Saturday, September 13, 2008

By the Shores of Gitche Gumee

Sept 13, 2008
We woke up this morning to a foggy campground and the sound of rain--but luckily, it turned out that the sound was due to leaves dripping on our roof after a night of rain, rather than actual morning raindrops. It was only about 54 degrees inside Mo, but we had a scrumptious breakfast of fried eggs and grits and tea, which warmed us right up. Then we drove about 60 miles west to the town of Munising, MI.

Our plan was to take a boat ride which started at 1:00 pm, and we arrived in plenty of time to visit the Visitor's Center, and then have lunch at Muldoon's, a small place a block away from the Lake Superior shore. Muldoon's seemed the ideal stop for lunch because we saw their billboard as we came into town proclaiming that their pasties had been voted #1 in the Upper Peninsula, and having a pasty was on our list of "must do" experiences in the UP. Pasties (pronounced "pass-tees") are a meat pie with cubes of potato, carrots and onions, wrapped up in a pot-pie type crust. Supposedly they are a version of Cornish pie which was brought to the upper Michigan area by Cornish miners, and they are much favored by Yoopers (people who live in the U.P.--try saying it out loud if it doesn't make sense at first ).

We bought two beef pasties for lunch. They were BIG--we really could have done with only buying one and splitting it (although that was partly because we weren't that hungry after such a filling breakfast only a few hours earlier.) We ate them with gravy, which we both thought "worked" better than no gravy. But in the end, we were not that impressed. The overall seasoning was too bland for our preferences, and personally I thought the ratio of potatoes to meat was too high. (Yeah, everyone's a critic!) However, this is the "must try" food of the UP, as I said, so we did our duty as tourists and tried them.

When we finished, we went over to the boat dock and bought tickets for our shoreline cruise of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We timed it well--the overcast fogginess which we had driven in earlier was starting to lift, and it was about 65 degrees on shore. Rain was forecast for late afternoon, so we grabbed our window of opportunity.

The boat ride was delightful. I didn't expect the Pictured Rocks to be so pretty--in some places it did look like someone had taken a paintbrush to the rock and painted vertical lines in white, ochres, reds, and even blues and greens.

Their were a number of caves and other rock formations, such as the Miner's Castle, Indian Head, Lover's Leap, etc. We could also see beaches from time to time, with people enjoying them (some are accessible by hiking, only one can be driven to.) We also saw people kayaking in the lake, which seemed like a lot of fun.

I admit to being a bit apprehensive in taking a boat ride into an area known for shipwrecks! But we were very lucky--the lake was actually so calm that when we came to Chapel Cove, a cove not that much larger than our tour boat, the captain took us right inside the cove, so we could look straight up at the sides, and back out at the lake behind us.

On the way back, he ran much closer in to the rocks in many places, so we could look right up the sides... sort of a kayak perspective. It was really a VERY nice boat trip and definitely worthwhile. I admit to napping for a bit on the way back to port, but even that was very pleasant, with the air being fresh and me being perfectly warm in my sweatshirt.

We came back from the boat cruise at about 4, and we spent a little time walking in the small municipal park right by the marina. Roxy loved digging in the sand. On the tour we learned that Superior is not just the largest great lake, but is largest by FAR-- the waters of all the other 4 could fit into Superior, and if you built a swimming pool 5 feet deep, it would have to be the size of the entire United States in order to hold all the water in Superior. But there'd be a little less water at the shallow end now, because Roxy drank some while we were there!

After that, it was getting late, but we decided to stop quickly at Munising Falls, which was right near by. There was a very short paved trail into a beautiful little canyon, with the falls at the end of it. We stood and enjoyed it for a bit, until we realized it was starting to rain lightly. Knowing that more was coming, we went back to Mo and discussed our options for the night. I had considered dry-camping in the national park, but we decided that given the rain, and the fact that we were enjoying our books, we wanted electricity. So we are now camped at Wandering Wheels Campground in a place called Wetmore, MI. We got here just as it started to rain in earnest, but we are tucked into a little wooded site with electricity, all cozy. I didn't think there was wifi here (it wasn't in any of the advertisements), but it turns out there is! And so I will (I hope) be uploading this blog momentarily.

Our plans for tomorrow morning are vague--there are a number of short hikes that would be nice to take--but we will head back to Sault Ste Marie in the afternoon. At least, that is the plan at the moment!

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