What to do in the U.P. now that Christmas is over

Karen Wils photo Bob makes a campfire to stay warm in the wintry outdoors.

ESCANABA — A pristine carpet of fresh snow and another layer of ice may seem like a hindrance to some people.

But here in the U.P. those things are only an invitation to get outdoors and play!

Many families get out-of-town guests at Christmas time. Some people, especially younger folks say “what is there to do around Escanaba in the winter time?”

If you have relatives or friends visiting from Chicago, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, or Green Bay, you’ve probably get the same question: “What do Yoopers do during the long, cold winter?”

After the last gift is opened and all the talking and getting caught up with everyone is done, it’s time to do something.

Karen Wils photo The Sand Point Lighthouse near Ludington Park.

It is so easy to become couch potatoes at this time of year. Those new fuzzy slippers, the Packer blanket and hand held gadgets and devices from Santa, have us all cozy and contented.

We all have enjoyed those wonderful holiday foods and sweets. Now it’s time to get moving to burn a few calories and have fun.

The days between Christmas and New Year’s go too fast!

Most of the time, we can provide our guests with a winter wonderland to play in, if the weather man cooperates.

Skiing, skating, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are a way of life in Upper Michigan.

Karen Wils photo A snowman keeps watch near the barn.

In the Escanaba area, we have a cross-country ski trail on the west edge of our town and in Ludington Park. The Days River trail in the north is a popular place to ski right into the snowy wilds.

Snowshoeing can be done near the ski trails, but if you’re adventurous enough, making your own trail is great fun. Being on your snowshoes in the quiet hush of the snowy forest is like entering a world of yesterday.

Snowshoeing into “camp” is a favorite Yooper pastime. Many camps are back off the plowed roads so snowshoes or skis are needed to get to them in the winter. My family has made snowshoeing into camp a family outing for many years.

Nothing tastes better than coffee and soup on the wood stove while the outside of camp is surrounded by pairs of snowshoes and skis.

Maybe some of your guests are anglers. Many people are not familiar with the shanty towns that spring up on Little Bay de Noc. Some have only seen “ice fishing” in movies like Grumpy Old Men. We have had friends of the family from the south who have totally fascinated by fishing through the ice!

There are so many fun outdoor things to do. Everything from walking the dogs in the snow to taking a drive to Fayette State Park can entertain and exercise the whole family.

Indoor activities that can please everyone from nine to ninety can include: go see a movie, visit the library, check out as many churches and see which ones have the best Christmas decorations, or go for an evening ride to look at houses with great Christmas lights.

A family game night with something like trivia or Apples to Apples can fill the house with laughter.

And if all else fails and everybody is bored and there is a blizzard outside, get down an old photo album and reminisce and pass down stories to the younger ones.

Making memories is what the time between Christmas and New Year’s is about. Enjoy your time. Happy New Year!