Letter Re: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as a Retreat Locale

I’ve been following the letters about living in Michigan;’s Upper Peninsula (UP) with interest. For those that aren’t familiar with Michigan geography, there are two peninsulas. For the most part, most consider Michigan the ‘mitten’ [landmass], and that’s all. The rest forget that there is still more to the state, and that’s okay with me! The UP is 1/3 the land mass of the state, with only 1% of the total population. There are more people in Detroit, than there are in all of the UP. another very nice statistic!

Personally, I was born and raised in Detroit (please don’t hold that against me), moved to the outer ‘burbs for several years, and moved to the UP 14 years ago. I will never go back. Never. Here, the water is clean (I get my drinking water from a free-flowing artesian well, with no filtering whatsoever), the air is clean and the crime is minimal. There is so little air pollution that on a moonless night (preferably in August) you can sit on any number of beaches along Lake Superior, and see the curvature of the distinct edge of the Milky Way galaxy. The stars are uncountable. Many find upon moving here that their respiratory allergies disappear–discovering that they were allergic to the smog of the cities.

Sounds like heaven? it is. Are there drawbacks? of course, but there are downsides to every location. I feel the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. I might have to drive 30 miles to get to a sizeable town to shop, but along the way, I might see deer, coyote, and an occasional other vehicle 🙂 When I do go to town, I will shop extensively for my preps, and then not drive that direction again, sometimes for weeks.

Five years ago I purchased my current retreat. Ten acres that backs up to hundreds of acres of logging land, large parcels on either side of me. I have a small house, barn, two wells and a creek. I paid $45,000 for it. Cash. My taxes every year are just $750, in total. I’m off the main road (those prices are higher), but my road still gets plowed if there’s over 6″ of snowfall. It’s incredibly private, the neighbors know each other, but don’t interfere with anything. I even set up my own shooting range, no one cares. Some of the best fishing is within a ten minute drive, and the hunting is great.

One other letter mentioned the bugs. Yep, they sure are annoying. Ticks, blackflies, mosquitoes, beach flies, they all bite. Fox, raccoon, pine marten, fishers, even coyotes will get into the chickens. So I take precautions, what’s the big deal? Some of these nuisances are what keeps the riffraff away! They don’t want to deal with them. they’re soft, pampered, and want everything either handed to them or ready for them to take. The UP is not for the soft or pampered–at least not the woods of the UP, where I live.

It’s said that there really are four seasons here:” June, July, August and Winter.” Spring is typically two weeks of meltdown followed by two weeks of mud, then it’s summer. And those summers can be glorious! With the exception of this past year, we have consistently hit over 100 degrees in late July. Great for the gardens, because, yes, the growing season is short, so I adjust what I grow to fit that. Fall is breathtaking!

The worst winter I’ve experienced, was in 2002, where in the woods, I got thirty feet of snow. It was the only time that I had 6 feet of snow on the ground at one time. It was a tough winter, but, I never had to worry about those ‘roving hordes’ trying to take my supplies! They couldn’t get there! and I think that’s one of the biggest draws of the UP: It’s lack of accessibility, it’s anonymity, and it’s isolation. – Deborah in the UP