Sunday, September 30, 2007

The U.P.

Most of today was spent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, or U.P. if you're relatively local. Some years ago, with the prospects of a hit television series looking grim, casting crews moved on towards California and to what became the O.C. - and to think, it could've been set here and have been about, well, scenery, snow, and...and I guess that's why they moved on. Though the fall colors were patchy in places, in some, and in particular, in the Porcupine Mountains and the Black River Scenic Byway, it was wondrous.

Before any of this, I called upon Copper Falls State Park in Wisconsin. I arrived around 8:30 AM and was greeted to a waived $10 fee (something to do with an arts & crafts sale at Kickpoo Cabin or thereabouts), fresh apple cider, hot coffee and 2 plates of cookies. Just about the time I was ready to retire to the den and read a paper in front of a crackling fire, I recalled my purpose in stopping - waterfalls. There are two large falls in this park: the eponymous Copper Falls (barely viewable from the main trail as adolescent conifers wished to be noticed instead - a ploy they have patiently waited years to execute, laughing at each passing sightseer amidst the breeze that cuts through the gorge) and the far better Brownstone Falls. Breaking all the rules, as I am wont to do, I climbed over the 4.5 ft barrier to get a wooden-fence-free view of Brownstone Falls - to the State of Wisconsin: don't you realize that people come here with cameras and not only that, cameras on tripods to take pictures of this lovely place? If you're worried about kids or people lacking 3-dimensional vision falling into the crevasse, simply put some additional checks in place at the Visitor Center and refuse them service (somehow I don't think this will come to light).

On to the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan. Named after the porcupines native to this area (NOTE: 2 dead porcupines were viewed along the road, both ovular and prickly, local porcupine authorities have notified the families), and in an unfortunate turn of events locally referred to as "the Porkies", these mountains could provide at least 2-3 days worth of entertainment if one wished to hike some of its many trails and really get a feel for the place. It was quite a departure from Central Midwestern "scenery" - and only 8.5 hours away! The Presque Isle Falls were particularly spectacular, with small sets of falls cascading over stair-stepped rocks at various intervals.

From here it was on to the Black River Scenic Byway, a 22 mile round-trip drive which followed the River to its forced conclusion at Lake Superior. Along this road, the fall color was fully observed, along with 6-8 sizable waterfalls that easily warrant future revisits.

The Stats:
Driving Hours: 4.5
Driving Miles: 300

What was Heard:
Stephen Sears' Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam Discs 5-6

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