Still Hanging Around the UP

wpid-20140921_154720.jpgFinally! Copper Harbor – the northernmost tip of the Keewanaw Peninsula. This is as far north as you can get, and still find yourself in Michigan. It’s gorgeous.

We’re camping for three days at Ft. Wilkins SP.20140919_152933 Luckily, we get our site established before the rain begins. It’s cold, gray, and extremely damp. It’s the kind of damp that we can’t quite shake – the inside of the Fireball is crappy and unpleasant. We wander about for a bit, then decide to just hunker down with books and wait for tomorrow.20140919_153028HA! Still raining in the morning, so we decide to explore the Fort. 20140919_15261920140920_110037This remote outpost was built in the 1830s, as copper miners poured into the area. The entire western UP/northern Wisconsin area had been recently purchased from the Objibwa, and a military installation seemed to be a good idea to keep the peace. Restoration was done during the WPA years. It’s obvious from the artifacts that life at the Fort was not easy.  I loved this bit of advice from a Military Handbook with kitchen tips. 20140920_103324 The Fort was in use for a remarkably brief period, closing in the mid 1840s.

The sun eventually peeks out, and skies clear enough that a bike ride seems to be a great idea. We wander around Copper Harbor, checking out a few of the local shops. 20140920_13125120140920_134458

Hunter's Point is the opening on the left of the Harbor

Hunter’s Point is the opening on the left of the Harbor

From the harbor, Hunter’s Point is visible, and the trail leading to it sounds inviting, so off we go. We momentarily forget that we’re wearing our cycling shoes, which have metal cleats in the soles. 20140920_140428Walking over the slick wet tree roots and through deep piles of shore stones becomes a comedic adventure. We sound like Fred and Ginger taking a hike (wearing their tap shoes, of course). It’s ridiculous, and makes us laugh. What we we thinking? Getting out to the Point, though, was worth the effort.20140920_14213620140920_114409Brickside Brewery provided a nice reward for our hike. 20140920_152132We love microbreweries(just in case you hadn’t already figured that out), and Michigan has its share of really good ones.

But, there’s still more to come…’s Chili Cookoff Day in Copper Harbor. Judging begins in the Park at 4pm, so off we go. These folks know how to throw a party!20140920_163328 Gallons of chili supplied by the 2010 winner, huge pans of cornbread, and cheese platters are set up for sampling. An entire table full of pies! Two kegs of beer, and a setup of Bloody Marys!20140920_164048-1 A band! All on a help-yourself basis. Five serious judges work over the 15 or so chili entries.20140920_161629 We sample a few, but find nothing that really sings to our palates. But, that jalepeno cornbread? I could cheerfully have eaten the entire pan.20140920_161523 We can hardly waddle our fat butts back to our bikes for the ride back to camp.

We had planned another bike ride on Sunday, but it’s cold and very windy. So, we play Truck Tourist instead, checking out sections of shoreline we missed on the trip north. 20140921_141421Of course, we had to stop and take the obligatory photo of the Firetruck at the Snowguage.20140921_150247 1978-79 produced a record snowfall in the area – 390.4”. Last year’s total, shown by the red arrow near the top, was about two feet shy of that total. Average snowfall is about 20 feet. Note to self: get the hell out of here before it starts to snow!

Serious UP sightseeing…..guys are skinning a bear which they have hanging from a tree.  (no photos!).  That explains the “Bear Registration” signs we’ve seen at the State Parks.  We had wondered why the bears couldn’t just get in line and register with the rest of us.

We catch the first glimpse of serious fall color.  Color is gaining every day.wpid-20140921_144350.jpg20140921_154509Monday morning is our day to pack up and move on. We’ve got another short day on the road, as we’re moving to McLain SP, about 40 miles south and west of Copper Harbor, but still on Lake Superior. We had been advised to stop at the Jampot (thanks, Ken) for a cupcake and a jar of jam.20140922_104650 Jampot is run by the Brothers of St. John, and these guys know their business. 20140922_104922The store is stocked with dozens of jams and jellies, fruitcakes, and cupcakes. It’s a struggle to get out of there with only two cupcakes (breakfast!), two caramels, and one jar of cherry jam.

It’s a beautiful drive into Calumet, ten miles from the State Park.20140922_103950 We stop for a visit at the Firefighters Museum. Drat! It’s closed for the season already. Calumet is full of graceful red stone buildings, many with fancy trims. It’s quiet, and very pretty. Look!  There’s a microbrewery across the street – The Red Coat Brewery. While the beer was lousy (flat and sour), the setting is well worth a visit. The old hotel has an incredible bar, complete with an intricately patterned mosaic tile floor and curved mural painted on the ceiling. 20140922_115501The white-tablecloth dining room is gracious and inviting.20140922_120056

And, just so you know that we’re educating ourselves nearly every minute on this trip, we learn that Calumet was called Red Jacket in its early days.  Hence, the brewery name.

McLain State Park is surprisingly populated with other campers. The lakefront sites are all taken, but we find a great site tucked in the woods. Another stunning sunset. So good….20140922_194635



19 thoughts on “Still Hanging Around the UP

    • 390″ is no typo. I think that means that you can no longer bitch about the meat. 110″ that fell in your driveway this winter.

      I was very frustrated last nite. No radio, no internet. Tried to sit in the truck and fund the game on the radio there. Hope we can do this Tonite (Friday)!


  1. Judy … I’m so sorry and can’t explain what just happened !!! I copied and pasted the URL from our YouTube videos of Manganese Falls and Ft. Wilkins and somehow, the wrong videos transfered to your blog. I still have the video links open and verified that I copied the links correctly, but somehow, there’s a glitch in either YouTube or this blog structure. Again, I apologize for cluttering your blog with unrelated material ….. I’m so embarrassed !


  2. Hope you had time to check out Manganese Falls, just off the main road in the middle of town …..

    We also camped at Ft. Wilkins …..

    Watch in 1080p if you can. We were up that way in May of last year I think it was and we got a lot of rain also. PS: We just ordered a new trailer so we’re confined to quarters at the moment.


    • We missed Manganese Falls. There are just too many. video will have to wait. Poased from town….no signal here. This will send at some future date.

      New trailer? Didn’t you just get the Columbia??? What gives??


      • Columbia was our T@B and we traded it in because it was just too small for our needs. We had it 9 months. We bought an 18 foot conventional travel trailer with a fixed queen bed and full bathroom/shower so we were very pleased with the enormous upgrade over Columbia. The new trailer was dubbed Discovery and we travelled the 8,265 mile loop in him this summer and it was very comfortable. We did have some issues with the size of the dinette and after 6 weeks on the road, found that we would have also liked to have had a larger fridge and freezer and maybe even an oven. We had such a good time though, that we decided to commit to this lifestyle seriously and since we are planning on snowbirding in FL and spending much more time on the road, we traded in Discovery for a new Fun Finder 214WSD. It’s a 22′-6″ beauty with everything as we would like. The slide out dinette gives us all the room we need for our laptops and cameras. It’ll be delivered to our dealer next week. So that’s 3 trailers in 13 months but I think we’re set now.

        By the way, the “Pipestone” video is the first video in our “Waterfalls” section and Manganese Falls plays right after it. Still feel like an idiot for not realizing what I was doing. Manganese Falls is literally 100 yards from downtown and within a 5 minute walk from the road. Please fell free to delete my videos if it’ll unclutter your blog.


      • Neil, it’s a slippery slope! We sometimes talk about a different trailer, but then we come to our senses, repack, and move on down the road.

        Good luck with your new rig. Fun picking it out, I imagine ….


  3. I can see from this post that I spend entirely too much time out in the woods chasing critters and scenery, and not enough time sampling the food and drink. ;)

    I can also see that a bike is in my future as a way of getting around.


    • Jerry, you would get a great benefit from having a bike. They can get you away from crowds, kids, and general aggravation so easily…. When you’re ready, let me know. I can help you find a quality used bike that will serve you well.

      Food + Beer = Life!


      • LOL, your equation doesn’t work for me. MY math is this

        Food + Beer = Fat

        Thanks for the offer, it will be a while before I’m ready for a bike. I need a new computer and a Canon 7D camera first ;)


  4. I’m glad you got to the Jampot. Did you get a chance to walk around the Monastery? The first time we visited – about twenty-five years ago – there were only two Brothers and just the bakery and a small cabin where they lived and survived the Keweenaw winters. It was only their second season up there at the time.


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