Earlier this summer, around the 4th of Juky holiday, I spent some time at my childhood home. I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Michigan has two parts, connected by a 5-mile bridge. The Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula. They call the Upper — the U.P. They call the Lower — Michigan.)
Most of my large, extended family still lives in the area, or within a reasonable drive. My drive is an unreasonable 8.5 hours.
The U.P. is a beautiful, remote place. At my dad’s house I literally have no cell phone reception. In 2015. But truly, so beautiful. Within its 16,377 square miles, there are:
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Coasts on three Great Lakes
- Keweenaw National Historic Park
- Ottawa National Forest
- Hiawatha National Forest
- Many National Wild and Scenic Rivers
- Technically, Mackinaw Island is part of the U.P.
- All but ONE of Michigan’s more than 300 waterfalls
During one day of my vacation home, a few of us took a few hours to explore. We set out into Wisconsin (it’s literally across the river; this is not far). We went to a small Mennonite grocery. We had ice cream. Went went to Dave’s Falls.
Dave’s Falls is named in honor of a brave, industrious lumberjack who died at the falls trying to clear a log jam. It’s was gorgeous. And , clearly, the place mosquitos are born. Sweet. Jesus. But the rushing, copper-tinted water was breathtaking. Access to the falls and the small park are quintessentially U.P.: cheap, and on the honor system. Simply take an envelope out, rip off the validation tab for your windshield, insert your $3 and deposit the fee in the box.
The facilities are also U.P.-esque: gender specific outhouses and an old hand pump for water. Someone had obviously been more successful than I was with it. The ground was wet, but I got nothing with my six or seven pumps.
The route to the falls was a bit difficult. As it was an unplanned stop, my flip flops proved less than desirable on the foot-worn, root-heavy path and smooth, uneven granite ledge.
In all, we spent about an hour laughing, exploring, listening, and slapping bugs. It was a great stop, and I’m happy to check this U.P.-adjacent waterfall off my list!