Tripping around Michigan's Upper Peninsula

I met up with Nick after the journey from New York to Michigan and up to the UP. We walked down to the park where some live music going on, then poked around looking for a welcome center or ranger station, it was all closed.

We went driving around following different signs and advice of people in the park. Dirt roads, thick forest in all directions and the dimming sun. We caught up on things while exploring these roads when Nick realized the gas was getting low. We kept exploring turn offs until we felt we'd gone too far and had to turn around or risk not being able to make it back on what was left in the tank.

We finally found a spot where we could tuck the car away into the woods in camp for the night. We got up and going pretty quick in the morning, seeking out a hike and something to see, we found a place called Chapel Rock. The trail lead us deep into the woods and past a waterfall, then through some flat area and eventually opened up to Lake Superior.

It was an incredible site, at the opening there was a huge tilty rock which somehow had a tree growing high up on it, almost impossibly. I immediately stripped to underwear and marched into the lake, cold, but not as cold as most stories go. I saw a woman in the lake swatting around her, I quickly found at why and was swatting myself, horseflies. This provided good swatting entertainment. I dunked under the chilly water and felt refreshed, completely. Nick eventually did the same after some hesitation.

We walked along the beach to the opposite trail that looped back to the parking lot, snacked a little, then got driving. We made it back to Munising and filled up the gas tank, just in time. We started driving towards the bigger town of Marquette then, there was a possibility that we had a place to stay there. We still hadn't heard from our possible host when we got there, so went to the brewery to pass some time and relax. I got a decent coffee porter, Nick got a root beer, he's a connoisseur on this matter and doesn't typically drink alcohol.

Afterwards we browsed a music shop and then hit the candy shop and got a giant bag of chocolate covered goodness - almonds, cherries and other gems; this was our dinner. Still no word from our potential host, we got on back on the road pointed south. Nick made a call to a guy who lived in Iron Mountain, a friend of a co-worker, he was willing to put us up down there. We drove the ways down there listening to Bob Dylan, Nick had over a hundred of his songs he was listening to consecutively.

We met Pete in Iron Mountain, an older guy living by himself - his wife lived in Arizona and worked with Nick. Pete showed us the guest house area, a sweet little pad with it's own kitchen and fridge with some loose beers in it. He asked if we were hungry and then offered to take us on a tour of the town and get us fed.

We drove around the small town while he showed us some of the sights, eventually we drove up the mountain to the top of a ski mountain and a huge wooden ski ramp. I climbed the steep ramp high into the air, eventually reaching the top with Nick right behind me. There was a high school couple at the top, it was the girl's first time up the ramp even though she'd grown up in the town, she was clutching to the railing and sitting down a bit nervous. From up there we could see clear into Wisconsin, it was an incredible view.

Afterwards, Pete took us to a diner where we chowed down on burgers. Back at the place Nick and I got much needed showers in, I hadn't had one since Rochester and Nick was a few days deep without one too. It was a chill night of relaxing and getting things like laundry done.

We woke up the next day and were out the door in search of some good times. We'd already decided we'd spend another night here at Pete's in Iron Mountain, it was a nice relaxing pad and a break from the road while still in the midst of things to do.

We drove to a town over, Norway, just digging the shops and people walking around the small town as we cruised through. We followed some signs towards a lake next, it took us to what seemed like a trail head, the trail just lead to an open field with no signs. Right then Nick got a call from Pete, he'd gotten us Pasties for lunch. Pasties are like big rolls filled with meat and whatnot, I'd been seeing signs for them ever since getting to Michigan and had previously never heard of such a thing.

We headed back to Pete's and took down the Pasties on his porch. With full bellies, we'd hopped back in the car and parked by the lake nearby and waded around in the water a while, then cruised the beach. After some relaxing there we headed to a trail for a short walk, then back to Pete's for a while.

When night began to come we were out the door again, determined to find some food and nightlife. We did a lot of cruising, eventually settling on an ice cream place, we got some cones and asked the girls where the action was, they pointed us towards a couple bars.

We first got some food elsewhere too, we had to get the car jumped there when the battery died, then we headed to the bar. There was a guy singing and playing guitar and a dozen or so people scattered in the bar. We only stayed for a beer and headed back to Pete's for the night.

The next day we'd be getting on the road heading for Madison, Wisconsin. My intention would be to stay there for a night or so, Nick would be moving on towards Illinois and ultimately to Florida where his flight would eventually leave for Australia. Michigan was great, but as always, I was ready for the next thing.