Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Towns’ category

Tahquamenon Falls

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We explored the lower and upper falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and they are beautiful – like a little Niagara with colors like Pictured Rocks. It rained hard again last night, so the river was rocking. This is a beautiful area you could explore for a long time. There are lots of trails and lots of clear streams to float, but we don’t have a lot of time, and it is supposed to rain hard for the next three days.

Our treat of the day was to go to Brown’s Fish House, famous for freshly caught whitefish. Looking at the small menu, I was torn between yellow perch, walleye or whitefish. The nice waitress said whitefish is fresh and what people come from miles away to get. Whitefish and chips it was, and it was good. With three good-size pieces of fish, it was all I could eat. 

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We drove out to Whitefish Point to see the beach, the lighthouse and bird sanctuary. Walking out on the beach, we came up on a young man with a scope and a computer, drinking his coffee next to a tiny hut. It was a chilly, windy day, but he was there to count birds for the Michigan Audubon Society. Martha walked right up and asked what he was doing. His name was Gary, and for 30 minutes he told us about all the birds that come through here. Birds are his passion, and he knows his stuff. The puddle ducks are all gone now, flying south for the winter. That’s why we didn’t see anything at Seney Wildlife Area. Now the diving ducks were just starting to come in. The plovers have all migrated, and so have the hawks. He said thousands of hawks migrate through here. It is such an important spot because birds will stop here after crossing Lake Superior or resting before crossing when coming back north. It’s a relatively narrow part of the lake, so it’s a good place to cross. Unlike so many places, this point has gained about 150 yards of beach, including a good-sized pond. We thanked Gary for his tremendous enthusiasm and sharing his knowledge with us.

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Walking up the beach, several people were collecting smooth, round rocks that line the shore. I took a couple of pictures of the lighthouse that protects shoals that have wrecked many ships, including the Edmund Fitzgerald. Gordon Lightfoot describes it well in his song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. 

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Lyrics

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called ‘gitche gumee’

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side

Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin

As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most

With a crew and good captain well seasoned

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms

When they left fully loaded for Cleveland

And later that night when the ship’s bell rang

Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound

And a wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the captain did too,

T’was the witch of November come stealin’

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck sayin’

Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya

At seven pm a main hatchway caved in, he said

Fellas, it’s been good t’know ya

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in

And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when his lights went outta sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does any one know where the love of God goes

When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

They might have split up or they might have capsized

They may have broke deep and took water

And all that remains is the faces and the names

Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, superior sings

In the rooms of her ice-water mansion

Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams

The islands and bays are for sportsmen

And farther below Lake Ontario

Takes in what Lake Erie can send her

And the iron boats go as the mariners all know

With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,

In the maritime sailors’ cathedral

The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times

For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call ‘gitche gumee’

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early

Songwriters: Gordon Lightfoot

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Sunday, October 7, 2018

It was 48 degrees with a 12mph breeze, but we bundled up and went on the Pictured Rocks Cruise. It is usually a 2 1/2 hour cruise, but they said if it gets rough, they would turn around. I had been on this cruise maybe 10 years ago on an absolutely perfect fall day. This time it was cloudy, breezy and chilly sitting on the top, open deck so I could get pictures. I was surprised to see Martha come up top and more surprised that she stayed there the whole time. 

John, a retired National Parks ranger, who now works the cruise, sat down to look at my new Nikon 200-500 lens. He grew up in Wisconsin, but traveled all over with the parks, living in Harrisonburg while working for the Shenandoah National Park. He had visited Charlottesville many times. 

The captain come on the speakers suggesting if you get seasick, you might want to get off. I get seasick, but I was guessing it wouldn’t get too bad. He introduced Grand Island on our left that helped protect Munising from the weather. The small town is at the top of Munising Bay, named by the Indians meaning near the Island. Grand Island is 49 square miles, larger than Manhattan, population 47. 

As we cruised out with two Cummings diesel engines at 15mph, the captain told us about the park, which is 40 miles long. Water seeping through the rock cliffs makes different colors and designs on the cliffs. Iron, copper, manganese and limestone play their part. Water, ice and time carve cliffs to look like an Indian chief, a battleship or a castle. The fall colors were gorgeous, even though the sun wasn’t lighting them up. As we rounded a corner, the waves got bigger and the captain said we were heading back. We went along Grand Island on the way back. Some executives bought the island years ago and stocked it with game as their hunting preserve. There was just one problem. When winter came, the whole bay froze, and the deer, caribou and moose walked off the island. As we entered the harbor, the captain invited us to come to live in Munising. We should like snow sports as they get 272 inches of snow a year, and the bay freezes over. However there are hundreds of miles of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. He said the bay is filled with ice fishing shacks in winter.

After warming up in the Airstream and some lunch, we went to see several of the 11 nearby waterfalls. We stopped in Open Wings Art and Fine Crafts for a look. It’s a very nice store featuring arts and crafts by local artisans. Wooden bowls and vases, knitted gloves, paintings of wildlife and Pictured Rocks, ceramics, photography and many other things were neatly arranged. We walked out with a bag full of things. Then back home for some split pea soup Martha made in the slow cooker – perfect for a chilly day. 

Tunnel of Trees

Friday, October 5, 2018

We spent the morning driving the Tunnel of Trees that runs between Cross Village to Harbor Springs, just north of Petoskey along M119. It follows a bluff over Lake Michigan. Cabins, cottages and houses dot both sides of the road, and add to the scenery. We stopped in the shops of Good Hart. There are so many cabins and cottages in this land of lakes, it is fun to go in some of the cabin stores. Michigan is bordered by four of the Great Lakes and there are lots of interior lakes, all of which are dotted with cabins.

It was lunch time when we got to Harbor Springs, a darling little town on Little Traverse Bay. Seeing several local ladies going into Colin’s Cafe, we parked and went in. It is a cute, little shop that makes great sandwiches, scones and cakes, coffees and teas. 

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We walked the downtown shops a bit and bought a few little things, including scones and pastries, before heading out. Now I can’t decide where I want to live – Petoskey or Harbor Springs. We drove back to camp and took a short hike around a lake in Wilderness State Park, then made a fire, having a steak meat pie for dinner from the farmer’s market in Holland. I was surprised by a phone call from Traverse City. It was Joe from Nature & Me RV, wanting to know if everything was working all right. Are you kidding me?! “Do you call everyone?” I asked. “Yes we just want to know if you are having any trouble”. Geez!

Bike Greater Allegheny Passage

Thursday, June 21, 2018

After a night of very heavy rain, we waited until 10:00 to start biking. In the meantime I had to go see the slide, a natural shoot on Meadow Run. It is the most popular place in the park where you can slide down the river on the rocks. You are going to get bumped up on the rocks though, and our river guide recommended wearing a helmet. There is one spot where you could really bang your head, and you’re going pretty fast. I wasn’t brave enough the first day, and I sure wouldn’t do it now.

We then biked the rails-to-trails that runs all the way through the park, following the river. We started at the train station, going east, 10 miles out and 10 back. The “Yough” (Youghiogheny River) was raging. There was so much rain that every 50 yards was a waterfall. With puddles and muddy spots, you were going to get dirty, but once we got over it, we just went on. Not far from Confluence we saw two rafts filled with people hanging onto a tree. I was amazed there were people on the river. A half mile further up, there was a raft stuck in a hydraulic. It looked like it was tied up there, but it was just the churning water holding it in place, bobbing up and down.

When we got to the put-in spot, a raft group was getting instructions for their trip. I went up and reported the hydraulic hole. They said they would check it out and call the raft company. Apparently everyone got dumped out of that raft, or got out when they couldn’t exit the hydraulic. That’s why the two rafts we had seen were overfilled. We headed back down the trail and passed them. As far as I know, no one was hurt. I thought is was pretty crazy to risk being on that river that day, and the middle section is much calmer than the lower with Class II-III rapids normally. 50 miles south is the Upper Youghiogheny with Class V rapids, which is world-class kayaking. 

We had a nice lunch at the Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe. Their breads are great. Then we biked west for an hour before returning tired. This is one of the best state parks I have ever been in. If you like outdoor adventures, you can’t ask for more. It is beautiful, unspoiled despite many visitors. The campground was nice, with plenty of room. 

Hike Kentuck Trail/Visit Kentuck Knob

We hiked Kentuck Trail in Ohiopyle State Park – about 4.5 miles after the rains stopped. It was cool, but very humid, and we were the first ones on the trail, so we got all the spider webs. The river is the main attraction of the park, but there are 20,500 acres of beautiful forest and small streams. Behind Kentuck Knob Picnic Area is a beautiful overlook of the little town, the river and surrounding mountains. Hiking in the woods requires a reward for me to enjoy it. It could be along a trout stream, beautiful overlooks, exceptional trees (like the Redwoods), wildlife sightings or a variety of flowers and mushrooms. Our reward today was good exercise and a beautiful vista. 

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Just a mile from the campground is Kentuck Knob, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Hagen family. A smaller home than Falling Waters, it sits on a high hill overlooking Ohiopyle and the Youghiogheny Valley. It is built into the hill in hexagonal and triangular forms using native sandstone with a copper roof. It is a very cool house in a beautiful setting, and it has held up well over the years. The Hagen family made their money making Hagen ice cream, which is sold in the visitor’s center.

We just made it back before the rains came again, and it rained hard all night. I was going to float the middle Youghiogheny Friday, but might be a bit too much now. 

Fallingwater – Frank Lloyd Wright

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We went to visit Falling Waters, a summer house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family, owners of Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh. The property on Bear Run was once a country club. Then Kaufmann bought it for his employees to use in the summer, who paid $1/night to stay. There were cabins and activities of hiking, swimming, volleyball and fishing. Later Kaufmann asked Wright to design a house across from waterfalls on Bear Run. Wright pushes to build it over the waterfall. It is a very cool house with cantilevered balconies and patios, and steps from the living room down to the river. A small swimming pool was built as part of the house filled by the stream. I loved the huge fireplace with a steel grate and a giant kettle that swings into the fire to make warm beverages. It would be great fun to walk the beautiful grounds, but the rains came and we retreated.

After lunch, when the storm passed, we hiked the Fernwood Trail through the Peninsula. This was once built up with a hotel, boardwalks and other businesses, but once cars became prevalent, train travel to Ohiopyle dropped off and the hotel closed. Later all the buildings were removed and trees replanted. It is now a forest with only trails crossing it. For all the visitors who come here, they have preserved the wilderness feel. When you are on the river, you don’t see any signs of civilization. Ohiopyle is a cute, little town with outfitters for rafting, biking, climbing and fishing. The park is 20,500 acres of forest, streams, the Youghiogheny River, The Greater Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 mi) and lots of other trails. This is surely one of the best state parks I have visited.