Road-trip: Exploring Michigan’s UP


Hey! Don’t you think it’s time we started a Movement? I would venture to name it the Take a Little Trip Movement. It’s good for what ails you, as my dad would say. And we all have plenty that could potentially ail us at this time in history. Bless our hearts.

We could make buttons! T-shirts. Tote bags, all with our iconic “TALT Movement” logo*. We would never have meetings (because who really likes meetings? Nobody) but instead would encourage each other to take little trips as often as possible. For our mental health, for our joy level, and for many other reasons as well.

What ails you right now? Ennui?* Fear of what’s to come? Too-much-time-on-your-phoneness? Overwhelm and just-too-busy-ness? Too much time just hunkered down in your domicile, trying to figure out what in the heck is really going on in the world?

I’m. With. You.

Take a Little Trip Movement t-shirt

*Many thanks to Andhegames for this graphic.

(sounds like “On-We,” basically.)

The Amana colonies in Iowa are basically on the way(ish) from Nebraska to the UP, so we stopped by for some very good ice cream, to listen to a Bluegrass band on a cute outdoor stage, and to stretch our legs and admire the tidy, well-kept old communities.

Honestly, we could have spent out entire vacation just hiking, exploring and admiring this area. It is SO GORGEOUS. I can tell you that the cruise we took–it took us out on Lake Superior, from which many of these photos were taken–was totally worth the ticket prices.

The sandstone cliffs that make up the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore rise 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior.

Take a gander.

painted rocks lakeshore

There were trails that went to the edges of these cliffs. Hikers waved and yelled to us.

If you plan a trip to this area, you will want to check out all the lighthouses, historical museums, and the like. The ones that we visited were clean, uncrowded, interesting, and staffed by polite, hospitable folks.

old time diving suit

We were only there for a few days, so not long enough to see many of them, but we did thoroughly enjoy the excellent:

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Lake Superior, as beautiful as it is, has earned the reputation of being the most treacherous of all the Great Lakes. Whitefish Point marks the critical turning point for all ships entering or leaving the lake. The waters that extend west from Whitefish Point along the 80-mile stretch of rugged shoreline have earned the ominous title, “Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast.”

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is housed on the grounds with the lighthouse, the 1861 Lightkeeper’s Quarters and Exhibits (all are totally charming), the 1923 Surfboat House and Exhibits (fascinating), board walks that take you out to a beautiful birding area, and of course the BEACH. There’s also a Museum store with plenty of tchotchkes, t-shirts, and treats.

But the jewel of the place is the museum. There are detailed displays of at least a dozen (I’m guessing the number) shipwrecks, with scale models of the ships, the story of how each sunk and what/how many were lost, and exquisite artifacts, amazingly rescued from each shipwreck.

display from Shipwreck museum

Yeah. You need to see it. It’s amazing. You can check out all the deets here.


Tahquamenon Logging Museum


lumberjack museum info

It must be in my DNA. I do totally admire strong, hard-working people.

This logging museum was simply a celebration of the American spirit. At least that’s the way it hit me. It reminded me of the grit the settlers of America had. Those folks were searching for freedom–freedoms of religion, of speech, freedom to pursue the kind of lives they dreamed of, freedoms from persecution and tyranny. They were sick of people telling them how to live. They traveled a good long way and put their collective shoulders to the plow, their hands to the forge, to make their dreams a reality. Those folks had grit. They were strong and brave and determined.

Hard work is its own reward, of course, but there are many things you can’t accomplish without working very, very hard. Building a home. Raising a family. Being a lumberjack!

historical blacksmith's shop

Did you know that Mack is learning how to make things on a forge? He loved this particular display, of the logging blacksmith shop. He stopped short from stuffing his pockets with some of these tools (Kidding! There was a camera).

This place was amazing too. There was not only a museum of the early days of logging in Michigan’s upper peninsula, but there were buildings full of other displays, a schoolhouse, a dining hall (where you can get a real lumberjack breakfast, if you show up on the right day), and more. More info here.

Oh. And there were loaded apple trees in the yard, and the lady behind the desk gave me bags and encouraged me to pick all I wanted. *swoon*

Oswald’s Bear Ranch


couple with bear cub

He’s a little hard to see in this photo, but we were petting a bear cub. Only briefly! Once he had finished licking the spoon, the helper hurried us out of there, lickety split!

Oswald’s Bear Ranch seems to be a labor of love for its founders, Dean and Jewel Oswald. It is the largest bear ranch in the United States and houses 41 bears (as of this writing) with huge habitats and a nice walking path around them all. Rescued cubs are brought there every year.

Pro tip: the gift shop is well worth a visit! Bears, bears, bears, on t-shirts, caps, and key chains.

two mama bears sitting

Oh, gentle reader. If you like these things, you’ll find plenty to explore in the Upper Peninsula. Gosh, I’ve taken so long to write this post, because as I search through the interwebs to find websites and links, I just sit, transfixed, reading about all the places that we’ve just visited.

What a gift, to be able to travel freely in this big beautiful country of ours, and to visit areas we’ve never seen before! Truly. I treasure this freedom. I hope you do, too.

boy on boardwalk

I think I took this on the boardwalks around Tacquamenon Falls.

We were just minutes away from Lake Superior, in a cabin near Au Train Lake. We stayed at Dana’s Resort there, but there were several that were similar. It was lovely.

6 thoughts on “Road-trip: Exploring Michigan’s UP

  1. Gene Gage

    Amy – as you know, Lake Superior is a big one and there are lovely things to see and fun things to do all around it . Dorrie has been there 75 of her 76 summers – maybe 90 miles west of where you were, on the Wisconsin section of the lakeshore. The Apostle Island National Lakeshore is gorgeous too. (Hmmm – didn’t you and the fam go there a few years ago?)

  2. Cindi Clarke

    I loved living in the UP from 2014-2016 when we moved again to Ashland WI. Both the UP and Ashland WI are AMAZING places to visit the lots of natural beauty (thank you, Lake Superior!). Lots of beaches on the western side of the UP with wonderful little towns, lots of history, waterfalls, beaches, rocks, beautiful fall trees, and just everything. Tho now I’m a little partial to West Virginia …

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Cindi, I hear that West VA is quite beautiful, too. We actually drove through it on a vacation and what I remember: HILLS and TREES!!! Gorgeous! I hope you’re doing well, sweet friend.

  3. Dave Kramer

    Thank you for posting the pictures. A very beautiful area of our country. It is sad that there has been so many shipwrecks that they can have a museum. But I bet it was very interesting to see. Did you see the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald? Probably the most famous shipwreck on the lakes, thanks mostly to Gorgon Lightfoot and his song. I hear that they did recover it and that it is on display at the museum.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Dave, YES I did take a picture of that gorgeous bell, too. I’ll try to include it in a future blog post. It is sad that they could actually make a museum of shipwrecks, you’re right! I don’t know why they didn’t decide earlier that it probably wasn’t such a great idea to allow so much ship traffic on Lake Superior. Slow learners, maybe, or possibly they were just trying to do their jobs and couldn’t see another way around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.