Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding Michigan

It was Day 4 when I crossed into new territory.

The weekend had been excellent, and that Sunday I made a pitstop in Wausau to have lunch with Neubs before heading north to the UP.

Just in case I have an unfamiliar reader, the Upper Peninsula is the northern arm of Michigan, connected to Wisconsin but otherwise surrounded by Great Lakes (hence "peninsula"). To the north, Lake Superior. To the south Lake Michigan. And off the east end, Lake Huron.

The view of Lake Michigamme from the main lodge.
Until this point, my Michigan experience was limited to driving into the UP and driving right back out, mostly so I could say I'd done it. Now, I entered at Land O' Lakes on the southwestern edge on Highway 45, headed north and eventually east toward Marquette. After a night at Camp Michigamme [note: if you're in the area next summer, check 'em out!] followed by breakfast and a tour with Director Renee, I headed east once again.

One of my objectives: see each Great Lake.

So I started with Lake Superior.

After a brief stop on the shore of Lake Michigan as well, I continued onward to fulfill my family obligations.

The Mackinac Bridge was built while my grandfather was in college to become a civil engineer. Connecting the UP to main state Michigan, the suspension bridge is 5 miles long and four lanes across (well, only two when I drove it thanks to construction) with two towers 552 feet tall and 155 feet of clearance from the bridge deck to the water.

It's huge.

And it's so cool-looking...

Probably my mother's nightmare come to life, given the height and the fact that my dad would inevitably get distracted driving across it.

A few hundred miles later, I wrapped up Day 5 at Port Crescent State Park on the thumb of Michigan.

The whole of the state ended up being my introduction to Lesson 2: Always talk to strangers. That was how I'd ended up at Michigamme; it was also how I found my coffee fix on multiple occasions. (And a post office.) The morning I awoke on Lake Huron, it meant I got a tasty camp stove breakfast.

It was a straightforward lesson -- but one my stubborn and occasionally shy self needed to hear: locals know things. What's more, they're usually willing to share. All it takes is a question ... Preferably a friendly one.

I had no idea that one tiny lesson on various shores would serve so well for the rest of the trip.

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