Fourth of July Upper Peninsula of Michigan Style

Porcupine Mountain State Park and the Lake of the Clouds

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to one of the largest tracks of virgin forest in the United States inside Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park. The 60,000 acre swath of forest is home to multiple endangered species, waterfalls, the Lake of the Clouds and many, many backpackers and campers every summer. 

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With the pandemic, my parents retired "work schedule," and my schedule attempting to run my law office from the Eastern time zone and still visit family, we had to pick a specific day for a little excursion.  Weather already ruined our boating adventure on Monday afternoon after work (when the area finally got some much needed rain in the form of a super big thunderstorm), so luckily, on Tuesday, when I reserved the whole day, my mom had no care taking duties, and the sun was shining we packed up the car with the dog, some sandwiches and bottles of water, and went on a trip to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park to see the Lake of the Clouds. 

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From L'Ance, the Porkies, as they are called, are all the way across the Keweenaw Peninsula - so its an hour plus drive and we stopped to see what Mine Adventure Land had in store, as well as for a scenic lunch on the shore of Ontonagon to eat our sandwiches and surprisingly crunchy apples. 

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Upon arrival at the State Park we went to the visitors center, masks on, dog in hand to get the little map.  I was stopped because pets aren't allowed in, but I proclaimed that Princess Charlotte was a service dog, so they let us be. But our status was threatened when she growled exuberantly at the stuffed timber wolf in the wildlife display. We made our way away from that as quickly as possible, as well as all the people, and drove up to the Lake in the Clouds.  Which was, not shockingly, super busy, and filled with tourists from all over the United States. 

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My mother groaned a little reading all of the different license plates in the parking lot. And as we did the easy walk up the board walk to the view point for the lake we noted that folks were not so good at social distancing, but we powered on as best we could to take in the view. And what a view it was. 

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After climbing up and over the rocks we of the highest viewpoint we held a short debate to go on one of the small hikes the park offers.  It was very hot and sticky out, the mosquitoes were in full effect, and it looked like everything was uphill for at least half the hike - we opted for leaving the busy trails and moving on.  But if it were different weather, a different time in history, we may have enjoyed a nice hike - not today.  But someday, it would be worth going for a real backpacking trip through those woods. I look forward to that. 

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We stopped at the park's gift shop for some snacks. I attempted to take some tourist photos with Charlotte with the Porkies bear, and she didn't participate very well. Then we stopped at the agate shop in Ontonagon where I purchased a rock pickers guide to Lake Superior and Michigan wild flower identification book. My new hobby is identifying plants and flowers (it counter acts the legal work really nicely) and Michigan has a plethora of blooming things in its abundance of ditches and wooded areas. For example, these lovelies. 

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I spent the ride home making myself car sick reading about the thousands of species, original, foreign invaders and strange mushroom like things that flourish in the land of Michigan (and probably Wisconsin as well). Needless to say for the next 4 days and beyond everything was identified in the area. My only  complaint about the guide is that it is slim on lore and uses of the plants - whether they are edible or medicinal. A real lost art in our day and age. 

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The rest of my time in Michigan was spent in family circle, making dinner, working on legal letters in the camper or walking about identifying flowers in the ditches with my mom. I saw a couple more beautiful sunsets,

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and had a very nice time catching up with my entire family. In the end it was too short, I should have had the brilliant idea to travel by car to Michigan sooner, but sometimes we are a little slow when the world is on lock down, and it takes a moment to jolt back into agency. 

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