Sunday, October 23, 2005


Some way, somehow, in the morning light, our view was just as gorgeous as it had been at sunset.
I was kind of hoping we'd go rowing again, but it appeared that I was the only one in the mood. Maybe my new rowing muscles needed a break anyway.

We drove out of Curtis and headed north, bypassing Seney and going straight to Grand Marais, Michigan.

It was sunny and warm, absolutely delightful weather and absolutely unlike any weather I've ever experienced in Grand Marais. No matter how many times I visit or what time of year it is, something happens and the weather turns downright vicious, sending in a front that keeps me from really exploring much of the town or shore. Today was different.

We arrived in Grand Marais with warm, calm, mild weather. It was strange. We got a room at
The North Shore Lodge, which also has a big gift shop and a restaurant. The room was hilarious, decorated in some of the most heinous 60s and 70s furniture I've ever seen. The bathtub and sinks were green, and the room had marble-like carpet in shades of brown that was popular in the late 70s and early 80s. The bedside tables were shelves attached to the wall, with elaborate lamps that looked like they belonged in an antique shop. The chairs, the hanging lamp, the dresser and everything in this room was like a trip back in time. It was amazing.

Without wasting much time, we scurried down to the beach to start searching for rocks. It had been far too long that we had been away from our calling.

Though there weren't a fraction as many rocks on the beach in Grand Marais as there had been at most other places, we found all kinds of cool stuff, from agate to fossilized coral. We wandered quite a distance and I suggested we drive down H-58 some to reach Twelve Mile Beach (a.k.a. Agate Beach) to search for more rocks before the sun started to set. We stopped just short of our destination and got out at Hurricane River. I don't know how it happened, but somehow the lake's water level had risen so much higher than it was in previous years, the rocky shore that I was accustomed to seeing was now underwater, and the sand behind the rocks was now the beach. Our pickings were very slim. It was quite pretty, but it was clearly proving that rock-hunting expedition was going to have to be postponed until we were in rockier territory. We could drive further to get to Twelve Mile Beach, or turn back, since it was getting dark and the wind was starting to pick up, like rain was in the forecast. We chose to head back to Grand Marais.

It was coffee break time for my boyfriend and we drove back to the beach in Grand Marais to watch the waves as they were picking up, while he had his afternoon caffeine dose. Rather quickly, a storm rolled in and we were pummeled with rain. However, the storm passed quickly and the sun was out before the rain even stopped. My boyfriend, who knows everything, immediately announced that we should look for rainbows because all the requirements were in place.

As if on cue, this appeared.

And as we watched it, it spread across the sky. For the first time in my life, I saw a rainbow from one side to the other, starting on the water, arcing up high in the sky, and landing on the other side of my line of sight, on the east side of Grand Marais Bay.

Then my boyfriend really freaked me out when he suggested a second one might form. Within seconds, we saw this.

Maybe it's a little more visible in this one. It was hard to capture because the second one was so faint.

The rainbows vanished quickly and we were left in awe of having witnessed the whole event. And I was in awe of the great weather prognosticator who was disguised as my boyfriend.

With the brief rain and subsequent rainbows, the weather turned on us. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped fast. Despite the rough change, we found a cool spot to take sunset shots, with an unused and broken windmill on the sandy beach as a foreground focal point.

Once darkness had set in, we went to the hotel's restaurant and I had a mediocre dinner of fresh whitefish from the bay. It's a tradition, to order fresh whitefish from the very lake I visit, and each time I pick at it, finding only parts that are edible. It was probably a great dinner, but I try so hard to love whitefish, only to wish I had a burger.

After dinner, the darkness had settled and we visited the harbor light again to photograph it in the moonlight. It was one day shy of a full moon.

Most of my pictures didn't turn out well. The wind was so strong, so violent, that the longer shutter speeds were completely blurry because I couldn't hold the tripod still. Darn Grand Marais wind!

Back in the room the sound of the wind was pushing through all the poorly-insulated seams in the building and windows, whistling and howling loudly. No matter how we sealed the windows and blocked the drafts, the howling never ceased. It was a difficult night of sleep as the wind whirled around, pushed inland from the north, and the front that always dampers my visit to Grand Marais returned, this time giving me a case of insomnia in a hotel room straight out of the Smithsonian. What a strange night.

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