Say Yah to da UP, eh?

On Saturday we packed up and drove straight for the bridge. That would be the only important bridge in Michigan, the one that separates the Upper Peninsula from Greater Michigan, and da Yoopers from da Trolls. We had reservations for 2 weeks of rustic bliss in a cabin just northwest of Marquette. On the cold days, like the one when we arrived, the wood burning stove was wonderful, and on the hot ones the outdoor fire pit and the tripod were great. The cabin had two bunk beds, a picnic table, a porch that overlooked a sharp bend in Harlow creek, and was about a quarter mile from any roads. That also meant a quarter mile from our car, where all the stuff we brought happened to be. Once we moved in, we rarely needed to be anywhere else. The woodshed was well stocked, there was a vault toilet to avoid, and a very nice front porch facing the creek.

Can I just put my house here?

The woods were a mixture of oak, red and mountain maple, white pine, balsam fir, and birch. The kids found all sorts of raw materials to play with, from tubes of birch bark to use as armor, to maple switches to use for whip bows. Once it warmed up, they we in the creek swimming, catching frogs, skipping stones, playing in the sand, and bathing.

Only 20 degrees colder than our lake...

We made several trips to to Lake Superior while the air was warm, but the water was frigid enough to discourage anything more that wading, which itself was rather excruciating.

Notice all the water-play?

As the weather cooled again, we went on long hiking excursions to nearby outlooks and “mountains” where we beheld some breathtaking views, and herded the kids away from precarious edges.

STAY THERE! (says mom)

The rustic experience really allowed us to appreciate many of the everyday conveniences that we do not think much about… like plumbing, electricity, and running water. At the same time, we have a renewed understanding of the amount of work involved to live like most of the world lives. Even that setting was not quite as rustic as it might seem. There was a vault toilet, someone else collected, seasoned, cut, split, and stocked the wood, the creek was close enough to bathe in, and the cabin was already built and weather-sealed. Still pretty posh, really. The water pump was a little way from the cabin and we had to haul water a few times a day. It did not taste so good, and we had to boil it before using it. We enjoyed it all because it was a choice, and we knew it would not be for very long. We were dirty much of the time.

Although we reserved the cabin for 2 weeks, after one and a half we decided that we had our fill and that this was not an endurance test, but a vacation. Plus, it looked likely that we would run out of coffee… So we packed up, and drove home. The rest of the vacation time will be spend relaxing in our current (but not future) home by the lake.

In the evenings we read Little House in the big Woods to the kids, and B and I read some of the other books we brought. I especially enjoyed Watch with Me by Wendell Berry. It is a set of tales set in Port William and focused on the character of Ptolemy Proudfoot. We read some of those aloud too. Very fun. In the mornings I brewed coffee (via moka pot) that we enjoyed on the porch before we started on breakfast.

Favorite time of day

Many photos are now up, have a look, eh?:

Little Presque Isle

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Hey, I run the place.

9 thoughts on “Say Yah to da UP, eh?”

  1. Just checked the album, and I must admit I like the hat. Any chance we’ll see you Sunday at our open house?

  2. I love the hat! I must say that I was hoping your’d come home early so I could hury up and see a post about your trip! Sounds like you had a really good and unique vacation, one the kids will never forget! Great pictures too!

  3. Daniel, it looks like a really special trip. I’m sure the kids won’t forget it with all of it’s rustic attributes! The pictures are really great.

  4. I love all of your photos Daniel!

    What a great way to really forget about life and just take it slow…and way to go to know when to go back home!

    Please give Ariana my bday hello. I thought of her on her day, but knew was somewhere in the woods~

  5. When the weather was cool enough, we used the top of the wood stove, and when it was warm out we either used a single propane burner, or the fire pit outside. The cooking part was fun, really. B even made a bday cake for A in our rice pot. It turned out wonderful, and and had a very nice shape, as can be seen this photo:

    I think is is called a honey cake, and she used whipped honey as the glaze as well. Very tasty.

    When using the wood stove, we occasionally got it going really hot, and it was quite “comfy” inside.

    B enjoyed the planning of the meals to do without much fresh foods, although we did take some veggies that last for some of the meals in the first week (cucumber, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and even some cilantro). For meat we had some hard salami, and some canned turkey (which we decided is just like tuna so next time we will just get tuna). We also took some aged cheeses, rice, lentils, coconut milk powder, Thai curry paste, African curry powder, lots of eggs, and a batch of kefir that we kept going with powdered milk.

  6. Hi! Daniel said I enjoyed planning the meals without using much fresh foods, but what I really enjoyed was seeing how many fresh ingredients we could fit into a two week menu without refrigeration and without things spoiling. It was great. The salad, bananas, cilantro, and bell pepper had to be eaten in the first two to four days. After that we still had cucumber and some other veggies to eat up in the first week. By the second week we were down to carrots, potatoes, onions, apples, and oranges. I also brought along some yams and acorn squash that I we didn’t get around to cooking, but are now back in the refrigerator waiting for me to cook them. I usually make double and triple batches of everything I cook so that I can freeze some. So I had a lot of trouble cooking small enough batches of things to not waste them. I ended up making our big meal at lunch sometimes so that if there were leftovers we could eat them up at dinner along with whatever was on the dinner menu. I decided that living without refrigeration is quite manageable, but living with it sure is a lot easier!

  7. So you went to the UP, eh? I have family living in the UP, eh. They live in Ishpeming, just outside of Marquette, eh. I just love their accents, eh. Eh, eh, eh. They always seem to end every sentence with “eh”. It’s a whole different world up there, eh?

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