Allow me to introduce myself: the name is Beth Graham and I am lucky to call our intelligent and beautiful blogger, Melissa, my BFF. I also got to share a room with her while she was teaching in Ishpeming (I'm an SLP...look it up). But my bio isn't why we're here. We're here because it's deer season.
A year ago, on Thanksgiving Eve, I was exactly where all hunters want to be; sitting in my deer blind watching the does. I was a little edgy because I knew, in all likelihood, this would be my last hunt of the year. There was a lot of family coming to town for the holiday. This was my 6th year hunting and I still fell under the category of, "Buckless Yooper" (insert intense music here). Around 3:30 pm a decent sized spike horn started making appearances. But he was chasing one of my does and I never had a clear shot at him. My adrenaline was sure pumping though. Around 4:30 my girls started to meander on their way. Then HE came in. A beautiful 5 pointer. I set up my shot, clicked off the safety, and...
As I shot, the buck stood up on his hind legs to rub his antlers in a branch. Shit! Did I miss because of it? I knew it was a good shot but couldn't account for his movement. He bolted. That's when I got the adrenaline shakes. A hundred things were buzzing in my head, but I managed to get a text to my husband, Justin, who was sitting at our camp. "That was me! Five pointer at least. It ran. Oh shit." Justin isn't the most technologically advanced guy and I'm only allowed to text him during deer season. When he hadn't responded in 30 seconds I sent out eight more rapid-fire texts. He finally responded, "ok." I guess my adrenaline rush hadn't reached him. I promised myself I'd wait 15 minutes before going to collect Justin and start tracking my deer (you don't want to come up on a deer that's laying down and dying and push it further away). I'd like to say it was the longest 15 minutes of my life, but I only made it 10 minutes before I hightailed it back to camp. I know I was talking 100 miles an hour when I came through the door and found Justin reading. READING?!?!? He apparently didn't realize I'd just shot a BUCK! At this point, my version of the story and Justin's differ. But I'm writing this so you'll hear it how I remember:) He made me drink a beer to use up more time. He might as well have poked a hole in the bottom and had me shotgun it. Knowing I should wait and actually waiting are two horribly different things. Finally he started getting his outdoor clothes on. Finally we headed out.
First stop, the scene of the shot. Blood! And lung tissue!! We were on the trail. The blood trail was far apart and there was little snow. But I'm an excellent tracker and was literally running from one blood spot to the next. And then the trail ran cold.
My heart dropped.
My stomach dropped.
We split up and went down different paths. And then I saw it, blood! I called for Justin and he started to laugh as I was hunting for more blood to follow. "Turn around," he told me. And there he was, my first buck.
The rest of the night was a blur. Family and friends flocked to our camp and celebrated with me. And, of course, there was the traditional shot of blackberry brandy for the successful hunt to go with all the beer.
"The second week of deer camp, is the greatest time of year!" ~Da Yoopers, "Second Week of Deer Camp," 1987
Sugarloaf Mountain, May 2010 Photo taken by The Peninsulas
The start of the 2010 summer would be the last of my living in the U.P., so I decided to make the best of it and do some hiking. Sugarloaf Mountain was the first place I checked out. Sugarloaf Mountain is located just outside of Marquette on County Road 550 and overlooks Lake Superior. Sugarloaf Mountain consists of a 3,200 foot trail and stair system up to the top of the mountain. There are two different routes available for people to reach the top. There is the "Difficult" route for the more adventurous of hikers and the "Moderate" trail for those less adventurous. It takes about 20 minutes to travel up to the top of the mountain which is 470' above Lake Superior. No matter which trail you take to the top, it's worth the hike up to experience the breathtaking views of Lake Superior and Marquette County. Sugarloaf Mountain is a MUST do adventure when you are in the Marquette area.
Info gathered from http://www.co.marquette.mi.us/departments/planning/sugarloaf_mountain.htm and
http://www.travelmarquettemichigan.com/information/places-of-interest/ on November 23, 2013.
View of Marquette County from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, May 2010 Photo taken by The Peninsulas
View of Lake Superior from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, Summer 2010 Photo taken by The Peninsulas
Yoopers and Trolls
Yoopers and Trolls... two very distinct Michigan terms for two very different groups of people. The only thing these two terms have in common is they both represent Michiganders and that's it!
Let's begin with the Trolls:
- Trolls is the Yooper term for Michiganders who live below the Mackinac Bridge because afterall, only trolls live under bridges. This means any person who lives in the lower peninsula has earned the nickname "Trolls" courtesy of our friends from the north.
- Trolls LOVE their Detroit Lions and refer to their biggest City, "Detroit". Did I mention they despise the Packers!?! This is important to remember later in this blog.
- Trolls refer to being "up north" and northern Michigan as anything that is north of Clare.
- Trolls use their hands as a map to show where they live. If you haven't noticed yet, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan looks like a mitten which makes it a readily available map for trolls to use when describing where they live.
- Many trolls play Euchre for fun. Euchre is a card game that is played primarily in the Mid-West.
Now it's time to explain da Yoopers....
- Inland Lakes are typically All-Sports Lakes with weekend cabins/cottages all around them.
- Second homes "up north" are called Cabins by Trolls.
- Snow days occur in the Lower Peninsula for children with 3 or more inches. Six inches of snow can shut down school districts for two days!
- Weatherman brace Trolls for snowstorms that may drop only 3 or 4 inches of snow. The BIG snow storms come with 6 or more inches.
- Famous musicians from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan include Eminem, Kid Rock, Madonna, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger... to name a few.
In Conclusion.... We could go on and on about the differences between Trolls and da Yoopers. We may all be from the great state of Michigan, but we are cearly two separate cultures and identities.
- Yoopers are people born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. There is so much to explain about the Yoopers.
- The first notable difference between Yoopers and Trolls is the Yoopers' distinct accents and the unmistakable "eh" that comes at the end of their sentences/questions. "Say yah to da U.P., eh!"
- Yoopers LOVE the Green Bay Packers and associate with the "big city" of Green Bay. Many yoopers especially on the western side of the U.P. associate themselves with Wisconsin more than they do with the Lower Peninsula/Detroit.
- Pasties are a common Yooper meal that can be found at many different restaurants. Pasties are a pastry case filled with meat and vegetables.
- Mining is a LARGE part of the U.P. economy and in fact almost everyone works at a mine or knows someone who works at a mine especially around the Ishpeming Area.
- Cribbage is popular card game in the U.P.
- Inland lakes in the U.P. are often no-wake lakes and do not have cabins around them. For example; Teal Lake in Negaunee, MI.
- Along with the famous, "Eh" in the Yooper dialect. They also have interesting phrases only unique to them. For example, "Borrow me a pencil" or "Stupid hurts" when someone falls out of chairs.
- Second homes of Yoopers are referred to as Camps and are often near their original homes. Camps usually do not have electricity or indoor plumbing which means outhouses.
- Da Yoopers love their Sauna's (pronounced Sow-na). As cold as it gets up there, I'm sure anyone would appreciate a nice warm stay in a sauna.
- Snow days only occur for Yooper Children when there is a foot or more of snow. Children of the U.P. will sing the Heikki Lunta song, flush ice down the toilet, and sleep with their PJ bottoms inside out with spoons under the pillows to ensure a snowday the next day.
- Snow storms often bring a foot or more of snow.
- Streets in the U.P. remain snow and ice covered until spring which means Yoopers do not see black pavement until spring arrives.
- There are more bars in a downtown stretch than there is people in that town...or so it seems.
- The famous Yooper musicians are "Da Yoopers" based out of Marquette County.
- Deer camp is extremely important to Yoopers.
- Heikki Lunta is the Snow God of Yooper mythology and is the product of the Finnish-American presence and the large amount of snow in the U.P.
- Halloween costumes and Easter dresses are often accompanied with snowpants because snow typically arrives in October in the U.P and doesn't leave until May.
Meet the Stormy Kromer! If you live in or frequent the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (known simply around Michigan as the U.P.), then you probably have heard about, seen, or even wear your very own Stormy Kromer on your head! Personally, I hadn't heard about the Stormy Kromers until I moved to Ishpeming (located in the U.P.) and many of my yooper friends wore these hats. It is the "in" thing around those parts.
After returning back downstate, I learned more about these very hats and quickly realized why these hats are the thing to wear in up north backwoods. The main reason why many yoopers sport these hats during the winter is because they are a product of the U.P. Stormy Kromer hats are made right in Ironwood, Michigan. The hats are also wildly popular because they are designed to help keep you warm when you are outside in the cold and if you know anything about Michigan's Upper Peninsula, then you know it can be QUITE cold around there. These hats are extremely popular with hunters and people who enjoy outdoor sports.Stormy Kromer now has a full line of hats aimed at women. Not only can you get your hat in pastels and other more "feminine" colors, but you can also purchase them with accents such as flowers.Don't forget your can of pop or beer...Stormy Kromer also markets can coozies!!A little extra interesting information from wikipedia....
Stormy Kromer is named for George "Stormy" Kromer, a semi-professional baseball player who later worked as a railroad engineer. Kromer lost many hats to the wind while working on trains, and in 1903 he asked his wife Ida to make him a warm hat that would stay on more securely. She modified a baseball cap into what became the Stormy Kromer cap.
Due to popularity with other employees of the railroad, the Kromers formed the Kromer Cap Company in 1903 to produce the caps. In 1919, due to ever increasing demand, the Kromers opened a factory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. George Kromer sold the company in 1965 to Richard Grossman. In 2001, the Kromer Cap Company planned to cease production of Stormy Kromer caps. The rights to the caps were purchased by Bob Jacquart, owner of Jacquart Fabric Products, and production moved to Ironwood, Michigan. Stormy Kromer Mercantile was formed, increasing production to over 50,000 caps annually from the previous 3000-6000 caps.
President Barack Obama was presented with several Stormy Kromer caps when he visited Marquette, Michigan, on February 10, 2011 to speak about wireless communication technologies. It has become a traditional garb in the Upper Peninsula.
A version that is a 'tip of the hat' to the chapeau's Wisconsin roots is available in Green Bay Packers green with the team logo and sold through Lambeau Field.
The hats are unusual in that they carry a lifetime warranty against defects, and a three year "insurance policy" for events such as loss, once the product is registered. Versions for women are available, and they are called the "Ida Kromer" or some variant of "Petal Pusher."
Slow Cooker Venison Sloppy Joes
Original recipe makes 4 servings
- 1/4 pound bacon
- 2 pounds venison stew meat
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
- 1 cup ketchup
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove from skillet, crumble and set aside. Brown stew meat in bacon grease for flavor.
- Put onion, sugar, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, garlic, mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper in slow cooker and mix well. Add bacon and venison and stir together.
- Cook for a minimum of 8 hours on Low setting. Use a fork to separate the meat into a thick and yummy Sloppy Joe-style barbecue.
- PREP5 mins
- COOK8 hrs
- READY IN8 hrs5 mins
Why Michigan? Why start and write a blog devoted to Michigan? Will anyone read this blog? These are the very questions I started asking myself this past weekend before putting together my blog site.
The answers are simple.
Why Michigan? Because I LOVE everything about living in Michigan. I was born and raised in central Michigan and spent my childhood traveling around Michigan for family vacations. There is not a childhood memory that doesn't involve some trip to northern Michigan. My first and main love is northern Michigan. I am truly blessed to be living in this GREAT state. From the Mighty Mac and her Great Lake freighters, to Lake Superior's might and Lake Michigan's beautiful shoreline, to Traverse City and it's divine wine and cherry produce, to the Upper Peninsula and everything that is simple and natural about the U.P...Michigan is a very unique place and has a beautiful story to tell. We have amazing products born and raised right here. My goal is to share these places, share stories of the past, and celebrate our unique products; Everything Michigan!
Why write a blog about Michigan? I want to share my number one passion with the rest of the world! Currently I am a 3rd grade teacher at a Michigan school district and the thing I love most about 3rd grade is being able to share my passion about Michigan with my students through our Michigan history curriculum. Now, I want to share that very same passion with you!
Will anyone read this blog? I sure hope so, but if not, that it is okay with me too. My goal is to share my knowledge and passion with others. I also want to help spread the word about amazing places in the state in hopes to get others to travel and fall in love with Michigan too. My second goal is to showcase products of Michigan in hopes of possibly boosting our economy. Last but not least, I want to inspire other Michiganders and Michigan lovers to become healthy and lead successful, passionate lives while we enjoy the beauties of Michigan. In reality though, I am doing this for me and to leave a legacy of my Michigan passion for my future children and grandchildren. These are my words...my story and Michigan's story told through my words, thoughts, reflections and pictures. I hope you enjoy this blog. Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to say hello. :)