Last weekend the kids and I took a road trip to the upper peninsula of Michigan.
I love to drive, however I am directionally challenged. So, the joke before we left was that we should all have our passports in case we ended up in Canada.
That’s a boat ride and one serious wrong turn.
It was about a 4 hour trip to Marquette, Michigan. A college visit and a quick look around the city. Of course, as we concluded the visit at Northern Michigan University, I asked for the best spots to see before we would get back on the road venturing farther west.
First stop. Donckers Candy Shop.
This century old, family run store has more freshly made truffles and melt in your mouth caramels than you could possibly imagine. The girls behind the counter were delightful and helped us to narrow it down to only a handful of candies. If it wasn’t for them we’d probably still be there. Perfect stop and must-see if you are in the area.
Marquette is beautiful. There was something about it that made it feel very similar to home. The views of Lake Superior and the sweet downtown with the marque sign made it hard to think I was anywhere but my hometown, maybe this is what made me fall in love with this little city in such a short time.
… and then we made our way to Presque Isle. Presque Isle is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior, and it known throughout the US for it’s beauty. As we drove through the forested road-ways, we would pull off the path to take a closer look and skip a few stones, or at least attempt to. The clear waters of Lake Superior make you forget that you are looking at a body of fresh water.
From Marquette, the kids and I jumped back into the truck and began our trip to Ramsay, Michigan. Don’t look for it on the map, I don’t think it’s big enough to make it on to one. You can, however find Ironwood and Bessemer which are close enough! Thanks to a wonderful friend who lives there we had a free stay and the best tour guide a person could ask for!
We arrived late on Friday, spending the rest of the night catching up, enjoying dinner and conversation. On Saturday, we began our adventures at Copper Peak.
Copper Peak is the largest manufactured ski jump in the world, and the largest in North America even finding it’s spot on the national registry of historic places. Ski flying is the sport.
I am not a fan of heights to begin with but this had me questioning my friendship and my sanity. Others had already made the trek up and back down and greeted us in the lodge stating that it was really swaying today, but the views are incredible! The gal behind the desk said something like “It is good when it sways, worry when it is not.” (Upon further research it does state that Copper Peak is designed to sway up to 18 inches on very windy days.) So with that peace of mind, as any good mother would do, I told the kids to suck it up and we began to ascend.
We took a ski lift to the top of the mountain, rode an elevator 18 stories, and then climbed up what felt like the stairway to heaven, if the stairway to heaven is partially worn wood and metal lattice. As we climbed I took note of my shaky legs and tight grip to the metal railing as if somehow holding on tighter would make the plummet to my death a bit more secure should the structure beneath me fall out.
We made it to the top of the jump! People actually willingly ski down this thing. The nerve it would take is something I can’t fathom. The people in the lodge had it right though, because we felt the sway, but only as we attempted to take in some breathtaking views!
The sky was a brilliant blue and it created a magnificent contrast against the shades of green that lined the earth in front of us. We could see ski hills, Blackjack, Powderhorn, and Indianhead to the south, and just north of us, floating in Lake Superior was Madeline Island! The ski hills were covered in grass now, but I could imagine them snow-covered and bustling with activity. I could see people slowing climbing to the top as they rode up on the lifts with their skis dangling below them, and the snowboarders creating fresh paths as they gained momentum going downhill. It was a little bit serenity and a little bit death defying. Yeah, I’d say 50/50. Okay, if I’m completely honest, maybe 40/60, maybe 30/70.
Following Copper Peak we visited some of the most beautiful waterfalls. As we walked the trails you could hear the calming sounds of the water racing over the rocks into the basins below.
The final falls we visited was by far my favorite! We rode the four-wheelers and side-by-side across the “highway,” down the road and up a hill. After putting them in park we walked onto what seemed like a hidden path only the locals would know anything about. Once the trees cleared we seen this.
After taking this in for a bit. We walked a bit further and seen this.
Which was followed by this.
The kids jumped (after first clarifying all possible life that lived beneath the waters, on the rocks, and in the trees around them). We might be a little more big city then Ramsay. 😉
Miss A rode the river rocks down like a slide. They laughed, swam, and fought the current of the running waters to the other side were they climbed some more, before again throwing themselves off of the small cliffs they once were grounded on, into the cool refreshing waters below.
To be sure the kids dried off nicely we drove a bit further on the wheelers.
We found ourselves overlooking the downhill paths of Blackjack ski hill, across the untouched lands of the UP and staring at Copper Peak, this time from a very different perspective.
The beauty of the upper peninsula of Michigan is definitely worth every minute of the 4 hour drive. It might be a little too remote for a gal like me to live… but I sure did enjoy the visit. I’d love to go back in the fall to see the colors of fall set in.
ya betcha, eh?!