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The first destination on our trip was Marquette. Marquette is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula. Named after French, Jesuit missionary, Jacques Marquette, the town was developed due to large deposits of iron ore found in the 1840s. The area was well known, however, due to French missionaries in the 1600s and fur trappers. Marquette’s location on a natural harbor on Lake Superior, natural beauty, and favorable weather made it a vacation destination for some of the more well-heeled industrialists (Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, among many others). Presently, Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University who play their home football games in the world’s largest wooden domed stadium (the Superior Dome – affectionately known as the YooperDome).
We had chosen the Blueberry Ridge Bed & Breakfast (http://blueberryridgebedandbreakfast.com) as our place to stay for our three days in that part of the UP. We’d chosen it due to excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.com. I have to admit I was a bit surprised that this was not what I’d come to expect in B&Bs. It was a “normal” home in a regular subdivision. Our preconceived idea of B&Bs involves being either a little more out in the country, being a unique/historic house or lodge, or a little of both. This house was neither. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice home. It just wasn’t what we were used to.
Daphne, our hostess, however was definitely unique! A former schoolteacher and world traveler, Daphne knows her area. She had all the answers when it comes to where to visit, what to see, where to eat, and what to do. She gave us invaluable instruction on the ins and outs of Marquette, Michigan.
Since we’d been travelling since early morning, we decided to keep our first day simple. We went to Presque Isle Park which is on an “almost” island right in the Marquette area. Really it’s a roughly 300 acre, peninsula that juts into Lake Superior. Very, very little of the area has been developed. As a matter of fact, Frederick Law Olmsted – the famous naturalist who had developed Central Park, the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, and Detroit’s Belle Isle – was commissioned to “design” Presque Isle Park. After touring the peninsula, he declared that it should be left exactly as nature had designed it. Later a one-way drive was built which goes around the perimeter. It’s a gorgeous park teeming with wildlife (birds and mammals) that has many pull-off areas from which you can look out onto Lake Superior. While there, we saw no fewer than three wedding parties having receptions. I can understand why. An additional item of note (there are really too many to mention them all) is the largest , glacier-shaped, hunk of pure copper ore known to man. It is positioned near the log and stone lodge at the end of the drive.
We had known, for certain, that we would want to eat at a restaurant called “Lagniappe” (http://www.marquettecajun.com/content.asp?PageName=Index). We both adore Cajun and Creole cuisine. We were thrilled to find that in Marquette! (We’ve learned that college towns have some of the most eclectic restaurants. I’ll tell you about our near neighbor, Ann Arbor, in future posts.) We’re so glad that we went in for lunch as we found out that they had changed their open/closed days. This was to be the last day (Saturday) that they were open during our time in the area. Therefore, we had both lunch and dinner there. Lunch (po boys and Cajun Popcorn) was terrific. The bread for the po boys had a delightful crispy crust, yet the interior was soft and delicious. Dinner was a mixed bag. Jim’s meal was as delicious as expected; mine was a failure. I was shocked. I spent many years in the restaurant business, and I know that this can happen. A dish that is tried and true and, normally, delicious can fail. Sadly, it was my turn with the “crab chops.” They did, however, do the exact right thing. First they offered a replacement, but Jim was well into his meal and I didn’t want to start eating as he was finishing. Consequently, they removed the charge from our bill and gave us free desserts (amazing crème brulee and bread pudding). If any of your reading this blog are restaurateurs, take note! We left satisfied and content that we would definitely come back to Lagniappe the next time we get back to Marquette.