Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Anniversary in the Apostles Islands!

Sunday was our anniversary day and what a day we had!  Started off with breakfast at Coco's in Washburn, this absolutely delightful cafe and bakery Myra had turned us on to last year.  They have an amazing array of unusual breads and pastries, many of them vegan, as well as lots of yummy breakfast entrees.  Last year when we went there for the first time we told the folks Myra had recommended them to us and asked if they knew her--"Of course, everyone knows Myra!"  Well, this year, just as we were ordering, in she walks, and we had a good visit with her.  Breakfast was wonderful--vegan scramble, with cranberry walnut bread and raspberry jam--woohoo!  And when I went to the cashier to pay she remembered us from last year--love it when that happens!

After breakfast we went back to Blue Vista for blueberry picking.  We got there early, and met the owners, Ellen and Eric; Ellen was inside the barn store and set us up with the picking flats, and Eric was out in the fields, seeing which rows were ready for picking.  We were the first ones in the fields that morning and he spent quite a bit of time explaining the different varieties they had, giving us tips on how to spot the best and ripest berries.  They are the nicest folks and he was joking with us about Santa and Mrs. Claus being there, and asked us if they could take a picture and put it up on their Facebook page, which we of course were happy to do.  We picked nearly 5 gallons by the time we finished, filled up the freezer with most of them when we got home so we now have wonderful blueberries and raspberries for our smoothies for the rest of our trip--yummmmmmmyyyy!!

Sunday afternoon we were sitting out at our campsite, Trisha was knitting and I was reading a book I had found about the history of the Battle of Little Bighorn.  It's been fun this week to be here in the afternoons at the campground as we've watched new folks come in and set up--the sites are all around the edges of this big central open area where there are always children playing, so it's fun to watch the action.  We just love to hear the sounds of happy children, and it's fascinating to watch the interaction among kids:  some kids are shy, just stand on the sidelines watching other kids play, but others are eager to join in and make new friends--reminds us so much of our son, Todd.  Right after Jeremy was born we rented an RV and spent a couple of weeks touring New England; Todd was 7 then and as soon as we'd pull into a campground, he was off looking for kids to play with.  He never met a stranger.  One time, in New England, we heard him and another little boy as they were throwing rocks into the river.  The other little boy, obviously a New Englander, said "Where are you from, you talk funny."  We cracked up when we heard Todd's reply, "No, YOU talk funny!"  Anyway, this woman came over and asked us for a favor:  she and her family were in a Class C motorhome and didn't have a tow vehicle.  She said she had some chicken cooking in her crockpot, but they wanted to go into town for a while and were looking for someone who might let her plug her crockpot in at their RV:  she told Trisha when she saw her knitting she thought to herself, now that looks like the sort of person who would let me do that!  Of course we were happy to accommodate her, since we remembered well from last year about unplugging to drive into town when the RV was your only vehicle.  She had three little boys, and they were excited to see Santa and loved to get autographed pictures!

That evening we went to Maggie's for dinner--a very popular restaurant in Bayfield.  Last year we had a wonderful meal here, plus an added bonus.  Earlier that afternoon we had met a couple downtown who had an RV just like ours and had chatted with them a bit.  They turned up at Maggie's that night as well and we had dinner together, and it was the start of a wonderful friendship.  Denny and Jane, from Ventura, California were on a trip much like ours.  Denny had just retired and they were on their way around the country.  Since then we've kept in touch and they stopped and spent the night with us in Cherry Log earlier this year when they were on their way back from Florida.  Too bad they weren't with us this year to help celebrate our anniversary!  All in all just a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable anniversary day!

Monday we headed out early, taking our bikes on the ferry across to Madeline Island--the only island that is inhabited year round, and the only one that's not a part of the National Lakeshore.  There are a number of summer homes on the island, but several hundred hardy folks live there year round.  You gotta admire these folks--Lake Superior freezes over every year from Bayfield out to Madeline; when it first starts freezing the ferry company has one boat outfitted as an icebreaker.  The next phase is when there gets to be too much ice for even this boat to make it, and they have an ice sled--think swamp airboat, only bigger, with a huge propellor on the back and ski-like skids underneath.  For a while this is the only way to get back and forth between the mainland and Madeline Island.  Eventually, the ice freezes to a thickness that's safe enough to support the weight of cars, usually shortly after Christmas.  Then all the locals take their Christmas trees and line the designated roadway to the island.  Having lived in the south all my life, it's hard to imagine such an existence.  But we've talked to a number of the locals and they really enjoy the winter sports, especially snowmobiling, so I guess it's what you're used to.  Apparently they have teams of engineers who go out every day to do tests to determine the thickness and firmness of the ice layer to make sure it's safe, but I remember talking to a woman on the island last year who said she still carries big spikes anytime she drives over, just in case the ice were to fail so she could use the spikes to slam into the ice and pull herself out of the water.  As the saying goes around here, "The Lake is the Boss."  Never underestimate what the lake can do.

Anyway, even though the weather prediction had been for clear and sunny skies, when we got on the ferry it was pretty overcast and a bit cool.  We were initially worried that it might rain on us, but it turned out fine.  Even though it was not the brightest of days, at least until mid-afternoon, it did provide us with good cover to keep us from getting too hot so that was good.  The island is 13 miles long, and we rode from one end to the other and back.  It was a great ride, with lots of views of the lake, albeit it somewhat shrouded in mist at times, lots of gorgeous wildflowers and some interesting wildlife views.  We saw deer, a stately little Canada geese family as they strolled down the road, and even a black bear.  Trisha was riding ahead of me and saw it on the other side of the road, just standing still in the ferns and grasses.  Looked to be a young bear, not really a little cub, but didn't seem to be an adult--maybe a teenager looking for some mischief to get into!  Anyway, by the time I could pull the camera out we were past the bear, and Trisha wisely talked me out of turning around to try to get a shot of it.  The bear was probably 30 feet or so off the roadway, but however crazy I may be some of the time (yeah, I can hear our kids saying about now "What do you mean SOME of the time, Dad!!"), Jack's momma didn't raise no total fool, so I didn't go back.  Sorry I don't have a photo to share, but, hey, gotta remember that this is the No Hurries No Worries Tour, Vol. II.  We had had one other bear sighting along the road as we were driving to Washburn a couple days earlier, but there were cars behind us and we couldn't stop to take a picture.  These were both black bears, which I understand are not quite as aggressive as grizzlies, but nevertheless, I'm sure if I were to get too close it could very well turn out to be like my Army basic training drill sergeant used to say--at that point all you're left with is your Ft. Dix hand-to-hand combat training, and I don't like those odds!!  We stopped to take a break at the far end of the island, and as we were sitting there enjoying the lake while we had an apple, a couple came along and unloaded their sea kayaks, all tricked out in full wetsuits and foul weather gear, getting ready for a 5 mile paddle out to Michigan Island and then back.  We were recalling our sea kayaking trip from last year and how sore we were at the end of the day, and not envying these folks their paddle, as the water was pretty rough, with some good winds kicking up.  But they were having fun, so go for it folks!!

Got back to the ferry dock in time to eat at a little cafe next door and just as we finished, the next ferry pulled up, so timing was great!  After a relaxing afternoon at the campground, had a wonderful dinner of vegan ratatouille over quinoa.  Great ending to another great day here in this fabulously beautiful area of the country.

Tuesday we drove to Ashland, the next town past Washburn, also on the shore of Lake Superior, where I had found a bike path last year.  I had remembered it being longer, but it turns out there's some construction going on so there were some detours; paved for much of the way, but the last mile or so was basically a rutted dirt road.  Anyway, we got a good 12 miles in, and I had timed it just right--we finished the ride a little before noon, just in time to drive back to Washburn and have another nice visit with our friend the jewelry maker, Mary Ross,  before one last meal at Coco's.  When Trisha put on the necklace as we got ready to go out to dinner on Sunday, we realized that she really needed a pair of earrings that were a better match for this necklace than what she had.  So that was an excuse to go back by, and Mary immediately came up with just the right stones, and made the earrings while we were there.  We stayed and just chatted for a while, too--hard to explain, really, but sometimes when you meet someone, there's just his feeling like you've known them for a long time, just a real heart connection--this is the way we all three seemed to feel, so it was good to share some more time together.  Then to Coco's for a last meal there before we leave this gorgeous place--as we were enjoying our delightful lunches, a couple of women came in and were admiring some of the goodies in the glass case and one of them said, that just looks wonderful!  I started to say that there's nothing at this place that isn't wonderful!!

Back to the campground for another relaxing afternoon of taking it easy--the weather here has been so pleasant, nice to have the windows open, or just nap outside under the trees.  We had a delightful chat with our next door neighbors, John and Carol, from Colorado who've been full-timing since 2009.  They also have a travel blog like ours, so we've exchanged contact information, and they gave us some tips about how to compile and publish our blog at the end of each year--great information!  They've been to Alaska a few times and they told us lots of specific places to see and things to do--we're planning to go to Alaska next summer--and it was really helpful.  Looking forward to going back through their blog to get more information from when they were last there a couple of years ago.  Turns out that John is a retired Episcopal priest, so he and Trisha have a lot in common there.  Very interesting folks.  It's so much fun to meet new folks along the way, to exchange stories of places we've been and tips on how to make the trip better--still one of the most fun things about RVing!

So tomorrow we'll once again say goodbye to the Apostle Islands and Wisconsin, and once again, it will be a reluctant farewell.  We just love this place and would highly recommend it as a destination to anyone who has the chance to come here.  We know we'll be back again!!

Sunday, at Blue Vista Farm, with our blueberry picking bounty!
 Stopped in at North Wind Organic and Sustainable Farm for some good veggies--they use solar power for everything during the summer, including their tractors and this little electric car.  It's just like the electric car Trisha's grandmother had when she lived in New Smyrna Beach, FL years ago, so we had to get this picture.
 Stopped in at Hauser's, an orchard and winery.  Someone had told us about this place--they had bought the original barn in 1928 from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog, for $895--and it's still there, with a couple of additions!  Pretty cool!
 Here's the barn--the center big section was the original barn
 A writeup about the barn

 This was a hoot--if you can read it when you enlarge the photo, it's pretty funny!
 Next stop was at Apple Hill--a place for fresh cherries that our usher at Big Top Chautauqua, Lisa, had recommended.  Look at those luscious cherries--and, believe you me, they taste as good as they look!!
 When I got up from my chair to go get something from the RV, Sophie was quick to follow the saying our kids used to tell us "Move your butt, lose your hut!"
 Monday morning, on the ferry to Madeline Island
 Some kayakers had just come in from an overnight camping trip and were unloading their boats
 Pulling out of Bayfield Marina

 Coming into Madeline Island Marina

 Love the aspens intermixed with the pines and hardwoods

 Taking a break at the end of the island
 These were the kayakers this guy and his partner were loading up
 Love the purples . . .
 . . . and the ferns
 . . . and the aspens
 . . . and the yellows

 Pretty little lopsided rough cut log house
 and the view across from their front porch

 "Hey, Mom, what are those funny looking things on those two-wheeled contraptions??"
 "I don't know, but you'd better hustle on out of their way!!"
 "Got it!!"
 and these gorgeous fushcia-colored flowers

 Had to take this picture, in honor of our son, Todd--when he was a kid, he loved turtles, and we often stopped when we'd see a turtle in the road, sometimes so he could take it home, and also just to make sure it made it across the road without getting smashed by a vehicle
 Great Blue Heron in a pond on our way back to the ferry
 At lunch at the little cafe next to the ferry dock--this woman's dog thought he had as much right to a bench seat as she did!
 These ducks were so funny--from time to time folks would throw some food scraps out into the water and they would become very aggressive, chasing one another away from the food

 Tuesday in Ashland, getting ready to ride

 Remains of an old dock
 Loved this shot of Trisha going under an arch of tree branches
 Ashland Marina
 Beautiful hotel along the water

 Not sure what this building is, but thought it was interesting
 Lighthouse out toward Madeline Island

 These folks have sure laid in a lot of wood for the winter!
 Riding back into downtown Ashland--this spire is from the Our Lady of the Lake Church--cool name
 Trisha and our wonderfully creative friend, Mary Ross, of Lake Superior Drifting Stone Jewelry; Trisha is wearing the new necklace and earrings Mary made.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, Jack! I'd love to visit the area someday. Sounds like y'all had a wonderful anniversary! With the fun you've been having, I'm sure you haven't been seeing much news or FB postings, but by any chance have you seen the little red-haired boy who takes over the mic when being interviewed at a fair? I'm sure you can now pull it up on YouTube. Anyway, he is so adorable and reminds me of your grandson, John! From what you have told about John, I imagine he was just like this little boy at age 5! You'll get a kick out of it! I'm still in shock over the news of Martha's death...such sad circumstances.