The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has been a very special place for the VanderLugts. Dave, Gerrit’s dad, has been going for years. His love for being out in the wilderness has been fulfilled by exploring crazy dirt roads that are nothing but a thin pencil line in a Michigan Gazetteer. While he loves sharing the beautiful places he finds with his family, he would rather keep those gems hidden from everyone else. And rightfully so! There are so many of us who love and appreciate the outdoors and its beauty, but there are just as many of those who use and abuse it. The feeling of being alone in the wilderness is one that is both relaxing and exciting; preserving that atmosphere is getting harder and harder. (Thanks to that darn internet!)
Just a few months into our marriage Gerrit brought me to the U.P. to share with me what his dad shared with him as a child growing up. It was then that we fell in love with the wilderness and sense of adventure together. We both had always loved being in the outdoors, just in different ways. Mine was deer hunting with my dad. Setting up tree stands and waiting patiently for a deer to cross our path. Gerrit’s was driving on sketchy dirt roads with his dad. But now, together, it’s hiking, climbing, and getting as close as we can to the beauty God has created for us to touch and interact with. Last year we were able to go on a week long tent camping trip with both our dads. It was an amazing trip, complete with cliff jumping and star gazing. It was one that none of us will soon forget. This year we went in search of some beautiful fall color. And I think we found some of it.
We had four awesome days of adventure, Gerrit, Dave, myself, and the pups. There are six things that make a U.P. trip complete. 1. Something held together with zip ties or duct tape 2.Waterfalls 3. Mud on the tires 4. Lake Superior 5. Beautiful skies 6. Chat with a Yooper: AKA Local residents (derived from “U.P.-ers”) that have a strong regional identity.
During this first day we met up with Dave, who had driven the Jeep separately. He had a great place in mind for our camping spot. We really didn’t feel like we were camping in the RV after being so used to tent camping and going days without showers. While camping in the RV is very luxurious, we did have a little trouble finding water as our camp ground did not have any hook ups. After driving around a while with no luck we asked a local Yooper where we might be able to find some water to fill our tank. His exact words… “Well, you can head up the road about a block and right before the post office is a blue house. There is a spigot on the side. I’ll call and tell my wife you’re comin’.” Yoopers are awesome. Chat with a Yooper…CHECK!
After filling our tanks we were ready to head back to our site and set up, but not without a small bump in the road… The road to the camp site was REALLY bumpy and Gerrit may have been taking Georgie over them a bit too fast and unfortunately our automatic steps suffered the consequences. Something held together with zip ties… CHECK!
While the day started out a little overcast, it warmed up to a lovely 60 degrees once the sun came out. We went to Cliffs Drive in search for a few climbing routes. We couldn’t find a way to get to the base of the cliff without repelling, so we hiked to the top for the view. It was crazy how much the leaves brightened and changed color just from the day before. While Gerrit was a bit disappointed that we didn’t find the climbing routes, the view was beautiful.
Of course we had to go hang out by Lake Superior… CHECK! We found an awesome beach down some new roads and found some cool campsites. A little mud on the tires… CHECK! We were also able to drive down to our first waterfall of the trip.
Magnificent waterfall… CHECK!
This is the day we went to Silver Mountain. We had actually visited the mountain last year, but we hiked to the top. This time around Gerrit climbed it. It didn’t take us long to find the climbing routes. There were other people climbing there as well, which made us feel a bit more confident. It was Gerrit’s first time climbing outside and my first time making sure he doesn’t fall to the ground.
The first route we tried was a bit too difficult and Gerrit only made it up about 15 feet. We decided to follow the base of the mountain a bit further up and found some much easier routes. It was super cool watching him climb to the top and show off everything he had learned while climbing in the gym at Hoosier Heights for the past few months. I was the belayer and Dave took some fun photos. We definitely can’t wait to keep finding awesome climbing spots.
After climbing all day we decided to catch the sunset back at our campsite. Our fellow campers had left so we had the whole place to ourselves. We decided to let the dogs run around off leash, and oh man, did they have a blast. While Ella is really well behaved off leash Oakley needs a bit more practice. I know she will get better with some time and training!
The lake looked especially beautiful this time of day and it made for some great photos.
We weren’t quite ready to leave, but our last day of the trip was here. Dave got up early and took some great photos of the mist rising up off of the lake. When the rest of us finally got up we went out for a great breakfast at Char’s (we LOVE those little ‘Mom and Pop’ restaurants).
Dave found this reed that was just barley touching the water and gave the appearance to be making a full circle. It’s amazing what beauty you can find when you slow down and look for it!
Our main venture for the day was visiting the Porcupine Mountains. This was the most “touristy” destination that we visited, but it was super cool to see the Lake of the Clouds.
And of course, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see one more waterfall. So I dragged everyone down to the base of the falls so I could get some awesome pictures.
The U.P. will always hold a special place in our hearts but this trip was a great sneak peak into the new lifestyle we are about to begin! These are memories we will cherish for a life time!
Now my question for you is, where is your favorite place to visit and why? Post in the comments below!
Lindsey & Gerrit
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.