Tom Powers reviews Points North

Points North: Discover Hidden Campgrounds, Natural Wonders, and Waterways of the Upper Peninsula
by Mikel B. Classen

Review by Tom Powers, Michigan in Books

Points North by MIkel B. Classen

Points North by MIkel B. Classen

Yes, yet another travel guide to the Upper Peninsula, and if you’re tempted to dismiss it and say enough already, you would be wrong. This is both a travel guide to 40 uniquely beautiful and scenic wonders or historically significant destinations north of Big Mac and it also doubles as a tribute to the indisputable beauty, splendor, and unique history of the U.P.

Unlike a typical travel guide, a two- to four-page essay is devoted to each site. The author’s love for the U.P. is obvious on every page. Whether a museum, a state park, or a 17,000-acre wilderness area Classen’s descriptions are vibrant, enticing, and thorough. Color photographs, most of which were taken by the author, complement the essays.

The book contains almost as many surprises as the “Secret Upper Peninsula.” The author credits the Au Train River as the best kayaking river in the U.P. In an essay on a state forest campground located on Lake Michigan near Naubinway he not only fully describes the little-used campground and the beautiful beach but also mentions that just offshore is the Lake Michigan Water Trail which I Googled because I had never heard of it. It seems the trail is still under development in the four states surrounding Lake Michigan and when completed it will be the longest freshwater water trail in the world.

I was particularly taken with the book’s scenic descriptions, history, and activities to be found at the 17,000-acre McCormick Wilderness Tract, the three square miles of the little-used Donnelley Wilderness Tract located in the foothills of the Huron Mtns, and the Grand Canyon of the U.P. the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness. It is another book that belongs in the car of any Troll (those of us living below the Mackinac Bridge) vacationing in the U.P. Better yet the book should be read by anyone planning a trip to the Upper Peninsula. It is sure to influence their itinerary.

Even if you are never going to the U.P. it is still well worth reading just to gain an appreciation of what this great state and the Upper Peninsula have to offer its citizens in the way of outdoor adventures and unique natural wonders. This sparkling collection of essays makes for great reading. There is no arguing with the author’s claim that the essays and the research that went into them were a”labor of love.”

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The Phoenix Rising

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Helen Ross Lee's memoir The Phoenix Rising shows us a successful nurse, mum, and hang gliding champion at the top of her game. In 2008, she suffered a tragic accident in a practice takeoff maneuver that resulted in a grievous traumatic brain injury (TBI), which precipitated a coma and temporary amnesia. Helen refused to give up or give in, regardless of the gloomy prognosis from medical experts. Her ten-year struggle to rehabilitate and return to work (with the support of her family) will inspire anyone who has experienced or cared for someone with stroke, TBI, and other long term chronic illness.

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--Michaela Kloeckner, ceramic artist, Gold Coast Potters Association

Learn more at www.ThePhoenixRising.com.au

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