Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude remains the only focus of my writing, which for today is for the trip I just took to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where for as much as it proved to be a major letdown overall, there were also a number of diamonds in the rough to be grateful for.

At the top of that gratitude list is a place my partner Chris and I visited called Kitch-Iti-Kipi. A natural spring in the middle of a lake, truly in the middle of nowhere really, where you board this floating raft with an open center, and have to pull yourself by a big wheel out into the center of crystal-clear, aqua-colored water, to see incredibly huge fish swimming 48 feet below around the bubbling spring in year-round 40-degree temperature. It truly was a spectacle.

A close second to Kitch-Iti-Kipi of something to be grateful for during this trip would be our visit to Fayette Historic State Park. Fayette was the site of an industrial community that manufactured charcoal pig iron between 1867 and 1891. The town has been reconstructed into a living museum in modern days, showing what life was like in the late 19th century. It was most fascinating and humbling in comparison to some of the modern amenities most Americans enjoy these days.

Coming in third would be a visit to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. While it came late in a very long and exhausting day, and was only a quick blip on the radar of overall time spent there, I personally took two mini hikes to both the bases of the lower falls and the upper falls. Both required some physical agility to get there on foot, which honestly took a lot out of a body already running quite low on every level at that point, but still extremely worth it. Considered the largest falls in Michigan to view and a mini-Niagara Falls of sorts, I was quite captivated by the mist of each hitting my face, especially as the rain fell upon me at the same time.

Just behind my visit to Tahquamenon Falls were visits to two separate military forts now turned into museums. The first being Fort Michililmackinac in Mackinaw City, and the second being Fort Mackinaw on Mackinaw Island. While I’ve never been much of a military history buff, seeing how day-to-day life was for the soldiers there behind the huge looming walls of both was certainly deeply interesting to say the least, as much as the views from the top of both were breathtaking.

While I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to for what comes in fifth on my list of gratitude during this trip, I still enjoyed my brief visit to the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, a resort that’s been able to maintain both its old school charm and air of upper-crustiness for well over a century and a half now. Made even more popular by the 1980 film “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve, you have to actually pay $10 to take a walk around the property and sit on its famed long porch overlooking the water, the longest of any hotel in the United States. I made sure there to grab an espresso and sit on one of its rocking chairs while taking in the view and to walk amongst its luxurious gardens, fountains, and pools as well. Interesting fact, after 6pm there every day, all men must wear a jacket and tie, and all women must be in a dress!

Some notable mentions that also brought some gratitude in the midst of great physical pain and frustration were a game of mini-golf at Animal Tracks in Mackinaw City, dinner in the same city at The Chippewa Room, a boat trip through the Soo Locks, a visit to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, and two meals at this cool little breakfast joint in St. Ignace called Java Joes that truly was quite eclectic on every level, including its owners.

Sadly, while physical pains and heavy bodily discomforts robbed me much of being present and able to enjoy these things to the fullest, I’m still thankful to have experienced them to the extent I did. Hopefully, there will be a day again to experience them to a greater extent that will bring me even greater gratitude, something I find is crucial to keep focusing on, to remain positive and upbeat, in a world that often feels anything but.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson