Monday, February 1, 2016

Michigan Aug 2015 Tahquamennon Falls State Park, Paradise, MI Pasties and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

After what I felt was too brief a stay at Brimley-I would have liked another chance to visit Sault Ste Marie and paddle at the beach-we moved over (I say moved over because 1 hour+ doesn't feel like a real drive) to the Rivermouth campground at Tahquamennon Falls State Park.  There are two campgrounds (one is closer to the falls) and our was right alongside the river and smaller so it was supposed to be quieter.  It was for the most part, once the weekend-one of the last of summer- was over. Don would kayak the river once but for the most part our visit was spent hiking around the falls and visiting Paradise.

Our first day the weather was overcast and cold and we decided it was better for going to a museum than hiking at the falls, so we headed up to Paradise (thus completing a full circuit from Hell to Paradise and all while in Michigan) and then to Whitefish Point which juts into Lake Superior.  It is home to the Whitefish Point Light Station as well as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which was  our destination. Many people, at least of our vintage in North America, remember the Gordon Lightfoot song the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  The S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was Great Lakes freighter that sank in 1975 only 17 miles off shore from Whitefish Point. She was the largest freighter to ply those waters when she was launched in 1958 and remains the largest ever sunk. All 29 men onboard lost their lives and none have been recovered.  Some years ago a group of families after recovery efforts had failed had the bell from the freighter brought up to stand as a memorial to those who were lost.  There are controversies that surround the entire incident but what became clear at the museum was how many ships have gone down (over 350) and in a number of tragic circumstances.  The stories of many ships told and artifacts recovered from many of them are on display.  Lake Superior is a huge lake-the country of Austria could fit in it. At its deepest, the lake is 1,332 ft. / 406 m. deep and the shoreline is 2,726 miles / 4,385 km. The northern shore of Lake Superior is in Canada and the southern in the US.  The dangerous storms-nor'easters-tend to come in the fall months but the day we were there the wind was up and so were the waves.  After touring the museum we took a walk on the beach which was made up of smooth pebbles and to watch the waves.  We then traveled back into Paradise to have lunch at the Berry Patch Bakery and Restaurant.  Don went for the Lumberjack Breakfast but I opted for the local pasty which is pronounced PASS-tee and is much the same as the pasties from Cornwall in England.  In fact, it is the Cornish miners who came to the UP to mine copper who brought the recipe with them however, many ethnic groups adopted the pasty as it was reminiscent of similar items in their cuisine.

Tahquamennon Falls has two falls-the Upper Falls which are larger- and the Lower Falls in which one can paddle in boats for hire and cross to the area where climbing on the rocks and playing in the water is possible.  Having gotten a late start we ate lunch first at the Brew Pub at the Falls site.  The food was good, and the beer excellent.  After lunch we gathered Phoenix from the car and took her with us on the hike.  We walked along the Upper Falls trail first, which gave us several opportunities to look out at the Falls as well as two to walk down stairs (272 at the longer one) to the level of the falls, and then back up again.  Phoenix is not fond of the metal stairs with grates but she was a trooper and climbed all the way down and back.  Of course, the attention she got-especially from a group of teens from Detroit- made it worthwhile.  There are several informative signs along the path telling about the falls as well as identifying the various specimens of trees.   We then went over to the Lower Falls which looked more like a series of cataracts rather than falls.  In the stream above them people had built multiple cairns of balanced rocks and the path alongside was quite different.  As we were leaving the Falls I became engrossed in watching a chipmunk clean himself.  He had stopped on the side of the path and as I pulled out my camera he stopped for an instant, looked up at me and I swear shrugged his shoulders and went back to cleaning.  He scratched and he licked, he lifted each leg and licked it just as Cadbury does, stopping to scratch little itches with his teeth.  He turned and scratched his back and bent all the way over to clean every area he could reach and then he grabbed his tail and licked it from one end to the other.  Such entertainment!

Our visit to Tahquamennon was over the next day so we got ready to head west along the lake shore to our tour of Pictured Rocks..

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