Adam and I explore the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan (and we thought its shape looked like a Derpy Dragon, so thus the title)
Tuesday, September 29 – Thursday, October 1
After I got out of the woods from my 3-day backpacking trip in the Porcupine Mountains, Adam picked me up at the Summit Peak Scenic Area and took me to the very interesting “hotel” that he’d booked. Most hotels were either full or super-expensive, and when he called this place he was told the window of dates he wanted were perfect as someone was just leaving the day we were to arrive and we’d be leaving the day before their next arrival, and as it turns out, it’s and Air B&B place, but we didn’t realize it. We ended up getting a nice deal from the owner – I think he was pretty happy to have it filled.
The place is called the Oak Street Inn and it’s in Calumet, MI, right in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula – a perfect location for our plans. It’s an old general store converted into a… uh… hotel? It was just right for us because it was just so weird. So it’s an old general store. See, Calumet, MI is protected as a National Historic Place or something, and I think the owner told us you can’t really build new buildings, but converting old ones is okay, so there we were. Sleeping in an old general store. It was decorated with all kinds of cool antique signs, full of books from the early 1900’s, donned some pretty old-looking furniture and the walls were decorated with old photos. There was even a calendar from 1960 hanging on the wall. The strangest thing was the setup. There was basically two rooms to our private room. We had a full kitchen with stove, sink table, and dishes. Off of that was a small bathroom with just a shower (but a big one!) and a toilet and the tiniest sink. Just outside the bathroom on the other side of the bathroom door was a larger bathroom sink, so pretty much also in the kitchen. On the other end of the kitchen was a wall with a large-screen TV on it, surrounded by old black and white photos. Next to that? A bed. In the kitchen. Sort of. Then in the next room – the bedroom, I guess – was 3 more beds – double beds. Just outside our room was a large rec room. It had an old pool table (that we could use if we wanted), and there was even a Spa Room off of that, but it wasn’t open – maybe because of Covid. It had a very large hot tub in it. I think this place is probably popular for larger family gatherings. I believe there’s more than just our “room” there, so LOTS of beds and places for people to sleep with the large room with the pool table and spa to hang out.
Whatever. It was perfect. We only used one bed, even though we could’ve slept in a different one each night. The shower was huge, so I was able to get myself clean after my hike (well, except for my feet. I didn’t have my pumice, so they were dirt-tattooed, just how I like ’em). After my shower we walked downtown to the Michigan House, which is a bar with tap beers. It was a little disappointing, as the taps were down to two beers and they were out of tomato juice for bloody marys. I think that Covid, again, might’ve had something to do with some of this, but who knows. We still were able to have plenty of beer to drink at the bar while playing cribbage, and we ate dinner there and the food was really good. We walked back to our room and called it a night, looking forward to getting up early the next day for our driving tour of the peninsula.
Our first stop was the Keweenaw Coffee Works coffee shop right there in Calumet. This was one of those coffee shops that I could visit every day. Adam was pretty excited about showing it to me. We got some delicious coffees (they even had heavy whipping cream! Yay!), and Adam ordered me a “Frida Haut Chocolat” in a Dia de Muertos mug. It was spicy and delicious.
Then we got into our beloved Subaru and drove north-ish. We decided to wind our way towards the north end of the peninsula where there was a brewery and a taco truck in Copper Harbor we were told we couldn’t miss, but when we arrived both were closed, so Copper Harbor was a total bust. We were bummed out, but Brockway Mountain cheered us right back up. This was another spot that every local said, “Oh, you HAVE to drive up to Brockway Mountain. You’ll be above the clouds.” So we did. We didn’t exactly get above the clouds, be we got a 360° view of the surrounding land. Which was… well… kind of amazing. We could see Lake Superior and a big rain cloud slowly creeping our way on one side, and the other, a giant drop-off into a long valley of brightly-colored autumn trees and a string of evergreens running down the center of it.
We took a side road at one point and it turned to gravel and wound us out in the middle of nowhere to a little lake where we hopped out and peed in the grass, enjoyed a breath of fresh air, then we turned around and went back to the main road. The drive itself was one of the best we’ve had. Adam queued up some classical music and we wound through a rainbow of fall colors. I couldn’t even believe how perfect they were. US-41 had the best display – if you ever get up there, try to go in the fall. Dude. It was absolutely mind-blowing.
There’s this place called the Jam Pot off of Hwy 26. My first night backpacking, my neighboring campers were telling me I should stop there. Mary had a big, goofy smile on her face. “It’s a monastery. The monks make these really great fruit cakes.” Uh… monks? Fruit cakes? What? I was pretty sure she wasn’t kidding, and again, this was just weird enough, we had to check it out. The barista at the coffee shop also said that the monks have been known to sometimes be grumpy. I was excited to see what this place was all about, but with all the distraction of fluorescent nature and beers and fun, I’d forgotten about it! I have no idea how! Anyway, there we were, cruising along, and there it was. Jam Pot! We swung in and found the monks to be very pleasant. I guess they weren’t having a grumpy day. There was a display with their rum sourdough fruit cakes. Sure enough. They were also $50. And yes, we bought one. We were on vacation, and this seemed like one of those things, although expensive, we’d have regretted not just going for. (We tried it after we got home. It was heavy, rummy, fruity and tasted like Christmas. We’re saving the rest for then – the monk that sold it to us said it’s good for up to a year. Oh, fruit cake. You so weird.)
Then we drove to Houghton, which is south of Calumet where our hotel was. But Houghton had the Keweenaw brewery – I’ve always loved their beers, so I was pretty excited to go to their taproom. They weren’t serving flights (again, Covid – but I was thankful this entire trip that I was at least able to go places, and Michigan was really good about following safety precautions – one bar actually wouldn’t let you get up from your table without putting your mask on – even if just heading to the bathroom – and they called you out on it if you forgot. I found it refreshing.) Instead of a flight, I ordered a bunch of 1/2 pints, which is basically like drinking a flight, but probably more. Lets just say I had a fun time! Haha!
After our fun time at the Keweenaw brewery we head over to The Library for dinner. We had to wait quite a while for our food, but I didn’t care because I was able to get a flight there (more beers, yay!) and the food was SO good.
Back at the hotel we played some cribbage and hit the hay. The next morning we woke up slowly, played more cribbage (we love it so much), and I was planning on driving all the way home, so Adam had a few beers for breakfast. Again, we do what we want when on vacation! On the way home we even stopped at another really neat little bar/restaurant for lunch and so that Adam could get a bloody mary. It was a nice way to extend our time off.
The highlight of the trip was clearly the fall colors. I really don’t know that I’ve ever seen them so perfect and so full and bright. It might’ve even been just before peak because there were barely any trees with leaves missing – I love it when there’s still a bunch of green mixed in with all the reds, oranges and yellows and that was exactly what we got.
I’m glad I went on that backpacking trip. I needed that, and I’m excited to go again. I may even hit up an overnight or two this winter. And the road trip with Adam was quite the highlight, too. We love driving around together, and the Keweenaw Peninsula was just the right size to pretty much see the whole thing in a day with a bunch of little stop-offs along the way.
And that was the Derpy Dragon Tour of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Tonight I love feeling reconnected.