Let’s take a break from Europe and head, instead, to Drummond Island.
Where, you may ask, is Drummond Island? Why, right her in the USA! In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or UP, as we in the Wolverine state call it.
(I do not like being referred to as a Wolverine. They are vicious, beady-eyed creatures who will chew your arm off as soon as look at you. I prefer Michiganders, Michigeese, and Michigoslings. I mean, what other state can even do that? Sigh.)
It all started when Steve, a tad bummed that there is no Germany in our immediate future (he was in the Washington Post talking about it!!), and a tad not looking forward to very hot and icky weather at our house, said, Let’s Go North.
(The hot, icky weather didn’t happen, by the way. But we’re still outta there.)
Drummond Island, Not Mackinac
I’ve been to Mackinac Island once. If you don’t know what that is, first off, it’s pronounced Mackinaw, and it’s this super twee little island that doesn’t allow cars and has approximately one million stores selling fudge. It’s like Victorian Disneyland, except the only rides are on these horse-drawn wagons with mostly really old people, because senior citizens LOVE Mackinac Island.
There are no pirates.
Steve and I, a few years back, took his mom; it was her request that she go one last time. She had a ball…
….and so, even, did even grouchy old me.
But do I need to go back? No. I mean, maybe in the fall when there are less tourists, maybe if you could hike all over, it would be super swell. But I don’t need to return any time soon, or ever. Once was enough.
That said, I’ve been intrigued by the UP for a long time; I read about it years ago, and the Great Lakes are super cool. My introduction to them was from a friend, Felix Rice, a true bon vivant who left us many years ago for some giant cabaret in the sky.
There was a pop pscyh quiz going around Key West when he and I lived there. It’s actually kind of fun, so I’ll give it to you here:
- Think of your favorite animal, and write 3 adjectives that describe it.
- Do the same with your favorite color.
- You’re in a white room with no furniture, windows, or doors, or stuff of any kind. 3 adjectives.
- Your favorite body of water, 3 adjectives.
- The animal adjectives are how you see yourself.
- The color adjectives are how others see you.
- The white room adjectives are how you see death.
- And the body of water = sex.
Well, Felix had chosen Lake Michigan for his body of water. His three adjectives were “Big. Wet. Surprising.”
Which is about the best possible epithet Felix could have written for himself.
Those Big, Wet, Surprising Lakes
Honestly, the first time I saw Lake Michigan, I was bowled over. Because it IS big. Giant. Like a really amazingly blue ocean. It is so crazy to be standing on the sandy shore of a lake and not being able to see the other side. Lake Michigan is beautiful, and I wanted to see the other ones.
And in the UP, you get 3 for the price of 1: Michigan, Huron, and Superior.
Admittedly, when Steve said, let’s take a road trip, I did the lip curl thing, kinda like I did for Switzerland and The Crown. We just got home, I whined. (Over 3 months ago from Peru, but still.) I like our stuff. I didn’t want to go anywhere.
But then I thought, oh, why the hell not. It will be fun to see something different, to take some photos that aren’t all the adorable critters in my back yard, and just to travel with Steve, because we’re good runnin’ buddies.
So I got out a map, dug up a guidebook from the stuff the library made available online, and Drummond Island showed up.
How to Get to Drummond Island
You have to drive in pretty much a straight line north from Lansing (which is not that far from us), over the Mackinac Bridge which is really cool and not scary unless you think of that time the Yugo got picked up by a heavy wind and landed in the lake. Then again, who couldn’t pick up a Yugo? Aren’t they pretty much built of Legos?
We got to the UP side of the bridge, paid the 4 buck toll, and, well, it’s just darn pretty up here. We had to drive all the way east; Drummond’s about as far as you can go. In fact, while we were walking around, my phone sent me a message, “Welcome to Canada!”
On our way from St. Ignace, the first town on the UP side of the bridge, we pulled over at this little rest stop. There was a lovely path through some trees. And then, all of a sudden, there was Lake Huron. #bigwetsurprising
In Michigan, you don’t get shells, you get rocks. They’re so much prettier than the crappy busted shells we used to pick up at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz when I was a kid.
We also spied this swell house. Though the lack of a nearby Trader Joe’s would, personally, trouble me no end.
We saw next to no one. And I’m happy to report that, the whole trip, mask wearing was happening on the few people we did see. (Actually, we saw a lot of people on the other side of the bridge, and they almost all were masked up.) Since my little trip into terror that I might be infected, which didn’t end til the day before we left, I’ve been super vigilant. It’s nice to see everyone else is, too.
We took a car ferry to the island. It was small; I think we were one of about a dozen cars. Surprisingly, there was a pretty long line in back of us.
I did not want to drive another foot once we got to our hotel, but Steve begged to differ. So we went to the Maxton Plains Preserve.
It’s something called an alvar, so you’re actually on bedrock a lot of the time. There are three alvar areas in the world, the Baltics, the Great Lakes Basin (where we are), and….someplace else. It’s hard to describe, but it’s super cool to look down and go, whoa. Bedrock.
And then we punched our feet out of the bottom of our car and continued into the park through the courtesy of Steve’s two feet. Though frankly, now that you’ve seen mine, you know whose feet are the rightful heirs to a certain Mr. Fred Flintstone.
Maxton Plains Preserve, Drummond Island, MI
It’s just really, really pretty. Didn’t see birds, though apparently this is kind of bird heaven up here.
Also….what is that thing hanging on the tree?? It looks like pretty Blair Witch, like a dead animal carcass, but it’s not. Wood, fungus, or…what the hell is that?
That water is a puddle in the road (not a small creek). Also, the blighted bright orange trees look so startling amid all the green.
Our First UP Dinner
I had fish and chips, except I had onion rings instead of chips, and they were giant, like bracelets. Steve had pulled pork. We both had small mountains of the best coleslaw I’ve eaten in many a moon.
There’s a nature trail that’s part of the resort where we’re staying. Haha. Steve looks like I caught him doing something. He probably snuck some candy along, which would be something, because I’m the one who sneaks candy All the Time. That Steve is a nutritional paragon.
More amazing battered birch trees…
…this, the biggest birch tree Steve says he’s ever seen. “That’s really old,” he told me.
This deer looked at me a long time. I can stare a deer down. We stood in front of each other for about a minute. But when I barely moved my hand for my phone, she bolted. But, once she got in the trees, she looked back and we checked each other out. She just didn’t want a close-up. That deer knows her angles.
As we were heading back, we saw these rocks which were near a parked bike. First, we thought they’d been colored with chalk. Nope. The bike’s reflector turned the rocks into rainbows.
Now we’re in our hotel bed. Tomorrow: North.
The Marcus Aurelius Moment* for 22-July, 2020
From Roald Dahl, that if you don’t look for magic, you’ll never find it.
*In the first part of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman ruler details what various people in his life have taught him. To read the full intro to why I care about Marcus Aurelius, click here.