Yooper Duane

My friend Duane.

My friend Duane

My meanderings last week took me Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, also known as “da UP.” Residents of the U.P. are affectionately known as Yoopers, and I visited a long-time Yooper friend, Duane.

Duane and I met thirty years ago on Isle Royale National Park (abbreviated in Park Service talk as ISRO). The island is one of the most isolated national parks in the country – only accessible by boat or sea plane. Duane was a carpenter for the park service and we became friends over coffee and doughnuts in the snack bar when I was a waitress on ISRO.

I’ve kept in touch with only a few people from my time on the island. Even Duane and I had long stretches where we lost track of each other. I managed to track him down a few years ago when I knew I’d be driving by his town for a book tour.

During my trip last week, we only had time for lunch. I wish our visit was longer, but I had to press home to a long list of responsibilities. But the time we were able to spend was vintage Yooper. Duane took me to Buck’s Café in downtown Ishpeming, and he wore the requisite Yooper regalia (see photo).

I expected to reach home by nightfall, but car issues forced an overnight stay at the edge of Yooperland (the MI/WI border). I found a mom and pop hotel complete with mouse droppings on the bedspread. But the mice stayed hidden, I slept well, and was able to successfully continue my journey home the next day.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the short taste of Yooper heaven, Duane!

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