"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!!!