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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > Wouldn't You Like To Be A "Yupper" Too?

Munising, Michigan  06/19/06 (Day 55)

Wouldn’t You Like To Be a “Yupper” Too?


Once back in our Silverado, we realize we are famished so we drive out in search of the local culinary claim to fame: the pasty (which, it should be noted, rhymes with nasty, not tasty). It takes about 45 seconds for us to stumble upon a pasty shop in Mackinac City where a very personable woman dishes us up a hot traditional pasty which is filled with something approximating beef meatloaf laced with rutabaga and potato. It is passable after copious quantities of hot sauce.

We do appreciate that this is the portable lunch that sustained the thousands of Cornish miners who worked in the area’s now-defunct mines and helped create the economy of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) which once made these parts some of the richest areas in the world. But it’s still not our first choice in food.

And now we are about to pass the mantle. Previously, we lauded the lovely ladies in the Baton Rogue city tourist information office as the friendliest, most helpful and most knowledgeable of the trip. That (purely subjective) honor must now be passed to Mike who mans the St. Ignace tourist information office just across the bridge from Mackinaw City.

Within moments of entering the pamphlet-stuffed office, Mike supplies us with three pieces of information that will change everything: Skip Sault Ste. Marie (we don’t need anymore pictures of a canal anyway) and head South on Route 2 along Lake Superior instead, DO NOT miss Shute’s Bar in Calumet (more on that later) and, since he could not come along to personally guide us on our way, a copy of the Hunts’ Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Mike, we thank you.

Confident we are on the right path, we hit the two-lane Route 2. As we head toward the UP, where locals call themselves “Yuppers” (pronounced YOUpers), the whole feeling of the state changes until it resembles Alaska or Canada. Wild. Laid back. A sign as we pull onto Route 2 urges us to drive safely and touts something called Operation SABRE, which, apparently, was cheaper to implement than hiring actual traffic cops. The extremely rare times we do see a highway patrol vehicle in the UP, it’s of the classic cherry-top variety--like a well-kept prop from some 1950s good guys vs. bad guys movie.

Within 20 minutes we are cruising along Lake Michigan. Then the dunes break and give way to forest before we climb up above the lakeshore itself and cross an elevated section that looks and feels like some of the most scenic stretches of California’s coastal Highway 1. It is beautiful and relaxing and we note that everyone does seem to be driving remarkably safely.

We somehow manage to resist the temptations of more than a dozen roadside pasty shops and elude the lure of the “World Famous” Mystery Spot which promises that “even a blind person would be amazed!” We take their word for it and keep moving. Our route only gets more bucolic as we head toward Fayette, an abandoned iron smelting town. Now, we know what you’re thinking: smelting and abandoned in the same sentence? No thanks. But Fayette, which is now a restored Historic State Park, happens to have been built around a beautiful cove and at sunset the place is gorgeous.


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