Short jaunt, l-o-n-g joy!

Just up the road from our campground is a conference center. We’ve wondered about the possible beauty of the site, because it is located on a long, narrow peninsula out into Lake Huron.

Turns out Cedar Campus, a mission of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is a really lovely spot. Even better, the staff are wonderful people who love helping others…and welcome those who drop by on a slow day!

The place operates camps and retreats for college students & graduates, church groups, and the community, for the purpose of fellowship, education, and training so they can be equipped to serve as disciples of Jesus. The rustic facilities were very naturally placed in the very lovely surroundings of the camp.

It was too hot for Ross and Ryan to spend much time outside, so our photos are quite limited.

The camp occupies the site of a former small lumber town. The remains of the mill chimney from a hundred years ago now serve as the base for the camp bell.
DSC_6817_aThe view from the porch of the main meeting lodge is pretty special.
DSC_6828_aThere’s a small bay that produces a nice beach for the camp, that opens into the larger bay to provide plenty of room for the small sailboats owned by the camp to be operated in an area protected from the stronger winds and larger waves of the big lake. The location is perfect!

All this is nice, and we enjoyed it, but our time outside was limited…so we had to be sure Ross and Ryan got some exercise and some fun while we were there.

Uh oh, some fairly tall swings.

Ross. Loves. Swings.

Can you tell?
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We tour the channels!

For weeks now we’ve been gazing in wide wonder at the numerous channels between the numerous islands scattered along the shore of Lake Huron.

Robyn met a delightful man named Dick who makes wooden signs, and while talking to him about the possibility of a sign for our coach, she inquired whether he knew anyone who would be willing to take Ross and Ryan for a short boat ride. He said he’d think about it and check around.

The next day a man knocked on the door of the coach, introduced himself as Mike, Dick’s nephew, and offered to take us on a tour of the islands!

The islands are named Les Cheneaux (The Channels). They may provide the serene setting for a summer cabin, but the channels between them provide the way to get there and the excuse to have fun doing it!

Mike was great, his boat was great, the weather was great, the water was great, and the views were….well, you decide:
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Gourd barn

Robyn heard from a new friend about an intriguing barn hereabouts and the remarkable lady who owns it.

We set out for a day’s adventure to visit it in some new territory.

Look what greeted us when we turned in the driveway:
DSC_5754_aRobyn immediately connected with Clarlyn, the retired school teacher who bubbles with ideas and activities in this more-than-a-century-old barn!
DSC_5769_aIt would be hard to define the operation, because the Gourd Barn hosts community dances and other events, Clarlyn operates workshops and other educational programs there, and she produces many and varied pieces of art that are based on gourds!

Robyn enjoyed the barn’s d├ęcor inside and out, and even found the surrounding grounds to be comfortable and pleasing!
DSC_5772_aDSC_5786_aWe left this creative spot to return home in a loop that would take us past an old, familiar spot. On the way there, we traveled some classic Michigan landscape:
DSC_5798_aThose of you who have been with us since we began this traveling odyssey may remember our fast loop through the UP two years ago. We spent all of eight days up here and visited only places where our coach could travel, because we didn’t have a car. We made some very special memories near the end of that loop when we parked in a very rustic campsite on the Lake Michigan coast facing a little island off-shore called Hog Island. The site was a ridiculous challenge for the coach (I can show you the large scratch down one side near the roof from this place!), but we slept with the sound of waves rolling against the shore all night. Ahhhh, but the best memory was waking up to see a bald eagle fishing directly in front of us! Robyn watched him operate near us for over an hour!
DSC_5812_aWe’ve probably parked in prettier spots, but this one was high on our nostalgia scale because of the connection to an earlier way of traveling and the sight-and-sound memories!

Our loop home passed within a mile of the Mighty Mac, so we stopped past near sundown.

Good move!
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What’s for dinner?

Late afternoon around here is fun, because the breeze quiets down and the sun begins its evening descent.

No surprising sundowns…you get plenty of warning.

The horizon can be nearly infinite if you look from the shoreline across Lake Huron, and it seems the fields can go forever. The sky definitely is infinite…usually with clouds coming or going…but also with a full palette of color liberally used!

Good time to be on your way to dinner somewhere.

On our way, we stopped at a small bay to see its shoreline in the early twinges of golden glow.
DSC_6927_aWe also ran across what passes for graffiti hereabouts:
DSC_6933_aOur destination was Raber Bay Bar, a place talked about for miles around. Across the street from it, this view called our names:
DSC_6940_aAfter a fine dinner of local-catch perch, we moved a few yards to the boat ramp. Someone has worked hard to make the spot a real comfortable place to be, especially near sundown….
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How about some green?

Not that kind, although we did pass two casinos….

We drove up to Brimley, a very small settlement just west of the Soo. Its claim to fame are the two Indian casinos on the outskirts of town.

We passed this graveyard.
DSC_6972_aThe wooden boxes on the ground are spirit houses above grave sites. Besides protecting the grave, they held tools and resources that the dead would need to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits.

We were headed to the Iroquois Point Lighthouse.
DSC_7026_aThis lighthouse is built where Lake Superior narrows into the St Mary River, which flows through the Soo Locks to the east.

Around the back, the land drops quite a bit down to the water level. The trees are thick and rich.
DSC_7024_aLighthouses needed constant attention, so the full-time keeper of the light usually lived with his family in a home often attached to the lighthouse tower. This one has been out of service for some time, but is very well maintained. I couldn’t get this one tourist to move along and out of the photo….she kept waving to me!
DSC_7012_aOn this day’s trip, we passed many fields with their hay bales all neatly placed near barns. But we passed a number of very large fields where the bales were still sitting in the field with new grass growing up around them, like this one.
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Another blue day

HA, no sadness here…we’re Yoopers, eh!

We headed to St Ignace on a lovely day. You know the place, just across Big Mac in the UP.

With 30 miles to go if by land, and 20 if by sea, here was our blue view.
(click on it for detail in the center)
DSC_6707_aAhhhh, but we were just getting started with blue views. Once in town, which is nestled around a curving harbor that faces Mackinac Island, everywhere we turned there was blue water and blue sky….and action!
DSC_6733_aDSC_6757_aThe harbor was certainly alive! And overhead:
DSC_6730_aDSC_6788_aDSC_6766_aAnd the boats! That trimaran was named “Night Baseball”, with a home port of Philadelphia. The catamaran coming toward it was one of the ferry boats on its way back from Mackinac Island, in the background. The boat rounding the lighthouse was another Mackinac Island ferry boat.
DSC_6787_aDSC_6806_aAt the end of the day, still more!
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Queen of the lakes

Sometimes we just get lucky.

We headed east to DeTour Village to visit some new friends, and to see what we could see of freighters on their way to or from the Soo Locks.

As we stood on the marina’s breakwater, we heard three deep, long blasts of a ship’s horn, followed by two short blasts. Bingo!

The ship appeared around the corner. It. Kept. Coming.

Tiny Elvis whispered in my ear, “Whoa, that sucker’s huge!”

Yes indeed. Paul Tregurtha, the largest ship operating on the Great Lakes complex. All 1,013 feet of it. That’s about 100 feet less than the largest US aircraft carrier!
DSC_6355_aI inquired of marina staff about the whistle signal that had been blown. No one knew, but they said a retired captain of one large freighter lives in town on the channel, and they understand many ships salute him by blowing their horns.

Ross and Ryan enjoyed the view from a platform that extended into the channel….
DSC_6414_aA few minutes later a Canadian freighter came into view, and doubled our viewing pleasure.
DSC_6430_aWe’re not sure what exactly happened with this second ship. It came past us and disappeared around the corner. In about half an hour, it came back, and right in front of us…in the channel between DeTour and Drummond Island…the ship turned around and slowly pulled up to the island loading dock for the large dolomite plant!

On the way out of town we stopped at a statue on a hillside that faces the channel. A large tree trunk has been carved into the form of a mariner with the label “The Passage Keeper.” This link should take you to a short newspaper article about the statue: http://www.stignacenews.com/news/2009-12-03/News/DeTour_Passage_Keeper_Statue_Has_Become_Community_.html
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Biggest little city in the UP

We headed out the door on a major run for the day: 140 miles each way. We wanted to scout some campgrounds in Munising for next summer.

Were a little disappointed when we saw them, but the trip wasn’t a waste….we ate pasties from Muldoons, voted “best in the UP”!

But we looked on our maps and realized Marquette was only 40 miles up the road, and they had a campground that sounded interesting.

Good move.

As we came into town, we realized there was more to this place than we’d reckoned. Yeah, it’s the biggest city in the whole UP!

Still, some perspective: its population is less than Centerville, one of Dayton’s suburbs that serves as our legal address.

For us, the most notable feature was the town’s sudden rise from the surrounding flat countryside. Turns out it has an elevation change of 600 feet, enough to downhill ski on the outskirts of town!

Not this time of year, silly….

It was lovely when we arrived. Took a couple pictures of their downtown harbor, whose most noticeable feature is a huge abandoned dock formerly used to fill ships with iron ore. No matter, Lake Superior is still lovely and very much accessible!
DSC_6556_aDSC_6548_aThe campground was great, and we’re making plans to spend time there next summer!

As we left town, we passed the county road commission headquarters and its very creative sign out front.
DSC_6563_aAs we traveled home, the full moon rose ahead of us as the sun set behind. The photo below captures the moment without bothering too much with clarity….
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The superior lake

Oh, those pejorative labels…..

Someone named it that way, and it could be as simple as it being in the superior position of the five great lakes….

Or it could be the most beautiful of the five…..

I’m not going there, you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls were the destinations for our day. And what a day!
DSC_6158_aClear blue sky, strong breeze that required a light jacket, deep blue waters, a view across the lake that showed the hills of Canada.
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DSC_6169_aMichigan has done well to preserve the setting of the falls at Tahquamenon. They occur in a large upper falls, and four miles downstream a series of five smaller ones called the lower falls. Each set requires a fair walk from parking lots.
DSC_6282_aWe visited the upper falls, which are the third largest falls by volume east of the Mississippi.

The amber color of the water is caused by tannins leached from cedar, spruce and hemlock in the swamps drained by the river. The extremely soft water churned by the action of the falls causes the large amounts of foam, which has been the trademark of the Tahquamenon since the days of the early voyagers.
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Drummmmm roll, please

The eastern edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the shoreline along which boats and ships must travel in order to reach Lake Superior through the Soo Locks.

At its easternmost tip, De Tour Village faces Drummond Island across the channel where all these craft must pass.

That makes Drummond Island the extreme eastern portion of the state. Its historic claim to fame: the island was the last British outpost on American soil following the Treaty of Ghent, finally returned to American hands in 1828.

Today, its claim to fame is more down to earth: over two-thirds of the island is owned by the State of Michigan, and there are many miles of carefully drawn trails that are designated for ATVs and full-grown four-wheelers, and an endless array of harbors and coves around its convoluted shoreline that is dotted with numerous small islands. The ferryboat to and from the island is always full of pickups hauling trailers with boats or off-road vehicles.

We found the island to have a simple approach to life and business. In its 20-mile length and 10-mile breadth, there was one blinker traffic light…at the only real crossroad. The largest marina on the island has a dirt boat launch. Equipment for rent or use by those in vacation cottages are not locked up….they’re resting on the shore.
DSC_4869_aDSC_4878_aThe few year-round residents can be a crafty, even quirky, bunch. The “unique cedar furniture” is created by an old logger who sits in a steno chair with a small chain saw. Notice the taller table in the foreground of the picture below: its legs are in the shape of a large dog sitting on its haunches….except it has 3 front legs!
DSC_5006_aWe found no explanation for the trees filled with pairs of boots, shoes, and sandals at the entrance of a drive to a personal residence.
DSC_4913_aSimple solutions are applied to common problems: directions to homes and businesses are posted at intersections by home-made signs nailed to whatever is handy!
DSC_5019_aDrummond Island was a delightful place to spend the day, especially a late summer day….71 degrees with clear skies, nice breeze all day, the vegetation so lush you can’t walk off trail, and around every corner was a lovely bay on Lake Huron!
DSC_4977_aAnd on the way home…..
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