A trip to the U.P.

My first weekend of autumn was spent in the upper peninsula of Michigan for my dear friend’s wedding.  Megan and I meet when she came out to Montana State to do her master’s degree and moved in with her cousin who was one of my friends.  After we graduated with our masters, her degree was bio-mechanical engineering, she went back to Michigan Tech to do her doctorate while I moved to New York.  I wanted to go visit this magical place called the U.P. but it never happened.  Megan came to New York a couple times for various reasons and it is not exactly easy to get to the U.P.  She is now in St. Louis doing post doc work.  When she told me she was finally marrying this boy she met doing her doctorate, affectionately called Baberham, I knew I was finally going to get myself up to the U.P. once and for all.

When I told people I was going to a wedding on the U.P. for the weekend, their automatic response was, “How are you getting there?” even someone from Michigan asked that.  Flying, of course.  I have seen my fair share of small airports, I mean I did grow up in South Dakota, but I didn’t think that one’s this small could still exist.  After running through Chicago like a crazy person, read 15 minutes to run from one terminal to another, backpack bouncing causing shirt to ride up, shoes falling off, etc., I got on a small plane, as expected, that you boarded outside.  When we got to Houghton it was dark and I wasn’t really paying attention, so when I saw people standing on the other side of the door inside, I thought there must be one more flight going back to Chicago.  Nope, they were the people waiting to pick us up.  There is one door and one tiny glass partitioned off space for security that I would learn they open up just before a flight and you all cram in to wait for the plane to arrive.  I don’t think there was a luggage belt; they just brought it to a door on the side.

Enough about the silly little airport. I apologize, but it really was amazingly small.  Anyway, Megan picked me up and we zoomed down some very dark, semi windy highways toward Eagle River where everyone was staying.  I was the last to arrive for the evening and two other couples were already at the “B &B” we were staying at, the German Hotel & Historic Jail Bed & Breakfast.  As Megan said, it was more of a Bed and make your own Breakfast, but with the massive kitchen and fancy appliances, who wouldn’t want to cook?  The house used to be a jail.  The bedrooms on the second floor seemed normal enough, two shared a bathroom and two others had private bathrooms.  At the top of the stairs was a heavy wooden door, three layers of two inch lumber thick that was clearly once the jail cell.  One up stairs, there was a nice sized room and bed with a window and the bathroom to the right.  To the left was a small hallway with two more massive wood doors along the wall.  This jail cell you could actually lock from the outside, the door at the top of the stairs either never did, or the hardware was removed.  Here’s the bit of history I found: “Sundays the town attracted many workers from the surrounding mines. Lethal fights were common. Animosity between the skilled Methodist miners from Cornwall and the Irish Catholic laborers was tremendous. Eventually a sturdy attic jail was built in an attempt to quell the violence.”  By the end of the weekend, Scott, the guy who was going to be staying there on the wedding night, was really worried we were going to lock him in during the night and was seriously thinking about just sleeping on the couch.  To be fair, we did threaten to do so several times if he was misbehaving and I did think about it when I got up to shower, but it was just such a creepy place, I couldn’t do it to the poor guy.

The bed & breakfast

On Saturday morning when I woke up, the sun wasn’t shining, but you could see Lake Superior from my window, I didn’t really know where Megan was taking me, so I was kind of surprised and hoped that the wind wasn’t as biting as it looked.

Morning View

I went downstairs and met the two other girls staying there.  Their husbands’ had just left to go do some mountain biking, we went to do some grocery shopping.  The colors were changing and it was a beautiful drive to the neighboring town.  We also passed Megan and a friend heading back from their morning run, three hours in the sort of rain, wind, cold, no big deal.   When we got back to the house, Megan was ready to go run errands in Houghton and meet up with friends in town, so I went with to spend some time with her and buy tights that I forgot to pack.  I got to finally visit Megan’s favorite bike shop and meet her favorite bike shop owners.  We left Baberham there and went to meet people at the adorable coffee shop/café, 5th and Elm, delicious treats and coffee.  The weather was still yucky so we went to meet hang out another friends house until dinner.  Someday I’ll grow up and have a big kid house too with a big yard and trees all around.

This was a super laid back weekend and wedding.  There was no official rehearsal dinner, and by that time the 40 or so guest were in town so most of us meet for dinner and drinks at the Keweenaw Brewery in downtown Houghton.  The brewery doesn’t serve food, so we picked up pizzas for everyone in Hancock, just across the river, at Studio Pizza.  Really good, even the gluten free pizzas were tasty.  The brewery beer was good too.  They also make birch beer and root beer that I forgot to taste but are suppose to be awesome.  The brewery was an huge space with a big fire place at the back seating area where I hung out to warm up.  After the “grown-ups” headed back to Eagle River, we went to “the club,” the Continental Fire Co.  A ridiculously fancy place for such a small college town that had a ridiculous deejay planning some terrible techno remixes with the occasional good one mixed in.  The space itself was pretty cool with a balcony around the dance floor and exposed brick, steel and wood.  We hung out for a few drinks, had a good laugh at the deejays arm flinging and headed home.

Sunday we woke to not so sunny skies and what looked like more rain.  We all kept our fingers crossed that it would clear up before the afternoon ceremony and ventured out for our own little site seeing adventure.  Since most of the group I was with lived in the area at one point in time or another, I think our trek out was mostly for my benefit.  The Copper Harbor area is gorgeous though.  We went down to a little waterfall, the Manganese Falls, to the top of Brockway Mountain, and did a small hike through a tree preserve, Estivant Pines, before needed to head back and get ready for the afternoon.  By the end of our trip, the sun was starting to shine.

After a speedy turn around in the showers we headed back up towards Copper Harbor to Hunter’s Point for the ceremony.  Baberham had some car trouble after some morning biking and did actually make it back to the hotel to change until about the time we were suppose to be leaving.  It was such a laid back day, no one was worried, there wasn’t a huge crowd to alert, since some of them had been with him, and we all hung out trying to stay warm in the wind and sun.  When they all arrive we walked down a small boardwalk surrounded by trees with small seating area at the end looking out at the lake, where we all stood to watch.  Megan and Adam each had one person standing up for them, a friend officiating, and another singing.  It was short, sweet and beautiful.  Afterward we went back towards the open parking area and enjoyed some mead Megan’s mom made and a sweet toast by the best man.  We piled back in to our vehicles and headed back to the Fritz in Eagle River for dinner and dancing.

Everyone was telling me how amazing the food was at the Fritz and it was really good.  The pulled pork was so tasty but the best part was the flourless chocolate torte.  The pieces were way too big, and I ate it all.  I had no room for my new found love thanks to the Fritz, the old fashion.  The place is right on the lake shore and had a spectacular view of the sunset and was the perfect size space for the 40 guests.  The local band they found played great songs all night.  Everyone had a good time sampling all the whiskeys and dancing until the wee morning hours.  I shouldn’t say that I sampled any whiskey’s, I smelled some and then turned them down.

The next morning we packed it all up, Megan and Baberham came to the B & B to have coffee and breakfast with us and tell everyone good by, before packing up all of their stuff to head to the airport with me.  I definitely was not ready to head back to the busy city, the sun was shining again and I would have loved to have some extra time to do some more hiking and whatever else.  We parted ways in Chicago and I caught a beautiful sunset as we flew in to Laguardia.

Sunset Over the City

Congratulations, Megan and Adam!! and thank you all their friends for making me feel like one of the UP group!!