Hey there, lovely readers!
I hope you’ve been enjoying my adventures all across the U.S., and today I have another location you should visit. Located right along the Great Lakes in the north-central part of the country, Michigan is our destination of the day. Along the way, we’ll also take a look at some of the most memorable points in Wisconsin, the bridge between my homeland of Iowa and the beautiful upper peninsula of Michigan. Hopefully, this virtual journey sparks your interest enough to make a visit to these two beautiful states in the eastern Midwest, but even if not, I hope you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.
Wisconsin is the third state I ever visited, and I’ve been to the state a handful or two of times since. It reminds me of a middle ground between Iowa and Minnesota, not in terms of location, but rather in terms of atmosphere. Like Iowa, it has an instantly homey feel and is welcoming for the most part. And, like Minnesota, Wisconsin has a great wealth of natural treasures and landmarks offset by larger cities, a combination that elicits constant entertainment for the traveling visitor. Admittedly, I haven’t seen a whole lot of Wisconsin, but I’ll walk you through the lovely parts I have seen:
On the western border of the state, near the MN/IA border, is the city of La Crosse. Wisconsin, like New York and California (among other states), has a system of colleges and Universities wherein the University of Wisconsin has schools in a bunch of major cities throughout the state. UW-La Crosse is one example of this educational structure, and the campus and surrounding area of La Crosse are quite charming. The city has plenty of shops, restaurants, and people, so it feels like an actual city, but it also feels very connected to the University and relatively safe and nurturing. A great idea while in the area is to run or drive up Granddad Bluff, which offers a stunning overlook of the city and stretches all the way to the Mississippi River on the horizon.
Farther to the southeast are Platteville and Madison, home to two more of the UW schools. I haven’t seen much of either town, to be honest, but they struck me as pretty typical Midwest towns without much for which to stop. Of the two, Madison is definitely the more entertaining, as it is also the capital of Wisconsin. Northeast of these two cities are Oshkosh and Appleton, again home to a UW school. I competed in several large cross country meets in Appleton during college, including the DIII national championships in 2015. The area, much like La Crosse, is absolutely gorgeous in the fall. It has some larger rolling hills and plenty of trees, which makes for a colorful and exhilarating autumn visit. The featured photo for this post actually comes from Waverly, Iowa, but it represents what you might find while walking on any trails in the Midwest in autumn.
Wisconsin, like the Sioux in Iowa and South Dakota, is home to much influence of the Chippewa tribe of Native Americans. Many town names demonstrate this heritage, and Wisconsin communities attempt to preserve the rich culture of their history. Oddly enough and not related at all, Wisconsin also has no gravel roads. Every road in the state is paved, a phenomena that is pretty much unheard of in the U.S., due to costs of infrastructure (even though the costs of gravel versus paved roads can equal out over time when maintenance is included). But enough about the fine details; let’s journey farther from Iowa and into the beauty of the upper peninsula of Michigan.
Michigan is separated into two main parts: the mainland, north of Illinois and Indiana, and the upper peninsula, north of Wisconsin. I made Michigan my 18th state when I traveled to the U.P. with my cross country team in 2014. We spent a week in Crystal Falls, at a campground right next to a lake. We ran and exercised throughout the day, but we had a solid amount of free time to explore the area as we pleased. I used this time to kayak across the lake and back for most of the week, and, as such, the raw nature of the pine trees and pristine lake enraptured me. Although I haven’t been back since I started exploring most of the U.S., Michigan still is one of the most positive memories I have of states I’ve seen. The forests and lakes stretch on and on in the U.P., and they are an excellent place to camp for a week if you need a vacation.
We finished our week in MI with a race at Michigan Technological University, located in Houghton, near the tip of the peninsula. The cross country cross is a forest frenzy for nature lovers, and the trails would likely entertain anyone who does or doesn’t like running. A fair warning, however, is that the course may or may not have a half-mile-long hill. My old teammates will surely remember the Michigan Tech course; it was an experience, to say the least.
Perhaps my lack of photos has made it harder for me to sell the beauty of Wisconsin and Michigan, but I hope that this post sparks interest in visiting them if you are in the U.S. I certainly hope that I’m able to see mainland Michigan someday, and I may very well have to make a trip back to Crystal Falls with my family in the future. Did I miss any important or awesome places in these states? Let me know!
Until next time, happy reading! 🙂