Friday, September 4, 2015

Hand Land

The radio silence on the blog you've been looking at for the past 14 days was a long-time-in-the-making trip back to Michigan, or, as I recently christened it, Hand Land. Oh, I know, its been known as the Mitten for longer than any of us can remember, but Eric is positive that no one before me has called it Hand Land. We're thinking about making t-shirts.

Popovich family at the cottage.
Anyway, I touched down to DTW, was picked up by Eric and my dad, who had been hanging out for the last day since Eric blew in from a conference, and got out of Dodge (and by "got out of Dodge, I mean "fought I-94 traffic on a Friday afternoon before Labor Day") and headed for the cottage.

Now, even though I hadn't been to the cottage in a couple years, and even though the original building is no more, this is MY place. When I was 18 months old, my parents and grandparents were looking for a place up north (if you don't understand what I mean by up north, look at your hand. Anything above the knuckles is up north.) They came on this place (and by this place, I mean the original 2 bedroom, one-ish bath approximately 700 square foot cabin), and, according to family legend, I ran to the lake, jumped in, and refused to get out. So they bought it. Dear family, you're welcome. You get to come here because of me.

I'm really not sure that my cousins know anymore that
I'm the biological family.
By the time we made it out of the D, my Canadian cousins had made to Prudenville. I have awesome cousins, and I don't get to see them nearly enough, especially since we moved to the wild West. However, we had a fantastic weekend, hanging out, swimming with my cousins' kids (by swimming, I mean, dragging three teenage girls laying on inner tubes off the back of a paddle boat while my 8 year old cousin "helped paddle." Fantastic kids, even if their skinny, tiny rear ends hide pure lead.) drinking a moderate amount of beverages, and going on ritual morning runs where none of us ran with each other or talked. Turns out Michigan is a lot flatter than Colorado and there's a lot more oxygen. I was running miles a solid minute to minute and a half faster than I do out here. It was awesome.

Pasty, extra gravy

After the epic cottage weekend, where your stress level dissipates just looking at that tannin-rich, lily-pad laden water, we went to Traverse City with my parents, then overnighted in Petoskey, then up to the UP.

Even though we both grew up in Hand Land (try it, I promise it will catch on. maybe.) and both of us had been to the UP, neither of us had spent a lot of time there. So it was fantastic to be driven around by my dad to parts unknown. The UP is gorgeous, rural, picturesque, and I recommend you try it. Oh, and we managed to find the only two breweries in the UP, in the same day no less! Eric also tried that UP specialty for the first time, pasties (pronounced "paah-stees"). If you haven't had the opportunity to eat that northern Michigan delicacy, a pasties is essentially meat and vegetables folded into a thick dough with a wickedly thick crust, and baked. Hunters would take them into the woods to eat without getting too messy. Which also means they are pretty dry. The recommendation is to always eat with gravy - the more the better.

Tahquamenon Falls 
We toured Tahquamenon Falls, and Eric, my mom and I hiked the four miles from the lower falls to the upper falls, while my dad graciously agreed to drive the van from one falls to the next so we didn't have to do an 8-mile roundtrip. It was quiet, and the weather was overcast, but a great temperature for hiking.

We took a tour of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which is best seen by boat. If you've ever considered living in the UP, Pictured Rocks might just make your decision for you - it is so gorgeous, and yes, I'm already scheming to go back. We briefly considered buying a motel in Grand Marais until I remembered I don't want to clean 14 toilets pooped in by strangers every day.

The four of us in Grand Marais
After several days acting like Yoopers, including a stop at a local bookstore in Munising for awesome coffee and even better smoked local whitefish sandwiches (totally recommend Falling Rock Café/Bookstore), then stopping at the local fish monger for more smoked whitefish, we headed back over the Big Mac and into the lower peninsula. An overnight back at the cottage, and then Eric and I took the back roads down along Lake Huron back to metro-Detroit, for more family time, including crashing the hemophilia walk at the Detroit zoo with my aunt, uncle, cousins and their adorable twin toddlers.

In there, we also had our fill of other Michigan products we aren't able to get out here: Bell's beer (my original craft brew, totally underappreciated when I was in college, and now missed), Better Made potato chips, perch, walleye, and Buddy's pizza. My pants may no longer fit.

Thanks, mom and dad, for carting us around for a week, for providing spaces for us to catch up with family, and letting us take naps when we felt like it. We love you and look forward to seeing you again soon!

For the rest of you: go to Michigan. It's worth the trip.

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Lake Huron

Detroit Zoo, in front of the bear fountain
that every Detroit-based kid has a childhood
photo in front of.

1 comment: