Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Freighters, Open Water and Deer

I'm a day late and a buck short.  Pretend it's Monday.  No.  Don't.  Monday never makes anyone feel better.

I've neglected to realize the beauty of this season.  Sure it's still cold enough to wear long johns and hats.  Sure the snowbanks linger and loom.  But you know what?  

Nobody is here.

Those snowmobile engines seldom echo from Brockway Mountain.  I know almost every car that goes by.  I don't really need to look before I cross the highway.  Sure there's not much for businesses open, but that's okay because there's not really anyone to patronize.

Ah, spring.  Snowbanks or not.  It's still spring, and it's so peaceful.

The most commotion lately has been about the freighters.  They're busy transporting again.  I can't say conditions are desirable.  Lake Superior is still 60% covered in ice averaging 5 feet in thickness.  The cargo ships are using caution, as they often send an icebreaker first, followed by a convoy of ships.  Here's an example from last week, when we saw a train of them pass in the sunshine.

Six ships passed in the 5-mile shipping lane

Yesterday, since the winds were so strong from the east, Duluth Harbor was stacked with ice.  The freighters en route must have anchored to wait it out.  Here's one that was in front of The Gap for the better part of the day.

A spinning freighter seen through The Gap yesterday

So it wasn't spinning like a bottle in Spin the Bottle, but it wasn't gaining any ground, and it was usually pointed in a different direction when one would look out at it.  It left before I checked on it today.

As for the rest of the days this past week, well, I'm not sure when they all occurred, but I have pictures from them!

Perhaps Saturday I went snowshoeing to Hunter's Point.  I saw the open water, and I was beckoned.  Now I'm just going to say this.  Snowshoeing is terrible right now.  One minute you need them, the next minute you don't because you're walking over rocks and bridges.  Even when I did need them, the ground was so uneven that I kept sliding in the snow.  I honestly felt like it was my first time on snowshoes -- I was that awkward!  But Duce felt the same, so we could sympathize with each other.

I did finally make it to the Hunter's Point beach.  Then I saw the Lake.  Now I'm a believer.

Open water ho!

I know.  It still just looks like a tiny strip of blue out there.  Way out past all the other solid ice.  Yeah.  That's just what it is, though.

H.P. beach view to the northeast

This beach picture pretty much shows why snowshoeing should be left until next winter.  Now you need 'em.  Now you don't!  Oy!

While we're somewhat on the topic of open water, guess where I saw some yesterday: The Portage Canal!  Nearly the whole area under the Lift Bridge is open.  It was awesome to watch the waves yesterday.  But don't get too excited about that because looking east and west in the canal, it still has some thawing to do before a vessel could pass through.

Guess what else I saw in Houghton.  Oh, man, I almost peed my pants: Crocuses!!!  There they were with their little yellow and purple petals amongst the daffodils that just shot out their shoots.  I look at my daffodil patch here and just see soil.  But it's better than snow!

On an actual sunny day, I went to check out the mouth of Fanny Hooe Creek, which I heard was open.  Sure enough, she was, and still is.

Duce and some duck in the mouth of Fanny Hooe

And here we are upstream on the highway bridge, looking toward Lake Fanny Hooe.  She's starting to swell!

Fanny Hooe Creek

We may as well get all our Fanny's in a row.  Here's the infamous sign.  Now a visitor can truly tell where they are.

The Fort Wilkins sign for comparison

On another sunny day a few friends and I took a cruise to Eagle River.  I must tell you.  The food at Fitzgerald's is quite amazing, and their beverage selection is unrivaled.  They are located right on the lake, and have a great perspective for sunsets.

Plus, we always go by the deer yard.  That day, we brought them some apples.  They were ecstatic!

Eagle River deer eating apples

They would get into fights over these apples, let me tell ya.  But from what I saw, no blood was shed.

Another cool thing about Eagle River is the waterfalls (Jacob's and Eagle River).  If it warms up just a bit more (like maybe to 50 degrees) with sun, they will be primo.  But they're not bad now, if you're jonesing.  Still better than they will  be in August!

So life is good.  And peaceful.  I'll leave you with a picture of the sun behind the clouds from yesterday.  What?  I thought it looked cool.

The sun still shines behind the clouds

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