6/5/09 This morning began with a beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigamme. We are parked right on the shores of the lake at the local boat launching site:
George's cabin is about a mile from here so later today we will walk up there to help set up the boat for tomorrow's fishing excursion. Because this lake is fairly accessible, George wants to take us to a different one where, he says, even inexperienced anglers such as myself can catch fish. The weather has been warm and sunny for a few days and we are enjoying it, but the down side is that the bugs are now out in force. George's cousin told us that this is the time of year of the annual black fly invasion. They are little, like mosquitoes, but their bites get bigger and last longer. Because they are so little, they manage to sneak in here through tiny cracks around the screens. It certainly reminds us of the midgies in Scotland, something we were hoping to never experience again!
In our last post we mentioned that we were going to explore the Apostle Island area. The day we did that started out really cold - about 40, but we went anyway. There were some picturesque little towns along the scenic drive but they really haven't geared up for the summer yet. The biggest town was Ashland. They have quite a number of nice murals painted on buildings all over town:
Additionally, they have an artesian well in the beachfront park which is free and we filled up a 5 gallon container for drinking water. There are artesian wells in several towns all along the drive around the peninsula. One of the places we visited was the Apostle Islands Visitor Center, where they had a very nice film about the area and history. Of course, the Chippewa and Ojibwa indians played a big part here. This area also sells a lot of wild rice, which was a staple part of the diet of these tribes. At this center we found out that there are 22 Apostle Islands, not 12. When we asked about it, they said that the Jesuits named the islands and from where they saw them, only 12 were visible. Many are accessible by kayak, power boats are allowed, and camping is permitted with a permit. Several have been set aside as wilderness areas and have old growth forests. Most have been logged at some time and now have younger forests covering them. Since it was too cold to take the excursion boat through the islands, we were glad the film showed so much about the them.
Our drive took us to Meyers Beach, where we took a 4 mile hike to get to the spot where some of the sea caves in the sandstone cliffs in the lakefront cliffs were visible. Most people see these from a sea kayak, and also are able to kayak right into some of them. Several of the islands also have these caves.
After we relocated to the Ojibwa casino in Baraga, we explored the Keeweenaw Peninsula. Now we were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where mining has been a huge part of the history and development here. On the Keweenaw it was copper mining, and of course, logging, which you see all over northern Wisconsin and Michigan. In the late 1800's and early 1900's there were quite a few huge mansions built in the Calumet area by the mine owners called the Copper Barons. One of these mansions, the Laurium Manor Inn, has been preserved as a working hotel, but they allow self-guided tours.
Although it has had many owners through the years, and several of them were antique owners who stripped out the furniture, a lot of the original opulent touches were still there, such as the elephant hide walls in the dining room, the push button light switches and elegant chandeliers, the marble and glass fireplaces by Tiffany, and the handcrafted woodwork.
The current owners are from the Bay Area near San Francisco, and they have done a great job of restoration and refurnishing with elegant antiques. Originally, in 1908 when the house was finished, it cost $50,000. Today the restoration cost much more than that!
There were lots of huge houses in the neighborhood, some of them converted to B&B's, and the Lutheran Church down on the corner reflected the fact that this area was the home of many Scandanavian people as well as 30 other nationalities. The church really reminded us of the stave churches we saw when we were in Norway:
In our quest for fitness, we also found a trail system where we took a 4 mile hike and then had a picnic at the nearby pond.
Later we took another hike which supposedly went to Hungarian Falls, but when we got to the water, it was a piddly little trickle. On our drive here yesterday, we stopped at a highway roadside park where there was a short hike to Canyon Falls. Now these were real waterfalls, and the hike was through a pleasant forest along the riverside. Delightful.
I'm sure we will continue to enjoy the outside pleasures of being in such a heavily wooded and rural area as we proceed across Michigan and Canada - provided the bug situation improves!