Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hello Upper Michigan!

To the UP! We were finally able to leave Rock Island and island hop up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Gearing up after seeing that it was going to be one of our toughest days yet.

The day we left there were of course north winds blowing directly against us on our way to the first island of St. Martin. It literally took us 4 hours to paddle the 4 miles to this island - and we couldn't help but think that this was only the first island. Traveling at 1mph would make those last 10-15 miles up to the UP a longgg one. Fortunately, when we turned the corner of St. Martin the winds calmed a bit. Looking at our gps we saw that the next island was about 7 miles away - remembering that we were traveling approximately 1mph made us think it would be wise to hug closer to Poverty Island, Big Summer, and Little Summer islands in case night fall came before we reached the tip of the Garden Peninsula. After paddling through some rain we saw a boat coming close to us - it was the first boat we had seen out on the water, so we assumed it was our friend Dan coming to meet us. Our first UP friend of the trip! 
He snapped this shot of us sailing towards him - the wind had died enough to give us some relief from paddling. It was so light that we were moving at a snails pace, but it was better than paddling more after the day we had. Dan showed us the way past Little Summer. It is very rocky and shallow around the islands so even where it looks like you can make a passage you sometimes can't. We were so happy to make it to Fairport, MI! We were even greeted with waving flags from Dan and Mary's friends Dorothy and Jim - what an arrival!
We had lots of fun hanging out with Mary and Dan for a few days while the strong north winds blew - huge waves all over Lake Michigan! Mary raises Monarchs; here is a teeny tiny caterpillar that had just hatched a few days ago.
Looking out of Dan's spotting scope - this is where he first saw our tiny blue sail between the islands and headed out on his boat to meet us. We later enjoyed looking out at the swans, pelicans, and cormorants that hang out on the rocky shoals. 

Can you see them?
Mary and Dan's lovely home!
We went to the only diner in Fairport, Sherry's Port, for breakfast. Yoopers, that's what they call them. And they sure are a fun and friendly bunch!
Dan and Mary took us to Fayette Historic State Park where charcoal pig iron was manufactured during the late 1800's. It was once a bustling industrial town, but new steel manufacturing processes took over at the turn of the century, leading to the town's demise.

Aren't these old charcoal kilns great though? 
As we waited for winds to die, we went to Kitch-iti-kipi, a beautiful natural spring, with our new friend Susan. I hung out with her crazy dog Canon on the ride there - this is her tired out after jumping around in the back seat. 

We took the cable raft out into the middle of the spring fed pool for a closer look. The color of the spring was a gorgeous turquoise. You could see the water bubbling up from the sandy bottom about 40 feet down. There are also huge trout in the spring!
The next morning we went to the small town farmer's market in Fairport. That day there were only 4 picnic tables full, but still some pretty neat stuff available!

In Manistique we tried to go see Batman - it was a fail because the movie theatre had just switched movies that day. So instead we went to pick up some warmer clothes at a local outdoor store. It's getting cold up here! Mary wanted to get these hats, but I wouldn't let her because I already crotched us red stocking caps.
At dinner with our great new UP friends!
The next day we were finally able to leave Fairport and head up the peninsula. The winds looked favorable so we decided that we would just go as far as we could this day. Dan had helped us organize some gps coordinates for possible stopping points for the day depending on how far we were able to make it. We just decided to go for gold - 43 miles were paddled, sailed, then paddled, then sailed, then paddled on Day 43. How fitting! It was our longest day yet, so we were so thankful to have these cozy beds at Ellen and Pete's home past Manistique. 

I felt like I was in a storybook! Everything was perfect.
One of Ellen and Pete's adorable dogs. In her chair of course.
Pete is a great artist - he does beautiful chip carving woodwork.
This is the piece he is working on right now. It's a long process, but the end result is completely worth it!
An amazing home with amazing people in it!
Getting ready to leave Ellen and Pete's. 
We got a few miles away and saw this ring rainbow around the sun - it was crazy! I have seen faint ones before, but this photo doesn't do this one justice. Nerd Alert - this is known as a 22° halo. It's caused by tiny ice crystals contained in high cirrostratus clouds. The sunlight (or moonlight) refracts through the ice at a 22 degree angle, making a visible ring around the sun. 

Amy saying, "Where are we?" It's a common theme on this trip so far. I guess the navigator should know where we usually are, but I don't always.
Calm glassy waters on our way to Seul Choix lighthouse. We hadn't seen the water this calm in weeks it seemed!
A replica of the Seul Choix lighthouse, hand built by someone using thousands of tiny wood blocks. Sounds time consuming! (says the girl who built a dugout canoe, and the girls who are going around Lake Michigan in it)
A view from the top! Beaver Island and Hog Island in the distance.
The gift shop at the lighthouse had some hilarious literature selections. This is the Great Lakes Romance Series.
We headed across the bay from the lighthouse and set up camp next to Port Inland Limestone Operations. It was cold and looked like it was going to be stormy, so Amy wasted no time at all getting into the tent and into her sleeping bag!
Inland Steel, in Gary, Indiana, developed this port in 1930 to provide the calcium oxide used as flux to remove impurities in the steel making process. We watched freighters come in all night and wait to pull in to load up with limestone. They are huge!
In the middle of the night we could only see their lights, but in the morning there were still two waiting in line to get into the harbor we had to cross.
Pretty waters after we crossed the harbor and made our way to Big Knob Campground.
Always navigating - "I know we are within 2 miles of the campsite."
We pulled up and then we checked the gps again - "46 seconds away from Big Knob Campground." Right on target and we didn't even know it!
It was a mucky beach to roll Makeba up on though. 
Looks like the storms a'comin! Better set up camp quick tonight.
We luckily met some fellow campers, Doug and Karen, who invited us over for some hot coffee and some good company under their tarp to keep out of the rain. Here we are getting ready to leave in the morning - foggy, calm, and shallow! 

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