Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lake Superior Circle Tour -- Day 19

It was an early morning wake-up at the Long Ships Motel, and there was much activity as we loaded up the car to leave at 10 am. A gigantic ship was in the closest lock, moving ever so slowly toward us, and the closeness was quite surprising.

We were watching the Algolake ease its way into the first lock, and it looked as if it was driving down a third lane of traffic on Portage Street in downtown Soo. How wild!

We were close enough to stand by our car in the lot at the motel, and wave to the men on the ship. Sincerely, the locks are really something! I always forget how cool it is to see the ships in the canal, so close you could reach out and touch them.

That is, if not for the incredible amount of security. One of the shopkeepers said that the town was overrun by authorities. They had local police, county police, and state police there all the time, in addition to the Border Patrol and recently, Homeland Security moved in and put up signs about every 10 feet along the locks, announcing that they were in charge. The woman said you couldn't go 2 miles over the speed limit without being pulled over by any number of uniformed officials, searched, and detained these days. Oh, isn't that nice?

It was a rainy day in the U.P., with fog and mist everywhere we looked. We drove out of town toward the highway to start heading west, away from the Soo, and stopped at a restaurant called Abner's for breakfast. It was, hands down, one of the best breakfasts I've ever eaten. This place made its own bread, trimmed its own meat, made all their soups from scratch, and there was nothing... NOTHING... on the menu that I didn't want to try. So good! And after breakfast, we drove farther out of town and realized just how far town was. Soo, Michigan is huge! We ate the night before at Hungry Howie's, assuming it was the end of the road for food after 8 PM, but beyond that there were heaps of restaurants, chains and ma-and-pop places! Oh, how stupid of me! Anyway, we vowed to remember this next time around.

Somehow, I missed my turn-off and we went a little out of the way, but we found ourselves in Brimley just as we anticipated. And there, right before my eyes, was a bag of Funyuns on the shelf at a gas station, Funyuns that I had been craving for days, yet could not find a single bag of in any store in Canada. I promptly bought them and we headed to the next destination.

Point Iroquois Light Station is a beautiful spot to stop and admire the view. There is a pathway leading around the property, to the lake and up to the parking lot, and it's so worth the time.

The lighthouse itself is quite old and reputed to be haunted. Although we didn't see anything suspicious, we were on the lookout.

Here again, many of the trees were starting to change color, and even in the rain, you could see the land was quite dry and brittle. Still, the trees looked great through the fog, as did the lighthouse.

Inside the building was an area devoted to preserving relics of yesteryear, with the old light mounted on a stand in the center of the keeper's living area. There were some elements that clearly were much newer, too.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire walked up the many stairs to the top of the light, while I perused the gift shop inside. When he joined me after, he asked embarrassingly said that he'd been standing up there waving to my car, thinking I was in it, and here I was in the gift shop all along. Hee hee hee. Maybe the ghost was waving back.

After the lighthouse, we drove through the Bay Mills Indian Reservation and stopped at a wayside just outside of the reservation land. On this rainy, foggy day, the receding lake looked quite eerie.

You could tell that this had once been a great swimming beach, but the low lake level had changed all that. Given the dampness in the air, I should've expected the mosquitoes to be terrible, but once again, I ventured into the open without my protective bug spray. B.E., who doesn't get attacked by the bugs or go into the outdoors without most of his skin covered unless it's over 80ยบ, was safely able to explore the beach and sandbars.

I stayed dry beneath the branches of some conifers, taking raindrop pictures.

And some raindrop macros.

I made a little friend in a tree nearby, though none of my pictures of him turned out quite clear. I wasn't sure what kind of bird he was until I was able to later look him up in a book, but he kept walking down the trunk of the tree head-first. An upside-down bird! How cool!

We enjoyed a coffee break on the eerie lakeside with Funyuns, and then finished our drive to Paradise, Michigan. The scene from the car was just as nice.

It was a bit early, so we drove straight to Whitefish Point and the Shipwreck Museum. Having already been through the museum before, we went to the beach, where we immediately started wandering the shore and rock-picking. With pockets full of beautiful rocks and very little blood left in my body that the mosquitoes hadn't taken, I left for the Bird Observatory. Once B.E. and I were inside, we devoted our time to looking up the little upside-down bird I met. Chickadee? No. Then B.E. found it. A red-breasted nuthatch! That's it! Famous for walking head-first down trees.

When it started to get cooler and darker, we left to check in at our motel in Paradise. We asked for a recommendation for dinner, and the proprietor suggested we quickly head to the local bakery/restaurant, because it closed early. It was much too late. The place had closed at 4. The only other restaurant in town closed all day on Wednesdays, so we were pretty much out of luck. Our only option was to drive to Tahquamenon Falls and have dinner at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, which is quite a distance for a meal. Yet, it was a tremendously good meal! AND it was still early enough to hit their gift shops. Yay!

We drove back to our motel room in the pitch dark, afraid to encounter a moose, and when we finally made it back, I was happy to finally be settled in for the night.

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