When we left Wisconsin, we drove north along the shore of Green Bay until we crossed into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our destination was Marquette, the most populated city in the U.P. with only about 25,000 citizens. I think I will make it official and say that this was one of my favorite stops on our trip so far! We stayed at a municipal park and campground on the north side of town and the location was perfect! We had access to walking trails in all directions, and we could get almost anywhere in town via a 30-minute bike ride. The town was charming and historic, the natural scenery was spectacular, we were on the shores of Lake Superior, and the people were very friendly. The locals up there are called Yoopers. They are a hearty, durable, and good-natured bunch. I guess you would have to be in order to survive one of their winters! Everyone was extremely active and fit. People were out on the trails walking, running or bicycling regardless of weather conditions. All cars had some sort of sports gear strapped to the roofs (kayaks, bikes, paddle boards). Everyone seemed to be on a quest to enjoy the summer weather at all costs. The weather while we were there at the end of June was cool and crisp. It didn’t get dark until after 10PM. We stayed very busy because there was so much to do and see. To this blog post I am attaching more photos than I have in any other post since our trip began because everywhere we looked we saw something beautiful or interesting.
A view of our site at the Marquette Tourist Park.
Piper did not know about chip monks before we visited Marquette. He now has a new obsession.
The Dead River on the northern boundary of our campground.
As we were arriving at our spot at the Marquette Tourist Park, we had to wait for this baby skunk to cross the road in front of us. There were six of these cute and scary critters running around our side of the campground. I was terrified one of the dogs would get sprayed. What the heck would we do with a skunked dog in this motor coach! As it turns out, the dogs did not get sprayed… but one of the campground workers did while she was mowing the grass. Eventually, they were all trapped and relocated to a more remote recreation area.
This is the view from most of our walks in Marquette.
The Wooden Nickel is a fun dive bar near the University. We stopped in for happy hour one evening and had fun absorbing all the signs and pictures that adorned every inch of the walls and ceiling.
We saw a fox on one of our walks!
A sandy beach in Marquette.
I happened to be cruising around Presque Isle when this sea plane landed near the harbor. He taxied up the boat ramp and dropped off his passenger. Then he turned around, went back into the water and flew away. What a fun sight to see!
The sea plane taxis out of the Presque Isle Harbor, preparing for take-off.
Pasties are a Michigan thing. They might even be a more exclusive U.P. thing. I first learned about them when we visited Mackinac early last fall. Pie crust filled with ground meat, diced potatoes and diced rutabaga. The ultimate comfort food. Beware though… they are pronounced paastie (soft A). When I ordered my first one, I pronounced it more like what one would wear if dancing with a pole. Everyone knew I was a tourist at the counter. Before we left Marquette I stocked my freezer with 4 of them. Simple and delicious.
Mikey watching golf on a Sunday afternoon.
Live performance art at the downtown Farmer’s Market.
There was one food truck in Marquette. I never got a chance to sample the fare, which was unfortunate. He was parked all over town – different locations on different days. Sometimes as I was driving through town, I would see folks lined up and waiting for the truck to arrive so they could order lunch. Must be pretty good food if your customers sit and wait for you to drive up and serve them!
We actually went to church with the Methodists in Marquette, but I stopped into this beautiful cathedral on a couple of occasions to light candles for friends and family (as well as for us to continue our adventure with safe travels and positive outlooks).
The rail cars carry Iron Ore from the mines west of Marquette. When they reach the docks, the rail cars are emptied into the ships below. The most frequent destinations for the ships when they leave with a full load are Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago.
A ship at the 100-year old Iron Ore Pocket Dock.
Presque Isle is a municipal park on the north side of Marquette. You can see why it is considered the jewel of Marquette.
Lake Superior or Gitche Gumee. With more than 10% of the world’s fresh water, its 3 QUADRILLION gallons are home to 80 different species of fish and the resting place of 350 shipwrecks. Its area spans 31,280 square miles – 350 miles from east to west. Average depth is 483 feet, and its deepest point is 1,333 feet.
The waters off of Presque Isle.
World’s largest glacial copper. Weighs in at 28.2 tons. A sign next to it implores visitors and locals to support the campaign to preserve this massive rock for public display.
A nice family of geese strolling along the bike path on a sunny afternoon.
Piper was on guard at all times he was outside. Between the squirrels, skunks, and chip monks… the poor boy never got any down time.
A big trout that Mike caught near Wichita, Kansas – out of the brine and ready for the smoker.
Mike’s make-shift smoker. Works amazingly well!
The trout is smoked!
Smoked trout dinner.
The marina at the edge of downtown Marquette.
Lake Superior rules the weather in Marquette. We were exploring the bars and restaurants in downtown when a fog rolled into the southern part of the city center. It was crystal clear where we were standing, but visibility was only 1-foot three blocks down the street.
What is better than surprise crawfish at dinner? Live southern music to go along with our food!
We were in Marquette during “Art Week”. A surprise visit from the local barbershop quartet made our dinner at Lagniappe that much more fun!
Interestingly enough, one of the best restaurants in Marquette turns out to be Lagniappe Cajun Eatery. (Their radio commercials boast 70 NON-spicy recipes for the yoopers)! ha ha. You might be able to tell that we went a little crazy getting our Cajun fix at dinner that evening. First of all, we were shocked to learn they had live crawfish (flown in every Wednesday). The mudbugs were $12.00 per pound, so we were conservative and ordered just 2 pounds. Then to our order we added blackened alligator, hush puppies, fried cheese grits and red beans & rice – all extra spicy!
Mount Marquette Ski Area. (The scenic overlook we were in search of was actually on the OTHER side of the mountain).
I heard about a scenic overlook on Mount Marquette and convinced Mike to go find it with me. The expedition turned into a bit of a scavenger hunt. At first, we went to the wrong side of the mountain. I got better directions from a lady working in the ski area. We drove across town and found the obscure road (with no signage) that took us up to the top. I think the unpaved mountain road literally went STRAIGHT UP. I happened to be driving, so when we reached the overlook the engine smelled like it was on fire. I asked Mike if it was our car that was indeed smoking. He confirmed that yes, “you are just hard on cars”. After we looked around and took some photos of the beautiful view, he enthusiastically offered to drive us back down to level land! I’m not sure which one of us was more frightened on the way to the top… me in the driver’s seat – or him on the passenger’s side.
Looking west from Mount Marquette.
The swimming section of the lake at Marquette Tourist Park. The temperatures were too chilly to get in the water during the 2 weeks of our visit.
Iron Ore is a big deal in the Upper Peninsula. All the rocks are black.
One of the exhibits in the Maritime Museum illustrated how the coast guard rescued crew members from ships that wrecked just off the coastline.
A lighthouse lense in the Marquette Maritime Museum.
McMarty’s Cove Beach, from the lighthouse. This is a great picture, aside from the power line running through the middle of it!
A view of the northern part of Marquette – snapped from the shore by the lighthouse. You can see the Superior Dome, the Power Plant, and Presque Isle. The Ore Docks are there too, just too small to see.
The only reason I insisted that we buy a ticket for a guided tour of the Marquette Lighthouse was because I thought that ticket would get us access to walk out onto the breakwater. As it turns out – the Federal No Trespassing Sign at the beginning of the path is just for show…the locals do not pay attention to the barrier. I was able to walk out onto the breakwater for free. However, the lighthouse tour turned out to be very interesting. If we had not bought our tickets, we would not have been able to go out to the end of this catwalk and see the view from a different perspective.
A full campground at the Marquette Tourist Park.
A view from the beginning of my walk out to the edge of the Marquette breakwater. The only other person I saw that morning was just coming back to land as I was heading out. As we passed, he looked at me and said ‘enjoy’. It was at that moment that I realized I had the place all to myself on that beautiful morning. It was kind of like church in nature instead of in a building. I’m glad he took the time to point out the obvious, because I don’t think I would have clued in to how special the moment was without his insight.
Sunday morning in Marquette.
A full view of Marquette from the far end of the breakwater that surrounds the city’s harbor.
These two ducks and I had the harbor all to ourselves on the Sunday morning that I walked out to the edge of the breakwater.
Our last campfire in Michigan.
The Superior Dome, which opened as the “world’s largest wooden dome” on September 14, 1991, is a domed stadium on the campus of Northern Michigan University. I wonder how high the snow gets on the sides of the buildings in the winter. I don’t think I would want to be there in person to find out.
A ship leaving the Ore Docks.
By the time we get up and get moving (without rushing around) on travel days, it is usually around 11AM when we pull out of our site. Leaving Marquette, we had a five-hour drive to Duluth, MN. We were extra efficient that morning, and Mike started the engine at 9:45. Everything powered up like usual… and then the engine died. Mike got the manual out, and I took a short walk to try and stay out of the way while he did his trouble shooting. He couldn’t identify any obvious solutions, so we ended up calling a Cummins Shop in the next town over. Lucky for us, they arrived to help us only 45 minutes after we placed the call. As it turns out it was a fuel-water sensor that Monaco had installed after the engine was built. The service man disconnected it for us and we were able to make the drive with no problems at all. Mike is still working on ordering a replacement, but we are not hindered until the new one is installed.