Eating Well in the Upper Peninsula

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July 16, 2014 by magpiemenina

Jaybird and I flew up to visit his family in the U.P. (or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, if you are uninitiated) over the weekend. We saw most of his family as well as some friends. Our nieces and nephew were there, which meant lots of adorable and humorous fishing and swimming moments.

We had some really good food, in addition to the good company. 

Jaybird with a walleye.

Jaybird with a walleye.

Jaybird caught a 23″ walleye, which he cooked, lightly breaded in flour and salt, in some butter for breakfast. It was delicious! 

The next day, we went farther inland and found about an acre of naturally mixed berries.

Wild blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries from one spot in the U.P.

Wild blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries from one spot in the U.P.

 

Naturally mixed…. The floor was mostly wild strawberries with wild blueberry and wild raspberry bushes scattered throughout. Although the fruits weren’t ripe yet, there were also wild gooseberry bushes. 

Yum!

We kept an eye out for bears in the midst of all those berry bushes. While we didn’t encounter any bears, we did see a bald eagle and five very peeved mink. The latter ran back and forth on the bank and barked at us during one of our boat rides.

Just a bit about the U.P.:*

*I am not a native. Rather, I am from Ohio. I love the U.P., though. 

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is the part of Michigan that isn’t shaped like a glove. In fact, it looks more like part of Wisconsin. Apparently, Michigan and Ohio had a spat, and Michigan got what looks like Wisconsin’s arm. (Really, you can get the entire story elsewhere online. There were a lot of territory and state constitution shenanigans going on, but that’s the gist of it.) Occasionally (I’ve been told), the U.P. takes a stab at divorcing lower Michigan and becoming its own state. The Upper Peninsula and lower Michigan weren’t even connected until 1957, when the construction of the Mackinac Bridge replaced the earlier ferry system.

The Mackinac Bridge is an amazing, breathtaking bridge. You probably should have someone else drive over it if you are afraid of bridges or of heights. That way, you can sit in the car with your eyes closed and your body positioned in a modified tornado-avoidance crouch. On occasion, the bridge is closed due to inclement weather.

Speaking of inclement weather, the U.P. is cold. This past weekend was unusually cold (in my limited experience). It stayed in the 60s (Fahrenheit) most of the time. Lake Superior froze completely this past winter, so the continued colder temperature of the water is cooling the land. Generally, the cold weather offers great opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, etc. The snowmobile tracks offer a pretty solid way of getting around the peninsula. 

The Upper Peninsula is a beautiful place with lots of trees and not too many people. The people who are there are, in my experience, overall pretty swell. (Yooper is a warmly-embraced designation for people who live in the U.P.)  In terms of natural beauty, the forests are extensive; there are plentiful waterfalls; and Lake Superior is to the north and Lake Michigan is to the south. The opportunities for wildlife sightings are abundant, as well. I’ve seen a number of bald eagles as well as black bears, mink, weasels, porcupines, and more. Wolves and moose are just a couple of the other animals hanging out in the U.P. 

The city of Marquette is also a tremendous place with museums, a well-respected library, charming shops, a huge food co-op, some microbreweries, delicious restaurants, and, of course, Jilbert’s Dairy, where you can get Amaretto Cherry Mackinac Island Fudge. Again, yum.

This ends my essay on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In short, it is a very nice place to take a vacation. [Here, I am sort of making fun of myself, if you hadn’t noticed.] Seriously, though, naturally mixed berries? Holy whoa!

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