Forty plus years ago I set foot on the Upper Peninsula for the first time, and it was for less than 5 minutes but I will never forget that night.
We were visiting Traverse City in Northern Michigan and I mentioned to my husband that I had never been to Mackinac Island. He was surprised that I was born and raised in Michigan and had never visited Mackinac Island. I reminded him that this was my first time in Traverse City, so he should not have been surprised that I had not been further north. He asked, even the Upper Peninsula? I replied yes, even the Upper Peninsula. At that moment, our vacation took an immediate detour.
We set aside a couple of days to head further north. Booked a cabin in Mackinaw City with the plan of catching the ferry the next morning to visit the Island. We took most of the day to get to Mackinaw City as we stopped at the many towns along US 31 as we headed north. We arrived in Mackinaw City around 10pm.
As we were checking in, I could see the lights of the bridge and was so excited to finally be there. Little did I know, but my night was not done. My husband decided I had to go to the U.P. immediately.
Heading to the Bridge
We left our stuff in the cabin, hopped back into his 1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am with the T-Tops off and headed for the bridge. My first time on the bridge was magical. There was little traffic, and we could drive slower while I leaned back in my seat and watched us pass under the bridge lights. I so wish I had taken pictures that night.
As we reached the north end, we paid our fare and pulled into a little parking area west of the bridge that was on Lake Michigan. Although it was dark you could still clearly see the lake with the bridge lighting it up. I had to get out of the car so I could say I had been on the Upper Peninsula.
The following day we spent time on the Island and returned to our cabin for the night, again sitting on the porch looking out at the bridge.
The next day before heading back to Traverse City for the rest of our trip, we drove to the bridge again. This time during the day I could see everything I could not before.
Pictures of our trip
Film and processing film was expensive back then so there are not a lot of pictures from that trip. Looking through our pictures I found several from that trip. I never went much more than a couple of miles past the bridge on both drives over the bridge. That trip would be my last time on the Upper Peninsula until we moved to Northwest Michigan 13 years later.
After our family moved north, we took weekend trips without kids, family vacations, work trips and day trips while kids were in school. The Upper Peninsula will always be a magical place for me. We were married for over 30 years before he passed away 11 years ago.
I will share more of our trips to Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula during the 80’s & 90’s in future issues. Below are some pictures I took either from the ferry or leaving the bridge heading north. All pictures are from July 1982 regardless of what the date in the corner says (that was the month/year the film was developed).