I don’t travel as much as I used to, but when I do I am always on the watch for cool things. It never ceases to amaze me how fortunate we are to live in Michigan. I really believe it would take a lifetime to see all the things that Michigan has to offer.
If you start at the west end our Upper Peninsula, you have attractions such as the world’s tallest Native American. A statue of Hiawatha stands over the city of Ironwood some 52 feet in the air. There is some controversy whether it is in fact the world’s tallest but given I was born and raised just a few miles from him I am going with that one as the tallest. If you head north from the big guy, you will encounter seven sets of waterfalls on the Black River in a short stretch. All are beautiful to see. On the way to the falls you will pass Copper Peak, which is the only ski flying hill in the northern hemisphere. Notice I didn’t say ski jumping. While those facilities are impressive as well, they don’t hold a candle to the view at Copper Peak. There are tours that take you to the top of the scaffold and once on top you can see three states and Canada on a clear day. You feel like you can reach out and touch Isle Royale.
I have only scratched the surface of the things to see in the western end of one county so you can tell how much there is to offer across our entire state. From the Pictured Rocks near Munising to the beautiful state parks all across the U.P., we are lucky to be in an area that offers so much to experience. After making your way to the east end of the U.P., what more can you ask for then to cross the Mackinac Bridge? It is an engineering marvel that has served us since 1959. It is Michigan’s version of the Golden Gate Bridge and certainly is worth the trip to see. From either St. Ignace at the north end of the bridge or from Mackinaw City at the bridge’s south end, you can take a ferry back in time to Mackinac Island. No motorized vehicles allowed. Only horses, bikes and your own feet to get around. One of my favorite places to stay is the Grand Hotel where you can sit on their porch in a rocking chair and watch the ore and grain ships go through the Straights of Mackinac on their way to or from Chicago and beyond. I never thought simply watching ships would hold my attention very long but I was so wrong. I could watch them for hours.
Our lower peninsula is no slouch when it comes to attractions either. No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone. I had a meeting at the Dept. of Natural Resources’ Ralph A. McMullan Conference center on the north end of Higgins Lake recently and it always impresses me to visit there. The education center, which is relatively new, always has a full house of programs that educate and entertain its visitors.
In my 58 years of having the good fortune to live in Michigan, I have only scratched the surface of all the things to experience. I hope I can spend many more years bumming around and seeing new things. I can’t encourage you more to take some time and see what neat attractions are around you. You won’t have to travel far as every corner of our great state has many things to offer. If you have the chance to look around, I guarantee you will understand why we are so fortunate to be able to live and play in “Pure Michigan.”
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.