Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


It's difficult to choose just a few photos from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The dramatic scenery, alight with the late afternoon sun, is a camera’s dream.


This long stretch of sandstone cliffs along Lake Superior towers some 50- 200 feet above. The cliff faces are massive canvases filled with nature’s colors and textures. The National Park Service (that is, We the People) protects 73,000 acres of this awesome coastline.


Should you find yourself in this part of the world, I recommend the sunset cruise that leaves from Munising, MI. I monitored the forecast closely that day before buying the ticket. After an overcast morning, it began to look like a perfect evening for it.


 And it was!


"Save your camera batteries," the captain tells us at this point.  "There is much more to come".


He was right.


The vibrant colors on display come from seeping groundwater composed of iron, copper, and other minerals.




We pass the Grand Island Lighthouse.


Two-and-a-half hours in length, the boat travels slowly among the cliffs, often getting quite close. At times, the water near the rocks are only 2 feet deep (as in the arch below) so you really want an experienced navigator at the helm!


One can't help but think of Lake Superior's reputation as the graveyard for ships. And the shoals between here and Whitefish Point have been the undoing of more ships than any others.

At one point, we pull into a small sea cave at Chapel Rock. I still don’t know how the captain managed to wedge us in there (and get us out). It was intense!


We are much closer to the walls than this photo conveys. Like rocking in a giant womb!


When we back out, the captain asks “Have you ever done anything like that before?” Nervous chuckles, to which he responded, “Neither have I”!


We passed a rookery of cormorants


and more miles of vivid sculptures.





Almost dark, we reverse course for the harbor.


And return, minds officially blown. 


Thanks to Nina at Wheeling It for recommending Pictured Rocks Cruises! Speaking of Nina, I have to share this magnificent shot she captured on the same cruise weeks earlier.




Thursday, September 22, 2016

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

I leave the Lake Superior region soon, but I've enjoyed every bit of it.
  
From the small towns



to the forests



the many waterfalls



the shoreline (where you can see all the way to Canada)


the dunes


the wetlands


and the cliffs.


What a sensational trip this has been!

(Not that it's over). 

Stay Tuned! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore




 After so much time spent around the lake, I was finally able to get in the lake. 

Happy to be aboard. 
Touring the Apostle Islands was high on my list. I opted for a glass bottom-boat excursion that not only gives an overview of the islands, but stops at various shipwrecks. And sometimes even hovers over them like this! 


The Apostle Islands form an archipelago off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. The largest island, Lake Madeline, is the size of Manhattan. The population of Madeline is about 1.6 thousand versus Manhattan's 1.6 million. 


So we set sail on a three-hour tour. A three-hour tour. 


The weather starting getting rough … wait … that’s not right!  In fact the weather was, once again, ideal at 66 degrees with sunny skies, light winds, and a few clouds.


We wove our way around many of the 22 islands, including 3 lighthouses - some of which date back to the 1860's.


Though operated via electric and solar now, the romance is still there.  The National Park Service takes great care to preserve these historical structures. 


We also saw some lovely sea caves, but my best photos don’t do them justice, so here’s a web shot.


Captain Dave kept us entertained with a narrative of the history and geology of the region. 


This beautiful place was formed from about 4 episodes of glaciation. Most of the islands are completely wild and provide homes for deer, bear, and bald eagles. Here's a shot of Minnesota's North Shore off in the distance. (Especially interesting to me only because I had just come from there). 


Lake Superior really is superior as it contains 10% of the planet’s fresh water (!) with an impressive maximum depth of 1,330 feet.  Throughout the ages, the lake has served as a busy shipping route and its treacherous shoals have made it a graveyard for ships. (More on that after I visit the Shipwreck Museum). 


The remaining bones of this ship are easy to spot. It was purposefully sunk in the early 1900s. 

Tugboat Ottawa sank in 1909. 
Ore ship Sevona sank in 1905 with 7 lives lost. 

Winter is quite an experience around here when 30% of Lake Superior ices over to a depth of 2 – 5 feet. (In case you were wondering as I was, you can drive on 8 inches or more of ice).  Incredibly, during the record winter of 2014, 99% of this massive lake became a solid block of ice! 

The tour was so absorbing, time raced by and soon we returned to the lovely town Bayfield. 


Should you find yourself up this way, I recommend Apostle Island Cruises. From May to October, they offer several types of excursions. 

Next stop: Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 








Friday, September 16, 2016

Lollygaggin'

The past few days have been spent on the back roads around Lake Superior. 


I'm never completely sure which state I'm in – is it Minnesota or Wisconsin again? Or did I make it as far east as Michigan? The geography is confusing when you wind your way around the lake. 

Not that it matters much. 

There is little traffic - which means no pissed-off locals on my tail.  This rare occurrence allows the GDB to ramble along at token velocity.


50 MPH (or slower) is doable in these parts!

Miles and miles of dairy farms and orchards on the starboard side and views of Lake Superior off the port side.


Comfortable temps in the mid-60’s only add to the serene joy of Life On The Road. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Voyaguers National Park

Only 1,510 miles to get here ...



... and worth every bit of it!

It was 51 degrees inside the park this morning. Quiet, serene, lovely.



This region is remote and wild and somehow feels like the edge of the world.



I'm over-nighting on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior at Cascade Falls State Park.



The North Shore forest are filled with these glamorous river birches. It won't be long before the maple forests are in the splendor of their fall foliage and I should be around for the peak.



Tomorrow I'll explore the shore a bit more closely as the camp host told me about a secluded bit of beach within walking distance of my campsite.  He claims Lake Superior's water is clean enough to drink!  I'll take his word for it.