Winter wonderland

When I grew up in Detroit we had long snow-filled winters.  Weekends and holidays were filled with building snow forts, throwing snowballs and ice skating on the frozen pond in nearby Palmer Park.  This winter brought back these memories because snow, ice and frigid temperatures were this year’s story of the lakes.  Nearly 90 percent of the lakes froze solid and satellite images and updates of the percentages filled the news.

For me the best part were the photographs of the ice caves in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.  I so wish I could have done the walk to the ice caves across a frozen Lake Superior!  I saw and photographed the caves from the boat tour I took in 2012 like the one below.

apostle island ledge eyelet-4174

But what a thrill to see the images captured by those who walked the mile across Lake Superior to experience the ice caves and photograph them.  I enjoyed so many images and found a nice collection of 18 by photographers Eric Miller and Paul Johnson in Alan Taylor’s photography blog in the Atlantic.  Starting with the journey over the big lake to the caves, below are a few of my favorites from Miller and Johnson (hover over the images with your mouse for the name of photographer and click for a larger view).  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  And, of course, I trust  you will respect the copyright protections of these photographs as well as my own.

s_s13_RTX18Y5N

Eric Miller s_s06_RTX18Y6N

Eric Miller s_s15_RTX18XY6

paul johnson s_s17_00011280

paul johnson s_s18_00031280

Back in the saddle

I am finally settled in my new city and working on my Great Lakes islands book and more clear about future projects.  Been a very, very long process that continues.

For now I am sharing an island image from my circling of Lake Superior on the U.S. side with my dog Henry in a small motorhome.  This is an island in Minnesota near Grand Portage and within the Grand Portage Indian Reservation.  Lake Superior was unusually calm as you can see.  I took this the morning right before I headed south to return home to southeastern Michigan.  So it was bittersweet.

Image

Two bicyclists finish their 500-mile “Trans Superior Tour”

Molly and Rich Hoeg (source http://www.crazyguyonabike.com)

Just learned from the Lake Superior Binational Forum about the recent nine-day, 500-mile Trans Superior Tour by Molly and Rich Hoeg on bicycle in part to “highlight the importance of Lake Superior to their lives” (Forum).  Thought I’d share their information while I continue to process my own photos and narrative from the rest of my own Lake Superior trip.

Click here for the website devoted to their Trans Superior Tour, and click here for their blog that includes this Tour.  Note that as I indicate, these two photos are from their Tour website.

I was just a couple days ahead of them and would have loved to meet them on the road!  Here is the route they took:

Route that Molly and Rich bicycled August 2012 (source: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com)

From Copper Harbor, Michigan to Bayfield, Wisconsin

Funny but on this trip every day seems so long.  Not in a bad way, but it feels noticeably different.  It’s nearly 10 p.m. and I feel like I left Copper Harbor a couple of days ago rather than just 12 hours ago.

It was a gorgeous morning and I woke at 8.  My cold seemed much better.  I determined to leave earlier than 10 so I left Henry half awake to take my shower first rather than care for him right away.  That meant I got in the shower before it got busy.

Campgound showers often are in short supply.  One campground I stayed at this trip–Wandering Wheels in Munising–had only two showers for all the women!  There was a line up of frustrated women each day.  I won’t go there again.  State parks in Michigan tend to have more showers and they are clean.  Overall, I have found private campgrounds to vary from pretty awful to pretty marvelous.  They often have more amenities that I’m not interested in like pools, cable tv, and shuffleboard, but usually lack the more natural setting of public campgrounds.

I did take the time to walk Henry down to the lake.  He remains fascinated yet those precious feet of his still have not touched the water.  Lake Fanny Hooe was calm and lovely.  Campers were ready to go fishing.

Last look at Lake Fanny Hooe

Here’s my co-pilot right after I put on his safety harness and hooked him into the seat belt.  He knows the drill.  Cute, eh?  We were on the road by 9:30.

My co-pilot Henry Boy on duty

One of the campers–who has been coming to Fort Wilkins for 18 years–told me about a monastery and its jam store on the M-26 shoreline road to Eagle Harbor and Eagle River (click here for a write up on Hunt’s guide about this drive).  She raved about the monks’ baked goods and preserves.  I am so glad she told me because not only did I eventually get to the monastery and store, but came upon the marvelous town of Eagle Harbor.

Eagle Harbor, Michigan

What a gem, and I will go back.  It felt happy and friendly, and the women volunteers I met at the lighthouse were just that.

I’m not that interested in lighthouses, but I did go to the one here.  It’s a very narrow and steep entry for a motorhome and I was glad mine is small and nimble.  The reward was seeing a saltie (an ocean-going ship) and a laker (a ship that stays in the Great Lakes) going by at the same time.  While I realize it is difficult to see the boats on the horizon in the image below, if you click this (or any image in this blog) you’ll get a larger one.  [By the way, this image (and all the images in this posting) is from my iPhone.  I have much better images taken with my Nikon, but haven’t process them yet.]

In the distance, a saltie on the left and laker on the right.

As you can see, it was another glorious day. Here’s the lighthouse.

Eagle Harbor lighthouse

Back on the road I stopped once at Great Sand Bay then at the monks’ shop, the Jam Pot, and the monastery.

WordPress is not behaving itself right now so I cannot add the Jam Pot’s hyperlink, but here it is http://www.societystjohn.com/store/.  And here is the one for the Society of St. John monks: http://www.societystjohn.com/index.php.

A monk with a very long beard helped me (sorry for the very poor image quality).  I liked that he was fully present and our eyes truly met and exchanged kindnesses.  I asked if taking photographs of the monastery was alright and enthusiastically he said yes.  I left a small donation and when he thanked me I shared that I am a Quaker and respect those seeking to live a holy life.  I bought seedless blackberry jam and plum jelly plus an apricot muffin.

I had seen the shiny golden monastery from Big Sand Bay.  The monastery is right on Lake Superior and surrounded by flower, fruit, and vegetable gardens.  It’s lovely although I couldn’t help but think of how rough winters must be.  I had seen a very tall red sign in the shape of a measuring stick saying the record annual snowfall was something like 305 inches!  Of course, the snow would provide quiet and isolation essential to monastic life.

I finally pulled myself away from the monastery around noon.  I only stopped once more to get gasoline and walk Henry in Wakefield, Michigan.  We walked along Sunday Lake next to the gas station.  Nice name, nice little lake.

I drove under one rain cloud and a second cloud that wanted to be a rain cloud one day.  So a tiny bit of rain for a couple of minutes.  The rest of the way was smooth traveling with only one area of construction that didn’t even slow us down.

Arrived at Bayfield around 4 p.m.  I had called the National Park then the Bayfield Visitor Center to confirm the nearby campgrounds.  I tried the public one just north of town first.  It was on a steep, narrow, roughly paved road and the campsites were awkward and small.  Right on Lake Superior though, but with me needing to get in and out every day it just wasn’t practical.  So I drove north and registered at Apostle Islands Campground (http://www.apostleislandsareacampground.com) for two nights and possibility of a third.  Wifi works great and my site is just fine and is an easy in and out.

After checking out my site, I drove to Bayfield and bought a ticket for the “Grand Tour” of the Apostle Islands tomorrow.  It begins at 10 a.m. and takes three-and-a-half hours.  Weather is supposed to be great and this tour gets out to the most number of islands.  I’ll leave Henry in town in Ecovision on a shady street and try not to worry.  My focus will be on taking photographs and notes and just experiencing the archipelago.  Oh, I so love being on the water like I did so many summer weekends on Lake St. Clair with my Dad (and later me) at the helm of our small wooden powerboat.

I had an unremarkable and expensive broiled whitefish dinner.  The fish was good though everything else ws forgetable.  I have decided to have one dinner out a week.  I really prefer to eat lunches out and be settled into the campground to eat dinner in Ecovision.  But on travel days (which is almost every day!) I don’t like to stop for lunch and I have plenty of food on hand.

After dinner Henry and I walked around the marina then headed to the campground.  I had to use blocks on one side to get level then I hooked up the water and electric.  Each campground and campsite is different so each time it takes some juggling.  RVing is amazingly physical.  But we’re all cozied up and now it’s time for bed.  I’ll leave you with a photo of Ecovision, who likes to have her picture taken in pretty places like Eagle Harbor :-)

U.S. 41 West to Copper Harbor

Another crummy day in Paradise the Upper Peninsula: partly sunny and 70.

I slept like a rock waking up late at 8 a.m.  I fed and walked Henry, ate my blueberry muffin from the Big Bay farmers market, cleaned up, got unhooked and emptied out, and we were on the road by 10.

The route to Copper Harbor from Marquette and Ispheming is U.S. 41 West.  However, it only actually goes west until you are directly south of the enormous Keweenaw Bay then you head north the rest of the way to Copper Harbor.

The Baraga State Park day-use area on Keweenaw Bay was my first stop.  You get a glimpse of its beauty and surprising size as you pass through L’Anse.  Because it forms a large 30-mile long sheltered bay off of Lake Superior, sailors over the centuries must have loved it.  Here’s the best map that gives you a sense of its size that I could find on Google images (look mid-map for “Keweenaw Bay”):

Below is one of my photographs of Keweenaw Bay.  As you can see, yesterday’s winds have calmed and the Bay was near motionless.

Keweenaw Bay from Baraga State Park

We got back in Ecovision and headed further north through Chassell (which looks very nice) to Houghton and Hancock.

When you get to Houghton you drive right into and through the campus of Michigan Tech.  I only stopped in Houghton long enough to mail some postcards.  After being unable to find even one post office or mailbox in Marquette or Ispheming, I was happy to find one in Houghton and right on 41 West.  It was one of the large, stately, old-fashioned ones, when post offices were esteemed government institutions and a linchpin of their community.  I actually took this photo mostly for my Mom.  Mom has gathered photos of post offices ever since my sister Wendy moved to the small “town” of Casanova, Virginia, and gets her mail from what must be the tiniest post office in America.

Post Office in Houghton, Michigan

I was tempted to stop at the Isle Royale National Park office , but I felt a need to keep heading north.  There should be an office of some kind in Grand Portage, MN, where I plan a half-day trip to the Island.  So I crossed the metal bridge north into the smaller city of Hancock.  I spotted a post office there, too, right on 41 West and also Finlandia University.  The area was largely settled by Finnish and Cornish immigrants drawn to work in the mines.

Quickly the road was twisting and uphill and driving a motorhome meant I just kept going even though I spotted a sign for the Keweenaw Coop.  As the hill started to level off I came to a Keweenaw Waterway view site and pulled off for a few photos.

It was a little disturbing to see a pretty red Buddy scooter sitting there with keys in the ignition and no one in sight.  Hope nothing dramatic had happened.

Then to uphold the theme of this trip, I went again went backward!  This time down the twisty road until I saw the Keweenaw Coop sign again.  I turned right and kept going until I saw their wall of gorgeous murals.  Since I am now working part time doing education and outreach for the People’s Food Cooperative of Ann Arbor, I am having fun stopping at all of the food coops on the Lake Superior Circle Tour.  The first one was in Marquette, and I’ll add details and photographs of my stop there on August 10th soon. But for now here are some from the Keweenaw Co-op in Hancock:

Keweenaw Co-op walls of murals

Food co-ops always post community happenings.

Co-ops always have the freshest foods! And many are organic!

I had nice chat with Matt who started a month ago. Matt lived in Ann Arbor for five years and loves our very own People’s Food Co-op!

I was lucky to meet Ken Steiner who I learned was one of the founders of the Co-op in 1973. Plus he served on the board for many years and worked there for ten.

I bought a few goodies then back into Ecovision to continue on.  I stopped in Calumet to have lunch at Cafe Rosetta on the recommendation of Natasha of the Marquette Food Co-op.  She was so right, a welcoming charming cafe with delicious healthy food.  I also highly recommend this cafe.

Back to U.S. 41 West and the next stop was Fort Wilkins State Park.  The east and west campgrounds are actually on the inland Lake Fanny Hooe.  Lake Superior is on the other side of U.S. 41.  I picked out a site with view of Lake Fanny Hooe in the east campground.  It was also the campground with wifi :-).  Can you believe there is absolutely no cell phone service (at least not AT&T), but I have fairly strong wifi near the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula?

I met people who were snorkeling and canoeing on Lake Fanny Hooe.  It’s an ideal lake for quiet water sports.  Henry and I enjoyed some campfire time (and he enjoyed lots of cuddles and pets) with a lovely couple from Traverse City.  Below I’ll post a few photos from this campground and then it’s time to turn out the light.  Tomorrow I have a five-hour drive to Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the Apostle Islands.  I’ll stay there two nights like I did for Grand Island.

Viewing deck across from my campsite.

The essence of Lake Fanny Hooe.

Family fun on the lake.

Henry is still avoiding getting his feet wet, but has found his own way to enjoy a lake.
He says good night!

Heading north on Monday!

My first morning with Ecovision was glorious. Since I’ve learned there is much pleasure balanced with much work to the RV lifestyle.

Amazingly this cold is just about gone after just 4 days so I’m in the midst of packing for nearly a month on the road.

When I first got my RV I was stunned to hear my friends say they needed a week to get their RV ready for the season. Well, this is my third summer with a RV and I now completely understand. I’ve been out already this summer so the basics like pots and pans, atlases, cleaning products, dinnerware, CB radio, and RV essentials like hoses and power cords are in place. Yet what needs to be added is still extensive: a couple weeks of clothing, food for up to 30 days, electronics, condiments, paper products, fresh sheets and towels, my dog Henry’s food and supplies, medical kit, bug juice, sunscreen, toiletries, etc. You get the idea. With a RV you are truly taking your home with you on the road. It’s an amazing amount of work.

I’ve made progress, but I’m glad I have another day. I cook and freeze meals ahead plus my friend Rachel introduced me to these yummy canned meals from France. I take cans of chicken, tuna, and roast beef plus load the refrigerator with fresh organic vegetables and fruits and condiments. I replenish the fresh food along the way looking for roadside stands, farmers markets, and food co-ops. I always have lots of peanut butter and a big jug of water in a special BPA-free container with a spigot that sits in my sink as I travel. I use this water for cooking, drinking, and filling Henry’s water bowl.

All of these things need to be loaded plus all the clothing and things like laundry detergent and a gad-zillion books about Lake Superior and her islands. Yes, I have a Kindle, but few of my collection of books collected over the last 25 years are available as ebooks. Sigh. As you can see, it is a huge task to get a RV on the road. This is made more challenging because I keep my motorhome six or seven miles south of my home so many trips back and forth are needed. But somehow it will all be done in time for Henry and me to head north Monday morning.

I’m hoping to get as close to Whitefish Point Bird Observatory as possible by late afternoon Monday.  Leaving a couple days later than I planned is pushing me to have a long first day. Weather should cooperate. That’s another thing I’ve learned about RVing: bad weather means staying put. Try driving a big box RV on a windy day or through driving rain and storms just once and you’ll not do it again.

I can hardly wait to smell and feel the north air! Is there anything better?! I may stop on either the south or north side of the bridge just to enjoy the Straits and the several lovely islands in that area. The Big Mac. What a bridge. Michiganders have called the Mackinac Bridge the Big Mac long before there was a hamburger with that name. I still remember going across the bridge for the first time as a child soon after it was built in the 1950s. Have loved it ever since.

North of the bridge it will be straight north although I do want to stop at Tahquamenonn Falls. But for now it is time to get back to packing enough clothes to keep me away from a laundromat a couple weeks. Perhaps until I reach Thunder Bay?