Monthly Archives: September 2013

2013 Trip Seven, September 12, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP

Thursday, September 11, 2013
Back in St. Paul, MN

All good things come to an end and so it has been with Trip Seven. The weather cooperated with alternating sun and clouds as we left the shores of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Peninsula and drove through the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan, through back roads of Wisconsin and arrived back in St. Paul at day’s end. But I am typing this as I watch the glorious sun rise in the east over the Mississippi River valley. This must be a portend of a great six weeks here at home before we leave on Trip Eight in late October.

Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness area

Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness area

The Porcupine Mountains, or Porkies, are not western style mountains but rise just under 2,000 feet. At the western end of the UP, they were an appropriate finish to our visit there.

We stopped at Lake of the Clouds scenic area at the eastern end of the Porkies where the rise in elevation provides a view of a long, shallow lake in the mountains. Leaves have not yet attained their fall colors but the scenery is striking none the less.

Manabezho Falls, Presque Isle RIver, Porcupines Mtns

Manabezho Falls, Presque Isle RIver, Porcupines Mtns

Presque Isle RIver

Presque Isle RIver

Michigan has declared the area a wilderness area to preserve old growth forest. The copper deposits are small and not economical to mine. Had we more time, the hiking trails would have beckoned to us.

The roads in the park were undergoing stormwater culvert improvements. The culverts were in but the excavations had not yet been repaved. It was drive a quarter mile, brake, avoid the potholes, accelerate and drive a quarter mile, brake, avoid the potholes, etc. It made us appreciate the areas where the roads are smooth; fresh line stiping on the edges and center lines are great but not always evident.

Presque Isle RIver

Presque Isle RIver

Presque Isle River

Presque Isle River

At the western end of the park and mountains, Presque Isle River forms several falls just before dumping its water into Lake Superior. The hike to the falls required us to take hundreds of stairs along boardwalks providing varying views of the falls and rapids. The swirling water creates several areas of smooth, circular potholes in the rock. Part of the creekbed is layered with rocks laid down when ancient oceans covered the area.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior


Lunch was in Ironwood MI at a local restaurant. Nothing fancy but good food and dessert. Ironwood and Hurley WI share the border of this combined old lumber and mining area. I told Chris of brief comments I had heard over the years of Hurley’s legendary status as a red light and saloon town. The town appears to be re-inventing itself but the number of bars still seems disproportionately high.

Our trip through Wisconsin was on two lane back roads, state and county primarily. We did not hit a four lane road of any size until I-94 at Baldwin. Forests and lakes were periodically interrupted by small towns. While we have been in Wisconsin frequently, this part of the state was new to us.

Home now, almost 4000 miles in this 2.5 week trip. A memorable trip involving family, historic moments, scenery, and history.

Ed and Chris September 13 7 AM

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2013, Trip Seven, September 11, The Sarahs’ Wedding and UP of Michigan

Baraga, MI Wednesday, September 11

Sunrise from our room at La Rose Wellness Retreat

Sunrise from our room at La Rose Wellness Retreat

Wednesday was our day to explore the Keweenaw National Park and Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Keweenaw Peninsula is a peninsula jutting out into Lake Superior as part of the total Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (How many times can I get the word peninsula into one sentence?) It is maybe half way between Duluth and Sault Ste. Marie.

Exhibit area at Keweenaw National Park visitor center

Exhibit area at Keweenaw National Park visitor center


The K.P. is home to most of the mineral resources of Michigan. It was the site of the first mineral rush in the 1840s, predating the gold rush in CA. Here the mineral was copper. Huge quantities have been hauled out of the area over the years. Cheaper supplies in the west and other countries have caused all of the major mines here to close down.

Sample of copper  ore at Copperworld Mining Museum

Sample of copper ore at Copperworld Mining Museum

As we saw yesterday, iron ore was a second major mineral extracted from the ground. Copper was located more in the northern part of the KP, iron further south in the main art of the UP, closer to the WI border.

The national park was established in 1992 and in 2011 opened a new visitor center in Calumet. Like several other new national parks, this one does not own vast acreage but works with other organizations to coordinate the historical heritage of the area. In this case, it is copper, how copper mining developed the area, and the ethnic and social heritage were changed.

Arch from Italian Hall. Destruction of building began conservation effort of buildings.

Arch from Italian Hall. Destruction of building began conservation effort of buildings.

Like most mining operations, particularly in the 1800s and early 1900s, major damage was done to the area. Forests were stripped, waste piles left uncovered, mines abandoned, mine leachate fouling the water. The area is still working to clean up the residue.

Having visited a copper mine in British Columbia in August, we passed on taking another mine tour. Instead we focused on the area itself. The visitor center has wonderful exhibits and videos on life in the KP. Along with a copper museum, we were educated on copper mining and life in a mining community.

The major mining company was a benevolent despot. Owned by Boston financiers, it provided health services, schools, good homes, etc. It also vociferously opposed unions, increased pay, shortened hours, etc. It faced competition from out west as the mines here had to dig deeper to mine the copper ore.

Eagle River falls along Lake Superior coast

Eagle River falls along Lake Superior coast

Strikes in 1913 divided the community and a major catastrophe occurred on Christmas Eve while the strike was still ongoing. At a Christmas Eve party sponsored by the union for families, someone yelled “Fire”. There was no fire but 73 people, mainly children, died in the rush to exit the building.

Eventually the strike was resolved but the slow process of mine closings and economic decay had begun. Immigrants from many countries had moved here for jobs, they began to move to other areas even as the ethnic diversity enriched the area. Today tourism is the main economic engine. The natural beauty of the area continues to draw people. As time heals or hides the environmental damage, the beauty increases. As one statement said about living here and jobs, “If you want to live in the UP, that is your career.” You do what is necessary to obtain sufficient income to live here.

Along Brockway Mountain Drive by Copper  Harbor

Along Brockway Mountain Drive by Copper Harbor

Our journey continued through small towns that had once been bustling. We saw three more waterfalls. One was of a nice size.

We stopped at a monastery along the coast to buy cookies and jam and then ate the cookies at a rest stop right on the shoreline.

Copper Harbor

Copper Harbor

The Brockway Mountain Drive in Copper Harbor provided a great view of the lake from up high. At the major overlook there, we ran into a couple from Farmington, MN that we had talked to several times previously. We are traveling with differing timetables but by coincidence have crossed paths at remote locations.

It was an enjoyable day. Tomorrow we head for home via the Porcupine Mountains and then Wisconsin.

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2013, Trip Seven, September 10, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP of Michigan

Baraga, MI Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The exploration of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan continued today. It rained during the night but the morning started out clear. We attempted to visit Munising Falls but road construction that began Monday cut off access to the site.

Submarine periscope at Marquette Maritime Museum

Submarine periscope at Marquette Maritime Museum

We decided this was an omen and we decided to focus on several museums instead. Our first stop was the Maritime Museum of Marquette. Marquette was an early port for the lumber and iron ore shipping from the Upper Peninsula. They have a nice little museum and a lighthouse tour.

We passed on the lighthouse tour. After you have seen a few, there really is not a major difference between them. The museum had several lighthouse lens on display though.

Second order Fresnal lens

Second order Fresnal lens

Fresnel lens were developed in France in 1822 and proved extremely effective in focusing light in a concentrated pattern that was useful for lighthouses. However, the U.S. was slow to adopt them since the head of lighthouses was a friend of the person who developed the outdated system. It was not until the dept head retired in 1852 that the US implemented the Fresnel lens. They are ranked in size from first order to seventh order.

Pocket dock in Marquette

Pocket dock in Marquette

Most of the Fresnel lens on the Great Lakes were fourth order.
There were a few as large as second order. Each lighthouse had its own “characteristic”, determined by how long the light flashed and how long between flashes.

This Michigan museum also had a section devoted to one of its natives who served as a captain of a submarine which played a critical role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific during WWII.

Marquette was the site of the first pocket dock. This was developed to more quickly load iron ore into freighters. The dock was constructed with “pockets” which held the entire contents of iron ore carried by a rail car. The pocket then emptied directly into a freighter by means of a chute. We passed one that had been taken out of service and one that was still used at a Marquette coal fired electrical generating plant.

Canyon Falls

Canyon Falls

The Iron Industry Museum is run by the Michigan Dept of Natural Resources and is located in Negaunee. Negaunee is about 10 miles west of Marquette and was the site of the first iron ore mines in Michigan. Eventually three major ore fields were discovered in Michigan, only two are still operating, both in the Negaunee area.

Michigan’s iron was instrumental in manufacturing during the Civil War. The museum and film highlighted the development of Michigan mining and was another worthwhile and educational stop.

The day was continuing to be cloudy with spotty drizzle. We passed up the US Skiing Hall of Fame to try our luck at Canyon Falls. The docent at Point Iroquis lighthouse a few days ago said this was not to be missed.

The falls are located directly on the road to Baraga. The hike through the forest was not too long and the drizzles minor. The falls though were anti-climatic. Minnesota says every body of water must be at least 10 acres in surface size to be considered a lake. Someone should mandate a minimum drop for waterfalls. The falls were pleasant, but not at all fantastic. Maybe we have become jaded.

View from La Rose Wellness Retreat

View from La Rose Wellness Retreat

After the falls, we stopped at the visitor center close to Baraga. The woman staffing the office gave us a waterfall map and guide. I told her we had just come from Canyon Falls and she asked how we liked it. I told her it was so-so and she was disappointed. Evidently it is the crown jewel in local waterfalls and we would be bound to be disappointed at the remaining ones on the list.

We located the La Rose Wellness Center which is our B and B for the next two nights. Dinner was at Carla’s Cafe (and motel), run by Carla and her husband since 1979. The Lake Superior whitefish was great and fresh from the lake.

Ed and Chris September 10

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2013, Trip Seven, September 9, The Sarahs’ Wedding and UP of Michigan

Munising, MI September 9, Monday

41 years ago today Chris and Ed were married in Southington, CT. Our honeymoon consisted of driving back to MN through Canada to Minnesota. When we got to the MN/Ontario border, it was my goal to see all, or most, of the waterfalls from Thunder Bay Ontario to Duluth along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Sable Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Sable Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Chris was a little less excited about visiting 20 gazillion waterfalls and after only 10 or 12 gazillion I had to agree and we went express the rest of the way home. So it seems fitting to be visiting waterfalls, among other activities, along the southern border of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as we celebrate our 41st anniversary.

Our first stop of the day was Sable Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The U.S. has four national lakeshores, Pictured Rocks being the first in 1966. We have visited the other three, Apostle Islands, Indiana Dunes, and Sleeping Bear.

Looking down the Log Flume site in  Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Looking down the Log Slide site in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Log Flume is in the trees at the front, the rear of the photo gives an idea of the drop the flume would have

The Log Slide is in the trees at the front, the rear of the photo gives an idea of the drop the flume would have

Sable Falls is in a forested area and drops 75 feet on its way to Lake Superior. The mosquitoes were out but according to the ranger at the next visitor center, they are vastly reduced in number. In June, she said she was practically eating mosquitoes. We had thought we would be lucky enough to avoid them as an issue and so far it has not been a major problem.

As we mentioned in earlier posts, the UP was a major logging area and our second stop was the site of the “Log Slide”. At this location, the lumbering operation would haul logs to the top of the sand dune, slide the logs down to the water, form log rafts and float the logs to Grand Marais (MI) to the mill located there.

Minors Castle Pictured Rocks

Minors Castle Pictured Rocks

Bridal veil falls, Pictured Rocks

Bridal veil falls, Pictured Rocks

We met a group of people there and one woman indicated that in her younger days she, after a few beers, would slide down the dune and then walk back to Grand Marais along the beach. The dune’s pitch is very steep and the sign posted warns that sliding down takes only a few minutes but coming back up usually takes an hour.

The road from Grand Marais to Munising (where our boat ride will take place) was paved in the last few years and made for a smooth, though curvy, drive. It seems most people still remember this road as unpaved and traffic was light. (The section from Grand Marais east to Paradise where we were Sunday is still unpaved.)

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Our third stop was Miner’s Castle, a rock outcropping that we would see from a different perspective when cruising the lake later in the day. Pictured Rocks has been so named because of the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the face of the sculpted cliffs. Our view from Miner’s Castle only provided an intriguing glimpse of the scenery ahead.

Lunch was at Joe’s Dogs, a small hot dog stand in Munising that had a dozen varieties of hot dogs. The two we had were both great.

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Our afternoon was taken up by a 2.5 hour boat ride viewing Pictured Rocks from Lake Superior. Unfortunately the day was overcast and drizzly so our photos may not be as dramatic as they could be. But they still reflect the beauty as we saw it today. And since we had a hard tine deciding on which shots to use, you will see numerous photos.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

The boat ride is narrated by the captain and a park ranger provides additional information. The colors you will see are from minerals leaching out of the ground water flowing over the cliffs. There are rock layers of whitish dolomite, yellowish sandstone and red sandstone.

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The green color comes from copper. Red from iron. White is calcium. Black is magnesium. Tannic acid adds some brown coloring.

There is wide variety in the coloring and the formations. Erosion and gravity make differing shapes of the cliffs. Grand Island which is just off-shore protects parts of the cliffs allowing more trees to grow in the area closest to Munising. Small caves form from seeping groundwater.

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Dinner tonight will be at what appears to be the one non-burger/pizza, etc restaurant.

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Ed and Chris September 9 10 pm

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2013, Trip Seven, September 8, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP of Michigan

Sunday, September 8 Grand Marais, Michigan

Sunday was a glorious day after the clouds of Saturday and the threatened rain for the rest of the week. Sunny with highs in the low 70s and we enjoyed every minute of it. Our plan was to travel along the coastal area via scenic byways, stopping at light houses and waterfalls.

View from Mission Hill overlook towards Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior

View from Mission Hill overlook towards Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior

Our first stop was Mission Hill Overlook, up a steep, one lane road to the top of the bluffs on the south shore of Whitefish Bay of Lake Superior. Lake Superior’s shipping channel narrows here as ships get ready to enter St. Mary’s River. There are also shoals and rocks and that combination, along with Superior’s infamous storms has made this section of the lake the most treacherous for ships.

Point  Iroquis  Lighthouse

Point Iroquis Lighthouse

The coast is studded with lighthouses and old life saving stations. We found out that the Life Saving Service pre-dated the Coast Guard and the men of the LSS performed heroic tasks to rescue crews and passengers during the late 1800s. Special boats and equipment were designed just for this task.

Stones on the shore of Lake Superior

Shores of Lake Superior


Point Iroquis lighthouse was open and we climbed the tower, visited the exhibits and talked to the docent who provided knowledge of the lighthouse. We also questioned him about a brief mention we had read about cranberry bogs in the area. He told us where to find them, but our eyes must have been closed as were driving since we never spotted the bogs.

Whitefish  Point Light house

Whitefish Point Light house


Whitefish Point has a shipwreck museum and a lighthouse. The film here focuses on the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking in 1975 (remember the Gordon Lightfoot song?) The ship sank not far from here but in Canadian waters. Even today there is no firm answer as to the cause. The bell has been recovered but the crew remains lost in the depths.

Bell from Edmund Fitzgerald

Bell from Edmund Fitzgerald

The largest waterfall east of the Mississippi after Niagara Falls was our next stop. We had never even heard of it before. Like the North Shore of Minnesota, numerous waterfalls flow from rivers into Lake Superior but the vast majority are less than 20 feet tall. Tahquamenon is not tall either but its flow is great across a wide falls. There are several shorter falls in a cascade and farther upstream is the upper falls. similar to several North Shore falls, the water is copper-colored due to tannicic acid.

Lower falls

Lower falls

The falls are part of a recent state park created by a donation of land from a lumber company owner who wanted the falls to remain visible to the public. Evidently one criteria was that his family could retain a portion of the land since they have constructed a microbrewery inside the park. While we did not try the beer, the beef pasty here was even better than our first one in St. Ignace. The pastry crust was much lighter and we used the side of beef gravy to make it more like a pot pie.

Upper  falls

Upper falls

Our evening lodging is in the town of Grand Marais-this one is smaller and less of a tourist destination than the MN version. Roads are less plentiful and we had been advised twice (once by our Evergreen host and once by the docent at Point Iroquis) to take the long way to Grand Marais as the gravel, coast road would be torturous on our car. Having two calls to AAA already this year made us decide this was advice worth following. The only hassle on the longer route was that caused by the usual motorcycle behavior of speeding in packs.

At Lake Superior

At Lake Superior

At  Lake Superior

At Lake Superior

We finished up the evening with another viewing of the sunset.

Monday is our 41st anniversary and we have decided to only spend one night here. The motel is clean but not quite like the Internet pictures so we are moving on to a place in Munising. Although as we booked the new room we realized why we chose this place, the hotels in Munising and Marquette are over-priced. They are 30-50% higher than most places we have stayed, priced more like a big city. Oh, well, such is life.

Ed and Chris Monday, September 9

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2013, Trip Seven, September 7, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP of Michigan

Saturday, September 7, 2013 Sault Ste Marie, MI

The Soo Locks grabbed our attention early and long. We took the two hour 10 AM locks tour by boat and had a fascinating tour of the locks and the St. Mary’s River.

Freighter in St. Mary's River

Freighter in St. Mary’s River

For those of you needing a quick geography refresher, Lake Superior is connected to the other four Great Lakes by means of the St. Mary’s River. The St. Mary’s River has a long rapids at Sault Ste Marie and there is a 21 foot drop in elevation in the river. Chippewa Indians used to portage around the rapids.

Freighter exiting the Soo Locks

Freighter exiting the Soo Locks

European settlement came early to the region. Several early European visitors are important to Minnesota also. Henry Schoolcraft, Father Jacque Marguette, and Jean Nicollet all came here first. As the area developed, the need for locks became evident and the first ones were constructed in the late 1700s.

Tug towing barge used to haul steel coils from steel plant to Detroit

Tug towing barge used to haul steel coils from steel plant to Detroit

The harvesting of lumber and the mining of copper (MI) and iron ore (MI and MN) necessitated the need for improved locks. 90% of the iron ore used to manufacture guns and equipment during WWII came through the locks. Over 7000 troops guarded the locks during WWII due to its strategic importance and fears of German bombing.

Today there are five locks in the area; two large locks capable of handling 1000 foot long freighters, one closed lock and one lightly used lock on the U.S. side. One Canadian lock is used primarily for pleasure boats.

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So our tour combined historical, geological, maritime and engineering facts as we viewed freighters coming through the locks, as we viewed a steel manufacturing plant in Ontario,
and as we viewed the workings of the locks as we went through them ourselves.

While many ships use the locks, there is no guarantee that ones will come through during your tour. We were fortunate to spot two during the tour.

Antlers restaurant

Antlers restaurant


Our lunch break took us to Antlers restaurant, a local “have to see it” place whose food was okay. You come here for the ambience. Over 300 mounted heads (of animals) are on the walls. If a person is there for a special occasion, then they go all out and play numerous bells and whistles, warning the patrons first about the loud noise coming up.

We went back to the Corps of Engineers Visitors Center and viewing overlook after lunch. We toured the exhibits and then watched two more ships come through the locks. The ships move no faster than a person walking when they pass through. The ships we saw were in the 750′ length range. The locks can handle 1000 footers. There is only a few feet of clearance on each side. One of the ships was named the “Honorable James Oberstar”. Oberstar was a long time Congressman from the Iron Range of Minnesota and headed the U.S. House Committee on Transportation.

Freighter in the locks

Freighter in the locks

Freighter in the locks

Freighter in the locks

There are certainly more facts we learned and more we could tell but your interest may not be as great as ours was.

Church and dinner wrapped up the day. The church is the third oldest Catholic parish in the United States after St. Augustine Florida and Santa Fe New Mexico, both places we have visited this year.

Freighter in lock

Freighter in lock


We drove around Sault Ste Marie for a while. You will not see any pictures. Not much to write home about.

Dinner was at a local spot recommended by our hotel owner. It appeared a little sketchy on the outside but provided cheap, decent food.

Ed and Chris Sunday September 8 11:30 pm

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2013, Trip Seven, September 6, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP

Sault Ste Marie, MI Friday September 6

Well, we are finally in the UP, or Yooper as we saw on some tourist souvenirs. Before we arrived in the Upper Peninsula, we had to complete our travels in the Lower Peninsula.

Bay Harbor Equestrian Center

Bay Harbor Equestrian Center

After our morning breakfast with the Evergreen group, we left Charlevoix and drove the rest of the northwest corner past Petoskey and up a scenic byway to Cross River. The Cross River section is along a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and through wooded areas. Petoskey is the center of a resort area, part of which is pretty pricey with the Bay Harbor Yacht Club, the Bay Harbor Golf Club and Bay Harbor Equestrian Center centering the really pricey digs.

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge


The Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw but you knew that already) Bridge is a five mile suspension bridge connecting upper (the UP) and lower Michigan. As a thing of beauty, it did not overwhelm me. It is four lanes, two in each direction. One lane of each direction is comprised of open steel decking which seemed a bit slippery. The greatest height to the water is 200 feet. It is the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world.

Pasty

Pasty

Our Evergreen host had advised that the best pasty (pronounced Passty,not Paistie) can be found at a little hole in the wall a few blocks west of St. Ignace (the town at the north end of the Mackinac Bridge). Pastys are a food supposedly brought to this section of America by miners from Cornwall England.

A pasty is basically a pot pie without the pot. The ingredients of ours were peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, rutabagas, and meat (although vegetarian is now offered for those who disdain tradition). I had beef and Chris had chicken. The ingredients are cooked inside a pastry shell. It can be eaten like a wrap or gyro or with gravy and a knife and fork. It made a nourishing meal for a miner working underground. Other ethnic groups working the U.P. mines copied this food.

Northern most point of Lake Michigan

Northern most point of Lake Michigan

We decided to drive west, instead of northeast, to Sault Ste. Marie to see more of the Lake Michigan shore line and to explore more of the U.P. Most of our planned future time will take us along the northern shore by Lake Superior. We headed west for about 50 miles and then went north and east, eventually arriving at Sault Ste. Marie around 5 pm. Rain greeted us about half way through the trip. (By the way, Sault is pronounced Soo but you knew that one already also.)

Wildflowers west of St. Ignace

Wildflowers west of St. Ignace

Dinner was in a small, local cafe (Karl’s Cafe) recommended by AAA, TripAdvisor and the owner of the hotel where we are staying for two nights. The food was very good and for the second night in a row I was able to have chocolate mousse. The restaurant is downtown and one ship went through the lock across the street from us while we were dining. The ship went so slowly a person was able to easily walk alongside it as it went through.

Tomorrow we continue to explore this town and the locks.

Ed and Chris September 6, 2013 10 pm

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2013, Trip Seven, September 5, The Sarahs Wedding and the UP

Charlevoix, MI Thursday, Sept 5

I would categorize today as our puttering around day. Chris might disagree but I get to do the typing.

Old Mission Lighthouse

Old Mission Lighthouse

Charlevoix lighthouse

Charlevoix lighthouse

We only had to travel less than 50 miles to Charlevoix from Traverse City-at least if we were to go on a direct path. As you might guess, we did not. Old Mission Peninsula sticks out in to Grand Traverse Bay and is about 15 miles long. We did a loop tour, going up the west side and down the east side.

The southern end of the peninsula is the locale for many summer homes as well as Traverse City residents. The northern end is more rural and you find numerous vineyards and orchards. Wine tasting rooms are common, as they are throughout the region. Small fruit stands where you leave the payment in a jar compete with large stands that also sell jams and pies.

Vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula

Vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula

We stopped in Old Mission to mail a package. One local we met at the door wanted to make sure we noted that the Post Office sign stated “Main Post Office, Old Mission, MI” as if the small town had multiple offices.

This part of Michigan has a plenitude of lakes and streams. Our drive to Charlevoix took us by the Antrim Chain of Lakes-“the most beautiful lakes in the world”. The color was a beautiful blue in the lakes we saw and the water was very clear.

Torch Lake in the Antrim Chain of Lakes

Torch Lake in the Antrim Chain of Lakes

We had lunch in Elk River, a small water side town to the way to Charlevoix. We picked up some Christmas ornaments made from Petoskey stone. A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil,
that is composed of a fossilized coral (Wikipedia). It is pretty well-known in Michigan. The shopkeeper directed us to a local restaurant for lunch and we managed to find the locally made ice cream store for dessert.

Earl Young designed home in Charlevoix

Earl Young designed home in Charlevoix

Charlevoix is the locale of a series of unique stone homes built and designed by a local man, Earl Young, who had one year of study at the University of Michigan School of Architecture back around 1910. The homes feature unusual stone fireplaces, unique chimneys, cedar shake roofs, and were designed without blue prints to fit the lots on which they sit. They are all private so we just walked around the outside of a number of them.

Castle Farms

Castle Farms

Castle Farms

Castle Farms

We spent some time at “Castle Farms”. This was the location of a “model farm” built by the Chairman of Sears Roebuck in the 1910s who wanted to showcase model farming techniques and the farm products sold through the Sears catalog. It did not last long in its initial farm state and after decades of neglect has been renovated and is open for tours and is an event center for weddings, etc.

Tonight is an Evergreen night and our host is putting us up and two sisters who are on their way to Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. After get acquainted drinks, the five of us had dinner in downtown Charlevoix and wrapped up the evening with great conversation as the sun set on another unique day of travels.

Sunset on Lake Michigan

Sunset on Lake Michigan

Ed and Chris Thursday, Sept 5 midnight

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2013 Trip Seven, September 2-3, The Sarahs’ Wedding and the UP

Traverse City, MI September 3, 2013

I recognize this post is being published out of order. It is also less interesting. However, I planned to keep a daily log and these two travel days were not yet covered. The wedding was more important and interesting and yesterday’s activities at Sleeping Bear Dunes more varied.

Monday, Sept. 2 we were all saying our good byes after the wedding. Travel plans had to be completed. Many of us gathered for breakfast at the Courtyard. Kathy’s flight out of BWI was first and I took her over there. Everyone else had more time before departure.

Lou and Joyce were staying in the DC area to extend their vacation. Jude and Bernie were being picked up by a friend. Bernie would fly back on Wednesday, Jude later in the week after some mid week work activities. Deb and Rebecca were driving home via CT and Carlisle and left after noon, Rebecca’s family having departed earlier in the day. Sarah Lesimer’s family was flying out of BWI later in the afternoon and Chris and I assisted in bringing them over to BWI.

Gene, Bernie says "Hi"

Gene, Bernie says “Hi”


Our travel then continued with a drive to Columbus Ohio for the evening. We skipped the PA turnpike this time and traveled I-68 through western Maryland, northern West Virginia and southwestern PA to Ohio.

We have no pictures but the evening sky was fantastic as we were in the border area of WV and PA around sunset. It rained with black and gray clouds above us. Lightning flashed nearby. Off to the east, you could see huge white and gray cumulous clouds. To the north were tinges of deep blue sky. To the west, the sun peaked through and sunset colors of yellow, orange and red were visible. Quite memorable. We arrived in Columbus about 11.

Tuesday the trip continued traversing new sections of Ohio and Michigan. We are more appreciative of the diversity of these two populous states. Large cities intermingle with farmland and Ohio’s coal and natural gas production. The terrain is not as flat as the prairie states so the drive is not monotonous.

The "Pure Michigan" theme appears to be the main travel slogan.

The “Pure Michigan” theme appears to be the main travel slogan.


Out of many options,we chose to head basically north through Toledo and skirted Detroit before passing Ann Arbor and entering the more forested region of MI. We arrived in Traverse City about 7 pm and looked for a place to eat.

It seemed no one wanted our money. We had numerous travel brochures and had picked out a few options. The first one we could not find initially. We had to double back and realized: a. the Days Inn it was supposed to be in front of was in the process of changing to a Country Inn by Carlson; and b.the restaurant had also changed names and while supposedly open, no cars were in the parking lot. We passed it by.

We went to downtown Traverse City. The second choice was closed. The third choice was open. However, the hostess stated the manager had just told her the kitchen was backed up and running very slow-yet the place did not look crowded. Having some prior experience with slow kitchens,we left.

Across the street was another restaurant. One of the wait staff was seated at the bus stop and informed us the restaurant had just closed. Finally we found a local sports bar that was open and had dinner. For a town that has a lot of restaurants and tourists, it sure took a long time to be fed.

Ed and Chris Thursday, September 5 8 AM

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2013, Trip Seven, September 4, The Sarahs’ Wedding and UP of Michigan

Traverse City, MI Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Well, most of the day was spent playing in the sand. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is about 25 miles west of Traverse City and was the main reason we decided to visit this section of Michigan before traveling north to the Upper Peninsula. Sleeping Bear is on the east coast of Lake Michigan. Traverse City is located at the lower end of Grand Traverse Bay which juts down into the state of Michigan from the Lake. (Go look at a map.)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted the #1 Most Beautiful Place in America in a competition in 2011 held by ABC-TV’s Good Morning America show. The national lakeshoe is very nice but I would not place it number one. I am more partial to western U.S. views.

I wonder how many places are the “most” something. When Lake Michigan is written about here, they frequently mention that it is the largest lake entirely in the U.S.; dropping Lake Superior since it is partially in Canada.

Until mid afternoon the day was cloudy, cool and breezy. This was advantageous as our first hike of the day was climbing up a 110 foot sand dune. The sand here is very fine, rivaling the best we have seen at Florida beaches. The wind is normally from the northwest and this evidently contributes to the sand dune formation.

Dune Hill Climb, 2nd phase

Dune Hill Climb, 2nd phase

Dune Hill Climb, phase one

Dune Hill Climb, phase one

In a few places we found rocks of varying colors but nothing as smooth as Lake Superior agates. Of course, The Minnesota shore of Lake Superior does not really have sand beaches and the water is always cold. Chris’ forays into the water found the water cool, but much warmer than Superior.

Running down the 110 foot dune was fun and easy. Going up was slow and challenging on the calf muscles. The dune climb is one of the major destinations within the national lakeshore. Families, couples (young and old), jocks, etc all were giving it their best effort. Most made it up, some continuing on to the next level of dunes which had a less intensive grade. Unfortunately, the shore is still quite a hike even after reaching the second set of dunes so we put off the beach until later in the day.

Glen Haven cannery

Glen Haven cannery

The  Beach at Glen Haven

The Beach at Glen Haven

Our second stop was at Glen Haven Historic Village. This locale developed due to lumbering and shipping. Off shore are two islands, North and South Manitou, which have sheltered and created the Manitou Passage on Lake Michigan. The Passage was used by ships in the 1800s to avoid the storms on Lake Michigan. However, shoals and rocks also contributed to making the Passage hazardous. Numerous light houses and rescue stations were located along the shore. Glen Haven was one of those sites.

Glen Haven was a port to ship local lumber. It later transformed into a fruit and cannery area. Times change and now it is just historic and recreated. The beach is part of Sleeping Bear Bay and sheltered by Sleeping Bear Point. You can still see the wooden piers used to support a long dock which train cars used to bring lumber and fruit out to ships.

Cottonwood Trail

Cottonwood Trail

Cottonwood Trail

Cottonwood Trail

Our third stop was the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This 7.4 mile road goes through woods and along dunes. A dozen stops exist to access or view parts of the lakeshore. We took the Cottonwood Trail, a 1.5 mile hike up, down, and along the sand dunes that worked those calf muscles some more. Another stop was high along the bluffs, providing a view along the lake.

By now the afternoon was marching along. We stopped at the Maritime Museum that discussed the rescue stations work. We went off road on some back country dirt roads looking for a higher overlook of the lake. (Which we found but it was not as dramatic as I had hoped.)

Beach shot

Beach shot

We finished up by driving the rest of the shoreline road that spans the peninsula created by Grand Traverse Bay. The state of Michigan wanted $8 to let us enter for a brief look at a lighthouse. It was after 5 pm and we decided we would probably be seeing enough lighthouses during this trip and past that opportunity by. We did stop for ice cream in a small town along the way though. And we passed the 45th parallel, the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator.

We had dinner at Grand Traverse Pie Company. Think of a blend of Panera and Bakers Square. The pies were very good although the choices were more limited than Bakers Square. As we returned to the Hampton Inn, the desk clerk was explaining to a couple that he was booked up for the next three nights. (We went out for a walk then to the beach across the street from the hotel for the sunset and when we returned he was saying the same thing to another couple that had not made advance reservations and were looking for lodging at the last minute.)

Grand Traverse Bay sunset across hotel

Grand Traverse Bay sunset across hotel

Ed and Chris Wednesday September 4 10:30 pm

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