Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The area known as “Pictured Rocks” along Lake Superior’s south shore in Michigan was bestowed the title of America’s first National Lakeshore (NL) in 1966.  The beauty of this park is its towering colorful sandstone cliffs climbing some 200 feet above the emerald waters of Lake Superior.  Pictured Rocks NL was set aside by Congress “to preserve the shoreline, cliffs, beaches, and dunes, and to provide an extraordinary place for recreation and discovery” and lures hundreds of thousands of people to witness first-hand its beauty. 

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The name Pictured Rocks come from the streaks of mineral stains that color the sculptured cliffs.  A quick glance of the cliffs is all it takes to realize this place was appropriately named.  The long narrow park hugs Lake Superiors' shoreline for some 40 miles making the best way to see this park being from the water.  We had intentions of putting our kayaks in the lake to view the decorated cliffs but quickly abandoned that idea the more we learned about how treacherous that could be if you were not adequately skilled and prepared.   Our kayaks are recreational boats perfectly suitable for calm waters unlike sea kayaks which would be more appropriate.  We learned that storms and seas can kick up at any time turning the water into a dangerous place to be especially with tall cliffs preventing you from exiting the water.  Then we started reading horror stories of water rescues and drownings.  We kept the boats on the car and opted to pay for an evening cruise on a tour boat.  Clearly the better choice.

Unfortunately, the evening of our cruise was completely overcast and the spectrum of colors that decorate the rocks were not as striking as pictures show.  Still the narrated cruise was a great way to see the park and an enjoyable evening. 

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The disappointment of this park for us was that it is not very dog-friendly.  We were expecting to hike some of the trails but quickly learned that dogs are not allowed on most sections of the park.  In fact, except for a few very short trails they are only allowed in campgrounds and parking lots.  Learning that, we shifted our focus to the nearby Hiawatha National Forest which proved to be a great outdoor playground perfect for hiking and kayaking.  The forest encompasses nearly 900,000 acres and has numerous campgrounds, boat launches, hiking trails, and picnic areas … all of which are dog-friendly.

Why not end the post talking about the best pizza we have eaten in a long time.  So good that we were there twice within our five-night stay.  Pictured Rocks Pizza makes a thin crust wood-fired pie with an amazing array of toppings.  They make the pizza at a counter in front of you as you point out the deliciousness that you want as your creation.  The inside seating area is small and since one afternoon was so nice we elected to eat outside on a shaded picnic table.

One day we drove about five miles outside of town to Muldoons Pasties and Gifts to try their award-winning pasties. That is pronounced "Pass-tee" and not what first came to your mind!  This is an iconic food dish of the Upper Peninsula.  Texas has its barbecue, Philly has their cheese steaks, Maine has their lobster, and the UP has their pasties.  Immigrants from Cornwall, England came to the UP to find work in the copper mines and brought with them this dish.  

Pasties proved to be the perfect hearty meal for men working 10-hour days in cold damp environments as they are filled with meat, potatoes, onions, and rutabagas in a pastry crust.  They were heated with their miners lamps in their metal lunch pails.  Since the miners hands were dirty, pasties were the perfect "one-handed meal" that you could hold and eat leaving just a small piece of dirty crust to discard.  To this day, they remain a staple and now have different variations adding chicken, carrots and other vegetables. They are usually served with gravy or ketchup and are quite delicious.

5 comments:

  1. You've been doing a great job of documenting the beauty of the areas that you've been visiting. Unfortunately many have pet restrictions.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. Thanks so much. We have definitely found Michigan not as dog-friendly as other states but are still enjoying our time here.

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  2. Pictured Rocks is gorgeous and your photos are wonderful. Thanks for the pizza tip, we are always looking at adding great places to eat. A couple of tips, try the dessert pasties at Muldoons and our favorite pizza to date is at "My Sister's Place" in Grand Marais Minnesota, also on Lake Superior. We had some google issues so we are way behind in blog reading so if you are no longer near Muldoons we apologize.

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    1. Sorry we missed the dessert pasties. We did see them on the menu but were so full nothing else was going to fit in our bellies. Next time. And, thanks for the pizza tip - never want to miss a good pie.

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  3. That Pizza looks good but I am thinking it might not be as good as Pat's.
    Chris and Glen are here for a month. We went to Pat's last night it was nice to catch up.
    Hopefully we can catch up with you two someday soon. Safe travels.... Miss you both.

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