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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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