Yooper Gathering

The residents of the Upper Peninsula (the UP) of Michigan call themselves Yoopers.  We spent twelve days immersed in the Yooper culture seeing the roadside attractions and delving into the woods and waters.   

Agate Falls

On our way from Wisconsin to the UP we stopped at Agate Falls for a quick walk-a-bout and lunch.  Luckily, they had a couple of parking spots big enough for our rig.

Once in the UP we chose the Pictured Rocks RV Park in Christmas, MI as it was just outside of Munising and near the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore National Park.   This RV Park is really just being built, and the owners need to learn a bit about customer service, but it is in a perfect location for exploring the UP and hopefully once they finish putting in the plumbing and put in some trees it will be a nice campground.

It was a bit odd that the only sign that this little town is called Christmas was the two large Santa’s outside of the local casino!

As always when we have chores that need doing, we try to fit in a little fun too.  We needed to get an oil change on the Jeep, so we schedule an appointment at the Jeep Dealer in Negaunee just outside of Marquette.  On the way back we stopped at the Da Yoopers Tourist Trap – yes, that is its name, and it is well deserved!  Then we stopped at the Miner’s Iron Museum, and for an excellent lunch at the Border Grill.

We took one day to explore the Lake Superior shoreline and the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore National Park on land.  We drove out to the visitor’s center at Miner’s Falls then hiked part of the North Country Trail to see Miner’s Castle.  Unfortunately, the trail does not have any trail markers and there are multiple social trails crisscrossing the area and we ended up on a game trail trying to get down to Miner’s Beach.  After enjoying the beach, we had to bushwhack our way back up the hill in order to find the trail again.  The good news is that these two old adventures made it back to civilization! 

The RV Park was close to the Bay Furnace Historic Site and Park, so one day we took our daily two mile walk over to the park and learned about the blast furnace where pig iron was made between 1870 & 1877.

Bay Furnace

We had two major excursions planned during our time on the UP, the first being an Evening Sunset Cruise on Lake Superior to see the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore from the water on a high-speed catamaran.  I do have to say that if you are ever in this area this is a must-see attraction and going on the sunset cruise is the perfect time to see the rocks as the sun sets opposite the shoreline so that the light is perfect for photographs.  The rocks were amazing with brilliant colors and interesting formations.  This was definitely one to remember! Forgive how many photos are in the next slide show – It was really hard to limit the number of pictures!

We spent one afternoon investigating Munising.  We then continued the waterfall hunt to Munising Falls where we hiked down to the shoreline which took us to Sand Point Beach.

We wanted to see as much of the UP as possible, so we took a day to drive down to the southern coastline of the peninsula along Lake Michigan.  We stopped at Au Train waterfall for a short hike then drove down to the town of Escanaba.  We walked around town seeing the Sand Point Lighthouse and stopped for a yummy lunch at the Swedish Pantry.  We continued driving along the shoreline to Manistique where we walked out on the  jetty to the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, then we walked the boardwalk along Lake Michigan. 

Our second big excursion was to take a train then riverboat to the Tahquamenon Falls.   We caught the Toonerville Trolley in Soo Junction, MI  which is a 24-inch logging track which was originally the only way into area before the roads were built.  After an hour’s bumpy ride over the swamps, where the water was coming over the rails, we came to the Tahquamenon River.  We then boarded the Riverboat Hiawatha for a 2 hour – 21-mile ride upriver to the Falls.  We then had to hike about 10 min or about a 5/8-mile hike on a trail to the falls. We saw so much wildlife between the train ride and then going down the river – a mated pair of bald eagles, northern ravens, Herring gulls, American bitterns, sandhill cranes, turtles, and a fawn with her momma.  It was a fun experience though it was a long journey to get there and back making it an 11-hour day!  There are 199 waterfalls in MI, and I think we saw most of them!  If you like waterfalls this is the place to come!

Toonerville Trolley & Tahquamenon Falls
Big Foot ????

Well, I think we definitely feel like Yoopers after our stay in the UP!  We got to explore so much and learned lots of history, but we didn’t get a chance to see moose or Big Foot!

Our next stop was at the Starlight Campground in Mancelona, MI.  This was originally only going to be a one-night stop on our way to Elkhart but due to other changes to our schedule we ended up extending it to three nights.  This campground is delightful, and we are so glad we got to spend a bit more time there than we first intended.  The campground is well laid out with large sites, beautiful landscaping, and lots of amenities.  We especially liked the new pickleball court that they put in next to the pool.  We played 3 games each day and really enjoyed the other lawn games they had set up for the visitors to use.

We like to eat at local restaurants once or twice at each stop and the night we chose to go out in Mancelona turned into a bit of an adventure too!  We picked a local restaurant and headed out only to arrive and find it was closed … odd … it said it was open on Tuesday nights … then we picked another close by and it too was closed.  Turned out there was a power outage and half of the town had no electricity.   We did a Google search and found a restaurant in the next town over and drove the back roads through Michigan to Bellaire.  There we found the Shanty Creek Ski Resort and the Lakeview Restaurant.

It was a beautiful setting up in the hills overlooking Torch Lake and a delicious dinner.

We have been quite busy the last couple of months and I am about 3 blog posts behind!  We are currently in Oklahoma City after stays in Indiana, Tennessee, & Alabama. We were in Red Bay getting some minor repairs on the coach when Hurricane Ida was heading toward New Orleans so we changed our plans and hightailed it out of the path of the storm and landed in OKC. We will hopefully get the blog caught up in the next week or so and next up is the FCOC (Freightliner Chassis Owner’s Club) Rally that was in Elkhart, IN.

Till then!  Hope everyone stays healthy and safe!!