Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Town Monday: the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Michigan is one of those unique states.  We're a peninsula. TWO peninsulas, even.  And our peninsulas have more peninsulas on them-- not just puny ones, but big ol' peninsulas.  And if that doesn't sound suggestive to you... your mind is much cleaner than mine.

I reside in the Lower Peninsula, not too far from civilization.  But because the Upper Peninsula holds several neat land marks, there are times when a Michigander should venture up there.  Many Michiganders have cabins, "cabins" and vacation homes in the northern parts of Michigan, for hunting or just escaping (or "escaping") from city life.  The Upper Peninsula is largely unsettled, though.

It consists mainly of forests and coastlines along the Great Lakes.  Plus some tiny towns.  US-2 meanders along the bottom edge of the Upper Peninsula, heading West into Wisconsin.  This road, while being  US road, is not a highway (or freeway or limited access highways)-- the speed limit is 55mph.  There is no limited access highway across the UP from east to west.  I-75 goes from the tip of the Lower Peninsula up to Canada, but that's it for highways in the UP.

After all, moose, bear and snow mobiles don't use expressways.

In the UP, it's colder than the rest of the state.  Winter comes earlier and the snow is heavier and around longer.  This situation is in someways exacerbated by the proximity of the icy water of Lake Superior.  More lake effect snow (where extra snow is created by the moisture of the lake).  But the lake, allegedly, has a moderating affect on the temperature-- which also causes more snow since snow can't fall if it's too cold.

Ice does form on Lake Superior and in massive chunks.  It takes awful cold weather to cause ice to form on a body of water that cold.  This shot was from April.  In the part where I'm from, the ice was gone, but on the shore of Lake Superior, it was large, cold reminder that the Upper Peninsula is a different world.

Traveling through the UP is interesting.  There are few towns.  And those that do exist are very small.  Some are so small that they don't have gas stations (a little disconcerting when you're miles from nowhere!)  Others have quaint combination bar/ restaurant/ grocery store/ post office/ barber shops like existed once upon a time.  You can drive for hours without seeing other cars on the roads of the UP.  It's tranquil... until it gets really boring.

This is a main road heading into Munising in the UP.  It was pretty busy that morning...
I like making visit to the UP.  Sometimes I imagine living in one of the small cities up there.  But only if I could work from home and never have to drive in the thick snow or go out in the cold.  You know, hibernate.  With high speed internet.  But it sure is pretty up there.

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