Yooper Musings from Minnesota

I was going to title this post, “Say yah to da U.P., eh” but I think there may be a copyright on that phrase!  It was on a bumper sticker I had for years.  In case you aren’t from around here, the U.P. is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The folks who live there are Yoopers, and pretty much salt of the earth kind of people.  I know, I come from a long line of them.

The Deere

Most people, when you mention Michigan, have an image like this one, bitter cold and lots of snow.  Yes it is true they get nearly a couple hundred inches on average, but Yoopers are tough folks and they take it all in stride.

Doe and Fawns

There’s a lighter side to the U.P., like this image of a doe and her twin fawns.  They were taking a break to have a snack in my brother’s yard while we visited.  Apparently the Yooper deer are not shy.  They also like to do a lot of road-crossing, so be alert if you’re driving around up there.

The Porkies

This shot is of the Porcupine Mountains on the western side of the state.  The locals refer to them as The Porkies and spend time hiking around, agate hunting, and of course checking out the numerous mine sites and waterfalls.  It is also home to Summit Peak Observation Tower, one of the highest points in the state.  On a clear day you can see across thousands of acres of virgin forest to Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

Houghton Hancock

Heading north to the cities of Houghton and Hancock you can travel over a working lift bridge.  These cities are great for shopping, dining, and numerous other activities.  Hancock is the home of Finlandia University–and you’ll find street signs in both Finnish and English.  Houghton houses Michigan Technological University, and a very active college population.

Lake MI

The U.P. is nestled in between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.  I know it’s not what most people envision as traditional leisure vacation, but the beaches really can be quite nice.  Lake Michigan is warmer and has some great sandy areas for relaxing.  And if you’re a waterfall buff, check out Marquette County, home of 77 waterfalls!

Soo Locks

As the daughter of a Great Lakes Captain, I’ve gotten to take some trips across the lakes on the big ore/grain boats that pass through the Soo Locks.  In case you’re unfamiliar with them, the Locks provide safe passage between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.  The St. Marys River that connects them has a 21 foot drop–a little treacherous for passage I’d say!  So the Locks give relief and  safety to the many ships passing through.  It also leads to the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald, yes, of the famous Gordon Lightfoot song!

Well there you have it.  A little insight into the world of the Yooper.  As the only person in my family born out of the U.P., I have the privilege of seeing it both as one of them and an outsider at the same time.  I will always love pasties (pronounced pass-tee), the meat pies with potatoes, carrots, onion, and rutabaga.  And mojakka (moy-uh-kuh), Finnish stew.  And no matter how old I get, I will always love a good sauna (sow-nuh…rhymes with COW, not SAW); and cringe when I hear it mispronounced.  Because in my heart, I’ll always be a wannabe Yooper.

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