August 23, 2022

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Misty morning on the winding road to Marquette, Michigan. One of the biggest surprises for us on this journey was how frequently we were reminded of our Pacific Northwest days: the rain, of course, but also the heady scent of damp earth, masses of ferns and their slow loll on an imperceptible breeze, and tiny stream after tiny stream, joining forces in one great fall after another. Oh, and the hills and dales! I had only ever conceived of this place as a flat wood, dense with mystery and trees. How I love to be proven wrong and revel in the beauty of it.

Marquette Harbor and the Old Ore Dock on Lake Superior. Prior to our trip research, I had not a single inkling of the huge role mines played in the history of the Upper Peninsula.

Also in Marquette, and a must have on our foods to try list, a Pasty (pah-stee). It’s the English version of a calzone, made with a savory pie dough and stuffed with all manner of things. The predominant and probably most traditional seems to be ground beef, potato, rutabaga, and onion. We enjoyed a huge version, though technically the small size on the menu at Lawry’s, a family tradition since 1946! It was hot from the oven and absolutely fabulous, a tender crust and perfectly seasoned, though we probably committed some U.P. sin by giving it a nice splash of Tabasco and not ketchup.

The first of many of the little streams…

that joined with another…

…and became Canyon Falls. I read somewhere, though now I can’t locate the information, that the water has that root beer tint from the tannins in the trees. And now, how many of us, by virtue of suggestion, are craving a soda?

Isn’t geology wonderful?!

There were a couple of these fabulous murals honoring miners. Such heart warmers, with great detail.

In Ironwood, the nearest town to our second cabin in the woods and on the border with Wisconsin. There’s a distinct artistic vibe here, with live theater and galleries. Oh, and the very fine North Wind Co-Op, with super friendly service.

Lake Superior – very rough and ready at the time of our visit!

From our cabin, we were able to walk, rather carefully, a mile down the Black River Scenic Byway to Lake Superior. The suspension pedestrian bridge was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and completed in 1939. It was rebuilt, retaining the original look and character in 1968. It’s an absolute stunner and sways with the slightest movement.

Potawatomi and Gorge Falls, also just down the Black River Road from our cabin. Waterfalls galore!

Ironwood is also home to two very distinct statues. The first we visited was this giant Stormy Kromer hat, located, rather appropriately, just outside the Stormy Kromer Factory, where they crank out nearly 100,000 caps every year. If, like me, you didn’t know that a Stormy Kromer is an ear flap baseball cap, well, now you do! It was invented by the wife of its namesake when he asked her to fashion his hat to stay on and keep his ears warm. Done and done! Of course we both bought one, mine in a beloved teal and turquoise wool combination.

The second monument is in honor of Hiawatha. How little I am in comparison to its 52 feet gazing toward Lake Superior.

Hayward, Wisconsin was another early morning stop, where we had about a million other wonderful choices, but landed on fudge (maple walnut and peanut butter) before breakfast at Tremblay’s Sweet Shop and shall make no apologies for it!

LEGO Transformer at the Mall of America in Minneapolis! Oh, my goodness, this place really earns the moniker. Never have I ever visited a mall so, well, HUGE. There are four floors, an amusement park, and so very many people. Everywhere people! People from everywhere! Including us and our dog resting peacefully in the car park.

I was on a mission to visit Patric Richardson, also known as The Laundry Evangelist, king of fabric and stain knowledge. Greg and I have Discovery Plus and stumbled upon his show, The Laundry Guy this past Spring. I was so awed by his ability to remove stains that I rushed out and bought his book and a fancy fabric brush. With his guidance, I have never had such confidence or success in the laundry department. Yippee!

After much wandering and buying chocolate, even though we already had fudge in the car (vacation logic?) we found him at his shop. First, his hair is amazing, this perfect silver tousled wave. Second, he is as warm and wonderful in person as he is on the show! We chatted about laundry, of course, his stain removing bar, my homemade soap, and fabric brushes. Of course, I bought more supplies. Then we dished on the musts of Minneapolis. With his guidance, we ate a Juicy Lucy, one of the best burgers of our lives, and walked across the Mississippi on an old stone bridge. Kindness and generosity rules the day.

In the Lake Nokomis neighborhood, home of this adorable home and matching Little Free Library.

Another Upper Peninsula must try, Trenary Toast! Made in Trenary, Michigan since 1928. We bought our first batch, in Cardamom flavor, while visiting the first cabin in the woods. How to describe? Like cinnamon toast but the crispiest, crunchiest ever. Apparently there are three types of Trenary toast eaters: dippers, crunchers, and spreaders. Greg falls solidly in the dipper camp, in tea or coffee, enjoying each equally well. I am a definite cruncher; give me a slice, and I’ll eat it up. The spreaders are the lily gilders, for they slather it with butter before partaking. Try it and see where you lie!

At Patric’s favorite Juicy Lucy spot, The 5-8 Club. Greg is enjoying a cheeseburger style, while I loved the Buffalo chicken version. And seriously, these are so juicy and delicious!!

Now, to our best ever dog, Juniper Beulah! She is such an exceptional traveler, never getting car sick, mostly either window gazing or napping, sometimes resting her chin on the car hammock to say, HI!

Forgive me for the out of sequence story, but I forgot I had this picture on my phone and not my camera.

In the above photo, she nervously prepares for her inaugural row boat ride at the first cabin in the woods. We had this romantic notion of a family row around the lake. Since we are also occasionally paranoid pet owners and she is impulsive, the life jacket seemed a good idea.

Our afternoon unfolds in the least romantic fashion. Juniper hobbles in her life jacket to the boat, refusing to get in. As we keep encouraging her, she becomes more and more resolute. Greg resorts to picking her up and putting her in. The boat runs aground. We maneuver it far enough out, and Greg gets in. The paddles are so long that they hit the bottom with each stroke. Juniper, like glue on my side, is causing us to list in that direction. We nudge her over, inch by inch, until we are righted.

The oars continue to hit the bottom. Greg and I, in hysterical laughter, imagine an anonymous cabin owner watching us via binoculars: “Look at these jackasses! They’re rowing their dog in circles, and wearing life jackets, for chrissakes!” Because, it is at this moment, we realize, after bludgeoning the oars, stroke after stroke to the center, it is only three feet deep at the maximum. We could have walked to this point, and a hell of a lot quicker. Though, not with Juniper, and not that she’d care. She still hates water.