Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Adventure – day 4

When I left you last I was eating a sandwich in my tent while it rained. And rained. All night it rained. The good news is that the tent held up and didn’t leak. The bad news was that my site was entirely dirt and pine needles. And when I crawled out of the tent in early morning I saw that there was at least a foot of mud and debris splashed on the outside of all four walls.

I decided I’d go up to the upper falls while waiting for the sun to top the trees and maybe dry the tent out a little before I packed it up to head home. Nothing like folding up a sopping wet, muddy tent for a long drive.

Just a little damp that morning.

Just a little damp that morning.

The upper falls are 4 miles away from the campground, and I could have hiked it. But a round trip of 8 miles through the wet woods didn’t sound appealing and I didn’t really have that many hours to fill before I had to be out of the campground. So I drove. And on top of that I accidentally left my fitbit in the tent, so all those stairs down to the falls didn’t count. Almost as if I didn’t do them.

Lots of these.  Lots and lots.

Lots of these. Lots and lots.

The falls are beautiful, of course. They have a drop of almost 50 feet and are 200 feet across, with a water flow of 50,000 gallons per second! (All of this information was taken from the Tahquamenon Falls State Park website.)

Words can't adequately describe the beauty.

Words can’t adequately describe the beauty.

There are two sets of stairs. One set takes you to the viewing platform at the brink of the falls. That’s pretty, though it’s hard to get a great photo. The other set of stairs takes you down a steep cliff to the river where you can look upstream to the falls.

Stunning even from further away.

Stunning even from further away.

I think that’s my favorite, though there are more stairs to maneuver. Just consider it a great workout.

I enjoyed walk along the river back toward the falls. It was cool and damp, and the colors along the river were subtle but pretty through the trees.

Abstract art.

Abstract art.

After scrambling up and down both sets of stairs I knew I needed to head out. The park was filling up with holiday travelers, all friendly and happy to be out there, but kind of taking away from the beauty of the place. For me anyway. I went back to camp and packed up the still sopping wet tent. After all the rain it was a beautiful morning.

Just outside the park.

Just outside the park.

Since I was so close to Whitefish Point I knew I just had to head northeast. It’s only about 30 miles. And what’s 30 miles in the grand scheme of adventuring? I’ve been there before when it was cold and windy. This time it was just windy.

Red, white and blue.  Perfect for the 4th of July holiday.

Red, white and blue. Perfect for the 4th of July holiday.

It was busy here too, the parking lot was full, and there were lots of people at the top of the lighthouse. I headed to the beach, and ran into this adorable little boy.

Enjoying the huge sandbox.

Enjoying the huge sandbox.

Don’t worry. His mom was coming along with the other 3 children, right behind that little hill of sand.

And just around that corner was the beach. With waves and wind and a freighter out on the horizon.

See the freighter out there?

See the freighter out there?

Perfect.

Wildly beautiful.

Wildly beautiful.

I was protecting my camera against the windblown sand. But still…I couldn’t be out there without taking at least a few shots.

No matter where you look, it's all beautiful.

No matter where you look, it’s all beautiful.

Sadly I couldn’t linger long as I had a long drive ahead of me if I was going all the way home. So I needed to get going. Because I was going home. Right?

Well. Maybe not.

Could this be a new campsite?

Could this be a new campsite?


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Lighthouses and Waterfalls: Part I

I know you just can’t get enough lighthouses and waterfalls are always a favorite, so here’s how we spent Sunday in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, along Lake Superior’s shore.  Sit down…this might take a bit of time.

On our way out of the Copper Country we stopped in Marquette, one of the largest towns in the UP.  There we saw the Marquette lighthouse.

Pretty in pink?

Pretty in pink.

It was built in 1866 and is the oldest building in Marquette.  There’s a tour available, but we had so much to see that day we decided not to wait.  We’ll be through Marquette again, and it’s now on our list of things to do on the next trip.

The museum there has a few retired Coast Guard boats out front, and I’m putting this photo in just for friend Michelle who is retired from the Coast Guard.

The stories they could tell!

The stories they could tell!

These guys have seen better days, but still, they’re being recognized for their work keeping the waterways safe, so it’s all good.

Then as we were passing through Munising we stopped for a quick visit to Miners Falls.

Falling water in the fall.

Falling water in the fall.

We and about 30 of our closest friends walked the short walkway back to the falls and shot the obligatory picture.  Then husband and I climbed stairs and shot one that was more interesting.  There is a lot of water falling over the cliff, unusual for this time of year, which made it especially pretty.

Onward we went, heading east across the top of the UP to the Au Sable Light Station, located way out on an isolated point of land near Grand Marais.  This is, perhaps, my favorite lighthouse, both because it’s beautiful and because it’s so isolated.  As early as 1622 this bit of land was called the most dangerous place for ships during storms because of reefs just offshore.  To get to the lighthouse, after you drive miles through beautiful countryside, you walk down a 1.5 mile path along the shore of Lake Superior.

Walking...walking...walking.

Walking…walking…walking.

We had a beautiful day and enjoyed listening to the quiet little waves roll against the shore just feet from our path and the golden light streaming in through the fall colors.  But still, the 1.5 miles seemed like more.  And then finally, finally you could just catch a glimpse.  Do you see it?

Almost there!

Almost there!

It’s a window and a bit of the tower.  And as you move closer, and then explore the grounds you see what a wonderful building it is.

One light keeper and 2 assistants lived here.

One light keeper and 2 assistants lived here.

And inside the rooms were huge,  painted as they would have been in 1910, with wonderful views of the lake outside the many windows.

Beautiful angles.

Interesting angles.

 

We stayed there a long time, and not just because we were resting up from the 1.5 mile hike in and the 94 stairs up to the top of the tower (where you could see views like this!)…or the thought of the 1.5 mile hike back to the car.

View toward Grand Marais.  They used to walk there for groceries.

View toward Grand Marais. They used to walk there for groceries.

Really.  It was just that it was so beautiful there.

We eventually had to move on…we wanted to get to Whitefish Point for sunset…many miles to the east.  But first we stopped at Sable Falls, a waterfall quite close to the lighthouse.  The information we had said the walk to the falls was only 500 yards from the parking lot.  We knew we could do that, though we were stiffening up on the drive over there.

It is an absolutely beautiful waterfall!

Once again, lots of water for October.

Once again, lots of water for October.

They apparently didn’t think it was important to mention the 166 steps you needed to climb down in order to see this wonderful waterfall.  Or the 166 steps you had to drag yourself back up after.

101...102...103....

101…102…103….

But we made it, and lived to laugh all 500 yards back to the car.

Now we had to really hurry to get out to Whitefish Point, along the eastern edge of the UP, up at the top, it’s near where the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a November storm in 1975.

We arrived as the sun was sinking, the evening was warm, the light was pink.

Beach walking.

Beach walking.

Sunday night the lake was deceptively calm and as we waited for the sunset we watched another freighter pass silently by.

Huge.

Huge.

We walked maybe a half a mile or more down the beach, clambering over logs tossed to shore during past storms and slipping on smooth Superior polished stones as we chased the sun.  We must have taken hundreds of pictures of the sky filled with peach and pink and then orange light.  I’ll share just one.  You can imagine the rest.

Sigh...

Sigh…

After the sun went down and the freighter slipped over the horizon we picked our way through the growing darkness to the car.

And we smiled.

Imported Photos 01864

 

 

 


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Keweenaw Peninsula

 

Today's adventure begins.

Today’s adventure begins.

All you map lovers out there know the Keweenaw Peninsula is that finger of land that juts out into Lake Superior from the northwestern edges of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Right?  Of course right!

I used to live there way back in the early 80’s and I’ve only been back a couple of times in all the years since.  So it was wonderful to spend a day exploring a few of my favorite places Saturday.  Want to see some?  I have so many photos, but I’ll try to keep myself reigned in.

Houghton/Hancock lift bridge.

Houghton/Hancock lift bridge.

It won’t be easy.

Quincy mine at sunset.

Quincy mine at sunset.

For starters the area was once a copper mining mecca.  In fact more than 100 years ago the state of Michigan considered making a town in the Keweenaw the state capital!  Today most of the mines are at best turned into tours and at worse abandoned.  Friday night we had dinner with friends from the olden days, on the top floor of a hotel with a beautiful view across the canal of some of the old mine buildings.

Restored historic buildings.

Restored historic buildings.

Saturday morning we headed north, up the peninsula.  First stop was the snow thermometer.  What is a snow thermometer you ask?

HOW much snow??

HOW much snow??

The winter of 1978/79 the area had record snowfall…390.4 inches! (that’s 991.6 centimeters).  The thermometer shows you how high the snow would have been had it all fallen at once.  You can also see the arrow up near the top that shows what last year’s snowfall was.  It didn’t beat the record, but it was a lot of snow!

We continued north all the way to the tip of the Keweenaw and visited Fort Wilkins, an historic site with beautifully restored buildings and displays.

Fort Wilkins..I snowshoed through here 30 years ago.

Fort Wilkins..I snowshoed through here 30 years ago.

Then we headed back down the western coast of the peninsula and saw the Copper Harbor Lighthouse…

Copper Harbor Lighthouse.

Copper Harbor Lighthouse.

…and the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse…

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

…where we got to go inside and imagine what life would be like as a light keeper.

 

What a view!

What a view!

Then we drove up Brockway Mountain for a view of the fall color, the blue of Lake Superior and interior lakes.

You can see forever.

You can see forever.

Lots of beautiful color everywhere up there!

Taking pictures.

Taking pictures.

It’s really indescribable.  You’ll have to make the trip for yourselves someday…my pick for you would be a perfect October day, just like we had.

Copper Harbor from Brockway Mountain.

Copper Harbor from Brockway Mountain.

Three magical things happened on Saturday while we were in the “Copper Country.”  We saw three bald eagles; one in a tree, one flying over Eagle Harbor, and one from the kitchen window of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.   We had dinner with a friend I’ve known for more than 35 years, and her husband.  And on our way back to the hotel Saturday we saw a beautiful shooting star.

I love the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Yes I do.

I left my heart in the Copper Country.

I left my heart in the Copper Country.