Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Early Morning Soo

The view from our front window early one morning in Sault Ste. Marie.
Two ships passing

Two 1000+ foot freighters pass each other on the St. Mary’s River.

We LOVED our stay in Sault Ste. Marie:  good weather (mostly), good neighbors, good walking, fabulous view, and a great dinner of fresh Lake Superior Whitefish at the Elks Lodge for the traditional Friday night Fish Fry.  Then one of our neighbors clued us in:  for the best Whitefish, visit Brown’s Fish House in Paradise, MI.

It just so happened that our next stop, at Clementz’s Northcountry Campground in Newberry (click here to read our review) was planned around a sightseeing loop that would pass through Paradise.  Mmmmm… our mouths were watering.

Upper Taquamenon Falls Newberry is nothing special, a small town along the main east/west route through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It is a convenient stop, though, for two of the U.P.’s attractions: Tahquamenon (rhymes in phenomenon) Falls (and state park), and Whitefish Point, site of many a shipwreck on Lake Superior, including the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald.

We set off early on Tuesday morning to take in the sights.  First stop: the North Star Bakery, housed in what used to be a small motel, completely off the grid.  Electricity is provided by a generator; all the bread (several different kinds of sourdough) is baked in a wood-fired oven.  With a loaf of rosemary/garlic focaccia (to accompany the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup I had put in the Crockpot before we left) and another of apple/oat bread stashed on the back seat, we continued on to view the falls.

Described as falling 50 feet and stretching 200 feet, you can hear the falls well before you see them (the brown color of the water is comes from the cedar swamps upriver).  We walked the easy paved trail to the viewing platform, then headed a couple miles downriver on the more primitive dirt path.  You can hike 4 miles downstream to the lower falls and – wish we had known this before – can then catch a shuttle back to the upper falls parking lot.  The smart thing:  start at the lower falls, hike 4 miles to the upper falls, grab lunch at the brewery/restaurant at the upper falls parking lot, then take the shuttle back to the lower falls.  Live and learn…

Browns Fish House, Paradise, MI Our lunch stop, though, was pre-determined: Brown’s Fish House.  Not only had it been recommended by our neighbor (“Brown’s in Paradise has the best Whitefish in the U.P.”), but I found it recommended in our Michigan travel guidebook (Backroads and Byways of Michigan) AND on our annotated Hunt’s Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (highly recommend by me).  After our hike at the falls, we were READY for lunch.

Brown is the name of the owner, a fisherman who only opens the restaurant when he has fresh fish to serve.  Modest and unassuming inside and out.  Efficient, attentive service.  Fair prices.  GREAT food.  Our waitress handed us menus and pointed out the Whitefish dinner, “ordered by 99% of my customers”.  Who could say no to that??  Odel ordered the 3 piece dinner, fried; I ordered the 2 piece dinner, broiled.  It was the best fish meal we have had since leaving the Gulf Coast this winter (other than Odel’s delicious grilled salmon and steelhead) and probably was the best Whitefish we will ever eat. 

Broiled Whitefish Dinner Fried Whitefish Dinner

Suitably fortified, we headed on to Whitefish Point, a nub of land sticking out into Lake Superior, crowned by a lighthouse.  The Point is known as “The Graveyard of Ships” – more vessels have been lost here than in any other part of Lake Superior – and the lighthouse is the oldest operating on Lake Superior. 

The beach at Whitefish Point, with a big freighter in the far distance. It is a beautiful spot on a sunny summer day. Ships traversing the locks at Sault Ste. Marie all travel through here, and we saw one of the big freighters round the point heading west (click on the photo to enlarge it).  One of the old Coast Guard buildings is now The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, housing the bell of the most recent ship to succumb to heavy weather on Lake Superior, the Edmund Fitzgerald.

This is a beautiful, wild, sparsely populated part of Michigan.  The towns are small, the roads straight and lined with trees.  The lake is awe-inspiring – the unimaginable size, the fabulous colors.  In summer time, it is green, warm, welcoming.  I can’t even begin to imagine winter!!


  1. Wow. It is dinnertime, and that fish looks GOOD!

  2. The whole of the Great Lakes is a beautiful area & the north shore of Lake Superior is a great place to explore as well. We feel very fortunate to live here along the shores of Lake Huron. Glad you are enjoying your trip through our Great Lakes neighborhood:))

  3. This is one area I will add to our "List of Places We'll Go."
    Mmmm, what's that smell? Is that fresh bread baking in a wood-fire oven? Yumalicious!

  4. Great post! Looks like you had a nice time there. Beautiful pictures!

  5. Hi, Odel & Laurie, I popped over from Willie's last post because Chuck & I were at North Country CG just two weeks before you in the same site! And also saw the same three sights! Our blog does not keep pace with our location when we're too busy, and I hope to post our MI bit soon. Now in the Gaspe, Quebec!

  6. Thanks for mentioning those guide books that you use. Do you buy them for where ever you are going? If so, where do you get them?

  7. How fun!! You did EXACTLY what we did when staying at Clementz's CG -- except you did not dislike the CG as much as we did! Probably because the mosquitoes were not so bad for you.
    We loved the falls but had to run from bugs while snapping shots. We loved Whitefish Point and we also loved the whitefish dinner!
    Next time we would stay at the state park.
    Your blogging brings back all our wonderful memories of the UP.
    Be sure to try the county park right on Lake Superior in Ontanogan. Get there early on a week day and you might get a lakefront site!
    Willie & Doug
    Willie & Doug

  8. Good morning, Laurie. Loved reading about this place. We will stop in on our northern route this September. I know you are soooooo busy, but have you thought of making a google map of your travels to share?? I would love that. It's nice to see the route on a map.

  9. You have sealed my decision to make the Great Lakes area one of my very first destinations when we go FT. I will definitely be accessing your archives to help in planning!

    Was the bread as delicious as it sounds? :-)

    Kerri in AL :-)

  10. Judy, I used to use guidebooks a lot - but they cost a lot, weigh a lot, and are outdated quickly. Now we stop at state visitor centers whenever we enter a new state, and go to city/town visitor centers when we arrive in a new city where we plan to spend time. We also visit ranger stations for hikes. AND the internet, of course. Oh, and AAA Guidebooks, full of info about the various cities/towns and attractions in each state - and FREE with the price of an AAA membership. I belong to AAA for free maps and free guidebooks, period. I leave the AAA guidebooks behind when we leave a state.

    I happened to have the two I mentioned because I was in a bookstore and wanted to make a purchase. I always try to patronize an independent business in any small town we visit, and bookstores are one of my favorites. The Hunt's Guide is a laminated, accordian folded map of the U.P, just $7 and worth every cent. The guidebook was the usual - good, but will be out of date by the next time we are in Michigan. I'll probably pass it along to someone else after we leave the state.

  11. Kerri, if my blog has encouraged you to head for Michigan, YAY!! We are having a wonderful summer here. Our very first trip here, in 2003, was too fast - ever since, we wanted to return to see if it was as beautiful as we remembered. The answer is YES! I hope you enjoy it just as much!

  12. Sue (Malone)... ACK, another thing to do?? Every so often, I post a map to show our travels... perhaps I will do that again sometime before too long. The next time we are somewhere boring - which might not be for a long while! :) Plus, I'll have to look up how to do it again... :(

  13. Willie, thanks for the tip on Ontanogan. I'm not sure if we will have time - we have a commitment in Duluth in August, and it seems like everywhere we go in the U.P., we want to stay longer! We managed to get a reservation at the cute city RV park in Houghton... maybe after that?? We'll see...

  14. You had me at the fire baked bread and homemade Chicken soup!! Then you had to go and put the fish under my nose!!! I LOVE fresh fish!! Some of the best we had was in Alaska..the Halibut was heavenly. I agree with you about Michigan..a gem of a state!!

  15. I can almost taste that fish! Glad you're having such a great time in one of my favorite places, the U.P. Wish we were there!