Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Keweenaw Lakeshore Loop Cruise

This past Sunday's adventure was planned for a thunderstormy day.  But someone up there loves me, and made my 116 mile trip around the Keweenaw hot and sunny.

I loaded my car with a black lab, a golden retriever and a friend named Mallory.  We embarked down Highway 41 toward Lac La Belle, and took the Gay/Lac La Belle Road along the lakeshore.  The glistening waves on that route always soften my heart. 

Feeling a little thirsty, we stopped in at The Gay Bar.  If you have never been there, you should try it sometime.  It's a trip.

"The Gay Bar" in Gay, Michigan

Then we drove through Traprock Valley and to Lake Linden.  It was stinkin' HOT in town.  The poor dogs panted the whole time.

We passed through downtown Hancock and finally got to head back north on M-203.  From there, we took Lakeshore Drive, which I have never been on before. 

"You've never been down here?" Mallory was surprised.

"Nope.  That's why I have to drive it now.  I have to make sure I am sending people on the right path."

Luckily Mal grew up round them parts, and she zagged me through an even cooler route than I had originally planned.  She kept me out of the Calumet bustle (this route is for a road bike ride), and lead me past the Centennial Heights shone ship.  

Shone ship in Centennial Heights

And right after that, when we turned onto Highway 41, we saw the Kearsarge stone ship, so that is a nice historic part of the loop.  I was pleased.  Thank you, Mallory!

From there we cruised on Five Mile Point Road to Eagle River.  Not a moment too soon, we arrived at Fitzgerald's.  Our tummies were rumbling.  The Fitz has the most amazing beer selection I have seen for hundreds of miles.  Their on-site smoked meat selections are wonderful as well.  And lucky for the pups, Fitzgerald's is located right on Lake Superior, so they got to take a little dip and cool off.  

Thanks to them dragging me through the sand, I went in the Big Lake for my first time as well.  Luckily, only up to my calves.  That water is frigid, but I still had a great time running through the sand in the sunshine.  The thunder in the distance was surreal.  Where was is coming from?

We only made it to the Eagle Harbor Inn before we had to stop again.  Something about a sunny Sunday invokes the "Keweenaw Cruise" instinct in us all.  And The Inn is always a lovely place to stop.

But by the time we walked out, the clouds loomed.  The temperature dropped.

"I bet it will be raining by the time we get to Fake Lake!" I announced, feeling psychic.  Mal nodded.  Instead, the rain held off until we got to Copper Harbor.

And now I can check that adventure off my list.  I have all the turns and sites of interest laid out for a 116 mile road bike ride through the most safe and scenic paved areas of the Keweenaw.  Another great Adventure Sunday!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sunset Over the Harbor

After that last post lacking in visuals, I figured I'd give you a quick sunset time lapse.  This one is from a couple weeks ago, but I just figured out how to edit it correctly.

Enjoy this rainy day!

By the way, I saw Canada anemone, twin flowers and birdsfoot trefoil starting to bloom during my hike today!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Eagle Harbor Trails

Since I don’t have to work them, Sundays are my adventure day.  Last Sunday I went to bike the Eagle Harbor trails with Hannah and her red healer, Tiki.  

In the winter these trails are groomed for cross-country skiing.  In the grassy months these two-tracks traverse gently rolling terrain past inland lakes and out to Great Sand Bay.

When I speak of an “adventure day,” it's the day I take to get out to the rest of the spots in this beautiful country that I need to explore in more detail before I can confidently send people out with a personal pocket guide.  I can't have people getting lost; my reputation and credibility are at stake!

So these are research-based adventures.  What a rough life I have created for myself.

In Copper Harbor, I am used to riding my bike up and up over an elevation of 600 feet, then down and down 600 feet.  600 feet may not sound like a lot (especially if you live in the real mountains), but I always pant profusely on the way up.

The Eagle Harbor trails were a walk in the park comparatively.  They’re great for beginners or a joy ride.  The only element we had to fight (besides the mosquitoes and blackflies) was the sand.  We had to push our bikes through a few sandy spots.  We laughed, though.  We didn’t care.  It was part of the adventure!

Exiting the woods to Great Sand Bay was a real treat.  That Big Lake, she gets me every time.  Apologetically, I did not bring a means of visually capturing the moment.  But I can tell you that the brightness of the blue sky was mirrored in the sparkling waves.  The air was crisp and refreshing.  Ah, it’s always important to savor those moments.

Would I ride the Eagle Harbor trails again?  Yes, but probably later in the season when the sand settles a bit.  My chain ring wasn’t too happy with me.  But riding nine miles without feeling like my heart was going to pop out of my neck was a welcome feeling.

You know what else is welcome?  All the beautiful flowers that are blooming!  Compare these to what is blooming by you.

In their prime we have lilacs, gaywings, starflowers, wild strawberry blossoms, apple blossoms, rockcress, chokecherry blossoms, blueberry blossoms, pussytoes and heartleaf arnica.

Just starting, we have wild roses, buttercups, wild lily-of-the-valley (get down and sniff that one), thimbleberry blossoms, vetch of all kinds, wild peas of all kinds and Canada hawkweed.

These are just the ones I’ve seen along my travels.  I think I come across a freshly blossomed species nearly every day!  Oh, the joys of summer!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bare Bluff

On Sunday I went to Bare Bluff for my first time.  Yeah, my first time since I have live here.  Slightly pathetic, but instead of waiting for someone to take me there, I used the MNA's Walking Paths and Protected Areas of the Keweenaw book to get there myself.  And I don't recommend this hike alone.

I heard a lot about how rugged this pathway is.  I thought they were bluffing (pardon the pun) because some people just aren't in that great of shape.  I'm no iron man, but this hike challenged me as well.  I even lost the path at one point because I was trying to shoot some video.  Oops!

Enough blabber.  Here are some photos for you.

Note the bottom right warning!

First clearing view: looking toward Keweenaw Point

Next view a few yards later

Looking up the bluff from below

And another rock cliff when I was "lost"

It was pretty spectacular.  I wouldn't recommend hoofing it during blackfly season, though.  Sweat dripped inside my bugnet, but at least I had one on!  Clinging on for life down some of those steep sections was not fast enough to outrun them.

So at least I got out for a little adventure on my day off.

Finnfest 2013 is coming up June 18th through the 22nd.  Whether you are Finnish or not,  there will be lots of activities, fire, fun and food up here!  More info at their website

Judging by the flowers on the trees and bushes, I think we are going to have an incredible fruit year.  I don't want to jinx it, but the cherries, apples, blueberries and serviceberries have so many blossoms that the roadsides look like they have white trees!

And more and more wildflowers are popping out -- I see a new species nearly everyday.  

Except for the incessant biting bugs, the outdoors has been pretty spectacular.  Perhaps it's actually starting to warm up???

If you read this on a mobile device, you may not realize that I have posted a poll.  I am wondering if you would like to read tweets about my "Little Slice" on twitter.  So far most people who voted don't use twitter.  Neither do I, but I thought I'd ask.  Please vote, so I get an accurate depiction of your desires.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This and That

We now have fragrant blossoms of all sorts.  We have wildflowers spewing forth their vibrant colors.  We even have blackflies to the point that Aaron just came home to bring back bugnets for the trail crew.

What we don't have are people.  Yeah, there are a few here and there, but this town is still quiet and peaceful.  If potential visitors are watching the weather, they may just be put off by the 40 - 50 degree temperatures.

Don't take that as a complaint.  I know they will come and consume my energy in a couple weeks.  I am grateful for this time.  It's just a little different than past years.  And yes, we are blaming the weather because this place is awesome.

The Isle Royale Queen began her journeys to the rock.  I stood on the dock and snapped a shot of her maiden voyage three weeks ago.

The Queen IV's maiden voyage 2013

I have danced the cancan twice for her already on the Harbor Haus patio.

The sunsets have been quite stunning lately.  Monday's lit the sky a deep magenta.  I stood along the shore and watched it change colors (without my camera).  As I stood still, the mergansers and geese swam around me to dive and feed.  That was a moment of serenity for this girl.

The biking and hiking trails have been lovely.  Just a couple spots are still muddy, but I don't care.  The mud is a small price to pay for the joy of the experience!

I fear this post may seem a bit scattered, but I have no main idea besides current events.  

Speaking of events, BINGO is starting tonight in the Community Building.  The balls drop at 7 pm sharp each Wednesday, so get your cards before then!

You can see the progress of the Copper Harbor Playground Project at this site.  (Can you tell who writes those posts?)  We plan to build it August 24th of this year.  Yes, in one day.  Volunteers are needed.  Check that site for details on how to help!

Back to the grind for me.  Catch you next week!