"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road."
– Dag Hammarskjöld
Hello from Houghton!!
Steve and I have left Newberry and established ourselves here in Houghton, Michigan for the next ten days. Newberry was a cute town and nice if you're interested in going into the witness protection program. But for people like Steve and I that like "at will" access to the rest of the world, it was a bit too remote. Beautiful and restful, but maybe, as the Louster descrbes it, “a little too much wilderness”.
This past week we did some fun stuff. We hit one of the casinos up here and I won $70 in the game called Greenback Attack. Fun game! We were the youngest ones there (by far) and man you should have seen the looks we got. It was like we had skipped out of school or something. Bay Mills was a nice little town too. We stopped at the Point Iroquois Light House on the way and it was breathtakingly beautiful. The wind was gusting upwards of 25 miles per hour so the waves on Lake Superior were really high. There was a guy there trying to surf - - crazy since the water temperature was only 50 degrees and the outside temp wasn't much above that. Anyway, we toured the lighthouse which was built in 1870.
We also visited a logging museum and did a little fishing off the Dollarville Dam. We saw the biggest fish ever. We're not sure what it was - - either Northern Pike or Muskie - - but it was about 4 feet long. Steve hooked a big but it swan under the dock and broke his line... bummer. I had a 3-footer checking out my bait at one point but he decided against taking it. I am a little grateful that we didn't catch either because I have no idea what we would have done if we caught them. We had no net so it would have been Steve and I wrestling a four-foot fish to the ground on a very unstable dock. Anyway, the water around the Dollarville Dam is a wildlife refuge and we saw two trumpeter swans taking off. Those are huge birds and their wings make so much noise when they fly. It was beautiful to see how gracefully they rose in the air.
We had a day-trip to Manistique that was fun. We stopped at a spring called Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring) in the Palm Brooks State Park (see the Gallery for pictures). This was unbelievably cool. You board this raft and pull yourself across the spring to see various spots in the water where the water gushes in (at the rate of 10,000 gallons per minute). This rushing water makes the sand on the spring floor look like it's boiling. The water stays a constant 45 degrees all year round and reaches a maximum depth of 45 feet, although, as you can see from the pictures, it only looks about 10 feet deep at its deepest. I have never seen water that crystal clear before. It was like pool water. I wanted to reach down and grab a handful and taste the "cleanness" of it, but was warned against it. This water apparently contains a high level of sulphates and should not be consumed. After visiting, we visited the Siphon Bridge in the town of Manistique and stopped for lunch at the Emerald City Expresso Cafe. There, I had a most delicious homemade rye bread bowl of Potato-PepperJack cheese soup. Yum-Yum!
After lunch, we visited the Seul Choix lighthouse on Lake Michigan. This was my favorite lighthouse that we've seen to date. It was located on a beautiful point and the rocky shore of the lake was spectacular. The words "seul choix" mean "only choice" in French, and apparently was named because a fur trader was traveling along the coastline, hit a terrible storm, and this location was his "only choice" from which to take cover. Finally, on our way home we stopped at the Seney Wildlife Refuge and took the scenic drive around the park. We were hoping to see some wildlife and we were rewarded. Trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes were spotted frequently. There was a bald eagle nest and an osprey nest that we could see, but neither of those birds were spotted.
The only bear that we saw the entire time we were in the area were at the Oswald Bear Ranch that we visited in Newberry. This ranch rescues cubs from all over the U.S. and raises them throughout their entire life. They do not sell these bears to zoos at all, nor do they release them into the wild. They live on the ranch in very large, fenced and forested areas where they stay all year long. While there we saw several large females, some yearlings and some cubs but no males. According to the owners, the bears are slowing down this time of year and unless it is very warm outside, they will pretty much stay in their dens during the day. Oh well.
Sadly, despite the fact that Newberry calls itself the "Moose Capital of Michigan" there wasn't a single moose spotted anywhere in the area. As a matter of fact, we stopped at the tourist office and discovered that there are hardly any moose in that area at all. According to this person, the tourism director simply wanted to put Newberry on the map so she made up the slogan, applied to the state of Michigan, and it was accepted. Hmmm. Talk about false advertising! Apparently there are a good deal of moose on the western side of the UP so hopefully our lack of moosage will be rectified soon. Despite that shortage, we did see a bald eagle this morning when we left town. That was pretty cool as it flew directly over our truck. The wingspan on that bird is awesome. I am thankful that Benjamin Franklin did not get his way on the naming of our national bird. If it were up to him, we'd be celebrating the turkey as the symbol of the United States.
All in all, our time in Newberry was very nice. We enjoyed ourselves and saw some truly beautiful natural wonders. We also learned about the logging industry and fur trading and about the native Indian influence of the region. During our time on the west side of the Upper Peninsula we will see many waterfalls as the area is much more hilly/mountainous than the eastern side. Additionally, this region is rich in mining history and we will be sharing some of what we learn about that.
Until next time, know that we love and miss all of you.
P.S. Thanks for the prayers for Uncle Arnie. Apparently he got some good news in Ann Arbor about his heart surgery although no date has been set yet. Praise God!!!
"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."
– Anna Quindlen
What a week! Despite protests to the contrary, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is probably one of the prettiest places that I have been. We arrived in Newberry, Michigan on Tuesday. When we parked and got out of the truck, the smell of fresh pine (not the Glade pine, but the real pine) was refreshing and surrounded us. There's something very clean about the smell of pine.
This week we visited several cool sites. First we went to Whitefish Point and visited the Shipwreck Museum and stopped to see Tahquamenon Falls. Steve wrote about those on the "What's New" page so you can read about that visit and see some pictures in the Gallery. What I will focus on is what we will call "Locks and Rocks':
Let's start with Sault Ste. Marie. What a cute little town! I loved the craftsman and stone architecture on the houses. This city is the home of Lake Superior State University with a student body of 3500. The most important feature of this Sault Ste. Marie, however, is the Soo Locks. Steve and I watched as a ship 1,004 feet long approached the Poe Lock (yeah, I laughed about that one too since I am a Polack). Anyway, the ship entered from the Lake Huron side which is 21 feet lower than the Lake Superior side. When the ship is fully into the lock, the back doors close and valves were opened at the bottom for the higher-level Lake Superior water to enter and attain equal elevation within the lock itself. Once that is achieved, the opposite gates are opened and the ship continues on its way. The entire process takes 30 minutes and some 17,000 ships go through that experience every year. Fascinating. Steve and I took a boat tour of the Locks so we could experience the change in elevation first-hand. The trip took us from the south side of the St. Mary's River, through the Locks, and up into Lake Superior passed a Canadian steel mill. Our return trip sent us through the Canadian side of the Locks and passed Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Canadian side is home to 76,000 people vs. 14,000 on the US side.
Next, we visited a museum ship called the Valley Camp. This ship carried bulk goods and iron ore pellets from Minnesota and Wisconsin through the Great Lakes and on to Cleveland and beyond. Inside the ship were several very interesting exhibits about shipping on the Great Lakes and we learned about self-unloading cargo ships and how they work. The ship also housed two lifeboats that washed ashore from the Edmund Fitzgerald. Again, it was hard to picture something as huge as that ship being snapped in two by powerful waves on Lake Superior. Lastly, there is an aquarium right in the hull of the ship that housed all the types of fresh water fish that can be found in the Great Lakes. We also visited the River of History Museum and the Tower of History. Both were interesting and focused on the Indian influence and history of the area. Definitely worth the time spent. The one thing we didn't do that I wish we could have was to travel to the end of I-75, which occurs on the International Bridge that spans the St. Mary's River at mile marker 394. I had forgotten our passports so we couldn't make the journey across the bridge, but when we're in Florida we will definintely get a picture of Mile 1 of that great highway that I spent so many hours on every day.
The following day, Steve and I drove to Munising, Michigan. This picturesque little town is where you pick up the boat for the Pictured Rocks tour. Before I get to that, let me just say that this is a beautiful place. There is so much to do in the area it's amazing. There are miles and miles of hiking trails that take you to remote beaches and breathtaking water falls. In the winter, these trails are used for cross country skiing and snowmobiling, which is a good thing because Munising receives 320 inches of snow every year. Good Lord!!!
Anyway, Steve and I took the 2:00 boat tour as it is the only tour that takes you to Spray Falls. The cost was $35/person and it was worth every penney. This shoreline stands up to 200 feet above the water and is composed of sandstone and limestone layers of ochre, tan and brown. Running down vertically from the rocks are stripes of purple, green and white caused by the mineral deposits leaving their mark as the fresh water leeches through the rocks and down to the beautiful turquoise and blue of Lake Superior below. There are several places where water has eroded this shoreline into arches and various other formations which are very interesting to see. The entire tour was 3 hours in legth and worth the price. It was 76 degrees an sunny the whole time we were in Munising so the entire day was perfect. Steve and I then took the drive from Munising to Grand Marais via a recently-paved road called H58. If you have a motorcycle, this would be a great ride - - similar to the Dragon's Tail drive in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. In Grand Marais we had dinner at the Lake Superior Brewing Company and I ate what was grilled cheese perfection - - three cheeses, bacon, tomato and onion! Yummy. Steve ordered the fresh caught Lake Superior White Fish which he said was quite good as well. Long day but absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Consider a trip to the Upper Peninsula for a family vacation. You won't be sorry.
Lastly, the weekend was spent doing regular chores. Since we live in this trailer now, we no longer head home to do our laundry, wash the truck, etc. Both Steve and I are still adjusting to life on the road. It's only been two weeks so it still seems a little like vacation, but occasionally I get a wave of panic about the life choice we made. It doesn't last very long but once in a while I still get a feeling of being sort of "lost". I am sure I will get passed it. My schoolwork is the one common element that I have with my previous stick-home life so that keeps me grounded and focused.
Ok, you'll hear from us again next week and we'll tell you about our trip to Manistique and a bear ranch. We are also contemplating doing a little fishing and visiting a nature preserve. Until then, keep us in your prayers as you are in ours. We pray especially for Uncle Arnie and our dear friend Deanne Luce. Both are dealing with heart issues and could use all the prayers they can get. Thanks everyone.
This quote is by Storm Jameson. It was on a card our neighbors Risa and Bruce gave us before we parted ways and it really nails it.
There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute, here and now
The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
Which is exactly what it is - a miracle and unrepeatable.
HOLA. Today is Day 4 of "Lauren and Steve's Excellent Adventure" or "Holy Cow I Live in a Trailer"!!!!
The furniture has been moved into storage. We then moved into the trailer while we finished up our Toledo-related activities. Let me just say this to all of you - - if you, at this point in your lives, own 7 different kinds of serving spoons and a service for 16 when there are only 4 or less of you - - GET RID OF IT! You cannot imagine how frustrating it can be when you discover how much unused and duplicate stuff you have. Know what I am saying? PURGE NOW before it's too late. Ok that's my advice.
Last Wednesday night we had a party with Steve's family which gave us a chance to say goodbye to all of them. It
was a really great time and we appreciated everyone coming out to send us off.
On Saturday, we had a Klott family reunion up at our cottage in Gladwin. That, too, was a nice party and they even had a cake for us
For now, we are in Gladwin until Tuesday and then head to the UP - - specifically Newbery, the moose capital of Michigan. If anyone has anything they think would be particularly interesting for us to see while we are in the UP, please let us know. Neither of us have been there since we were kids and then our memories are very faint. At this point we plan to see the Soo Locks, Whitefish Point, PIctured Rocks, Copper Harbor, Tahquamenon Falls, Porcupine Mountains, and of course, the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace (how can you NOT stop at the Mystery Spot?). Thanks everyone.We're on our way to find So-Crates (get it? That's how Bill and Ted pronounced Socrates' name in the movie). Oh Well.