A U.P. wedding was bookended by two epic days on two wheels, a successful waterfall hunt, Lake Superior views and visits to craft breweries. Josh’s friends, Leah & Chris tied the knot at Messiah Lutheran in downtown Marquette on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August. At the ceremony, the female minister made a point (at the bride and groom’s bidding) to welcome children to stay during the service, no matter how enthusiastic they might become. Leah and Chris’s nine-month old Merrick kept up a steady stream of exuberant ahh’s, ohhhhs and mmmmmmm’s throughout the service. But, it was the flower girl who stole the show.
Midway through the service, after the vow exchange and several traditional Bible readings, the blue-clad five-year old started to slip away from the bridesmaids busy paying attention to the bride and groom’s promises of love and future. She backed away from the bridesmaids moving toward a stately table that held a communion bowl and an oversized gold-rimmed Bible. The flower girl moved in to inspect the table’s wares, her older counterparts no longer paying attention. I was distracted by her movements. I pulled my attention from center court in time to see her lean ever so close to the holy book. I elbowed Josh to see if he was noticing the same scene. She moved in, grasping the edge and ran her tongue over the cover. For good measure, she slowly opened the book, pulled the chord-place holder out to give it a good wetting as well. Josh and I suppressed laughs, squeezed our eyes shut thinking she might stop. No such luck. She continued once again, thoroughly applying more saliva to the good book and its spine. It became a soggy good book!
Finally, either her father from the congregation or perhaps some other horrified relative got her attention, to distract her enough to look up from the wetting of church artifacts. The flower girl stared out to the congregation with an inquisitive look as if to say, What’s the big deal. Tired of the Bible, she began to probe inside the communion bowl. Thankfully, the service was nearing the end and she was pulled away from her exposé just in time to see Chris and Leah kiss. It was a beautiful service but all I remember is the Bible licker!
As I look back, there were plenty of notables in Michigan’s vast Upper Peninsula. It is the land of extremes. For example, try a tasty and cheap beer at KBC in Houghton, where a pint of Red Jacket Amber or Widow Maker Black Ale only sets you back $2.75. It will make you feel like a student again. On the drive up to Copper Harbor, I noted a hand-painted sign advertising DEER SKULL BOILING. We also passed a massively tall snow-stick showing off Copper Harbor’s snowfall record at 375 inches.
Copper Harbor Trails boast one of the highest-rated mountain bike trail systems in the world, earning it a silver IMBA designation. We rode the intermediate trails, which anywhere else in the Midwest would be expert track. The highlight for us was Garden Brook, a pure rollercoaster of fun with banked corners and perfect little rollers traversing a ridgeline. I dare you to ride it without smiling. We also did a two-mile climb but the reward was a glassy Lake Superior (the largest inland sea in the world) highlighted by a warmer-than-usual August sun. As a post-ride reward, we plunked down at the intimate Brickside Brewing for a pint and noshed on Lake Superior whitefish and fries from a food truck.
Copper Harbor has a deserved reputation. Adventure enthusiasts, bikers, kayakers and hearty souls need only apply. The town itself is home to 100 permanent residents, no cell towers, one grocery store and three restaurant/pubs. It’s also known as the gateway to Isle Royale National Park. It’s a small town with a big personality. Looking back, I’ll remember the Lake Superior shoreline wrapping me in a blanket of majestic water and trailside panoramas. You might say it was a religious experience!