We have been visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the past few summers. I talked about possibly doing a group tour at a couple of our Heartland rallies, and the idea seemed well-received, so I put together an itinerary and sent it out to the group last fall. I even shared the opportunity with a couple of other LTV Travelers Clubs. In the end, we had 20 LTVs sign up to join us. I selected five locations/campgrounds, and attendees could opt in or out as they wished. We had participants from Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Maryland.
This was not a rally but a more informal “Meet-UP.” There was no set agenda except for suggestions for meal planning purposes. Most mornings, we had breakfast treats from local bakeries, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, breakfast burritos, and even pancakes & sausages on two mornings. Lunches were on your own, and many took advantage of local restaurants and cafés within biking or walking distance to our campsites. Each evening we had a group meal with many of the entrees provided with LTV funds, and most included potluck items as well. We always had a great variety of food, so no one walked away hungry!
Daytime activities included bike rides and sightseeing, and some in the group brought kayaks and tried them in the quieter areas of Lake Superior. Games were also very popular activities. We had several competitive rounds of “Catch Phrase,” where it was men against women. Pegs & Jokers, UNO, Farkle, and more kept us entertained for hours.
Travel days offered the opportunity to visit other landmarks and locations along our route.
Manistique (July 10 – 14)
Our first stop was the Manistique Lakeshore Campground in the small town of Manistique on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. This is a beautiful campground where sites are well-spaced and immaculately cared for by the staff. We gathered for appetizers and other items to share instead of dinner on our first night. It was great to get to know everyone, and an added bonus was getting to celebrate Greg’s birthday with a very cute camping-themed cake!
Near the campground is a wonderful café/deli called the Upper Crust, and several of us enjoyed their delicious breakfast and lunch offerings. Before leaving Manistique, a few people visited a unique local attraction, Kitch-iti-Kipi (“Big Spring”), nicknamed “Mirror of Heaven” by the Ojibwe. Located in Palms Book State Park, you can ride a free raft to see what lies within the crystal clear water.
We had a total of 10 LTVs at this location.
Munising (July 14 – 17)
Our next stop was the Munising Tourist Park Campground just outside the town of Munising and on the shores of Lake Superior. Some of us opted for the Pictured Rocks Cruises, while others experienced the area with the Riptide Ride; both gave unique perspectives on the beautiful scenery the area has to offer.
Two members of our group brought along kayaks, and the quiet bay adjacent to the campground offered a safe place to be in Lake Superior. Tom and Sharon were more adventurous and booked a kayak tour with an outfitter who transports and supports those wishing to see the Pictured Rocks up close! There was more game-playing, both in the afternoons and evenings, as well as more breakfast goodies and dinner potlucks. For one potluck, LTV provided Instant Pot spaghetti as the main course. The following night, Giovanni took some of the leftover spaghetti and created a delicious frittata while we enjoyed the perfect sunset over the lake.
As we were playing another round of “Catch Phrase,” the familiar sound of an ice cream truck was heard, but no truck was in sight. A 4-wheel bicycle with an umbrella and cooler soon appeared, and we were able to use some of the funds from LTV to buy ice cream for everyone and do the same the following evening.
We had a total of 10 LTVs in Munising.
Marquette (July 17 – 20)
Marquette Tourist Park is located on 40 acres along the Dead River. The drive from Munising to Marquette is very scenic, with several pull-outs where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Superior. Marquette has historic red sandstone architecture and a great network of bicycle trails to explore the city and surrounding area. Our group of cyclists took full advantage of the trails to Presque Isle Park, the iconic Ore Dock, downtown Marquette, and outlying areas as well.
Some of us did laundry and replenished our supplies, while others checked out local restaurants and breweries. There were more games and shared meals, including a dessert potluck where the highlight was Cherries Jubilee, prepared by Giovanni and Patti.
We had 12 LTVs in our group in Marquette.
The drive to Copper Harbor offered opportunities to check out waterfalls, copper mines, and other towns along the route like Houghton and Calumet. Several of us stopped at a local icon, The Jampot, on our way to Copper Harbor. Home of Poorrock Abbey, this monastery has been selling wild berry jams and bakery items since 1986 and is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, the thimbleberry jam was sold out until later in the season.
Copper Harbor (July 17 – 20)
Fort Wilkins State Park was the location for our next campground.
Built in 1844, the fort has been preserved and restored and offers a look into life during the Copper Rush. Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and Brockway Mountain were destinations for our cyclists from this location.
A few in the group tried their hand at fishing in Lake Fanny Hooe, adjacent to the campground. More potlucks and games allowed for opportunities to get to know the newest additions to our group.
13 LTVs were part of this group.
Ontonagon (July 20 – 24)
Our final stop was Union Bay Campground in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
This state park is Michigan’s largest and home to the beautiful scenery that includes the shores of Lake Superior, Lake of the Clouds, Mirror Lake, and numerous waterfalls. This was our most remote location, about 16 miles from town. Some of the campsites proved challenging even to our LTVs with hydraulic levelers.
The sunsets and views from the shore were AMAZING!
We had 10 LTVs for this final location.
It was a wonderful experience and great to share it with so many of our fellow LTVers. The weather cooperated, and we only had showers a few times and never during our shared meals. Our final potluck of leftovers was moved up to 5:00 pm, and by 7:00, the rain started, and everyone scattered.
The one big fear I had was BUGS, but the mosquitoes and black flies weren’t the problems I imagined. We had stocked up on lots of different sprays and devices to help keep them at bay, and I guess it worked! If you haven’t visited the UP, we highly recommend it. The weather was great, and the scenery was memorable. Going with friends and meeting new ones is one of the best parts of these events. Big thank you to all who joined us and helped along the way; you made it very special.
Photos courtesy of the participants. Click here to view the full photo gallery.
Written by: Ann Dudler