Monday, September 15, 2008

Autumn Jammin' in the U.P.

When I first heard someone say the initials "U.P." , I thought they were just mispronouncing the word "yuppie". But the more I listened to them, the more I determined they were talking about a type of place, and not a type of people. (As I have noted in previous posts, I did not get to complete my seventh-grade geography class because the school closed early due to a bad flood. This event I am sure accounts for my inadequate mastery of geographic locations decades later.) Finally, I had to ask the person just exactly where was "U.P"? The person was surprised at my ignorance, and told me that U.P. stood for Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Oh yeah, I remembered---that must be the part of the USA that borders northern Wisconsin. Years earlier, when I had been on a car trip to Wisconsin with my son, I had noticed that the land area above Wisconsin was a different color on the map, which I incorrectly assumed must be Canada. I thought it would be nice to drive the few extra miles to get there with my son, so he could say he had been to Canada. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was just another state! Not only that, it wasn't even connected by land to the state whose name it carried---weird, I thought. Anyway, when I recently had the opportunity to tour the entire area known as the "U.P.", I jumped at the opportunity! The photographs I took (shown in the collage above) show that the leaves were just beginning to turn, and the temperatures were perfect. Because of my interest in culinary tourism, as well as faith-based travel, I was especially delighted to get to visit a tiny little retail store called "The Jam Pot Bakery", in a rural area of the Keweenaw region of the U.P. It is operated by a group of monks that belong to The Society of St. John. The tiny building has become somewhat of a "required" tourist stop for folks traveling along M-26 highway, not only for the delicious products it sells, but also because it is adjacent to a scenic waterfall very close to the road, known as "Jacob's Falls". The jam that the little food factory is most famous for is that made from thimble berries. Thimble berries are the "gold card" of berry pickers, because of their value, scarcity, and seasonal availability. Naturally, this makes the jam produced from these berries quite pricey. So even though the building is tiny, the prices are not! However, the money goes to a good cause (supporting the ministry of the monks), and the products the Jam Pot sells taste delicious. So if you have the good fortune to be traveling in that gorgeous U.P. area of Michigan, surrounded by the gorgeous Lake Superior, try gorging at The Jam Pot Bakery. Happy jammin'! Tricia
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