I have spent the last five days in what I believe may be a piece of heaven on Earth.
I don't believe in any kind of faith, so by calling this place heaven, I mean to say, this place is perfect. I used to travel to this town a lot as a child, pre teen and teenager. I've even gone as an adult. I guess it took me being a father myself to truly appreciate the quiet solitude that is Bessemer, Michigan.
Like I said, I've vacationed there a lot. My folks grew up there.(technically my dad grew up in Bessemer. My mom grew up in a town called Ramsey that's three miles away, essentially the same place). It was always fun to go as a kid because I got to see my cousins that lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Michigan. Both my parents folks lived there too, so I got to see my grandparents as well. We usually went during Spring Break. It was the only time that me and my three brothers had a full week off.
So, I bet you're thinking, Spring Break, that's great, good weather, not too hot, not too cold. That's not the case in Bessemer. Bessemer is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so it's winter about eight to nine months of the year. So, in mid March, when we'd normally visit, there'd still be three to five feet of snow on the ground. My grandparents would be relieved by this. This meant winter was coming to an end, maybe by May, the snow would be gone. I loved the fact that they still had all this snow on the ground. I thought, awesome I can go sledding in the middle of March! No way that was happening in St. Louis, my hometown.
As I got older, and cousins grew up and moved and grandparents were passing away, our annual trips dwindled. At first it was every year, then every other year, until it was good if we got up there once every four to five years. It also seemed like we only were going up for funerals. A place I once loved was becoming a place I associated with death. I was in my early twenties when my last grandparent passed away and that trip to Bessemer was pretty upsetting for me. I was very close to my grandpa. My dad and I talked to him on the phone every Sunday after my grandma passed away. My dad and I made trips up there to visit him also. Grandpa Louis was very important to me and I loved him almost as much as my parents. We were extremely close. So, after he passed away, I genuinely thought his funeral would be my last trip to the UP. What was the point if grandpa wasn't going to be there? I constantly asked myself that question.
A few years after his death, my mom and dad planned a trip to Bessemer. I was hesitant at first, but they explained to me, that if I thought it was going to be hard, think of how they felt. That's where they grew up and their parents were gone. I knew exactly what they meant and I was on board for the trip. The only difference, besides my extended family not being there was, my parents planned the trip for the summer. We did go there in summer, but sparingly. As I said earlier, we usually went on Spring Break. We didn't have a place to stay, so my parents rented a luxury cabin. Tons of beds and bathrooms and pool tables. It was great. But what made it even better was the fact that I was able to remember good times I had there as a kid. Instead of dwelling on what I didn't have, I made the concerted effort to make new, grown up memories. Sure, sledding was fun, but now I could go hiking with my brothers and climb the bluffs with them. Swimming in Lake Superior is exhilarating. You can go to Little Girls Point and skip rocks while lounging on their rock beach. If you'd prefer a sand beach, head to Black River Harbor. These were all things I couldn't do with a ton of snow on the ground. This was a whole new world to me. I'm glad I have brothers who like doing these things too. I wouldn't do this stuff on my own.
On this most recent trip, I climbed the bluffs for the first time in a long time. I couldn't do it before because I was overweight and out of shape. In the past two years I've shed about a hundred pounds and decided I would challenge myself, and with a little encouragement from my brother, I did it and got some great pictures of the town. It was phenomenal. I also went tubing for the first time in my life. I laid on an inner tube on my stomach and a boat pulled me from side to side and I did jumps in the water. It was great. My wife and three year old son were with my family and I and it was great to share this beautiful place that I love with them. We'd drive by streets and I'd tell them memories I had. I also was able to show them where my grandparents lived. My parents drove us around and told us stories that I'd never even heard. My wife has been there before, but it was my sons first trip. He loved it, his favorite thing to do was skip rocks on Lake Superior. I also got to see a lot of my cousins this time around. We are all adults with kids now, but we were able to make time to see each other. It was great. The weather was as good as it gets. This was another thing that made this trip so perfect. This was the first week of August and the temperature never got any higher than 76 degrees. Did I mention the fact that there's no humidity. It was a great relief from St. Louis summers.
Another reason I'm so happy that we travel to the UP in the summers now. I know they do most of their business during the winter with all the ski hills. But, I'm here to tell you that summer time is the time to make a trip to the UP. It's so great. The sky at night time is so clear you can see the stars perfectly. I'm so grateful that my parents talked me into going back to the UP and the fact that we go in the summer now. Bessemer, Michigan in the summer is the best place in the world to visit. Do yourselves a favor and book a week long stay up there. You will love it.
I know I certainly just did.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the co-host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He was paid no money to write this rave review of Bessemer Michigan, he would like some money. Follow him on twitter @tykulik.