My pal and I traveled miles and miles along the Lake Superior coast -- long stretches of forested, uninhabited land with periodic glimpses of the big lake through the trees -- but it was in the small town of Paradise, up near Whitefish Point, where I finally felt as if I'd truly arrived in the Upper Peninsula. We'd stopped at a place called the Berry Patch Bakery -- this after passing the town welcome sign ("Welcome to Paradise -- Glad You Made It") and looking around for a place to eat lunch.
The bakery, which includes a gift shop, was packed with the lunch crowd; we wound up sharing a table with a delightful older couple from Battle Creek who have a summer home nearby, who told us about how they'd gotten together in their later years and how they wound up in the U.P. The friendly bakery staff greeted us with lilting Yooper accents. My friend and I split a pasty.
You are here.
And then we made it to Tahquamenon Falls; a very busy park that, on the sunny afternoon we arrived, was filled with visited from all over -- literally from all over the world, who'd somehow made it to this relatively remote corner of the country: families of various configurations (including a surprising number of "family" families); group tours; lone hikers; lots of little kids; lots of dogs. Yet despite the number of people, and the more touristy areas of the park (a brew pub; a gift shop that featured some of the same kitsch we had laughed over back in St. Ignace), there was still a profound sense of wildness, of frontier. We marveled over the size of the hemlock and beech trees around us and the beauty of the tumbling water and surrounding rock formations and sky overhead. It was awesome; truly awesome. Several of my relatives, on arriving at Michigan Tech as students, went native; simply stayed up there. Now I understood the attraction.
And now I can say that I ate a pasty in Paradise. In more ways than one.
Tahquamenon Falls, upper level
Tahquamenon Falls, lower level
Point Iroquois Lighthouse