Taking Highway 41 up to the Keewenaw Peninsula through Copper Country is a transcendental experience this time of year.
The road to Copper Harbor twists and turns, ducking under canopies of golden leaves one minute and jutting out alongside Lake Superior the next. The Native Ojibwa people called Lake Superior “Big Shining Sea Water”, and on a sunny day nothing seems more aptly named.
On the way up you’ll drive right by Jampot, and everyone in the know stops on in.
It’s run by a bunch of monks from the Society of St. John. Their actual monastery is located just down the road, with breathtaking views overlooking Lake Superior.
We wandered in the monastery’s chapel later for Vespers, but our primary objective was the bakery.
We arrived on the last day before closing for the season, so the place was rammed with people from all over the Upper Peninsula looking to stock up while they can.
They specialise in organic, local jams with flavours such as thimbleberry and wild currant.
Jampot is filled with tons of other little treasures as well, like Keewenaw roasted coffee and a huge variety of honeys.
And, of course, a decadent selection of freshly baked cakes.
Having filled our little car full of German Chocolate Cake and pots of jam, we continued our journey north.
Driving up through Eagle River, you’ll pass a nondescript little white bridge. Pull over and get out, it’s one of the most beautiful falls in Copper Country.
I was bundled up in the cosiest cashmere turtleneck from Vince, in the perfect Autumn burgundy hue. It’s one of my favourite jumpers I’ve picked up this season, and know that it will last me for years to come.
Just around the left side of Eagle Falls there’s a pretty easy path to get down and explore the base of it if you’re feeling adventurous. If you’re looking for something a little more tame, the surrounding town of Eagle River is full of little historic gems.
If you head far enough into town to reach the shoreline, you’ll find Fitzgerald’s Restaurant, which boasts of arguably the best menu in the Keewenaw Peninsula.
Every table in the small building has a seat overlooking Lake Superior, but if you can call ahead and reserve one right by the window.
Their menu is fantastically local and creative. They’ve also got a kickin whiskey list at the bar.
We ordered the Pork Belly French Toast with a Bourbon Maple glaze to share as an appetizer.
The flesh was so tender it practically melted in your mouth, and the smokiness of the meat balanced the sweetness of the maple syrup brilliantly.
As soon as we finished, our mains arrived.
My mum got the Cuban Sandwich with a side of Carolina Slaw.
The pulled pork and tenderloin is smoked in the pit out back, and was topped with house made pickles, swiss, and a mustard aioli that my mother adored. Seriously, if she could have brought bottles of back home with us, she would have.
I went with the Pecan Walleye and a side of Mac & Cheese, expertly paired with a glass of Leelanau Riesling by recommendation of the barman.
The walleye was so good. The edges were perfectly crisped with pecan flour, and the flesh easily flaked away under my fork. It was topped with a light dollop of house-made cherry butter and a few dried cranberries.
I loved that the flavours not only worked so well together, but also didn’t overwhelm the taste of the fish itself. But then again, with food this fresh, there’s nothing you’d want to hide.
The Mac & Cheese was great, and although I wish the side of broccoli came in more generous portions, I can’t complain about the taste.
We stayed on the back deck a while after we finished our meal, enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
They’re one of the few places up in Copper Country that don’t close for the winter season. If I could do my trip over again, this is where I’d stay. It’s the perfect distance from everything – Calumet is only thirty minutes south, and Copper Harbor is only an hour’s drive further north.
But this time, we headed back to the car and drove to end our night in Copper Harbor. We took the scenic route up Copper Country through Brockway Mountain, and I spent the rest of the drive scouting the pops of colour in the ridge below.