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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

The UP

It's been fun in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We stayed two nights in an RV park on Torch Lake in the town of Lake Linden, where we met Peter. He came over to chat while we were outside, and then he brought us some stickers. I don't want to end up with Ol' Bessie covered in stickers, but these "Don't wait...til it's too late" ones were too perfect for us, so Ol' Bessie now has a little extra bling next to our website and logo on each side.


Peter was in love with the area and told us several places to see. I wish we could have gone to all of them, but we have to pick and choose. We ended up going to two of his recommendations. The Jam Pot, which is a little shop run by monks that sells jams and baked sweets, and Trails End Campground, a private RV park.


When we stopped at the Jam Pot, we followed a streamside trail into the woods to pick thimbleberries.

We showed up at the tail end of the season, after every other tourist had already had a chance to scour the woods for thimbleberries, so there weren't many left for us.

We did, however, find a few of some of the biggest huckleberries I've ever seen.

We also saw some mystery berries that I didn't try since I didn't know what they were. I eventually figured out that they were bunchberries which are edible so I tasted some I came across later. They're slightly sweet and pretty dry. Not as good as thimbleberries or huckleberries, but pretty good to munch on a few.

I was tempted by some little blue berries that looked like an orchid with a blueberry instead of flowers, but I later discovered that those berries are not edible and can be a purgative, so I'm glad I resisted the temptation.


I discovered that I'm fascinated by birch trees. I love peeling the outer bark off, revealing the fresh white bark underneath, and I kept finding dead logs with the bark completely intact even though the wood inside was completely rotted. Plus, one of the things on my bucket list is to tap a birch tree and drink the sap, or maybe get enough that I can cook it down to get birch syrup. I've read it's good. They're just a really neat, useful tree.

I told Abe that my walk through the woods in shorts with thick brush scratching up our legs wasn't a success unless I ended up bleeding. Finally, as we were headed back down, a stick jabbed my knee. I am pleased to announce that the hike was a success. Barely, but I'll take every success I can get.

We finally made it to the Jam Pot where we bought two caramels, a slice of dried fruit fruitcake since Abe can't remember ever having fruitcake, and a banana cranberry muffin that made costco muffins look bite size. The food was a wonderful treat that was too big to eat in one sitting. After our stop at the Jam Pot, we continued on our way to Trails End in Copper Harbor. After figuring out that the front left jack only goes down when we put the two front jacks down, and not when we put the two left jacks down, we drove around until we found a parking spot that was level side to side so we only had to adjust front to back. We had thick trees on either side of us which kept the RV in shade, and since it was only in the 70s outside, it stayed quite comfortable inside, even getting chilly by morning. We spent the next couple days picking thimbleberries and raspberries that grew wild all around us. I even got enough thimbleberries to make a tiny batch of jam. Trails End is a large piece of property that has RV spots, gardens, and some cabins they rent out. It was absolutely as peaceful and relaxing as Peter said it was. When we went out at night, there was no light pollution and not a cloud in the sky. I don't think I've ever seen so many stars, including several shooting stars, or such a clear Milky Way. As I was walking around during the daytime, I found a couple of the biggest, cutest caterpillars I've ever seen. One was four inches long, the other was five, and they were each about an inch wide. I asked a few people about them, and no one knew what they were. Maybe Abe's right. I'd want to know what they were if I lived there, but he says most people aren't as interested in the bugs and wild critters as I am. I don't know why not, but maybe I should stop asking strangers questions that just make them think I'm a freak. Thankfully, I have my Seek app so I was able to learn about them when I got to cell service. The Cecropia Moth is a silk moth. Females have a wingspan of six inches! I wish the moths had been flying around, but at least I got to see the caterpillar.

Later, while picking thimbleberries in a patch we found, I saw a fuzzy black and yellow caterpillar. This one will eventually turn into the rather boring looking Spotted Tussock Moth. I wonder why God picked such striking colors and a cute fuzzy body to become a boring brown moth...

We rode our bikes into the town of Copper Harbor, where we got to see Fort Wilkins, an old military fort that has had its buildings restored, or rebuilt according to pictures and where their foundations were found if they'd been destroyed already. College students were there, acting the parts of people from the 19th century, carrying buckets of water to do laundry in a tub with a washboard, or taking inventory in the store. They were available for us to ask them questions, keeping in character while speaking, but neither Abe or I had any good questions for them.

Now we're parked at the Kewadin Christmas Casino in Christmas, MI. As you may have guessed, there's a Christmas theme in this little town. It makes me wonder if the townsfolk enjoy the year-round festivity, or if they hate Christmas because it's all around them year-round. The Christmas Casino is decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths, and Santa and Mrs. Claus figurines. I like it. It's cute. We rode our bikes two and a half miles down the road and took them on a ferry to Grand Island (we actually rode to the ferry, rode back to the RV to get something, then rode to the ferry again). It was a 21 mile ride around the island, with way more hills than I expected. It took us almost four hours, but it would have been faster if we hadn't had to keep stopping to get pictures. I'm running out of words to describe all of the beautiful places we've seen, but WOW! The rock cliffs that you can see from different lookout points are colorful, but the most stunning was the water. The water was blue-green and crystal clear, and the bright patterns of the solid rock floor were visible at the bottom. It was another awesome trail, with the only scary part being when Abe, riding fast down a hill, got his bike in a rut, which can easily make you wreck, and saw a very sharp drop off three feet away to his left, far above the rock floor of Lake Superior below. I just thank God that He's watching out for us! Hopefully they put a fence up there soon like they have in other spots where the cliff has gotten close to the trail.

We stopped to eat our lunch on a perfect sandy beach. Well, almost perfect. It would have been perfect if not for the little black flies that kept biting us. We finally went into the water until it was up to our shorts to protect our legs while we ate our cold leftover pizza, then we booked it out of there as fast as we could, which was pretty slow since we had to wipe all the sand off our feet before putting our shoes and socks back on. We were surprised to find a path that took us to Duck Lake. I did not expect a lake in the middle of an island on a lake. It was small and didn't look very deep, but Abe read a sign saying that Northern Pike have to be at least 24 inches long to keep, so I guess it's deeper than it looks.

We were almost back to the ferry dock when we spotted a sign that said "cemetery" right next to a side trail. Of course we had to go! We found the "oldest white cemetery in Alger County", a small graveyard with graves from as far back as 1854 and as recent as 2019. Descendents of the first settlers still live on the island.

By the time we got back to the ferry dock, after riding about twenty eight miles total, we took our shoes and socks off and jumped into the cold waters of Lake Superior. It felt wonderful! At least for a few minutes before I was cold and ready to get out. Abe was in the water longer, but the cold doesn't really bother him. Tomorrow we drive again. This time, we'll spend three days at the home of a stranger. We just signed up for the Boondockers Welcome app, which has over 3,000 home owners who allow RVers to stay on their property for free.

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