Remember a while back when I said I was bored and confused with the Midwest and I needed to get out in the wilderness and explore? Well sometime after that I put my money where my mouth was and I booked us a cabin rental in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Michigan Peninsula so we could be in the woods, fish, swim, light fires, and generally be the hillbillies we are.
I picked this rustic cabin on Thunder Lake, nestled in the Hiawatha National Forest. I did exactly zero research in picking this location other than finding that it met my requirements by being A. cheap, B. had lake access, C. in a forest and D. allowed dogs. Considering that I began looking for somewhere to stay in July and planned to arrive in mid August, the fact anything was still available was amazing. Note to self, for next summer, book our vacation rental NOW.
The drive was long, I required an hourly pee break due to the munchkin sitting on my bladder, but after about 7.5 hours we arrived. We unpacked, the dogs sniffed, and all was lovely. We lacked firewood, charcoal for the grill, or cell service to call the owners and ask where exactly the lake access was (the cabin was tucked in the woods, you walked to the lake access) so Adam asked if I might drive to the little gas station/store a few miles back and I said sure thing. I then proceeded to promptly back his truck into the well cover for the cabin.
Sure, it sucks that I dented the truck, that’s never awesome, but what was actually an issue was that in hitting the well cover I snapped a power line that oh you know, brought water from the well into the house. WELCOME TO YOUR VACATION WHERE YOU NOW HAVE NO WATER! So let’s just say 30 minutes in there was a lot of crying, a lot of sulking and a lot of, What the fuck do we do nows?
And you know what? The Yooper provides. I grabbed all the empty water bottles we had, and marched my red eyes and my pregnant belly up the road to the cluster of cabins where I’d seen people sitting outside having dinner. I sniffled and asked if they had a land line or service, and could I maybe fill my water bottles, because you see, I’d knocked out water to our entire cabin 30 minutes after arriving. Before I knew it I had water AND just so happened one of the men there was a plumber. 45 minutes after arriving sad on their porch this amazingly nice man from Minnesota (who you better believe had a great Midwest accent, played hockey, and also drove a truck) had restored water to our cabin. I tried to give him food, drinks, even offered to burn my Blackhawks hat in thanks but he just waved goodbye and said have a great trip.
I was in awe. Suddenly I loved the Midwest.
Thankfully that was the extent of our chaos on the trip. The rest of the vacation was filled with what I’d hoped for. Adventures, hikes (which was really us trying to walk in the woods for like 45 minutes before we all thought we’d die of heat stroke and returned home), fishing on the lake, canoe trips, nightly fires, BBQing, nightly BB Gun shooting competitions (Adam always won) wearing too much bug spray, naps, books read on the porch, and general bliss and relaxation.
Some of the best parts of the vacation we didn’t manage to get pictures of because if there’s one thing I do know, cameras + lake = disaster. We had a canoe that came with the house, and this was our launch site.
Not exactly a swimming dock as you can see. Even though Oly and Stella both thought it was. No more than 10 minutes after arriving at the dock to see what it was all about Stella had learned the valuable lesson that lily pads are NOT something you can walk on (oh how we died of laughter to watch Stella just walk right off the end of the deck like she thought she was Jesus), and Oly took to her new favorite game of frog chasing/getting covered in smelly black mud.
So we realized that to enjoy the lake we’d have to head into the canoe and paddle off to other pastures. Canoes are tippy bitches, so cameras stayed at home. Which is a bummer only because of the hilarity and whitetrashness that ensued through the weekend in our canoe adventures.
Day two we load up the canoe, and behind it we’re towing a fishing float tube (looks kind of like this) and an inner tube. We paddle to the side of the lake without homes, dock the canoe and launch our great float adventure. Adam in his tube, fishing, and me attached behind him with a rope in the inner tube just floating. We did this for HOURS. It was bliss. Boaters would drive by us and just sort of wave and scratch their heads like, What in the fucking fuck are those people doing? But we didn’t care. Adam wanted to fish, and all I wanted to do was float. Mission accomplished.
Another great moment uncaptured of our whitetrashness is when it was too windy to take the canoe out (we tried and immediately we’re blown back into the shore), we hopped in the truck and headed to the public boat launch. There we found a sandy bottom, so we stripped down to our bathing suits, waded out to waist deep and started fishing.
There I am, belly out, fishing away like the hillbilly I am deep inside.
It was awesome. We caught bluegill, sunfish, a pike and a bass in about an hour. The water was warm, the fish were biting, and the lake was beautiful. It was a perfect way to end the trip.
The only other venture we took outside of our little cabin and our lake was a day trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. When we used Waze on the way there it took like two hours! On the way back we used the Garmin GPS in the truck which took us offroading on Forest Service Roads and we got home in 40 minutes! Sure, at one point we had to drive on the shoulder UNDER a fallen tree, but otherwise it was an awesome time!
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is definitely something I’d like to come back and see. There are miles of trails along the shore you can hike or backpack (my dream is to come back and backpack it with kids someday), kayaks you can rent for a few hours, or multi day trips you can take, boat trips to view the whole shore, pontoon boats you can rent to explore at your leisure, secret white sand beaches to sun on, and on and on.
The water was teal blue, the bluffs reminded me of the Oregon coast, and the forest made my soul feel content. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you take a trip.
So there you have it. More than you EVER wanted to know about the Joneses summer vacation to the Yooper!