Great Lakes

Friday, 20 October 2006, Burlington, ON
We crossed into Michigan on Sunday afternoon (October 8). It seems such a long time ago, because we have been in Burlington for a week now, but I shall attempt to furnish the highlights of our journey, following the shorelines of some of the Great Lakes. As you can check out here, the Great Lakes are the largest fresh surface water system on the planet, and contain approximately one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply - they can be clearly seen from the moon.
Our arrival in Michigan coincided with our arrival at Lake Michigan and the town of Menominee. We followed the shoreline of the lake north as far as Gladstone, passing more pretty farms, more red barns, more trees in varying autumn shades and also some unpretentious lakefront properties. We checked into a campground in Gladstone (Gladstone Bay Campground) for the night, right on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was very quiet until workmen started before 6.00am with the annoying sound of that reversing beep-beep on heavy machinery!
On Monday we drove north to Marquette, which is on Lake Superior, in order to drive some of the shore of this Great Lake and to visit the 'Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore'. On arrival in Marquette we first stopped at the visitors information. (This is always the best way to find a 'restroom', 'washroom', 'toilet' or 'loo' quickly, and they are generally clean and well cared for.) The information service in Marquette was also very useful. We talked for a long time to a woman who provided more information than we could possibly use, but we followed some of her suggestions and they proved to be an interesting part of our drive through Michigan, UP, which is the Upper Peninsular.
The first of her suggestions that we took up was to seek out the Sweetwater Café in Marquette, where we ate a very satisfying second breakfast. After being fortified as much as possible against the rather chilly weather by good food and reasonable coffee, we drove a little around Marquette. Finding it not overly interesting, we headed to Munising, which is the gateway to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It was Columbus Day and all the information offices, which weren't already 'closed for the season', were closed for the holiday. So, armed with the information from Marquette we made our first stop at Munising Falls which are just outside Munising in the National Park. The falls are about 50 feet high and have carved out a horseshoe shaped canyon over many years. More beautiful autumn colours were also in evidence!
We then drove on to Miners Castle, which is the best place on land to see the cliffs of the shore of Lake Superior, which are so unique they have become protected by the National Parks system as part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Of course, the best way to view these amazing cliffs is by boat, but once again we are arriving too late in the season to be interested (because of the weather) in taking a boat trip on the lake - if they are not already 'closed for the season'!
Our next stop was the Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which is further east and closer to Canada. We arrived just in time to check into the campground at the Lower Falls. We quickly got inside our camper, turned the heater on, and stayed there because, by late afternoon, it was close to freezing in that place. I couldn't believe how many people were outside - they had campfires but that wouldn't have been enough for me. Tuesday morning was also freezing! When we could eventually move a little, we left the campground and went immediately to the nearby lower falls. These falls are quite beautiful, as they are actually a series of 5 smaller falls, cascading around an island. We had to backtrack a little to see the Upper Falls, because we had passed the entrance to them the evening before. But it was worth it - they are actually the second largest falls east of the Mississippi (Niagara being the largest), with a drop of nearly 50 feet and a width of over 200. Juergen discovered what the zoom on the new camera could really do. (If we had only had the camera when we were taking some of those wild animal shots in the Yukon! But it wasn't released back then...)
We drove on to Paradise and then followed the Lakeshore Scenic Drive almost all the way to Sault Ste Marie, where we would cross into Canada. We made a stop at the Taquamenon River mouth where it flows into Lake Superior, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse, and various other spots along the route to take photos, mostly of the stunning foliage colours. We had heard a man in the tourist information in Marquette bemoaning the fact that he had arrived too late for the fall colours, and had missed the red entirely. We are not sure how spectacular the colours were that he (and by implication, we) had missed, but we saw some fairly amazing colours along this stretch of road. Lots more oohing and aahing!!!

Continuation on > Page 2 > !

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