Appreciating the Upper Peninsula: A Few Thoughts from the Lower Peninsula

Mackinac Bridge
[Photo by Odalaigh on Flickr]( "Mackinac Bridge")

Yooper Steez has been quiet the last week. I was on an 8-day trip throughout the Lower Peninsula, spending most of my time in Lansing, also spending time in Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Ann Arbor, and Birmingham.

I didn’t plan on staying quite so long, but it made me appreciate some of the finer things in the Upper Peninsula. As most of you know, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Lower Peninsula, mostly in East Lansing. Throughout the years many of my troll friends have made sure to harass me for my Upper Peninsula pride.

Here are a few things I thought about as I made the 436 mile drive back north.

  • Parking Tickets – Alright I confess, I got a parking ticket in Birmingham for overstaying my time at the meter. Oops. Thankfully it was only $7. Although parking tickets do happen in the Upper Peninsula, they seem to be rare, most of them happening in the winter when the streets need to be cleared for snow plowing. Parking is just not an issue in the U.P.
  • Bling Bling – I had a casual meeting at Panera Bread in downtown Birmingham where I had some time to kill afterwards. So as I like to do I sat there and watched all the people passing by. The more I observed the more I felt I was in a foreign place compared to the Upper Peninsula. Every car that drove seemed to be a fully loaded late 2000s model. Everyone walking by had their designer apparel on, the women had their Gucci and Prada purses. And driving in I saw a number of mansions. It’s a different culture than the U.P. I like to think that in the U.P. nobody is concerned with what car you’re driving or what brand clothes you’re wearing (unless it’s Yooper Steez brand of course).
  • Locally Owned Restaurants – I ate out a few times on my trip in the Lower Peninsula and was frustrated with my choices. There is nothing but chain restaurants. Locally owned restaurants are far and few between, this is something I saw across the country on my 50-state tour. It makes every town the same. I was happy to come back to my apartment in Marquette, where I can probably walk to 20 locally owned restaurants in a mile with only in that radius, a Little Caesars Pizza. Not to mention the quality of all these locally owned restaurants in Marquette.
  • The Moose Preserve – My good friend Charlie and I went to lunch at The Moose Preserve in Bloomfield Hills. I’m always flattered to see some Upper Peninsula influence far from home. First I noticed the classic “Say yah to da U.P., eh” bumper sticker. I was even more tickled to see they had two burgers named the Houghton Burger and Hancock Burger. I went with the Hancock. Through all my travels I’ve learned you can always find someone who loves visiting the Upper Peninsula, no matter how far from home. It’s not just Yoopers that recognize that the Upper Peninsula is nature’s paradise.

I’m sure my friends from the L.P. will continue to harass my Upper Peninsula pride after this.

Those were my thoughts until I paid my $3 toll at the Mackinac Bridge (with my favorite cashier, a Native American man with a long pony tail, what a nice guy). And then I realized how much fresher the air seemed to be all of a sudden.

What do you think of this list? Any of your own thoughts to add?