We Moved to Da UP
This blog is going to be a guide for the new transplant - things to do, things to see. Moving to the UP is like moving to a new planet...the culture is different and strand and wonderful.
This site is going to follow the transformation of a couple of Trolls into Yoopers...or how we plan to take 40 acres and a shack and transform it into our own Mal Nation Plantation! If you came here from other than the O'Mal Alaskan Malamutes' website, I'll bring you up to speed. We breed and show Alaskan Malamutes and have always dreamed of having the space to enjoy our dogs...well, we are finally doing it - we moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and this is our story....
We were able to find a great foreclosure on a beautiful parcel of wooded land with a pretty average Yooper house. We looked at a lot of houses and most were pretty strange. This one was too. Some have commented I'm being too harsh calling it a shack...well, they didn't see it before renovation. The front door goes into the bathroom, which I understand is not uncommon. The picture window looks out at a blank wall ....the "loft" averages 3' tall.., the plumbing goes uphill and is vented out a wall ( this is the hometown of the Outhouse classic so why would I expect anyone to "get" plumbing?), it has phone jacks and speaker wire in the excavated crawlspace which was an apparent attempt at a basement which looks more like an egyptian archalogical dig than a "Michigan basement". All the heat was diverted to a front porch that can only be accessed from outside. The ceiling is falling down from water damage and the kitchen is a University of Michigan Frat house dream, the deck is on a blank wall without a door. Yes, it's a shack...but it's a shack with potential. It had some nice features too...a new furnace, new roof, hardwood floors...a decent bathroom....It's mainly so we will have somewhere to live until we build another house and eventually will be totally renovated into 2 apartments for visiting friends. In the mean time we are attempting to understand WHAT WERE THEY THINKING when they built this place?
Actually it has some nicer features than previous house ...namely 3 cell phone bars, a paved road, high speed internet, excellent water from an artesian well, and blue skies without chemtrails...so that's improvement! (not counting thousands of trees!!!)
At this point I'm amazed any foreclosures sell at ALL...the hoops they put you through is just crazy. Proof of this, proof of that, you never know who is actually running things - We practically had to beg for a closing date because they wouldn't get off their hands to do it. It was just too much effort so you have to keep nagging. It's like the bank doesn't WANT to sell it. Pretty bizarre. At the last minute closing was delayed for a snow storm in the lower peninsula...HELLO??? this property is in the Upper Peninsula where snow storms are the norm...do they think a few inches of powder would deter us from showing up? But I digress..
Then the fun began. While waiting for the snow to melt we did fun things like arranging utilities for a house hundreds of miles away. Yes, Yoopertraz is about 500 miles from Howell where we used to live in lower Michigan. It will take a few to months to put up a polebarn, fence, doghouse, convert the shack... I also want a cupola on top of something (house, polebarn perhaps?) so I can put a webcam up there looking down on the dog yard. I think it will be cool to do that. Plus I'm going to do a website called Trenaryweather.com. Dan says I should have the webcam point to a rock and say - it's raining if the rock is wet, it's snowing when there is snow on the rock, etc. I married a Comedian.
They finally sent the keys and an empty envelope arrived - they apparently got caught in the postage machine. So we had to wait for the whole house to be rekeyed a second time. When Dan headed up to check things out he discovered they changed the locks on the entire house - put padlocks on 2 empty sheds - but left access to the basement (where anything of value is...furnace, HWH, plumbing). But fortunately nothing was bothered....after contacting 5 electric companies I discovered we have one I've never heard of....apparently a lot of the things up there are out of Wisconsin.
Before After - big difference 'eh!
After living on an acre this seemed HUGE!
I'm sure you're wondering why we're calling it Yoopertraz? Well, when you live in the upper peninsula you're a "Yooper" and since fencing is going to have to be unescapable (for Superman and his cohorts) that's where the traz comes in...as in Alcatraz....I would not want an escape as there are hundreds of acres of woods around us...full of bobcats, wolves, coyotes and even bears and cougars! But just for fun I'm going to paint the propane tank which is HUGE like a UFO...after all, with ET Road and it is sort of expected....if you go into Trenary all the stores are painted with very cute scenes - even the vacant ones. So I think we'll fit right in! If anyone knows where I can get a life size alien figure, let me know!
At any rate we're moving to the land of Outhouse races and Pasties and Polkas...Since neither of us have ever lived in the UP so I'm going to document our move here. We've both visited a lot as kids, so know some of what we're in for - friendly folks and lots of snow - but I'm sure there will be surprises. It should be interesting from the point of view of a couple of "Trolls" (what Upers call people that have always lived below the Mackinaw bridge). I remember moving to Howell and wonder what the heck was a VGs....I didn't know it was a grocery store! So I'm sure there will be similar awakenings.
A few new Yooper revelations since moving here:
- If you go shopping it will be a distance...it's 4 hours to the Aldi's and Sam's Club in Green Bay....more than once we've been given the advice by locals to "Bring a Cooler"..
- It's nice that I can finally find the winter clothes I searched for far and wide down below.... adult size snow pants! snow shoes! all kinds of face covering scarfs and hats (in lower Michigan you had a choice of ONE)
- Most pharmacies are closed on the weekend (Walmart is the only option).
- There is normal time and Yooper time....Yooper time is whenever someone feels like it or gets around to it. Most everything runs on Yooper time. Restaurants and stores even run on Yooper time....so if you see them open, better stop in and say hi, eh?
- There are a LOT of beef cattle in the UP...I didn't know this and would have never guessed.
- Waterfalls are everywhere but few are marked well or are easy to find. For example, the "ice caves" near Chatham are a popular attraction in winter but the sign consists of a homemade 3x10" sign nailed on a post at an intersection pointing in the general direction you need to go.
- Jilbert Ice Cream (local) is the best there is.
- Food & Gas are more expensive...but everything else is cheaper. A gallon of milk typically runs $4.00 a gallon - but if you buy UP brands (Jilbert) they are from cows without BHT hormones
- It's much easier to find GOOD food here. Just about everyone grows something - if not a garden, then chickens, or eggs, or honeybees, or taps the forest for maple syrup.
- It's been fairly easy to find farmers that will sell you a half pig, quarter cow, whole chickens, etc. and none of them are full of chemicals. I buy very little food from Walmart or grocery stores anymore.
- It's all about who you know. It pays to be friendly and helpful because that's the ONLY way you'll find out where to buy that thing-a-ma-jig you desperately need.
- Most people here are good honest people. And they love to talk and will stop what they are doing to be friendly.
- Everyone has more than one job. Doctors raise chickens. Store clerks sell homemade soap.
- Much of the UP population is poor, but you don't feel poor because you are rich in things much more important than money: the beauty of nature around you and good friends and family.
- And below sums up the population distribution....