Unearthing Hidden Gems on an 1,800 Mile Eastern Upper Peninsula Ride

Car, Horse, Motorcycle or ORV – No matter what your preferred method of transportation, guest blogger Bryan Much shares his tips for taking the road less traveled on an Eastern Upper Peninsula ride.  

Eastern UP you say?  Yeah, been through there many times. Nice place!”  That was me before I took the time to dig in and really explore the history, scenery, and attractions of the area.  I always thought the eastern UP was “nice”, but now I’m in awe of all that I’ve missed over the years.

I like to do my exploring on an adventure motorcycle, but a car – or even a horse (as I learned along the way) – will take you to treasure.  With motorcycle riding upon us, it’s a good time to share some opportunities for the curious to explore and enjoy.

Rolling along to take in hundreds of points of interest, I covered about 1,800 miles of Pure Michigan goodness.  My goal went beyond the entertainment of taking my own trip.  I wanted to share some information that would make it easier for others to plan a trip of their own. On my trip, I toured counter-clockwise generally along the lakeshores with loops deep into the interior.  I crossed and re-crossed the bridge, ferried to Drummond Island, and rode the highways and back roads that took me where I wanted to go.

EUP 0002-XL

My favorites points of interest usually involve history.  Visiting places and exploring what once was in the past is a very rich experience for me – especially when you add in some interpretive displays or stories from books.  We are still making history today, so the modern and new are equally fascinating.  The thrill of watching a giant ore ship navigate a narrow channel leaves an impression not easily forgotten.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

It’s not just the places.  The people you meet and the stories they share make for a memorable trip.  Slowing down and taking a moment to chat often brings great reward.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

The end of the day brings the time to reflect while relaxing on a beach listening to lapping waves while watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Photo courtesy of Bryan Much

Waterfalls, mom-and-pop restaurants, fishing villages, wildlife, and history new and old are all part of the fare.  The pictures and stories from my own trip can be viewed here.  Hopefully, it will help a few people sort out some places they’d like to explore on a trip of their own.

So take a look, make some plans, and go hunting for some treasure of your own!  See you in the eastern UP!

Bryan Much retired from the military after having advanced from Private to Colonel. He now spends much of his time advocating for off-highway motorcyclists and exploring and recording paths for them to ride and enjoy.  He serves on two councils relating to trails and is a member of many organizations related to this recreational interest.

Five Reasons to Bundle Up for a Round of Golf on Top of Frozen Lake Huron

Grab your flannel, fleece and golf clubs… Yes, you read it right! You don’t have to leave the Midwest this winter to enjoy a mind-blowing round of golf. St. Ignace Visitors Bureau shares five reasons you can’t miss the one-of-a-kind U.P. Ice Golf Scramble.

Photo Courtesy of The St. Ignace News

Dying to get back on the links for a round of golf? Want to keep your swing in shape but don’t have the budget to search for warm weather? The U.P. Ice Golf Scramble, Feb. 27-28, will reunite you with your favorite pastime – complete with five St. Ignace twists.

1. The Next Best Thing to Fireflies
Remember the fun of chasing fireflies on a summer night? Combine that memory teeing off after sunset and you’ve got the Glow Ball Challenge. Participants will spend Friday evening trying to land their glow-in-the-dark ball closest to the pin for special bragging rights and the chance to win an exclusive tour of the Mackinac Bridge towers. They’ll also enjoy beer tasting and live music. Definitely more fun than fireflies.

2. Our Greens are White
Forget about those pesky sand traps. Let St. Ignace introduce you to a new course and a new twist on your favorite pastime. Anyone can say they shot the back nine, but how many of your friends can say they played on 12 plus inches of Great Lakes ice?

Ice Golf Scramble 13. A Fun and Level Playing Field
Literally and figuratively – this outing offers a level playing field. Literally – because the lake surface is as level as Mother Nature can make it. Figuratively, because we’ve constructed an event that places the emphasis on fun. Saturday’s outing is a two-person, best-ball scramble, which is our way of saying that even if you’ve never golfed in your life, partner up and take a swing at a winter adventure. No handicaps. No pros. Just fun.

Ice Golf Scramble 4. Go to the Extreme
Golf is traditionally a quiet, relaxed sport. But in this age of amped-up activities, bucket lists, and thrill-seeking, what could be more extreme than playing through atop 20 fathoms of icy cold waters? St. Ignace has a long history of using the frozen Great Lakes as a playground – from snowmobiling to pond hockey championships – but if you haven’t golfed Huron, you haven’t taken full advantage of the state’s winter wonderland,

5. Fashion turns to Flannel and Fleece
Ice golfers can forget about the preppy polo shirt or the golf knickers. Pack your thermal underwear, your fleece and anything else that can provide layers of warmth. Make sure you have a touk (a knitted winter hat) or a Stormy Kromer (a stylish wool cap made in the Upper Peninsula) and remember your sun glasses because St. Ignace is known for beautiful winter sunshine!

What could be more thrilling! Are you brave enough to golf on a frozen Great Lake? Learn more and register for the U.P. Ice Golf Scramble at www.stignace.com or call (800) 338-6660.

A Distinguishing Winter Ritual – Celebrating 25 Years of Marquette’s UP 200 Sled Dog Race

The UP 200 is one of America’s premier 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races. Mushers say this is one of their favorite races, not only because of the challenging race, but because of the cheering crowds and warm welcome they receive in the Upper Peninsula.

up200finishHappening February 12th-15th, The UP 200 trail covers 240 miles of challenging terrain through the areas of Marquette, Grand Marais, Wetmore, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and finishes at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. Today, Barry Winslow from Travel Marquette tells us how you can make the UP 200 a winter ritual of your own.

Crowds gather along the race track which is comprised of the pure snow hauled into Marquette’s downtown streets. Spectators clutch Irish coffee and hot cocoa. Voices and laughter mingle with the excited yipping of the dogs. It’s time for the race to begin. It’s time for the UP 200.

For twenty-five years, mushers and their teams have endured the UP 200 and its scenic trail that runs along the frozen shore of Lake Superior, from Marquette to Grand Marais and back. For the mushers, it’s a chance to test their dogs in the Iditarod qualifying race. For the spectators, it’s a time to enjoy the wintry weather and local culture of this Upper Peninsula city.

A Communal Gathering
For the spectator, the UP 200 is more than an incredible and unique sporting event to watch from a distance. The event is a social catalyst that sparks the forging of a special relationship between the area and its people. Winter is a season that Marquetter’s take very seriously, and the apex of that seasonal appreciation is achieved at the UP 200 every February. This special relationship between the area and its people is replicated by that of the mushers and their relationship with their sled dogs. It is this outstanding appreciation for nature and a tightly-knitted community that makes Marquette County the perfect location for the UP 200.

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Pristine Cuisine!
From Das Steinhaus to Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery to the Wild Rover, race fans eat their fill and get their thrills as they watch the teams of dogs both start and finish the UP 200 from the packed sidewalks and downtown storefronts in Marquette. Marquette, the largest city in both Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula, is home to some of the most delicious local restaurant options in the state of Michigan. A wide array of cuisine choices include authentic German food, delicious Cajun dishes, home-cooked Irish plates, delectable Italian pasta’s, slow-cooked barbecue, fine American dining and so much more.

Marquette takes great pride in their local restaurants, which stems as a direct result of its people, the “small-city” size of Marquette, and the passion for the area that its residents and visitors have. But, with great food there must be great beverages to go along. Marquette County is home to some of the greatest beer in not only the state of Michigan, but all of the country.

Peruse Some Brews!
The UP 200 draws a generous crowd to the five microbreweries in Marquette County. One of the favorites has to be the Ore Dock Brewing Company. Built in an old brick building in downtown Marquette that once functioned as a car garage and dealership, the Ore Dock has re-stylized itself as one of the trendiest venues in the state to grab a beer and dance to some live music. Specializing in Belgians, Saisons and Ales, the Ore Dock delivers a delicious beer menu to go along with the friendly atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Another UP 200 spectator favorite is Blackrocks Brewery. Located just up the hill from downtown on north Third Street, Blackrocks started up their microbrewery operation in an old two story house in 2010. What started as an “open ‘til empty” policy with their original brewing equipment and smaller capacity is now a full-fledged brewing business with a weekly rotating menu and additional canning facility. Stop in and grab a mug of the good stuff. You never know what’s going to be on tap!

There’s even more beer in the area. The Vierling serves up some delicious varieties from their downtown Marquette location and has been doing so since 1995, making them one of Michigan’s first brew pubs. Ask for their “blueberry beer” and you’ll be in for a treat! Even in the small suburb of Harvey, Chocolay River Brewery recently hit the scene and doubles with the Bayou Restaurant to deliver excellent food and beer at even better prices.

A Progressive Northern City
Beyond the downtown nightlife, breweries, local restaurants, storefronts and boutiques, there is something even more special about Marquette. The shining gem of this incredible place is the comforting aura it gives off and the unwavering attitude of its people. It is a passion for place that drives the people of Marquette County to host such incredible events as the UP 200.

Do yourself a favor and make the trip north to Marquette County this winter. The sled dogs and mushers are ready…are you?