All The Way to Allouez

In February 2022 we left sunny, warm Florida for four weeks at the Sax-Zim Bog in Northern Minnesota.  We wanted to photograph the legendary great gray owls – which we did and then some!  You can read all about it in my blog “28 Days in the Bog.”

https://ontheroadwithtallguyandjet.blog/2022/03/09/28-days-in-the-bog/

In the spirit of “since we’ve already come this far” we added another two weeks in Allouez, (AL-o-way), located in the Keweenaw (KEY-wee-naw) Peninsula, which projects nearly 70 miles into Lake Superior on the northern side of Michigan’s U.P. 

Keweenaw Peninsula

When conditions are right, the Aurora Borealis are visible across the open expanse of the Big Lake.

this was as close as we got to seeing the aurora borealis!

The Northern Lights were high on our bucket list, especially after canceling our trip to Finland at the beginning of the covid pandemic, and we hoped for the best during our two-week stay.

Our Air BNB in Allouez was a palace compared to our tiny basement apartment in Hibbing. 

our Allouez Air BNB

There was a spacious kitchen with a table big enough to spread out two laptops and a lovely view across the backyard.

view from our kitchen window

A separate living room with a comfy wrap-around sofa,

binging on Jason Bourne movies!

And a flight of stairs leading to two bedrooms and a half bath on the second floor.

Maddie and Oscar had a lot of fun scampering up and down the stairs!

Before we arrived, our host had told us to leave the water running in the downstairs bathroom. There was a “Let it Run” order in place due to a deep freeze. I guess when your water comes from the third largest freshwater lake in the world it’s ok to “let it run!”

“Let it Run”

We couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend the last two weeks of our road trip. You can find the Old Mining House on Air BNB here:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/39086041?adults=2&federated_search_id=8de07f26-3f03-4917-adf7-0e907e3fff38&source_impression_id=p3_1647860720_gIN32nzqpFXoJ78i

We scouted several locations for our late-night aurora forays,

Lake Superior from Calumet Waterworks
Five Mile Point Drive

And settled on the bayfront at Eagle River.  The view to the north was unobstructed, and we could wait and watch from the warmth of our car.

northern view from Eagle River bayfront (glow in the distance is Thunder Bay, Canada)

Unfortunately, conditions were not favorable for the duration of our stay. Although we had beautiful blue skies on many days,

Evenings turned overcast almost every night.

evenings turned overcast

But we were there for two weeks so we made the best of it.  The whole peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover’s paradise.  Not only is it surrounded on three sides by Lake Superior with its lovely beaches,

Lake Superior’s lovely beaches!

It offers hundreds of miles of snowmobile and hiking trails,

Trailside Lodge offers snowmobiles for rent

State parks, scenic drives,

miles of scenic drives

And beautiful waterfalls.

middle Hungarian Falls (long exposure)

What we were NOT prepared for was All. The. Snow – especially this late into the season!

so much snow!
March 9, 2022

Keweenaw averages 208 inches of snow per year, and as of March 9, 2022, they were already at 284.5.

Keweenaw’s “Snow Thermometer” – TG is 6’4″

Lake Superior keeps the area warmer than Northern Minnesota but also dumps a lot more snow.  Although we had plenty of layers to keep us warm, the amount of snow made it challenging to do many of the outdoor activities.

even taking photos proved challenging at times!

Most of the area’s attractions were closed for the season, and others were accessible only by snowmobile (above our pay grade) or snowshoes, which we rented from Cross Country Sports in Calumet for $10 a day.

https://www.crosscountrysports.com/

snowshoes were a must on the trails!

Our neighborhood consisted of a small cluster of houses off US 41, a busy main road, so there was not a lot of opportunity for walking close to home.

neighborhood blue jay
neighborhood squirrel

We did manage a hike to Hungarian Falls,

the trail to Hungarian Falls

Home to five waterfalls with the highest one having a 75-foot drop.

middle Hungarian Falls

This time of year, everything was frozen, but it was still a lovely hike in the woods.  We saw multiple tracks – including some fresh snowshoe hare. The only hare we saw, however, was an illustration in the children’s book “The Cross-Country Cat,” the pages of which were affixed to trees along the trail.

Henry, the cross-country cat, with snowshoe hare
the pages of this children’s storybook were affixed to trees along the trail

The Keweenaw Peninsula was the site of the first copper boom in the United States, which led to its moniker “Copper Country.” 

Welcome to Copper Country

And we spent a lot of time exploring the quaint little towns that dot the area.

Allouez is about four miles north of Calumet, which boasts a beautiful cathedral and lots of historic architecture.

St. Paul the Apostle Cathedral
Calumet Fire Station, est. 1898
Shute’s Saloon, est. 1890, never found it open during our visit

We also enjoyed lunch at Carmelita’s and sampled their famous Thimbleberry Margarita. Thimbleberries are similar to raspberries and are a favorite among local residents.

thimbleberry margarita

Lake Linden has some wonderful old churches,

Methodist Episcopal Church
current home of Houghton County Historical Society Museum

Interesting storefronts,

Lindell’s Chocolate Shop

And fun restaurants.

Dreamland Hotel and Bar

But it was in Laurium that we were introduced to pasties. 

Pronounced “past-ee”, it is a folded pastry case with a savory filling, typically seasoned meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The travel-ready meal came to Keweenaw by way of Cornish miners who migrated to the area to work in the copper mines in the 19th century.

vegetarian pasty

The pasty is a point of pride among the residents of the U.P.  and debates range far and wide on which is the best.

Toni’s Kitchen #1 Pasty 2018

Donna at the Visitor’s Center gave us a list of places where we could try this delicacy but added that none would compare with her mother-in-law’s!

There is even a “Keweenaw Pasty Trail” that lists the area’s best locations – each with its own, unique spin on this beloved little pie.

the Keweenaw pasty trail

One day we drove up to Copper Harbor, located at the very northern tip of the peninsula. 

Miami, Fla 1,990 miles!

Most of the shops and restaurants were closed for the season, so we stopped at the Mariner North for lunch.

Mariner North for lunch

As we waited for our food, the restaurant gradually filled.  It suddenly occurred to us that we were the only – and I do mean ONLY – patrons not dressed in snowmobile attire!

we were the only ones not in snowmobile attire!
check out the Mariner parking lot- no cars!!

The countryside is full of photographic gems, even in the winter. We found picturesque barns,

Lake Annie Road

Old dams, and historic copper mines – some of which are purported to be haunted!

Centennial Copper Mine

We had stopped to photograph the abandoned Quincy Dredge #2, currently sunk in the shallow water of Torch Lake. Just as we got out of the car, we spied a little red fox crossing the ice!

I was barely able to snap a photo before she disappeared behind the snowbank

In scouting locations for our aurora watching, we stumbled upon two interesting sites in Eagle River.  The first was the Church of the Holy Protection, a monastery under the jurisdiction of The Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Church of the Holy Protection monastery

This stunning piece of architecture sits on the shore of Lake Superior, about five miles outside of town. 

cloister: do not enter

The monks devote themselves to a life of prayer, music,

the monks devote themselves to a life of prayer and work

And work, including making jams, coffees, and other baked goods at their sole source of income: the Jampot bakery. 

the Jampot

Unfortunately, the Jampot is only open during season, late May through mid-October, but many of their products are available online.

Jampot – Home of Poorrock Abbey™

There is no phone listed on either the monastery or Jampot website, but they do have an email. So, we inquired about their Saturday evening Solemn Vespers service and received this reply:

email from Society of St John monastery

We are not regular church attendees, but in these troubling times we could not pass up an opportunity to pray for peace with Ukrainian monks.

Solemn Vespers notes

The Solemn Vespers were unlike anything we had ever experienced. The entire 90 minutes was sung – even the chosen scriptures of the day.

the monks’ voices filled the sanctuary like a heavenly choir

The monks sang acapella, in three-part harmony, and their strong voices filled the small sanctuary like a heavenly choir.

a short, one-minute slideshow of the Solemn Vespers service

TG and I were the only attendees and as we sat listening it occurred to me that this beautiful service would have happened with or without us. We were merely bystanders in one of the most genuine – and profound – acts of worship either of us had ever witnessed.

the Blessing of the Incense

On another day while driving through Eagle River we noticed a sign for the Emil Dyni Memorial Deer Feeding Park. Whaaat??

Emil Dyni Memorial Deer Feeding Park

In the winter deer travel from miles around to Eagle River where they are fed – by anyone who has brought the proper food.

deer are treasured and protected!

They flock here by the hundreds and through the years have learned that the yard is a safe place to eat and bed down.

you can find deer at all hours of the day and night

This park was on the same road that led to the Eagle River bayfront, so each evening when we went out aurora-hunting we passed the deer, peeking above the snowdrifts as we drove by.

Eagle River bayfront long-exposure

The two weeks did not give us exactly what we had hoped for, but we were able to explore an area of the country that neither of us had visited before. The more we travel in the U.S.A., the more wonderful places we find to go. The Keweenaw Peninsula is absolutely beautiful and a great place to visit – anytime of the year. Just be sure to pack your snowshoes!

Don’t forget to pack your snowshoes!

To view more photos from our stay, visit our flickr albums.

TG:

lake linden icicles
hover or click on photo to arrow through the set

JET:

Lake Superior
hover or click on photo to arrow through the set

Author: TG&jet

Nature photographers - wildlife, landscapes, underwater; travelers; bloggers

4 thoughts on “All The Way to Allouez”

  1. You must gave been lucky to get into Carmelitas.
    I thought it was closed.
    Very good article, should have showed the inside of Shutes or the Michigan House.
    I believe that is the Centennial Mine.

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comments. When we arrived at Carmelitas just after opening, we were the only customers for a while. Good food. As for Shute’s, it was never open when we drove by many times during our visit. Not sure what the Michigan House is. We will correct the mine reference.

      Like

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