Last July, DW and I got the urge to head out for cooler climes, so we traveled north into the upper peninsula of Michigan, along the shores of Lake Superior. We stopped overnight in Paradise; we had planned to stay longer than one night, but we quickly found out that it wasn’t: wasn’t Paradise, that is. Every time we stepped outside the safety of our GyrFalcon, we immediately became the target of swarms of mosquitoes who, if their appetite was any indication, hadn’t been fed all summer long. It’s a pity, because the surrounding area was rather interesting. We enjoyed a hike to Root Beer Falls; so named because the tannic acid in the water made it look like root beer as it rushed over the falls. We rode our bikes to the lighthouse at Whitefish Point, and photographed a small, handmade tribute to several crew members of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But it seemed no matter what we tried – thick clothing or gallons of insect repellent – the mosquitoes were tenacious. So we left early the next morning and cruised down the road, curious what we might find in the little harbor town of Grand Marais.
Grand Marais is located on a beautiful and peaceful harbor. There is not much to the town, and we only planned on staying overnight, but we actually ended up spending a week. While the town is more popular during the winter months, because there are numerous trails crisscrossing the area which are employed by snowmobile enthusiasts (we even located a closed-for-the-season hot chocolate stand), we found several attractions to the area that kept us from leaving.
There was only one campground in the area, which stretched along the shore of Lake Superior. We could look out from our camper, and watch the iron freighters cruise by. The campground was not crowded, and it was right on the edge of the town itself. They had a farmer’s market in the evening for fresh fruits and vegetables, several nice restaurants, the roads were nice for cycling, and one could sit along the bay and just relax.
One recommendation for visitors, and that’s to make sure you have some cash, and not plan on depending on credit or debit cards. One unique restaurant, which you will want to vist – the West Bay Diner and Delicatessen – only takes cash, and when we tried to get cash from the one ATM in town, we found it only worked if you happened to be on the local bank’s network; which we, of course, were not.
As the local postmistress put it: “Well, you ARE in the U P…”
We had an added bonus over the weekend, as a large group of people began motoring into town for a well-attended sea kayak symposium. DW and I had been talking about getting into lake kayaking, and we had some interesting moments speaking to some of he participants as well as the hosts of the symposium. We enjoyed watching both beginner and experienced paddlers having fun out on the water. Overall, the presence of the paddlers added a level of enjoyment we hadn’t expected.
Unfortunately, the quiet week was over far too quickly, but we headed home relaxed and rested. We didn’t get to explore much deeper into the UP, but that just means we have more new sights to look forward to on our next trip north.