A Seat at the Top of the Lake

I was going to title this post “Seat at the Top of the World” but I thought it would be misleading. It did feel like the top of the world because we were doing the Circle Tour around Lake Superior and were in Rossport, Canada at the very top of the lake. It was my birthday and we had lunch at a small restaurant in the front of a house, then walked around a little. It’s a small town and there isn’t much happening north of Lake Superior – you can lean more by checking out my recent blog about the lake.

We had gone into an artist studio/shop and noticed this garden behind it with a women doing a little gardening. I asked if I could take a look and take some photos. She was very eager to chat a while. It was the middle of August and all the plants looked fresh – including the poppies that grew in my garden in June. This is zone 3 so the plants that will be hardy are limited but they flourish in the cooler summers. And of course the yellow bench was a perfect touch and I would image much used.

Do you have some photos you enjoy of seats and benches? Join XingfuMama’s challenge of “Pull up a Seat

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.

Our Favorite Roving Cafe


We spent the first night of our holiday at St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – by plan. Probably this first day will be the most planned day on our trip because it was my 75th birthday and I wanted a Bessies Pastie for my birthday supper. You can learn why by reading this earlier post.

The second day of my birthday celebration (if we don’t count all the pre-birthday celebration days) was spent driving the length of the UP, that included eating lunch at my favorite cafe.


The Bailey Lunch Cafe chose to locate on the shores of Lake Superior on this mid-August early afternoon. We had a table that overlooked a small bay east of Marquette and the sky was blue in the direction we were looking. Not so blue behind us as we had experienced periodic cloud sneezes that spattered our windshield with mist on the late morning portion of our drive.

There are a lot of pull-offs along this stretch of road but we had been to this one before – I have a photo of a wind-swept tree that is next to the dirt drive that swings from the main road and back. I don’t think there are any conveniences here – just beauty and wonder.


We had a gourmet lunch of Honey Crisp apple slices, a selection of cheeses including smoked gouda  (my favorite with apples), a Parmesan and ranch cheese ball, multi-grain club crackers, sweet black cherries and a soft drink with two straws glasses. And we talked about this and that and what a great lunch we were having.


After we cleaned up, Jim headed for the bed for a little rest while I took my camera outside, and we both rejoiced that each was doing exactly what we wanted to do in that time and place.



I love the mystique of Lake Superior, its breadth and depth, its power, its secrets. Today there was a special magic of interaction of light and water that made the surface seem iridescence.


The only post-processing I did on this photo was to give the grass some strength in the composition.

Tomorrow we will follow US 2 through northern Wisconsin and into Minnesota and there is no telling where the roving Bailey Cafe will be when we get hungry sometime around noon.

What was the best part of your day?


JB read an article a couple of weeks ago that suggested identifying the best part of each day as a way of improving outlook and mental health. We had been on the Keweenaw Peninsula at the far northwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, camping with friends. JB and I wanted to go to a place northwest of Houghton where there is a covered drive that we have visited before and wanted to see again – along with some other sights that needed a little more exploring. Our friends didn’t want to drive that far, and probably didn’t want to ride in our truck that far, and golf was on their agenda so we struck out alone. This was good for my introverted personality that needed some alone time to recharge.

That night JB asked what the best part of the day was for me… I thought a minute or two and then we both said, “The picnic lunch on the covered drive.” It is a narrow road, just wide enough for two cars but only where there are narrow pull-offs. This works fine as we only passed four or five vehicles on the four (give or take a little) mile drive. Nothing on this drive except trees, up close to the road, and no picnic tables. We pulled over on one of the little bulges in the road and had a picnic in the truck. Just the two of us.


Outside my window was a beautiful woods with a floor of sun-dappled ferns – and quiet and calm. I had packed crackers and humus and fig preserves. I also put in the cheese ball, an apple, and some trail mix I made from ingredients from our home-town health food store. And some of my home-made molasses cookies that have raw sugar on top that crunches when we bite into the soft cookie. What good eating as we sat and talked or didn’t say anything for long periods of time. Just sitting, knowing each other was there and being content with that.

Note: If you are ever in this area and want to get to the covered road, it is marked on the tourist information obtained at most retailers on the Keweenaw Peninsula. My directions are to turn onto the Portage Canal Road off highway 26 going south out of Houghton. The covered road goes between the Portage Canal Road and the road that goes to Redridge and Freda (old company towns for the mines). It isn’t far but make sure you have gas and a lunch because there isn’t anything out that way since the mines closed down many years ago.