Some of the wonderful sights we've encountered are...
The Upper Falls: Tahquamenon State Park (it rhymes with phenomenon). It's one of the Michigan's most popular attractions, and deserves it. They are truly beautiful. They are 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide and amber-colored due to the presence of tannic acid in the river, which leeches naturally from the trees and plants within the watershed. They are located in a lovely State Park, that in itself is a nice (short) walk to get to, and if so inclined has several other (longer) hikes to some great beaches as well. We met another couple that was going to go agate hunting in the lake (Superior) below. That's quite "the thing" here. People don't seem to mind that the temperature is cold, and no, they don't wear boots, or wetsuits etc. just their short pants...their from Michigan after all, and used to the COLD! ;-) They wander in up to about their hips, looking for 'pretty' agates, and collect them. Oh well, everyone needs a hobby! Oh, the other thing we saw while we were there was lots of poison ivy! We stayed real clear of that, thank you! (they did have signs for us tourist!)
Where you have large lakes, you have lighthouses! Lots of them! Some you can get to, some you can't...like "out on the lake", or way out on a jetty, or by hiking miles to (I don't do mile+ hikes)...but the ones that are easy to get to, we do! Trying to find them, though, isn't always so easy, nor is the drive to/from them always short - sometimes involving a full day, but hey, it's a "scenic drive", right? Each are very different from the other, and that's what makes it so much fun! Here are a few samples we've found so far...
|Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Hiawatha National Forest|
|Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba Harbor|
|Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City|
|Round Island Lighthouse from The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island|
You can't visit lighthouses without acknowledging the "other side" of the story...the shipwrecks that happen on the Great Lakes. Lots of them, with records dating back to the early 1800's starting with the "Invincible" (ironic name, don't you think?). We visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise MI (who could resist going to "Paradise"?)
Edmond Fitzgerald as well. It's a small museum, but well done, with a lot of detail and history. It really shows how, especially before there was the sophisticated navigational equipment they now have, hard it was to navigate these waters. Storms came up fast, fog came in quick and traffic on the lakes was really heavy - around 3100 vessels. Now, there are about 200 of them on the lake. Larger, but so much less of them, and such better equipment. You can't help but admire the men who did and do work these waters, the strength and courage it took in all kinds of weather, day in and day out, year after year. What a tough way to make a living. These people in Michigan are tough boys, that's "for sure"!
One last very fun visit was to the Oswald's Bear Ranch! We kept passing their sign as we drove in and out of our campground, and decided we just had to go check it out for ourselves. The picture on the billboard showed a person holding a bear cub. "Really?" I thought, to many years working for the San Diego Zoo made me a skeptic, but it was worth a visit, just to see. So, off we went. $20 a car, and you park and walk around their vary large compound. It is truly a licenced family owned business that has been raising rescued black bears since 1984 and open to the public since 1997. Once there, each bear will live its life out there. They have four natural habitats with trees, fresh running water to swim in and drink pools that they separate the males, females and youngsters from each other. It's the 6 month old cubs that you get to have your picture taken with and touch - and you bet we did! What a hoot! He was such a cutie too! They give you a great big spoon filled with Fruit Loops Cereal to hold and while he is enjoying that treat, you can pet away! His hair is so soft and thick. We were told that it actually gets softer as he gets older! The photographer uses your camera and snaps about 3-5 snaps and boom, your done! $10
The place was well taken care of, and you could see family members everywhere hustling about tending to everything from the cash register to getting rid of a bee hive. Jack sat and talked with the couple that started the place (they made us look young!) and they were still there, watching over everything. I'm glad we went...and, I got to pet a bear cub! So cool!
Not to many more miles left of this beautiful U P area, but one never knows what new adventure will be around the next bend!
...on the road in Michigan, Marie
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/