June 18-24, 2013
“We’re tops in Michigan!”
– Copper Harbor’s tourism slogan
On the northern shore of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at the northernmost point of the northerly jutting Keweenaw Peninsula is the small town of Copper Harbor. We were drawn there by its promise of world class mountain biking and for more exposure to Lake Superior. It turned out to be an almost perfect place to settle in for awhile. Of course, there were imperfections such as rainy, foggy weather and numerous biting insects (mosquitoes, black flies, no-see-ums, and other larger flies). The North Woods are known for their plentiful blood-sucking beasts and they didn’t disappoint.
The wet weather supported – as it does everywhere – quiet, introspective time. The biting insects, on the other hand, had little redeeming value, except for whatever important role they play in the ecosystem and, I suppose, for developing patience, endurance, a calm response to adversity, and compassion toward all beings who suffer itchy bites and toward the small unpleasant creatures themselves. During the moments of being attacked repeatedly and scratching unsatisfactorily, their important ecological function was hard to appreciate and patience was hard to find.
We camped at Fort Wilkins State Park where I could walk to a lovely small lake, Lake Fanny Hooe, or to a magnificent huge lake, Lake Superior. It also included a reconstructed 19th century fort which had been originally built to maintain order in the wild frontier of Michigan. The fort had well thought out displays with furniture and objects from that era and a few people dressed in period costume acting in character for the time period. (A soldier despairingly told me about how hard the winters were at the fort.)
The small town center had all that was necessary: good coffee, excellent ice cream and a few groceries. The mountain biking trails turned out to actually be world class and Chris had a splendid time (I don’t bike). Wildflowers bloomed everywhere so I was in bliss wielding my camera. Only a couple miles away was an old growth forest with virgin white pine – Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary. I hiked through it and felt the power of being immersed in an ancient woodland.
By the way, if you see a plant, animal or bird without identification or misidentified and you know the correct name, please let me know!
(NOTE: The number of days left on The Big Trip are diminishing rapidly; the end is in sight. I am still far behind on reporting our experiences. Getting fully caught up on the travelogue before I return to Santa Cruz seems unlikely. I have many hand-written notes but finding the time to transcribe and revise them continues to be elusive.
For now, I have decided to offer a few comments and a photo gallery from many of the different spots we have explored. Even this is a big chore but it seems possibly achievable. The hope that I will complete a written account is still alive within me, but the actualization of it may be delayed.)