Well, if it’s amusement parks a person is interested in, they should head to Orlando or the Wisconsin Dells. If you’re interested in outdoor and/or cultural entertainment, the Upper Peninsula has everything from mine tours to museums. Or you could attend a local Yooper festival, such as: a pasty-throwing contest, a dog sled race or even a powwow.
A real favorite among locals that I attended, is Trenary’s Annual Outhouse Classic. (www.trenaryouthouseclassic.com) You read that correctly: annual outhouse classic. Imagine teams of grown men and women pushing decorated outhouses down the ice street of the VERY small town of Trenary. If you can’t quite imagine that, think about the hundreds of deranged spectators who travel for hours to line the street in sub-zero temperatures to watch this spectacle dressed in all their finest furs. It was a furry feast for the eyes! http://emiling.com/photos/trenary-michigan/
This could be why some refer to the U.P. as a theme park for the desperate and culturally challenged. I get it, it’s an acquired appreciation. I mean, while driving by one of these festivals, you might get caught up in the spirit and end up pushing (or riding in) the winning outhouse.
Tourist bureaus fills colorful brochures enticing potential tourists with the idea of fresh water sports. While it’s true that the U.P. is surrounded by three beautiful Great Lakes and has hundreds of inland lakes, much of the year they are covered with ice and snow. And when they aren’t, they’re freezing cold! Which is why ice fishing is popular. I’d rather line a street watching outhouses race by than sit for hours in a cold, dark shack watching a dark hole cut in the ice. But that’s just me.
What about the U.P. nightlife? There are some rather seedy taverns. I personally stumbled into one in Grand Marais to find a ladies room before hiking to the Au Sable Lighthouse. When I entered, all conversation stopped and heads swiveled to see what foreigner had invaded their space. There was a nearly ominous pause while the snowmobile cowboys looked over my bright pink North Face hiking pants.
I couldn’t quite hear it, but I think one muttered to the bartender: “What do that troll (someone from downstate) want? Soon she’ll be whining that her fancy cell phone don’t work this far north and we don’t have shopping malls.” I imagine the bartenders response went like this, “Take it easy Leon. Remember, they’re not just trolls below the bridge, they’re income.”
It might have been easier to grab a slice of cherry pie in Traverse City. But then I would have missed everything that makes the Upper Peninsula so special.