Sunday, October 23, 2005


We had trouble parting with our comfy little cabin in the woods. For my boyfriend, it was idyllic and the exact kind of vacation he likes to take. I think he'd hoped for a cabin the whole trip, and only now were we able to make it happen.

Breakfast was not so good at a different restaurant in town, so I won't even dwell on that one.

While I would've liked to spend another day at Whitefish Point, we had already lost a day and needed to get moving, so we packed and headed to Tahquamenon Falls.

On the way there, I spotted a large bird of prey in a treetop, so I slammed on the brakes and turned the car around to get a better look. There it was, perched casually in a pine tree, scanning the area for lunch maybe. We weren't sure what it was, hawk, falcon, etc., but it sure was a beauty.

We arrived at Tahquamenon Falls at the lower falls first, which are downstream from the upper falls. They consist of five small falls in the Tahquamenon River, which splits around an island and then rejoins. They were cute little falls and we enjoyed the scenic walk along the river as much as the falls themselves. An added bonus was the area was peaking in the fall color season, and it was a magnificent display.

The foam in the water created interesting patterns along the slower moving water on the shore. Resembled wood grain, to me.

I had fun taking photos of the small falls. They had a lot of character and were colored so nicely with the golden tannin that is common in the area's waters.

We left the park and drove to the upper falls, which were really something.

When I say the colors were peaking, this was what the view in the parking lot provided.

The walk to the falls met us with a sudden downpour. People took cover and some tried to hide beneath trees for a slight break in the rain, but it definitely chased folks from the trails quickly. My boyfriend and I were well equipped -- me with my raincoat made of PVC (utterly waterproof and splendid for this weather), and him with my Pooh umbrella, wearing his multiple layers of sweatshirts and a down coat. I should mention it was about 50º. He always wears three more layers than I can believe. However, we braved the rain when other tourists were running for cover, which left us alone on the trails and lookout points.

Tahquamenon Falls in the rain is still spectacular.

The water falls about 50 feet, with the width across the river about 200 feet. It's one of the largest falls east of the Mississippi, though it paled in comparison with Niagara. Still, it was strikingly beautiful and far less overrun with people.

We walked the entire length of the path to the very precipice of the falls, and when we arrived, the rain disappeared and the sun suddenly came out. It was glorious!

The brisk, hard rain made the area seem even more beautiful, somehow. The leaves seemed more colorful and everything sparkled.

And the water drops! Yay water drops!

I could snap photos all day of little things I see, so I always have to push myself further on.

While on the road, we drove through Newberry, Michigan, which is the self-proclaimed bear capital of the Upper Peninsula. Though I really wanted to see a bear, it was much too early in the day and our expectations were very low. My boyfriend wanted to stop at a thrift store in Newberry, and it was a great opportunity to get out and stretch our legs, so we went in. He found an alarm clock there and suggested I get it so I didn't have to worry about it anymore. I was skeptical -- we only had three nights left before heading home, and I sincerely doubted we'd find more places without clocks. However, his suggestion sunk in and I bought it. We hit the road again and headed for Curtis, Michigan.

Curtis was a bit off the original route, but I really wanted to see Lake Manistique, and if I stuck it at the end of the trip, we'd probably end up skipping it rather than leave Munising a day early. So, we drove south, away from Lake Superior.

What a sweet area! The colors were awesome and the calm lakes of the area were quite pretty. We decided to splurge again and get another cabin on the water. Whatever forces that had worked our trip through the Tahquamenon Falls so perfectly in our favor, also sent us to the exact right spot, and we got a cabin at
A Place Resort, on South Manistique Lake. The sun was hanging high on the horizon, about two hours to sunset, and there were some really dramatic clouds rolling in, making the setting gorgeous. This was the view from the front door of our cabin.

Okay, enough of that.

Our room had no alarm clock. Coincidence? It didn't have a phone or towels either. In fact, we were pretty much on our own with everything, so having just purchased the alarm clock was a stroke of luck I say we were owed for the continual strokes of bad luck we had on our last day in Canada.

I am lucky to have a boyfriend who doesn't just sit in the passenger's seat and tell me not totailgatet, which he does do, often. He actually comes up with brilliant ideas and suggestions of things to do. When he spoke with the proprietor of the property, he asked if the dock and rowboats were available for use, and we were told that they were there for us to help ourselves.

Perhaps I've mentioned that I'm afraid of heights. This is a bleak understatement -- I'm terrified. The fear extends to water excursions where I'm not in a large vehicle, because I cannot swim either. For him to announce we were rowing out onto the lake in a rowboat, it was like saying, "Either get over your fear right now, or stay behind."

I was scared, but I said not a word and followed him out on the dock, all the way to the farthest boat, and when he got in, he helped me in with some squeals of fear, but no verbal protests. I got in a rowboat! Without complaining and fretting and totally freaking out! It helped that the water was only about a foot deep.

With our life vests on and trying really hard not to rock the boat, my boyfriend rowed with great skill and strength. I was shocked. The dock disappeared and we passed the docks of other properties and moved farther and farther from our safe cabin on the shore. The horizon was gorgeous and we pushed on.

(Taken by My Boyfriend.)

He rowed and rowed for quite some time, and I worried that he'd poop out and not be able to row us back, so I offered to row back to the dock. He said that would be a good idea. When we switched, I settled into the rowing position, and then the real fun started.

I've never rowed a boat before, and let me say right now that rowing is not as easy as it looks. The difficulty isn't in the strength required, it's in the coordination. You have to get the oars in perfect sync, hitting the water at the same time, going into the water the same depth, and pulling the oars toward you with the same strength. For anyone who is grossly right-handed like me, getting your left arm to do anything with reasonable grace or skill is nearly impossible.

The boat immediately took a hard turn and we began to spin. My left arm refused to cooperate. The lame oar splashed on the water's surface like a dead fish. We spun. I tried to counter it, and we ended up spinning in the other direction.
Sitting behind me, my boyfriend called out helpful instructions like, "Left oar! Right oar! Both oars!" When it became clear that I wasn't so good at it and I was really frustrated with my inability, I somehow forgot that I was pulling and then I started pushing with the oars. Oh, this just opened up a whole new can of worms because now I was pushing with one oar and pulling with the other, causing us to spin even faster.

Just when I thought I'd have to relinquish the driver's seat, I somehow got us moving in a semi-circular pattern, closer to the dock. Granted, we'd spin one way then spin the other, but somehow this made it 10 feet closer with each semi-circle. I was dizzy and I was furious with myself, but I was rowing. Kind of.
(Taken by My Boyfriend.)

There was a couple sitting on their deck a few houses down the shore, and they must have been watching my poor rowing ability because they waved and laughed at us. I'm glad I couldn't hear what they said.

As we approached the dock, my boyfriend shot this picture of the cabins we were staying at. Ours was fourth from the left.
(Taken by My Boyfriend.)

My parking was perfect! The only thing I did well was dock. I eased the boat in just right and it was lined up in the exact position it needed to be in. No, I didn't finally master the rowing in the very end. I found that if I shoved the oar into the water, I could push it like a pole and guide our boat that way. Too bad it wasn't a gondola. Our safe arrival despite my dizzying rowing was worthy of celebration, and I think in an attempt not to kiss the dock, my boyfriend started singing and calling me the captain of the S.S. Spinner. Well, I got us back, however I could.

After rebalancing our equilibriums, we needed food. The same friend who recommended Giovanni's in Sault Ste. Marie (who I had to reenter Canada for and have my car tossed just so I could get him a stinking mug), also recommended a special restaurant in Curtis, so we went.

Chamberlins Inn and Restaurant was one of the best restaurants I've ever eaten in, not only because of the food, but the restaurant itself was too cool. The decor was some brilliant combination of elegant and lodgy, as was the menu. We had the garlic cheese loaf for an appetizer, which was one of the best bread dishes I've ever eaten. I ordered the prime rib and my boyfriend had the vegetarian lasagna. Both of us were so thrilled with how delicious our meal was, we didn't even talk much. I noticed that the other customers were presented with monstrously large meals and they were killing themselves trying to eat every bite, it was so good. We loved it! And I know we weren't alone.

Stuffed to the max, we drove back to our cabin and watched TV while listening to the soft sounds outside. With my alarm set for early morning, I collapsed in bed. My boyfriend watched an old boxing match on TV and massaged my back while I lay in a semi-conscious state. He noticed the muscles in my back were tight and tense and he asked what I was so tense about. In my sleepy stupor I yelled into the pillow, "Rowing muscles! I have rowing muscles!" Haha, it was true. I'd not only gotten a tan in the least likely vacation area at the least likely time of year, I had also developed some buff rowing muscles from our foray onto South Lake Manistique.

I don't remember anything after that. I slept like a rock.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bird is a Red-tailed Hawk