Art Show on the Beach

The beach beckons from the edge of the road.

When we drove over the Mighty Mac bridge into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we turned right onto highway U.S. 2 that goes along the southern part of the peninsula towards Wisconsin and beyond. The first 48 miles runs along the upper shore of Lake Michigan, with sandy beaches beaconing people to stop for some beach time. Looking south across Lake Michigan you can see Chicago – if you have really good vision (300 miles or so) or good imagination. Sorry but I didn’t have a long enough lens to see it in the photo above, but it would be to the right.

This is a two lane, heavily used stretch of road but there is enough of a shoulder on the south side of the road to pull over. In the summer months the cars are parked bumper to bumper and there are lots of people scattered along the beach. In September there were only a few vehicles and we pulled across both lanes to park the truck and camper.

The above photo looks west and the boulders were place there to protect against wave erosion that would quickly undercut the road. This is the Hiawatha National Lakeshore so it is protected but there is always a tension between protecting the environment and maintaining/building for infrastructure and commerce. In this case nature frequently wins as it blows sand and snow across the highway.

But I wasn’t thinking political on the beautiful day. I was seeing nature’s art everywhere I looked. Would you like a peek at the gallery? Click on a photo for a slide show with the title of each of Nature’s creations. I would also love to hear how you would title each one.

The gentle waves had built a little cliff face, and when I stepped down onto the wet sand and bent over I saw the delightful artistry of the water along that face.

I had so much fun just being alone with my camera on the beach. Looking and being in the moment and clicking my shutter when nature made itself known to me. As I left I turned and took another (several?) more photos of the beach before hopping into the truck and heading for Lake Superior.

Silver and White on Manitoulin Island

The month of June is about over meaning that Jude will soon be changing her “white & silver” Life in Coulor to something else for July. I have been paralyzed by options as I scanned some of my favorite files. Today I told myself to just do it – so I picked a day on Manitoulin Island in Canada’s side of the Great Lakes. We have been thinking of returning but can’t until both countries decide that the pandemic is controlled enough to open the border. Doing this post seemed to sooth my soul’s need to soak in the calming atmosphere of the island.

Morning “Rush Hour” on a Quiet Manitoulin Island Lake in Canada
Bridal Falls
Silver Tin Roof on a Red Barn
A White Boat Waiting

I hope these photos helped you get a feel of this space in time and colour.

The Large and the Small of Lake Superior

A cold, cloudy day on the shores of Lake Superior in August.

I am in awe of Lake Superior – with a great big dollop of respect thrown in. We have visited it many times over the last 50 plus years and driven around it two times – once in each direction. A few years ago we visited with friends, camping at Copper Harbor (were the X is on the map below), at the point of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The “large” of Lake Superior is really, really big. It covers 31,700 square miles making it the biggest fresh-water lake on the planet and at its deepest it is 1,333 feet deep. The water of Lake Superior is said to be chemically pure. It is also cold and can be deadly brutal – and it is breathtakingly beautiful. I think it would be helpful if I showed you a map that was painted as part of the informational signs on a look-out deck.

Lake Superior – depicted in white

Lake Superior is border by Canada to the north and east, extending from a little ways north of Duluth, Minnesota (on the left) all around to the Soo Locks at the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and Michigan (on the right). Minnesota and Wisconsin also have economically important stretches of shoreline along the western end of the lake.

How to go from large to small when something is so very large and is comprised of water? One way is to capture the small drops of water that sprayed when waves hit the rocky coast.

Maybe seeing smaller involves seeing what contains the water and defines the lake – the coast line.

We did a lot of exploring around this area – sometimes going down dirt roads that became a narrow, rutted, and very bumpy lane seeming to go to nowhere and didn’t allow space to turn around. An easier drive was to Eagle Harbor to see the light house and maybe see a big freighter go by.

A lighthouse tells of the personality of a body of water, a personality that is volatile and dangerous enough to need a warning sign and a signal to help boats navigate perilous places. This lighthouse is a smaller piece of the big picture and provides an even smaller perspective.

When I visit Lake Superior I am reminded of the stories I have read of ship wrecks and efforts to save the people working the freighters. When I look out over calmer waters I can imagine the fear that sailors experience when storms blow in and the water becomes really rough, waves strong enough to break a freighter in half.

No, the photo above isn’t of a freighter. Do you think it could have been used in times past to rescue people? I was looking for smaller, and this would seem very small on the huge storm waves of Lake Superior.

For me, understanding the beauty of Lake Superior comes from observing, up close and personal, how nature grows on all of its shores.

I wonder if the two evergreens on the bottom right could be a start of a bonsai tree. They were so tiny growing out of a tiny piece of earth, somewhat protected by a rock or two. How old do you think they are?

We didn’t see any freighters on this day as they travel between Duluth or Superior and the Soo Locks but this is an important part of understanding Lake Superior. Ships coming and going from Duluth and Superior carry about 35 million metric tons of iron ore, coal, gain and other cargo each season – about 80% is domestic trade and 20% in international. Freighters passing this point carry more tonnage each season than the combined tonnage of the Panama, Kiel, and Suez Canals. Each year 50-100 “salties” will travel through the Soo Locks, go down Lake Huron, across Lakes Erie and Ontario, into the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. The largest freighters stay within the Great Lakes and are 1,000 feet long and 105 feet in beam – the largest size that will fit in the Soo Locks that lower ships from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, a 21 foot elevation change.

My bedtime has arrived and I’m tired of dealing with facts. I hope that your joys are large and your sorrows are small as you move through the coming days. Here is a Lake Superior sunset to quiet your busy mind.

This post was inspired by Patti’s Lens-Artist Challenge: From Large to Small. You can see other interpretations by following the link.

In Search of…

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N. Gould City Road

I smile when I remember our search for the quilt store on N. Gould City Road in the eastern half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We decided to do one more camping trip before Jim got our away-from-home home ready for its long winter nap. Our destination was St. Ignace on the other side of the Big Mac bridge, where we could get Bessie’s Pasties (click on link to learn more about them) and explore back roads, small towns, and shorelines of that part of the Upper Peninsula.

Just before we left home I checked out the 10-day weather forecast for the second week of September (cloudy, really cold at night, and some rain) and if there are any quilting stores in the region (two). I made notes of important information on each store and collected squares of fabric I’m using for quilts I’m working on so I could get a new new fabrics. I put these very important items on the table with other items to pack in our electronic and reading bags. I felt so organized and so excited about spending some time in a different location – one with quilt stores I haven’t visited. I packed up my lap top and Jim’s tablet along with cords and chargers for my I-pod and Kindle. I packed assorted items for our reading enjoyment on cold, wet evenings as we have a cup of chamomile tea and molasses cookies. And I left my notes and swatches on the table; they didn’t seem to belong in either of those bags and I didn’t put them in my pocket or the truck.

No sweat – I knew what I needed to know to find the stores and get what I needed. Tuesday was suppose to be cloudy so I thought it a good day to look for the first quilting shop and because state highway 2 follows the northern edge of Lake Michigan, we could maybe stop for a stroll on the beach. I didn’t have the address but I remembered the road it was on, and remembered the map that was on their Facebook page. Jim was doubtful when we turned onto N. Gould City Road because it was a dirt road and looked very wilderness-like. But I knew it was right so he drove, and drove, we saw a couple of houses, and he drove, and drove, and drove some more. He suggested it couldn’t be on this road, and I said it was. He suggested we turn around, and I suggested we go a little further. And he drove some more.

We carry a very old book of Michigan county maps that has every road and fire lane ever created. Many years ago we used it to search for ghost towns in the Upper Peninsula and now we use it to track where we are when we are almost lost. We found the paved road that goes to the small town of Curtis and Jim wondered if the quilt store was there. I said it was on the dirt road and asked to go a little further. We eventually went back to Curtis.

It was very good decision because we found an ice cream store and we were the only customers. Wearing our masks, I ordered Mackinaw City Fudge that I ate while sitting on a bench watching the water gently moving around rushes on the shore of South Manistique Lake. The ice cream was the best I have had in a very long time and I had a loaf of cinnamon bread that the owner said made really good french toast.

I also popped in the Chamber of Commerce to ask about the quilt shop. There was a local man sitting in a chair across the desk from the woman who worked there. I could tell they were having a relaxed conversation and they invited me in. Keeping a good distance from them, I asked and they looked puzzled. I said it was on N. Gould City Rd. and that sparked a memory – must have been the Thompsons. He died a couple of years ago and she closed her business.

It’s strange how a dish of amazing ice cream and a loaf of cinnamon bread can ease the disappointment of not visiting a quilting store. We took some back roads to St. Ignace and enjoyed some delicious split pea soup for supper. What a good day!

Mushroom Houses

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One of the perks of living in a state that caters to tourists is that we can be tourists – close to home. Earlier this summer we spent some time along Lake Michigan in the northern part of the state. We drove and explored from Wilderness State Park (in the northern most part of the Lower Peninsula, just west of the Big Mac bridge to the Upper Peninsula) down to Charlevoix (pronounced Shar’ la voy) just north of Traverse City.

Charlevoix is best known for its mushroom houses, designed by architect Earl Young. They are houses that trigger my imagination, make me think every day would be a funday if I lived in one. No two are alike but there is usually something whimsical in the design. I wonder if the people who live in them have pointy feet and ears and are a little shorter than the norm?