I planned to camp at Lake Marion for the night, but when sunset rolled around the mosquitos were so thick I couldn't even get out of my car to take photos, let alone set up my tent! I have lived in a treehouse in the swampland of Southern Georgia in the summer, and that was nothing compared to the midwestern mosquito swarms just outside my car. Thankfully my cousin's house was my next planned stop, so I turned my car north, put in a few more hours of driving and made it up to the Keweenaw Peninsula where she lives with her husband and their pups.
Like much of my family, Erica is originally from Alaska, and was moving her whole house and family back there a week after my visit! She still took the time to bring me on a beautiful hike through a lush forest with her two dogs, River and Malina, and then up to Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Something cool about this place is that though it's west of Chicago (which is on Central Time) it's actually on Eastern time thanks to 19th century copper and silver miners who wanted to be in the same time zone as their stock traders in New York. So it was 8:30pm in both the Keweenaw and in Boston, but here the sun was still high in the sky and it didn't set until about 10pm.
We walked a few beaches and then headed to Brockaway Mountain (or "Broccoli" as I thought it was pronounced for the first hour we were there…) where a winding mountain road brings you to 1,300 feet above sea level and gives you a 360 degree view of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw.
They packed a grill and we grilled up scallops from Erica's home in Kodiak, and moose meat from our uncle Don, a subsistence hunter in the Alaskan interior.
Seriously… you can take my cousin out of Alaska, but she'll still bring you to the top of a mountain and grill you a moose. It was a highlight of my trip.
There was so much to see on the UP. It was never a place I really considered much before, but I wish I could have had several more days to explore. Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks and Ottawa National Forest (maybe next time not during mosquito season…) are some of the last uninhabited and undeveloped wildness of the "North Coast" that I just didn't have time for. The next morning I was on the road by 7am after saying goodbye to Erica and Dan, who were preparing for their own road trip back to Alaska.