Beautiful Winter U.P. Drive Discoveries and Tips

Be prepared to encounter picturesque snowy forest scenes. The aroma of wood burning stoves can be noticed as you drive along too.

Lake Michigan snow covered beach and brown grasses blowing in wind with cloudy skySixteen degrees, blowing snow, and evergreens flocked with snow make for a beautiful drive along US Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula. Lots of beautiful scenery. Between the Mackinaw Straits and Epoufette you can enjoy Lake Michigan shoreline here and there. Frozen ice pushed up and piled high against the shore. Sand dunes covered in snow with the contrast of brown grass long dried.

Keep your eyes peeled as you head west on Highway 2. A ways before you hit Manistique, you’ll see this fuel tank cow and his farmer. Cow made from a fuel tank and "farmer" in a snowy fieldIt’s fun surprises like this that add to a road trip. Also, you may notice the aroma of wood burning stoves as you drive along that will bring back good memories of campfires in warmer temperatures.

Keep in mind it is very helpful to have de-icer windshield washer fluid for winter road trips. It makes easy to get rid of windshield ice quickly.You’ll find the highway road crews spreading sand instead of salt in low temperatures to promote some traction on the road.

As you drive through Manistique, keep your eyes open for the Moose statues. We saw a Moose in a tuxedo and another in a Big Boy uniform.

As we approached Gladstone, we saw the ice fishing houses out on the lake. Ice fishing houses on park lakeTaking a detour through Van Cleve Park we were able to capture a few pictures. We also saw this pirate ship."Pirate" ship in Van Cleve Park in Gladstone, MI

 

 

 

 

You know how towns decide on a “decorating” tourism theme? Some towns have painted corncob statues around town (Normal, IL) or theme painted pianos on the sidewalk around the square (Fairfield, TX). We saw two fish around Escanaba. Just wondering if fishes are their thing.Fish Figure on short pole in Escanaba, MI

Quinnesec is home to The Pasty Oven. Great food by the way. I’ll be sharing our lunch experience in a separate blog. They do have a website – Pastys.com. You can also check out Pasty.com to “Browse ‘n Shop the U.P.” and check out a variety of web cams. We discovered this last website by accident when looking up the first and leaving off the second “s.”The Pasty Oven business sign

You will drive out of Michigan into Wisconsin and back to Michigan in a matter of minutes in Mastodon Township on US Highway 2.

Be prepared to encounter picturesque snowy forest scenes as you drive along. Gently rolling terrain adds to the feel of this adventure too. You may also see deer on the side of the road in person or on the buffet for other critters in the circle of life. Either are a reminder to drive carefully in the north country. One rule is that if one deer runs across the road be sure to look for additional deer to follow.

This is a snippet of our UP journey to Ironwood, MI.  We have taken various routes in getting to Ironwood, and whatever the season beauty is abundant. We enjoy tripping across new sights, eateries, and just enjoy the drive. Think back over your road trips. What areas have you especially enjoyed discovering? Do you have other winter driving tips to share?Back and side view of logging truck piled high with logs on snowy highway from vehicle window

 

Holding out for Pasty Paid off at The Pasty Oven

Meat and potato folks will love this original pot pie! If you’ve never had pasty, try the traditional version.

Golden pasty on a plate with a cup of tea on the sideThe Pasty Oven

Hwy U.S. 2
Quinnesec, MI

We were hungry and had been looking for somewhere different to eat in the Upper Peninsula — maybe a “hole in the wall” type place. It was a bit past lunch time and we had driven through a few larger towns and thought our opportunity may have passed to find a local eatery. Ever been in this situation?
Then it occurred to us that we should stop at a local pasty place. We had already driven by several. Well, you know how it is when you get such an idea in your head. Short of being on the verge of starving we were holding out for pasty. Fortunately, we found it!The Pasty Oven business sign

Venue: Small, local eatery right off U.S. Hwy 2. Inside table seating or drive through service available.

Atmosphere: Casual, quaint, and pleasant.

Food Fare: What we had was delicious. Golden, crispy onion rings were served hot as was the pasty. basket of crispy, golden onion rings with bottle of ketchup on sidePete enjoyed the large traditional pasty with rutabaga while I had the chicken and cheese modern version. The chicken pasty filling was delicious. While we enjoyed their pasty, we both agreed that the crust did not measure up to the pasty crust made at Rigoni’s Bakery in Ironwood, Michigan by Bob the Baker.

Recommendations: If you’ve never had pasty, try the traditional version. Pasty on plate, cut in half to expose filling of meat and rutabaga Pasty is the original “pot pie” but way better. Meat and potato folks will love it! Be sure to look over the menu as there were lots of other good food choices. Prices were good. Our bill was $17.10 plus tip and that included two hot teas. When we stopped, no other cars were in the parking lot—we weren’t even sure they were open—but they were. So, be sure to pull in the lot to check it out. Two other cars of folks stopped while we were eating plus a carry out. Check out their website at Pastys.com.

Service: Courteous and friendly servers promptly served our food hot and as ordered.Inside The Pasty Oven with green and cream tiled floors and tables and chairs

Return Rating: DefinitelyChicken pasty on a plate, cut in half to expose filling

If you’re not planning to be in the UP or southern Wisconsin to sample some pasty, search out a recipe online to take a cuisine road trip. What regional foods do you enjoy at home or on the road?

Antiques Galore in UP Downtown Store

Antiques nicely crowded into an old downtown building. Main floor and a basement to wander. Offering reasonable prices.

Dan’s Antique Mall
Downtown Ironwood, Michigan–Upper Peninsula
131 E. Aurora St.

Venue:  Antiques nicely crowded into an old downtown building. Main floor and a basement to wander. Offering reasonable prices.

Atmosphere: From the minute you walk into the entryway, you have items to begin looking at. My impression walking into the store was, “Wow.”

Offerings: Antiques a plenty. You name it, they had it.

Recommendations: Plan at least 2 hours shopping time if you are the type to look at everything. Otherwise you could probably breeze through in an hour trying to catch things of interest to you.

Service: Friendly and helpful.

Return Rating: Definitely.

Picture inside Dan's Antique Mall

Toilet Paper Tuesday

Kassel’s Midway in Negaunee, MI in the Upper Peninsula gives you toilet paper or Kleenex with a $20 gas purchase on Toilet Paper Tuesday.

We were enjoying the beauty of winter in the Upper Peninsula, and diligently remembering to refuel the truck. This took effort on our part because the Nissan has a smaller gas tank than the F-250.  We didn’t want to repeat the “oops” we need gas moments of traveling last summer.  As we pulled into Kassel’s Midway gas station in Negaunee, MI, their marquee told us it was Toilet Paper Kassel's Midway gas station marquee, "Toilet Paper Tuesday Every Tuesday Gift Cards"Tuesday.  ???

 

While I took care of my necessary break, my husband fueled the truck and picked out a few snacks. He then took care of his bathroom break while I paid for the gas and snacks.  Thinking ahead that it would be nice to have something to put snack garbage in, I asked the clerk for a sack.  She obliged and then asked if I wanted toilet paper or Kleenex.  “Ah, that is what Toilet Paper Tuesday is” and I went on to pick toilet paper.  I figured you could wipe or blow with either product.  The clerk nicely informed me that with $20.00 in gas you get either toilet paper or Kleenex.  If you find yourself in the UP, be sure to stop at Kassel’s Midway – especially if it is on Toilet Paper Tuesday.

Picture of toilet paper package received with road in foreground through windshield.

Curiosity Caught

Sharing of a brief travel story about when my curiosity was caught by a gas station sign in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Traveling through the Upper Peninsula this past January, we stopped at a Holiday Gas station in Wetmore, MI. My curiosity was caught when reading the sign, “Bulk Propane and Liquor available.” I wondered what quantities the liquor came in and the cost. Hmmmm. As you guessed, I am a sign reader. However, since I wasn’t in need of bulk liquor, I didn’t get answers to my questions.  What a difference word placement makes!

Sign reads, "bulk propane and liquor available