Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks Sunset Cruise

Tuesday came, and, alas, we had to leave Paradise!!  But first, we went to see Tahquamenon Falls, both the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls.  Both were quite interesting, and very unique, based mainly on the color of the water.  It's golden brown, almost looks like tea, and from some angles, depending on how the sun light hits it, you would think it looks like honey.  Also, at the bottom of each falls there is just tons of foam, some in swirly patterns, and some just backing up, looking like this must have been the site of a massive chemical spill!  But we learned that the brownish color is the result of tannic acid in the water coming from the trees around the river, and the foam is the result of a combination of the type of vegetation in the water, the activity of the fish and the turbulence of the falls.  It all made for quite an unusual sight.  There was a really nice wooden raised path to the lower falls, as the ground was pretty mushy in the area.  

We met a very nice couple from Ontario who had travelled to a lot of the US national parks.  They were singing the praises of the Thunder Bay area on the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior, and we thought about possible going there, but, after looking at the map when we got back to the RV, decided that it's a bit too far back towards the northwest for this trip.  While we never paid much attention to he timing of where we went for most of this trip, as it now gets closer to the time when we will be back home, we are a bit more conscious of timing.  We know we will be in Boston the first weekend of October to see my younger brother and his family, and my 97 year old uncle, so that's kind of a driver of our time over the next couple of weeks.  Anyway, from talking with them, it sounded really interesting, so, maybe next year or the next--we know for sure this won't be our last such excursion!

As we were walking back to the RV in the parking lot, however, we had the funniest experience meeting up with people that we've had in a while.  We noticed from a distance 3 guys who had just parked their motorcycles, all big Harleys and all these guys were dressed in typical motorcycling gear--riding leathers over their jeans, leather jackets and do rags on their heads.  As we got a little closer, we saw who we first thought was a woman, dressed in really bright colors, still sitting on the back of one of the bikes.  When we got a little closer, however, we saw that it was a blow up doll, strapped to the passenger seat!  We knew we would just have to go over and talk to these guys, so we did.  As we got up to where they were all gathered together talking, I asked if we could take a picture of their doll.   One guy said, yes, but only if you'll sign her!  When we got up to it, we saw that all over the doll people had signed their names!  So he pulled out a Sharpie and had us sign our names, where we're from and the date--too funny.  They were having so much fun, they said they had met so many interesting people this way, and as we were there talking with them, a bunch more folks came up and they had them sign the doll as well.  At one point, Trisha was really getting into it and asked "Does she mind riding back there all day?" and they said "Well she hasn't complained once the whole trip!"  From there the conversation took a t urn into a hilarious round of one liners, many of which we can't print in a family blog!  These guys were from Ohio and were just having a ball.

Then went to the Upper Falls and it was really pretty.  Learned that these falls are second only to Niagara in terms of some measurements of their size, but it was so remarkable to see all this golden brown water cascading over the falls.  When we got back to the RV it was noon, so we decided to have lunch before heading on, and  we had an unexpected treat.  As we were eating, we began to see several antique cars pulling in, all convertibles.  More and more came in, and it became obvious that they were having some sort of rally, as they blocked off part of the parking lot and all parked in a row, in something of a display.  After lunch we went over to look at them and take some pictures, since by this time there were 10 or 20 of these cars.  They were just beautifully restored and maintained, lots of Pierce Arrows, a Cadillac, a Peugot a Rolls and some others.  Their tags were from all over the country, and even one was from Fayette County Georgia!!  Although they all drove in off the road, I feel sure they must have shipped them from all these places to someplace centrally located for this rally, and indeed we saw some banners a couple of cars had attached to them about some sort of gathering.  They also all had little plaques on them identifying them selves as FARTS--Friends of Antique Road Transportation Society--what a hoot.  But just a beautiful sight on a bright, cold fall day--all these folks bundled up in jackets and scarves, riding around in these old ragtops!

Then headed on toward Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.  When we first read about this area it was after we had done the kayaking trip to the sea caves in the Apostle Islands, and the pictures looked so similar that we thought we might just pass this up.  But when we had dinner in Chicago with our friend and vegan vagabond friend and RV mentor, Lynne, she said this was a must see for us in the UP, and highly recommended the sunset cruise out to see the rocks.  When we got to Munising we stopped at a visitor center where Trisha went in to inquire about the boat trip to view the rocks, and we decided to go ahead and get tickets for the sunset cruise for that night, as it was such a beautiful day, and the weather predictions were not so good for the next day.  Boy was that the right decision!  We had just enough time to get a campsite for the night and then make it to the dock for the trip, but it was a beautiful cruise out along the rocks and back, with the sun setting and casting such gorgeous light across the rocks.  There was indeed some similarity with the sea caves in the Apostles, since, after all, we were still on Lake Superior, but they were also quite different, especially with the colors.  In lots of places there were lots of different colors, caused by the different minerals in the terrain around the lakeshore at this point, sometimes in beautiful vertical bands of shades of red, green and white.  The guide pointed out several places where there once had been arches, but the constant action of the wind, water and ice had led to erosion, causing the partial or total collapse of the arches in places.  There was one particular formation where all the rock had fallen, leaving just one sort of prominent tower looking rock, with a lone tree sitting on top, with its roots extending horizontally some 20 feet or so back to the main rock formation, as all the rock underneath the root had fallen away.  It's been like this for a number of years, and it was fascinating how the tree still survived and the roots stayed connected to some soil this far away.

Anyway, as we were coming back to the dock, the sun was setting and the moon over the water was just breathtaking--so beautiful!  And we had lots of great views of the nearly full moon over the lake as we were driving back the few miles out of town to the campground for the night--just some spectacular scenes!  And, we were so glad we took the cruise Tuesday night, since when we woke up Wednesday it was raining, overcast and lots of fog!  Once again, our luck was running our way!

Here are some pictures, but I'll try to be somewhat selective, since I took over 300 shots of the Pictured Rocks!!

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

 Look at this color!
 All this foam that first made us think there had been a spill!

 Beautiful fall leaves!!

Beautiful Prayer of the Woods

 Some pretty big ferns
Fall colors coming!

 Signing the biker doll!!
 These guys were just having too much fun!!

 "History Tree" at the Upper Falls, showing various significant historical events corresponding to the dates shown by the rings in the trunk.
 This event was one of our favorites!!
 The Upper Falls

 Gorgeous brass horn!

 Beautiful leather seats on this one

 Wooden spoke wheels on the Georgia car

 Waiting to board the boat for the sunset cruise to Pictured Rocks

 Passed this lighthouse on the way out to the rocks; the first lighthouse we've seen made out of wood, and not brick or stone.

 Here we go with the rocks!

 This formation is called Miners Castle.  The wooden platforms you see are observation decks, and this area is reachable by land.  The guide said there are often weddings done out on these decks--pretty spectacular place for a wedding!

 This pile of rocks had fallen from one of the arches
 Really fascinated with these vertical stripes of colors

 In several of these shots, the way the sunlight hit the rocks as we passed by the arches, looking back, just seemed like fire!  Really a spectacular sight!

 These look like elephant feet!

 Here, at Chapel Rock, the 68 ft boat went way back up into this one cave, which was pretty neat

 View as we were as far back up into cave as the boat could go
 Backing out of the cave

 Here's the tree where the only thing connecting it and the rock to the main formation is the root, going across to the left

These views were something else!

 Coming back by Miners Castle, with the gorgeous setting sun casting it in a lovely light

 The view of the lake from our campsite as we pulled in


  1. Jack I am having the best time on your trip.

    I missed a few days due to a hospital visit attributed to crohn's. However, home back on schedule.

    You folks are so blessed and I appreciate so much the time to take to take us along.


    1. Rod, so glad you're enjoying the blog! I'm really sorry though to hear about your hospitalization. Hopefully that's been successfully resolved and your'e back out on your bike or will be soon! Take care, my friend!

  2. Hysterical pics of the "biker chic" -- what a hoot those guys must have been! Glad that you were able to still catch a sunny evening cruise to the Pictured Rocks before the rains hit. Were you able to try out the veggie pasties at Muldoon's? That should get you to full-fledged "Yuper" status!

    Sounds like you now need to high-tail it to New England. Their fall colors still beat out the U.P., but we try our best with what we have here in the Midwest!

    1. Lynne, those guys were really a riot, with their "girlfriend!" Thanks so much for recommending the sunset cruise, too, as we may have followed the lead of this woman we met at Tahquamenon on her way to Munising, saying someone told her the 2:00 pm cruise was the best lighting--I can't imagine anything prettier than the way the setting sun lit up those rocks! No, we missed out on the veggie goodies at Muldoon's. We made the erroneous assumption that all those bakery adds could only come from a non vegan friendly place--that'll teach me to always consult Happy Cow when I arrive at a new town. And to us it's a hoot that all the signs say "pasties" rather than "pastries," as baked goods are usually known in the South. In our experience the former are more commonly associated with ecdysiasts than danish!

  3. Replies
    1. Chuck, it's truly a gorgeous place! Hope you get the chance to go if you've not been before.

  4. Wow! Loved your pics of Pictured Rock at Sunset! We were there a couple of years ago and just happened to hit a clear sunny day so took the boat ride and found it just lovely...I can only imagine what sunset must have been like! We were told to take advantage of the weather as many folks visit, but never get a clear day.
    Pat Russell