Archive for July, 2010

Door Peninsula

Author: Ruth

The challenge this month...drying out!

An email from Stephen sent today from Algoma, Wisconsin.

"It's 11 a.m. (crack of noon, Mich. time), and I'm at the Algoma, Wisc.,
library, typing on my 16 oz. or so "computer" (i Phone propped against
my hat, wireless keyboard in front). Waiting for what I hope is the last
of the rain to blow east to the Petoskey Community Garden, which has better
use for it than I do. Wisconsin just broke it's almost 100-year-old record
for rainfall for the month of July, and is only 4 inches away from breaking
the record for total summer accumulation. The good news is this makes it
easy for me to lay low in nice towns like this. 

I pulled into the marina yesterday, and after stopping by the library to
catch up on email, I wandered past the Roustabout. How could I not
stop in and check out the rates at a place that said "Motel-Cocktail Lounge"
on the sign? I wasn't there two minutes before the folks at the bar asked
me where I was from, what I was up to, and how they could help. I asked
how much for a room (45$), and if they knew of a place near the river
where I could leave Seaweed for the night. One of the patrons, Dave,
said I could leave it next to his friend Lee's fishing charter dock.
Then, he put down his half-finished beer, and kindly drove me over there.
Lee was equally as hospitable, and before I knew it, the boat was on the
shore, and I had rain-soaked stuff spread out to dry in the yard. Then I
hiked back to the motel and checked in. Room was as nice as the owner,
Margo. I had breakfast at the Cool Harbor diner next to the marina
(two eggs, toast, hash browns: $3.15), and stopped by the hardware store
to buy some foam earplugs to put in the vent holes to keep the mosquitoes
out of my new Tilley Hat. OK, it's really to make a fashion statement.

The town is quaint in an unpretentious way, with beautiful murals painted
on old brick shops. A massive Catholic church overlooks the town. Dave
said his grandfather was one of the town's early commercial fishermen
and I think that explained his enthusiasm for my trip.

I see something blue out the library window. Unbelievable, it's the sky.
Time to shove off..."

The Mouth of Green Bay

Author: Ruth

Flower with last night's rain.

Across the mouth of Green Bay, Stephen hopped islands and dodged the never ending waves of storms.  In this message he starts by mentioning phone signal, because we had not been able to connect via cellular service since he left Manistique and headed south on the Garden Peninsula.

“According to little blue graph in the corner, I have three blue bars. But, again, that doesn’t mean I can get a call out. Laying in the hammock, finally. Been putzing with tarps most of the afternoon. I’ve got the green one up, and hung the hammock, with it’s tarp, under it. Had dinner, then unrolled the hammock. So I’m covered twice. It’s been raining since about 3 or 4, with thunder in the background, I just saw my first flash of lightening, so I guess the big stuff is about to roll in. When I started out this morning, I had planned on a short paddle to Poverty Island, and staying there. But the wind was in my favor for a run to St. Martins, so here I am. Actually, I relied on my bird oracles: when I approached Poverty, I saw what I thought was an eagle. Instead it was a vulture, or raggedy raven. So I pressed on. When I arrived at St. Martins, I was met by four bald eagles (two adults and two juveniles) (god, it takes me forever to find the parentheses keys!) I walked a bit and found their nest, and recorded their calls. I also happened on a beautiful snake with a blue stripe along its back, flanked by a pair of black stripes, and stripes of another color too (yellow?) I also found an unusual shell. I thought at first it was a turtle, but it has a strange fin projecting from the center of the top back edge of the shell. There’s more, but my fingers are getting lost in the dark. Gonna Rock out here for the night. Another spot you must visit. I’ve walked more than paddled the last two days!”


Circa Manistique

Author: Ruth

Seul Choix ("only choice") Light

After Manistique, where I met Stephen for a weekend of hot water, greasy food, electricity and a keyboard he can use with his i Phone 4,  he sent this message.

“Found a lovely place to hang hammock. Took forever, of course; fiddled with chain links and never could get them to work right. But fortunately had beer to accompany the process. Anyhow, here I am, ensconced in folds of nylon, safely above the ticks, tocks, and rocks, wishing you were here to hear the wind, waves, and the clicks of the keyboard on my lap (I’m really going to have to learn to find the keys blind now, as it’s dark, I’m on my back with keyboard at my lap, and cell phone screen glowing at low beam six inches in front of my face.) Who knew I could find the ( and ) way up there on the top row. Wow, this is fun! Just like you! So long for now.”

In between laundry and high calorie restaurant meals we traveled by gasoline to a few tourist attractions; the huge cold water spring north of town and Fayette State Park, the partially restored iron foundry town that was deserted in 1891.


"Sky Mirror" Kitchitikipi Spring north of Manistique.

View from the open hull ferry that crosses the spring.

Ghosts of Michigan's iron age

Electronica at the Comfort Inn

Letter from Stephen

Author: Ruth

Drying out.

A letter from Stephen, who is missing his -th class reunion, to one of his former classmates. Sent from the safety of mosquito netting as he was nearing Manistique, MI. Here he is drying out after another storm which generated a hatch of blood seeking mosquitoes.

“Yes, I am back on the water for Round 2. Apologies to Karen that I didn’t send my regrets. My good intentions went by the wayside in the frenzy to pack three months of stuff in a 17-foot canoe.

Left home port of Petoskey June 24. Heading counterclockwise. Been into the wind ever since. Right now I’m in my hammock-tent in a stand of cedars overlooking the lake, about 13 miles west of Manistique. Having text with you all. lol, of course. After landing, I was out collecting Mylar balloons (three today, five yesterday; please, don’t ever buy anyone one of these, no matter how much you love them) when I came upon a bobcat sniffing along the shore. I was downwind, and was able to follow him (I’m assuming “him” ’cause cat’s name was Bob) for about 10 minutes before he noticed me and bolted. These are the good times. The bad times are the tick I just pulled from my ankle. But I digress. I want you to know that I am wearing the pants I wore to the 30th reunion, and I trust you aren’t sagging any more than they are. Sorry to miss you. Let me know if any of you are by the shore this summer, and I’ll trade you a granola bar for a shower.

peace and love,

Beach in the Lake Superior State Forest. Those are white drifts of zebra mussels.

Wonder if the water clarity here has something to do with the zebras?

No more mylar balloons!

July 4th

Author: Ruth

The First Edition, Too; a well stocked book we stumbled upon near Brevort Lake.

I met Stephen for  the 4th of July at the beach under the Cut River Bridge, an engineering achievement that reminded us both of bridges along the Pacific Coast, not needed much on Michigan shores.

We also found a unusually well-stocked bookstore which held a great selection of historical books, first editions, and other interesting treasures. He had been thinking of voyageurs every day, who traveled this coast in their huge canoes with crews of 8 or more, with heavy loads, and in all weathers.

Too soon it was time to say good bye and I left him on the beach where we met, more storms approaching.

When the wind and waves settled enough to allow paddlers to enjoy the water again, Stephen and a trio of  intrepid friends crossed the open water and shipping channel of the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits are either the connection between Lakes Huron and Michigan, or if you are a physical scientist, the narrowest part of the one huge Lake Michigan-Huron. Either way it’s been a water highway for Native Americans, fur traders, settlers moving west, and recently Great Lakes freighters and Coast Guard icebreakers.

Kayakers Matt Pierle, Nancy Kowalski, and Wayne Blomberg

After the evening crossing, Nancy kept Stephen company for a couple of days. On the second day the wind and waves got too wild to paddle safely and Nancy spent some time up close and personal with Lake Michigan before safely reaching shore.

Early in the day.

Nancy reapplying lipstick after rough ride!