Michigan’s Winter Wonderland

All of a sudden winter is here.

Last week we took a break from life-altering debates and financial planning to explore northern Michigan. And on a whim, Bean decided it was high time we saw the UP.

What’s that you say? What in heavens name is the UP?

The UP is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to you foreigners.

Michigan is the only state in the union to be divided into two halves, which are connected by the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world. (To its credit, the Mackinac Bridge was the longest suspension bridge when it was built.) Before the 1950s, you had to go by boat. Or go the long way west through Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin…


michigan outline


I forgive you for not even knowing of its existence. Even the White House forgets about it sometimes.

It is extremely rural. A beautiful wilderness and mostly parkland; perfect for rugged adventuring and small-town hijinks.


Anyway, back to our roadtrip.

It was a lovely drive through forests and farms. But in the 100 mile drive north we left a sunny, 50-degree Lake Huron shoreline and hit towns covered with 8, even 12 inches of snow.

The further north we traveled, the worse the weather. The icy wind was buffeting the car and the roads were getting slick.

Stranded in the UP during the first storm of the winter sounded like a terrible idea. So we pulled into a rest stop to make a plan and check a map (up here, good 3G is about as rare as deer hunting is common).

Behind the obligatory cabin containing bathrooms, maps and a handful of vending machines, there was a small park. Nothing remarkable, just a few picnic tables and a moderately-scenic overlook.

We wouldn’t have given it a second glance from the road, but stopped as we were in the wild white, it was our first glimpse of Michigan wilderness all gussied up for winter.

The pine woods were silent as the snow flurried and fell.

snowy Gaylord pine forest (11)

The river’s eddies and whirls were iced solid.

snowy Gaylord waterwhirls(7)

Buffered by snow, the world was quiet and soft and glistening.

It was magnificent.

snowy Gaylord woody slope (9)

As we headed back to the car, an elderly couple were revving their engine to no avail. The tires were spinning out in a snow drift.

Bean and I waved to them through the window and, like good ol’ Michiganders, hunkered down against the back bumper to push.

After some slipping and sliding in the slush, they were off and we were laughing and breathless with snow melting in our boots.

In the end, we cut our plans short. The UP can wait until the weather clears.

Instead, we stopped in the local village (a faux-Bavarian ski resort town) where Bean discovered the restorative effects of a skillet hash breakfast and I had the best hot chocolate of my life.


Now, a week later, the frosty weather has descended on our little beach too. The horizon is non-existent in the slushy haze of snow-on-water, and the last remaining Canadian geese are huddled in the rushes to wait it out.

And I’m tucked up in the white-washed woods, with a good book, my new husband and an excellent fireplace.

Hello, winter. We’re going to be great pals.

snowy Gaylord header (5)

3 Responses to “Michigan’s Winter Wonderland”
  1. Wow. Gorgeous. I’ve never been north of Milwaukee in the States (lived in MD most of my life) , but once I’ve lived in Scandinavia for a few years, I think I’m going to be more inspired to visit our northern spots. These pictures are gorgeous! (and I LOVE your blog name). Thanks for sharing!


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