How I spent my summer vacation

By Doug Kreinik

My wife, Myla, and I decide to hit the road and travel north. Neither one of us had ever been to Lake Superior, so to us it would be an adventure. We are both interested in history and food, so we wanted to see why people settled in the "UP" (Upper Peninsula) and the type of foods they find to consume.

First, let me tell you about the food. Pastys (rhymes with “nastys”) are a popular food. We tried pastys made with beef and chicken. Myla barely dipped hers in ketchup but swathed it with butter, as recommended. She also tried the beef with gravy. I prefer chicken. To me, it tasted like chicken pot pie the size of a large empanada. The delicacy comes from Wales where there was a lot of mining. The miner would take the food into the mine, and at meal time, place on a shovel or in a helmet and heat it with his candle. It is now available in beef, chicken or vegetarian. There is also a lot of fishing in that area, and the Ojibwa have the fishing rights and supply much of the coast with fish. We imagined that we would eat broiled or barbequed fish, but fried fish with tartar sauce was the main course. Desserts were plentiful with a variety of fruit or nut pies.

Along the way, we took in a lot of sites. We visited with friends in Toledo and Detroit. We even had a personal tour of the Episcopal Cathedral in Detroit — a real gothic classic. In the Lower Peninsula we went to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. We enjoyed tasting all sorts of jams, salsas and barbeque sauces made with cherries including a cherry pizza.

I stopped to visit two Kreinik thread customers along the way. Lost Art Yarn and Needlepoint is in Traverse City, and Chipmunk Cove is in Cadillac. The shop in Traverse City is right downtown and is filled with knitting and needlepoint. They had a steady flow of stitchers and knitters going through this destination. Gerhild gave me clues as to where to get the best price on dried cherries in the area (Michigan grows more cherries than any other state). Chipmunk Cove is more of a mail order shop. She has classes and has quite a following. Judy cut fresh broccoli from her garden for us to chomp on during our trip. We also visited with Paula Schwenke at Knit-N-Purl in Marquette. She has a really nice little shop that has a long history. She services knitting and cross stitch with lots of classes for adults and kids.

We plowed through the Sault Ste. Marie locks museum and did have a broiled fish dinner at the Lockview. Sault Ste. Marie is the third oldest city in North America. We traveled through Paradise to get to Tahquamenon Falls near Newberry. The water is brown from the tannic acid from the piney woods. It was loud and beautiful. In Munsing we took the boat tour and saw the Picture Rocks, a 12-mile stretch of cliffs and waterfalls carved out by the ferocious seas. Many ships have gone down along the coast. This city butted up against the Hiawatha Forest. I found out that Lake Gitchee Gumee is Lake Superior. The water is so pristine that you see the bottom. We traveled up through Marquette to the Keweenaw Peninsula and ate muffins and purchased Thimbleberry Jam at the Jam Pot. This place is owned and run by the monks. They built a large church right on the water near Eagle Harbor — very peaceful. The muffins were incredible. We stayed in Copper Harbor on the coast in a 50’s style motel. In the morning we were serenaded by the loons and song birds. We went to the top of Brockway Mountain four miles from Copper Harbor, named for the massive reserves of copper that used to exist here. The mountaintop gives you a 360-degree vista of the surrounding mountains and the Lake. It is breathtaking.

Calumet is still large. It originally was to be the capital of Michigan, but the politicians rethought the proposal. There are lots of mining activities all through the area. In Gladstone, we toured a pet casket company. My son is going to mortuary school and asked us to pick up some brochures. Myla’s Iphone Apps were always giving us strange places to visit or view including "Paul Bunyan" who was visible everywhere, built out of paper-mâché, some being 30 feet tall.

After crossing the Northern shore of Lake Michigan, we found the best pastys on the trip in St. Ignace at Bessie’s, and then the next morning at the Mackinac Pasty and Cookie Company in Mackinaw City. Smoked fish also found our palettes, and it was delicious. The white fish was superb.

Following the blue waters of Lake Huron, we drove along the coast to Port Huron. This city has many nice eateries. One notable place is the Raven Café with its walls of books, fine foods, folk singers, and hearty coffee and desserts.

In the morning we swept through the corn fields of Windsor Canada, and then homeward bound to West Virginia, first stopping at my favorite Greek restaurant in Columbus, the “Happy Greek”, and then to Jeni’s for sorbet.

We drove over 2000 miles, saw an amazing landscape, learned new expressions like “Yooper” (someone from the UP), ate thimbleberry jam and pasties, and had a wonderful adventure.

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