Friday, July 24, 2015

A precious New Friend

Some of the greatest treasures of our travels are the people that we meet along the way.  We see stunning sunsets, brilliant rock formations and canyons.  We are amazed by the power and beauty of the large and the small bodies of water.  But some of my favorite memories are of the times we spend with family and friends; and some of new friends that we meet on our journey.

We are staying in the small town of Washburn, Wisconsin.  Sue, Lisa’s best friend, is from Washburn.  Sue’s sister and her dad live in the area. 

Today, as part of the town’s Homecoming Celebration, the Messiah Lutheran Church had a Salad Luncheon.  While visiting with people at the church, I met a lovely woman, Harriet Elliott.  We shared about the joy of meeting new people.  We talked about our mutual love of turning these strangers into new friends.  We shared a mutual frustration with electronics taking over peoples’ lives and family communications.

As we were leaving the luncheon, my new friend, Harriett stopped me.  After our short visit earlier,  she had written a poem.

By:  Harriett Elton Elliott
A stranger is but a friend waiting to happen.
One never knows where or when a new friend will pop up.

A friend is only a stranger for a short while
Then upon sharing many things a bond is formed.

Which becomes stronger as time goes by.
And finally become firmly cemented.

A friend is a priceless jewel.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Beautiful Day in the Porkies… Porcupine Mountains

The Porcpine Mountains are fondly referred to as the “Porkies” by locals.   Although I called them the "Pineys", by mistake, most of the trip.  Oops

The Porkies are approximately 25 miles long and 10 miles wide…60,000 acres.   

These mountains are in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the Ontonagon and Gogebic counties. (I noted the counties just because I love the names.) J 

The Porcupine Mountains were named by the Ojibwa native American people, because the silhouette of the mountains looks like the back of a porcupine.  We all think that is a stretch—but who is going to argue at this point???

The Porcupine Mountains have the most extensive collection of old-growth northern hardwood forest west of the Adirondacks.  Old growth forests are virgin forests; this forest is full of multiple hardwood tree species.  The Porcupine Mountains State Park was established in 1945 to protect this old-growth forest.  

As we were driving on the Scenic Drive through the mountains it was hard to imagine the challenges this unforgiving environment would have been for the Indians and the settlers.

The Porkies are one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in the Midwest.  We were captured by the winding rivers and powerful waterfalls.   We enjoyed the trail and picnic area that led to the tower that overlooked the expanse of the forest.

In the Presque Isle area we are able to walk down a series of stairs that led down to a group of waterfalls.  Although it felts like the stairs would go on forever, I was able to manage the stairs and boardwalk—I just took my time and went at my own pace.  I am SO happy that I am able to manage walks like these.  I would have hated to miss this.  It feels ironic that we walked down hundreds of man made stairs to get to multiple God-made waterfalls.

From the Lake of the Clouds overlook we were able to look down onto the forest.  The trees seem to go on forever.  The boardwalk makes it an easy walk to the top.   Yet another example of God’s Greatness right before our eyes!

Both the Presque Isle and the Lake of the Clouds were relatively easy walks.  They were definitely worth the little bit of effort it took.

Summit Peak has a very steep trail that leads up to a tower that is approximately 30 feet high and allows the climber the ability to have a 360 degree view.  George went up the trail and climbed the tower, while Sue and I sat on a bench and greeted hikers and visited.  When George came down, he assured us we had made the right decision to not do this trail—it was steep and long.   

The magnitude of the forest, the power of the waterfalls and the breath-taking panoramic view from the Lake of the Clouds makes the visit to the Porkies a trip we will remember! 

This trip to Wisconsin and Michigan has been amazing.  The sights were gorgeous!  We had GREAT times with Sue, Sandy and Niles—we love those people!!!  We cannot wait to come back.  This place quickly felt like home to us.   

Monday, July 20, 2015

Apostle Islands—Another Wisconsin Wonder

This morning we jumped up ready to tackle another busy day.  It promised to be great day.  We had already done a boat tour to the Lake Superior Sea Caves and a ferry to Madeline Island—so we were excited about the boat trip today.  We took the 3 ½ hour Grand Tour of the Apostle Islands.  

We were able to get great seats on the top viewing area of the boat.  It was windy, but the sun was shining and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees.  We pulled away from the docks know this trip was going to be full of beautiful sights.

The Grand Tour will take us to see the Apostle Islands.  22 islands make up the Apostle Islands.  

We catch the boat from Bayfield.  Bayfield brings its own beauty and special uniqueness.  Visitors come to Bayfield to either catch a ferry to Madeline Islands or a boat tour to the Apostle Islands.  People also come to shop in the stores which although the stores offer treats for tourists, they are not the same “tourist traps” that we have seen on our travels.   

Bayfield offers unique restaurants and an ice cream shop/bakery, The Candy Shoppe; that is nothing short of amazing! They make their own Waffle Cones.  I normally don’t get a cone; I would rather just have the ice cream in a bowl.  But the smell of the freshly made cones greeted us when we walked in… so none of us could resist.  These waffles were scrumptious!  We ordered 2 “famous” wine breads, for later.  Wine Bread is delight dessert bread that are filled with cream cheese and anything from pie fillings to chocolate—amazing!
The view of Bayfield from tour boat was like a postcard.

Every time we catch even a glimpse of Lake Superior we are amazed at its beauty and vastness.   With this "vastness" came a side affect that I had not expected.  It was relaxing to sit back and enjoy the view and the ride--but looking out to the landscape without islands, made me so nervous!  Sue, in all her wisdom, told me to focus on the islands and the shorelines--then I was fine.  
There are more lighthouses on the Lake Superior shoreline than any other National Park. There are 8 historic Lighthouses shining over Lake Superior.   
The shoreline scenery on our trip was stunningly beautiful.   We bounced across the water admiring the red sandstone caves and cliffs—it felt like they were carved out just for our viewing pleasure.  The colorful sandstone has eroded into interesting cliffs and rock formations.  There are beaches and sea caves along the shorelines.
The shorelines and “sandscapes” are some of the most beautiful, unique sights we have ever seen.

There are deer and black bear on several of the islands, although we didn’t see either.  We were thrilled to see a pair of Bald Eagles and their nest.

Between clear cut logging and fires, most of the islands have been completely clear cut, so the trees we see are from regrowth.

The landscape is somehow serene and powerful.  The calming blue water and the rocking of the waves is relaxing.  When the wind is strong the waves beat the rocks with a vengeance.

Devil’s Island is the northern most point of the tour.  Dramatic rock formations and sea caves line the shores.  When we started our boat tour, the captain announced that he did not expect we would be going out to Devil’s Island due to rough weather conditions.  When the wind died down, the waters started calming.  We were able to go to Devil’s Island.  We had no idea the amazing sights that were waiting for us—we were thrilled at what we saw!

We have decided that Wisconsin is the hidden secret; that everyone needs to experience.  We have been in Wisconsin for almost 3 weeks, which for us is a long time—and yet it does not feel like enough time.  

We will leave with the full expectation that we will be back.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Sights and Tastes from Wisconsin

We have seen so many amazing sights while we were in Wisconsin.  We took a couple of boat rides and a ferry ride to Madeline Island.  We visited with friends.  We felt so blessed to get to know Niles, Sue's dad, better; and we always love spending time with Sandy.  We loved meeting friends and family—although because we have heard stories for years, it was if we had known them forever. 

We were able to see places from Sue’s past.  We were able to imagine her walking to school each day and visiting her mom in the nursing home.  

Sue had carefully planned our days with some of her favorite sights from her home state.   She also shared restaurants and places with delicious treats.  

We were able to see the Eilertsen’s family cabin in Michigan.  It was a great little cabin with endearing memories for Niles, Sandy and Sue.  We loved seeing the cabin that sits on a creek in the woods.  The cabin didn’t have electricity or plumbing until late 1970’s. 


Stormie Kromer hats

Stormie Kromer hats were created and continue to be manufactured in Michigan. 

I do love a good hat!!

During our time in Wisconsin we were confused by the restaurants and places to eat that are located in the middle of nowhere—and yet seem to remain busy every day.

Delta Diner is so far out in the middle of nowhere, it is surprising that anyone finds this little hidden treasure.  Although this diner sits in the middle of nowhere and looks like a diner from days-gone-by, the menu is anything but “normal diner fare”.   They serve Swedish pancakes, similar to crepes.  Each day they have a one omelet option.  George enjoyed a sugared ham, roasted tomato and pepper and Swiss cheese omelet. 

We have heard for years about the famed Pasties of Michigan.  They are a pastry filled with potatoes, onions, beef and pork.  It is a cross between a pot pie and a bierrock.  When people in Washburn found out we were going after Pasties, they put in their orders.  J  We came back with 42 pasties!  Pasties were created to provide a warm meal for miners.  Warm Pasties would be wrapped and carried in the pockets by the miners for lunch.

We drove right by this one... but I couldn't resist the picture.  I, for one, would be unwilling to eat at a restaurant with a name like "Up Chucks"!  

We went to a family dairy farm, Tetzner’s.   Purchases in their little “store” are made on an honor system.  We bought ice cream sandwiches and cherry Ice Cream.  We placed cash in the box with a list of what we had purchased.   I loved the “down home” feel that allowed us to put money in an envelope and take our treats.  And as a bonus… the ice cream was great.

Great memories, great friends, good food.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazing Sea Caves on Lake Superior

We started our day with high expectations for this day.  So many sights—so little time J.  Sandy had a high school friend that now owned a Boat Tour company—GoodEarth Outfitters.   It is a great Lake Superior boat touring company.   We LOVED the whole trip.  I did a separate post about the company.

I am not a great swimmer—so drowning seemed like a real possibility in my over active imagination.  I was not sure I was able make the step into the boat (it was less than a foot).  My mind said “take the short little step”, my fear said “are you crazy, woman?  Stay on dry ground.”  Finally, we were all in the boat and Captain Mike did the safety speech.  I was taking notes!  Everyone was teasing me… but I reminded all the naysayers that the people on the Edmund Fitzgerald thought they were safe, also.  J

We pull away about 4pm.  The weather feels nearly perfect; it’s about 75 degrees, sunny and blue skies.  The company had considered canceling the tour due to wind, but the wind has calmed down—so we head out to see the well-known Sea Caves on Lake Superior.

There are Sea Caves on various shorelines throughout the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.  The Sea Caves were created after centuries of waves, freezing and thawing weather. 

Along the shoreline we see caves, delicate arches and shear “cuts” in the rock.

In the winter these Sea Caves are a very popular tourist destination.  Lake Superior freezes, people park (sometimes as far as 5 miles away) and walk to 1 ½ miles across the frozen lake to see these Ice Caves.  Imagine for a minute… You are able to get a great parking spot 5 miles away from the START of the sight you want to visit.  Now you walk 1 ½ miles across a frozen lake (which means slick ice and snow).  There are no heating lamps or fires… remember you are on the ice!  By now you can’t feel your feet and you are sure your nose has fallen off.  You snap your pictures, amazed at the beauty around you; and now it is time to trek back to your car.  Ouch!  I really didn’t get the adventure gene.

In the summer these Sea Caves attract millions of people by boats and kayaks.  We feel so blessed to see these amazing caves that are constantly changing.

There is an array of sea caves along the coast.  Some of the caves are small overhangs of beautiful rock formations; while others are large enough for our boat to drive into.   Mike was able to pull our boat into several of the caves. 

We were thrilled to see a couple of Bald Eagles swoop out of their nest—probably “shopping for dinner”.

There are Arches along the shoreline and between the caves.  The rocks are a variety of brilliant colors:  red, tans, greens and even blue.  Some areas have vines and ferns growing out of them.  Some are covered with moss. 

The water beats up on the shore across the rocks.  We have never seen anything like these caves and rock formations before.    

Although our adventure on Lake Superior only lasted 1 ½ hours; we all felt like we had been treated to our own personal tour of Sea Caves on Lake Superior. 

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