A Travellerspoint blog

Two years feels like end of an Era

Nostalgia of moving

Today is my last day in this wonderful town called Houghton. I always dreamt of studying in a big city or a flashy university if I ever studied abroad. As a kid, I always dreamed of those high-rise buildings and sparkly skylines like New York or San Francisco. But obviously, fate had something else in mind and brought me to this remote small town called Houghton in the middle of pure wilderness. Last winter was the worst I experience ever and one-day climbing my way up-hill in the middle of a blizzard after several hours at the library, I just stood still and looked around me. I told myself I will never miss this place ever once I get out. However this morning I woke up with a bittersweet feeling after seeing all my luggage packed around me and realized how attached I was with this place after all.

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Houghton is not like any other town in the US. In simpler words, this town is at least 10-15 years behind the rest of the civilization. I used to always take the bus to Walmart and used to cross this video rental store called Family Video. Rental video stores are before the time of Netflix and Redbox and they are almost extinct these days. As an early 2000s kid, I grew up watching all those American Pie movies (even at an age I was not supposed to). I remember those scenes when those high school kids try to rent an adult movie from a rental store and always wanted to at least take a visit inside Family video. This morning I was driving past that road and realized I did not see the family rental board. Instead, I saw a hoarding of an American insurance company (How typical American) who have now rented the store which used to be Family Video. For some reason that sight made me realize how much things change within two years and I almost felt I don't recognize this town anymore. I felt like the universe telling me that my time is up in this place. It kind of feels like the end of an Era and now I am going to miss this place a little more.
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Posted by ansarkar 13:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A Trip across UP

A loop covering the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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I am sitting at the second floor of Roy's Pasty near Houghton downtown enjoying my piping hot chicken broccoli pasty with a freshly brewed cup of Colombian coffee and trying to reflect upon my two day trip across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last week. I guess having a pasty while writing this feed is as yooper I can get. I have spent the last two years in Upstate Michigan as a grad student at Michigan Tech. For my folks who are not familiar with this region let me tell you that it is a part of the state of Michigan also known as upper Michigan and is the house of several small to medium size cities extensive state and national forests, lakes and rivers, and a large portion of Great Lakes shoreline. While this region faces some of the harshest winters and is covered in snow for more than 6 months a year, but once the summer hits this place is an absolute delight for people who love the outdoors. Thanks to a good friend Sunit who researched this very detailed itinerary to complete a loop around Upper Michigan.

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We first started from Houghton at 6 in the morning during the early hours of dusk and headed towards Marquette which is 100 miles away (roughly 2 hours drive). We took our first halt to grab some breakfast. We dined at a locally famous diner named Donkers. It's a cute little place filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, pancakes, and their signature chocolates. From there we headed towards our first scenic destination, 'The pictured rocks' at Munising. Although the best way to enjoy pictured rocks is to take the cruise around the shoreline. However, for people on the move, the short 1mile hike to the miner's castle is a good way to enjoy the scenic beauty at the edge of the rocks facing the mighty lake superior. Not very far away we have the miner's falls which is a 40 feet high falls and has stairs leading to a lookout, I suggest you carry an umbrella if you are not intending to get wet.

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We then headed to Grand Marias which is a small community township and is 60 miles away from Munising. It was almost past noon and we decided to grab some lunch before heading towards Tahquamenon Falls. If you are here I highly recommend you to try the West Bay Diner. The diner decor seems like a shake shack while it also has a gift shop attached to it with a huge collection of local art. On reaching Tahquamenon falls we encountered a 4-mile hike to reach near the lookout near the falls. The hike was worth the effort as the view was breathtaking. The most peculiar part was the color of the water which was notably brown in color due to the tannins leached from the cedar swamps which the river drains.

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Following that, we headed towards Sault Ste Marie which is also the point which connects with Canada with a 2.1-mile long bridge. During the journey, we made a stop to check out the Iroquois light station, although the lighthouse was closed for visitation, we managed to get some good pictures on the adjoining beach and enjoyed the serenity of the empty beach.

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We had decided to stay the night at an Airbnb in Sault Ste Marie. The Airbnb was a beautiful house with one of the sweetest hosts. We enjoyed the sunset near the soo locks which is a fascinating mechanism devised to function as an elevator for ships and barges to help them travel across two different lakes. We wanted to try a local brewery but decided to head back to the Airbnb so that we don't miss the game of thrones episode.

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Day 2 began with us driving towards further east to the end of Upper Michigan towards Mackinac Bridge. Although the weather was not on the most favorable side, it was still a fun drive in the rain. You could check out the castle rocks and the infamous mysterious spot. The mystery spot is a guided tour that shows you how the gravity behaves a little funny in this spot. Although the rain did not give us the chance to see it ourselves, we did end up buying a bunch of cool souvenirs. We then started driving east towards the east to Manistique a small county which has much-unexplored sights. One of those sites is a freshwater lake called Kitch-iti-kipi located in the middle of the Palms Book state park. It is by far the most serene and calming places I have ever been. There is a manually operated barge which visitors can operate to go till the middle of the lake. The water is so lucid that you could see a shoal of trout fishes and the bottom of the lake.

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We were so lost in the tranquil environment that we forgot about lunch and decided to head towards the Manistique county. If you are in the area or are passing Manistique I highly recommend trying Clyde's drive in. They have been voted for the best burgers in Michigan and by personal experience, I second that claim. After a heavy lunch, we set off for a 4-hour drive towards the west to Ontanogon district. Our first stop was at the Lake of clouds in the Porcupine mountains. Whether you want to take a dip in the lake or trek around the hill it is always a spectacular view. If you are here on a cloudy day you might be able to see that reflection of the clouds on the lake and hence the name lake of clouds.

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If you have time there are a bunch of things you can do, watch the sunset at Summit peak or trek to the Presque Isle River. But since it was soon getting dark we decided to cover one last point which was Bond falls. There are stairs which lead to the lookout, but if you are feeling adventurous then I suggest you hike 4 more miles to reach the dam gates and meet the backwaters of the river. We all had an extra kick doing it in the dawn light under the colorful sky, following the streams of the water flow until we could finally see the dam structure. We sat near the backwater late until it was absolutely dark.

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This was the end of the beautiful 2-day trip and left an extra appreciation for the beauty of mother nature with me. This trip is not even the tip of the iceberg of all the adventurous things you could do in the UP and I hope this article will encourage you to explore the marvelous gems the great lake shores have to offer. And if you are a yooper or have been part of the yooper life like me I highly urge you to do this trip while you still can.

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Posted by ansarkar 07:49 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises mountains lakes beaches trees upper michigan peninsula Comments (0)

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