“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru.
In my 3yrs stay in the US, we have travelled widely and thoroughly throughout the country and as such very few places are left for us now to go to on any long holidays. After a lot of speculations and contemplations about our Memorial Day weekend (an American federal holiday observed annually on the last Monday of May to remember the men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces), we decided to revisit the magical Pictured Rocks Lakeshore (immortalized in Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha) located on a northern tip of land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bordering Lake Superior. This park has unique and spectacular scenery that haunted me and wanted me to go back once again. We had first visited it 2 years ago but I couldn’t let go my second opportunity to revisit it again. So mesmerizing is the beauty of the place that whoever has been there once would want to come back again and again.
We enjoy long drives rather than travel by air. The only adversity we often faced in the early days of our travels, when we were less experienced, was the food. Being vegetarian and Indians!!!, it was difficult to get something to satisfy our palates while on the roads. But now we have discovered that we can customize certain dishes and ask to prepare it according to our choices. Thankfully this has made our road trips more pleasant and less distressful. Obviously one cannot enjoy in an empty stomach. Earlier we had to stay content with vegie pizzas, burgers and sandwiches alone but now there is a wider and larger plate to be tasted on every go.
That was an off-track rendition of my earlier road trips. We started our journey for the upper peninsula of Michigan at about 4.01pm on Friday. I had packed snacks and also dinner for the evening. So there was no tension of searching for a suitable restaurant for the night or reaching late at our hotel. One thing I need to mention is that people here take early dinners (6-8pm) and all restaurants are shut by 8pm… though the sun is up almost up till 9.30 pm. in summer and we Indians are late diners.
The total distance from Eden Prairie to the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore was 496 miles which would take around 9 hrs to cover. On the first day we drove for 5hrs and halted at a place called Ironwood for the night. We reached our hotel Bugethost Inn, at around 9.30pm. After checking in we had a delicious dinner of my aloo paranthas, mixed veg curry and vegie patties that I made at home.
Next morning, after breakfast, which was free at the hotel, (bagels, bread, jam butter, fruits, juices, coffee etc.) we started our journey again. After another 3 hrs drive, we reached Munising. A stop at the visitor center located at the H-58 and M-28 junction is worthwhile for the first timers as it has a wide range of valuable information for the Pictured Rocks Area: Maps, Brochures, Permits, Weather Forecasts, Trail Conditions, Information on Waterfalls, etc. But since this was our second trip we knew exactly what things we wanted to see and so we only stopped at the center to get a map of the area.
Then we headed to our first point, the miners castle a spectacular vistas overlooking Lake Superior and Grand Island. Stairs and a steeper trail lead to the lower overlook adjacent to Miners Castle.
We had an interesting misadventure on our first trip due to our lack of proper knowledge of the area. There is a time difference of one hour between Michigan (Eastern Time Zone) and Minnesota (Central Time Zone). We had booked the 5 pm cruise and we reached there at 6pm Eastern time followed in Michigan. But our central time zone showed 5pm. Though we arrived half hour early for the trip, in reality we were half hour late and our boat had already left. So we had to take the next day’s cruise as the weather was becoming pretty dull for the 5pm cruise.
The true natural and untouched beauty of the region was captivating. The cliffs and underwater ledges formed over years of sand deposits created a unique shoreline in the region. Mineral stains give color to the miles of cliffs and reefs in the region. Red and orange colors are iron, black is manganese, white is limonite, and green is a trace of copper. There are a range of hues in the caves, arches, and cliffs that you would not expect in a rock! Light aqua, sea foam green, beige, dark brown to black, and they change again to orange, red and yellow. The color of the water changes as well, with the sun it is turquoise, under the clouds it becomes grey, when it is calm it looks light blue or when rough it looks navy.
People come from all over the world to see this sight unique to the Michigan landscape. Though the region is very picturesque (as the name goes), boaters often meet with treacherous conditions. The biggest and the deepest great lake is not to be tampered with. It has a tendency to swallow ships and spit them back to shore. But don’t worry, that’s only on a bad day.
People who enjoy hiking can explore the beaches and trails in the region that run many miles.
The real beauty of the mosaic of colors, textures, and sights of the place cannot be captured in the lenses of any camera. You need to see it to believe it.
After the spell bounding cruise trip, we headed for the waterfalls in the region. There are around 17 waterfalls in the area some of which are temporary and are visible only during spring time. Short hikes along trails from the parking areas lead to the falls. We hiked to Miners falls, Sable Falls, and Wagner Falls only.
There are innumerable activities in the region for everyone throughout the year. This is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Waterfalls, beaches, hiking trails, boat rides, kayaks etc. are to name a few. Wintertime too has plenty of outdoor activities of different levels and preferences. The long winters provide opportunities for ice climbing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and ice fishing. There are many museums too that showcases the history of the region. Proper planning is required while visiting the area so that you don’t miss out the most exciting and also important places.
At about 3 pm Sunday we started our return journey. We chose a different route through the Porcupine Mountains
wilderness state park which has scenic views. The Presque isle in this region is worth the visit, specially the evening sunset. We stopped there to capture the charm of the evening sun. It was an experience that words cannot define nor pictures do any justice.
The scenic drive through the park was another magical part of the trip. The park too has many things to see and do but it was not part of our plan and so we drove through it enjoying the views alongside the road. We halted for the night at hotel Ramada in Marquette city.
Next morning we continued our return journey, which is always tiring and boring.
We reached home at around 8.pm by daylight fortunately.
There are so many things to say about the place and so many pictures to be shown that this brief write-up cannot cover. Moreover, the real magnanimity of the beauty of the place cannot be interpreted in just a few words or pictures.
“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.”…Leonardo DaVinci