"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.