Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pictured Rocks Cruise

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is America’s first National Lakeshore, authorized on October 15, 1966. I took the Pictured Rocks Cruise about 6 years ago on an RV tour while a solo RVer, but Don had never been on it. So we booked our tickets online and stopped by the docks on Wed. to pick them up and learn more about the trip. On Thursday, we arrived just before 5:30 for the 6:15 pm sunset cruise. There was already a queue formed, and only the first 25 or so got chairs.


Don used the waiting time to check out a few of the nice vessels in the harbor.


And we chatted with other folks waiting in line.


Finally, we were invited to board the cruise boat.


Two boats were commandeered to go on the cruise, as the sunset cruise is so popular. The first one filled quickly, especially the choice seats on the top deck.


We sat on the top deck of our boat, too. I noticed the GPS was made by Garmin, a familiar name to RVers as Garmin also makes an RV-specific GPS (that I’m lusting after).


This area is cloudy 70% of the time, and a thunderstorm had passed through on Wed. night, so we were very lucky to have clear weather with very little wind. We cruised by some primitive summer cabins on Grand Island, including a lighthouse that’s no longer in operation.




I took over 300 pictures on the trip, so I’ll just share a few! This lookout is one of the few places you can drive close to. Notice the people on the wooden platform.


Bridalveil Falls normally flows in the spring and early summer. But we had some recent rain, so it was flowing again.


Another cruise boat on the way back.


Sandstone cliffs rise up to 200 feet above the lake. Rocks crumble off due to normal shifting of the earth.


Mineral stains cause the different colors in the rocks. Red and orange are from iron, black is manganese, white is limonite, and green is copper. In this picture, copper deposits cause a blue/turquoise coloration.



Little Portal Point has been renamed Lover’s Leap. But so far the guides haven’t developed a story to accompany the new name.


Nature has created caves and arches in many of the cliffs.


I’m not sure what caused the bluish-purple colors. Maybe it was just the lighting as the sun went down in the west as we looked eastward to the rocks.


Called Indian Head, although it’s no longer P.C.


We were amazed to see trees growing out of the rocks, with little or no soil to hold their roots.


Chapel Rock has a tree growing on top that’s only attached to soil with one tenacious root.


It was awesome to float into a small cove and be almost surrounded by the cliffs.


Later, we saw the other cruise boat go into this cove, and it didn’t look so small.


As we turned back for the return trip, it was nice to take a second look at the cliffs and watch the sun go down.






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More on Oconto, Finally on to the U.P. and Kayaking!

In my last blog post I mentioned connecting with Kevin & Lora (sorry, misspelled before) Miller. We enjoyed having dinner with them at The Dockside Restaurant, located on Green Bay at the mouth of the Oconto River.


Sorry for the poor quality of this pic.


Earlier that day, Don and I visited the Beyer Home Museum, built in 1868.


Photography wasn’t allowed inside, so I wish I could show you some of the beautiful and ornate furnishings. But you’ll just have to visit it yourself!


A log house from the 1870’s was moved onto the grounds by the Historical Society.


It’s furnished as it might have been when a family lived there.


We drove by the beautiful Oconto County Courthouse, with a statue of Lady Justice atop the dome and modern additions on both sides of the building.


And we saw the First Church of Christ, Scientist. A marker beside it said, “This church was organized June 10, 1886. The first service was held here October 31 of the same year. Seven years earlier Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, had founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Services were held elsewhere in the United States before this church was built, but it is the first edifice erected solely for this purpose. It was dedicated in February, 1887.”


On Monday we said goodbye to Wisconsin, where we spent almost a month, and drove about 140 miles to the Munising (Michigan) Tourist Park Campground. We are happy to have finally made it back to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula), one of the most favorite places in all our travels!

We didn’t have reservations, but when I called ahead, the woman who answered said they had room in the overflow section and we might get a regular site the next day. It’s good that we arrived as early as we did, around 2:30 pm, to have several choices of spots in overflow. By dark the place was packed!

We faced the waters of Lake Superior, “the big lake they called Gitche Gumee” (lyrics from “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot) with a partial view from our windshield between other RVs. (Follow the link to learn how the lake got its nickname.)


We had 30 amp electric and could have connected water, both of which were on the other side of our neighbor RV. Sharing electricity isn’t a good thing, especially when temps are in the high 80’s with about 50% humidity. Our EMS (electrical management system) kept shutting off the power because the wattage fell below acceptable safe levels.

So, after going out for dinner (yummy Whitefish for me!) we took our folding chairs next door to visit with our neighbors. The two couples are good friends, both the men are truck drivers and we had fun discussing RV driving. The two teenage sisters even joined in some of the conversations about camping and plans for college.


And guess the name of their Black Lab – “Shadow,” what else?


Yesterday morning we moved to a regular site, with a lot more space and much more reliable 30 amp electricity.


The view of the lake isn’t a lot better, but not bad for not having reservations. The best sites in the park, where we stayed 4 years ago, are right next to the lake, but reservations have to be made by Christmas for the following summer!


After moving to our new site, we went kayaking on the Au Train River, one of our favorite floats. The water level was lower than last time we were here, but that was earlier in the summer. We couldn’t use the gravel launch ramp to drive the car down, as a resident (an airline pilot) has claimed part of it (between the 2 signs) as his personal property and wants the outfitters in the area to pay for access. One outfitter told us we could slide our boats down the grassy bank on the left, then go down and launch. How selfish of that person to bar public access!


As we prepared to put our boats in the water, we had another “small world” experience. Jerry and Madeline Stephens were just putting a rented canoe in the river! They waited for us and we floated and paddled together. About 1/3 of the way downriver, Don stopped and got out of his boat as he’d noticed a lot of water in the bottom. It turns out his kayak had developed a large crack where there’s a screw holding the track for the foot rest to the body. Since the Coast Guard doesn’t patrol these waters, the only option was for Don to ride in the canoe with Jerry and Madeline, and tie his kayak to it. (Oh, I guess he could have swam or waded, but it was still about 4-5 miles to the end.) The kayak did fine being towed because the crack was above water level without a person inside.

I wish I could have gotten pictures of this, but my waterproof camera isn’t working. I think it bit the dust (or swallowed too much water) after being dunked in Patagonia Lake awhile back. Anyway, we’re awfully thankful to Jerry and Madeline for saving Don and making our day fun instead of disastrous! Our Angels were looking out for us again, for sure!

Later we joined them at a small grocery nearby that has homemade pasties (meat and vegetable pies)—in our opinion, the best we’ve ever had. When we drove by the day before they were closed, and we thought they might be out of business. So we were really happy to find the store open today and had a nice chat with the owners who’ve been making pasties for over 30 years! Jerry and Madeline ate theirs for a late lunch; we saved ours to eat later for dinner at home.


It was a fun day, but tiring because it’s been so long since we had so much physical activity. We need to get in better shape!