with potatoes and vegetables inside.
We also made a quick stop at the Superior Dome on the Northern Michigan University campus, which is the world’s largest wooden dome. This is where the NMU sports teams play, and that ceiling is stunning!
HIKE 3 – Miners Castle and Miners Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 2.85 miles:
I left Marquette in the mid-afternoon, and headed about 90 minutes east to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a gorgeous area full of rock formations and waterfalls. This hike started on a trail to Miners Castle, the rock formation pictured here.
Then I headed down to Miners Beach, a pristine mile-long beach on Lake Superior. It’s hard to point out in the picture, but there’s a 140-foot waterwall in the distance called Bridalveil Falls.
It was here that I felt, for the first time in my life, the blue waters of Lake Superior. It was freakin’ cold!
I also came across a huge snow bank, still leftover from a very snowy winter, hidden in the shadows in a canyon. Snow in May!
HIKE 4 – Miners Falls, 1.25 miles:
The final hike of the day was to Miners Falls, a roaring 40-foot waterfall that’s also in Pictured Rocks. The viewing platform was pretty far from the falls, but I could still feel the mist!
Altogether, I hiked just over 6 miles that day, in roughly 3.5 hours (including lots of time spent at lookouts). And when you break it up like I did, it’s much less tiring!
After leaving Pictured Rocks, I drove a couple hours to St. Ignace, the Upper Peninsula city that’s at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge. I stayed at a casino/hotel, and got $15 in free slot play when I checked in, which I promptly lost. Then, it was bed time.
I spent a little time in St. Ignace before hitting the road and heading home.
I had an omelet at the hotel restaurant, with rye toast and fruit instead of potatoes.
Then I rode a bike in the hotel gym for 45 minutes, enjoying a view out the window of Lake Huron – one of three Great Lakes I saw in person on this trip.
I couldn’t resist a local point of interest called Castle Rock, a 200-foot-tall rock formation. A trail was built to it in the 1930s, and you could climb that trail for $1.
That trail had 170 steps! If I lived in the area I’d go there for my stair training.
The view from the top was lovely.
Why YES, that IS a statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in front of Castle Rock. And YES, it DOES look like Paul Bunyan is sitting on a giant toilet.
Why YES, I did enjoy an intimate moment with Babe.
Why YES, I did stop to take a selfie with the Patriotic Moose statue that was across the street from the gas station.
Why YES, I also took a picture with the Bigfoot statue in front of a gift shop. St. Ignace loves their statues!
My trip ended with roughly 4 more hours in the car to get home. Oh, and I followed the road trip rules I established on my last road trip: I brought a big bag of healthy snacks that I kept in the trunk, so I didn’t have to buy any food at gas stations or drive-thrus and be tempted by all the unhealthy choices.
Keep it up, David!
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My name is David. I live in Michigan, and I’m 41 years old. In January 2010, I began eating better and exercising more, so I could lose weight. So far, so good – I’ve lost 160 pounds and am keeping it off! But it’s a tough road, and I need to keeping finding new ways to keep motivated and on-track. I’ll blog about my progress and share my struggles and successes. Join me on my journey!