Sunday, October 27, 2013

The end of this trip ... and home again

Our last night on the road had been spent at a newly-remodeled motel ... comfortable, super-clean, and across the road from a lake.
Along the way we had stopped to purchase a special type of soda that Hobbs' friend, Bill, likes. It was kind of a scavenger hunt trying to find it as not all stores carry it. I think we ended up with 12 6-packs. Hobbs and I also visited a Packerland Store on the way as Bill's wife, Theresa, is a Packerbacker and he always likes to get her something as a thank you for all that she and her Bill do for him. (And I thought of baby Franklin, too, who needed a mini-cheesehead!!)

The colors have been beautiful nearly everywhere although they weren't quite at their peak in many places.

We stopped and dropped off the goodies at their house and made arrangements to meet at the Ford River Pub and Grill for their fish fry. Bill and Theresa are great folks, and it was fun to spend some time getting to know them. The fish fry wasn't too bad either!!! And there was a salad bar which is always a plus for me.

Good friend,Theresa.  Her husband, Bill, is camera shy.
 In between all of this we went and picked up a trailer load of sugar beets, carrots, corn and apples for the deer. If nothing else, Hobbs feeds the deer well.

How's that for a pile of sugar beets?

Next, a scoop of carrots.
Heading to the cabin.

The cabin, bigger than some people's houses.

Upstairs.  I slept in the bed on the left, right next to the chair.
 We also went out and put up a tree stand in one of the areas where he'll be hunting. I've never done that before, so it was an interesting project. We had to ride double on his four-wheeler and then pack things in probably a quarter-of-a-mile. It wasn't too difficult although there's sure a lot of brush and I nearly impaled myself on a broken branch. Aaaaagggghhhhh!!! But it was fun and I enjoyed the hike. We looked at his deer cam and saw there had been a few deer about eating the food he'd put out. They had not touched the pumpkin so we split it for them. Hobbs puts out good food for the deer and makes it easy for them to get to.

He had his trail marked and wanted me to see if I could follow it. He has a super sense of direction, but figured this would be good for night … just in case.

We had to bag apples and put things away prior to going out on the trail.

Packing in the deer stand.

Putting the deer stand together.

The only reason you can see him is the orange shirt. 
Then we went back out to the cabin and settled in for a few days.

On Saturday morning (October 12) Hobbs was up and making coffee. I'd slept up in the loft of the cabin where it was cooler (not next to the stove where he sleeps). He brought me coffee in bed, then it was time to wash up and do something productive.

I'd unloaded my new luggage Hobbs got me.  Hard-shell style.  We had finally gotten my suitcase from the Escanaba airport, three days before I was heading home. 

I'm sure the deer were watching from the trees as I put out carrots and sugar beets in my best outfit ... Halloween fleece pants and my Roswell alien museum tee shirt.  They could certainly see me coming.
 The whole setting around the cabin is picturesque. The cabin is large, two-storied, and sets on a meadow. Deer come in and eat and you would think you're watching a Walt Disney nature film. The trees are covered with brilliant oranges, yellows, golds and reds, with some fancy greens thrown in for comparison to what it was before the leaves began changing.

Look in any direction around the cabin and you have a photo of something beautiful and memorable.
Every color plays off another, adding all kinds of dimensions to photos.
I totally loved the area around the cabin.

There are four-wheelers, an old bus and van for storage, storage buildings and the best of all … an old tractor. I took lots of photos of the tractor because I kept trying to get the “perfect” photo.

My favorite vehicle around the cabin.

I think Hobbs brought me here to be his mule. We worked hard these few days and bagged carrots and some sugar beets and then I separated them out within the trailer so they'd be fairly easy to get to while he went out to check out some things.

Bagging carrots ... deer food.

In addition to bagging some of it, you have to store it away so the animals can't get to it.  They'll come right up to the trailer and have a deer buffet at night when you're not watching.

The sugar beets and carrots are all nicely separated. 

This is Hobbs' friend's machine.

I got to ride his friend's four wheeler.  Fun, fun, fun.
Hobbs has the stakes for the property line.  We went through some mucky stuff.

Saturday afternoon we staked some of the property we'd bought for his deer hunting. We got caught in a downpour and finally decided we needed to call it a day.

Hobbs uses this home made thing to pound the stakes into the ground.
Measuring the distance between the stakes.  We used a compass to keep the line as straight as possible.
Setting a stake.
Using the thumper to pound the stake into the ground.

As darkness fell, a deer showed up in the pasture. There goes that movie again.

A really mushy spot got Hobbs' four wheeler stuck.  The trick is to go as fast as you can, not stopping until you get to the other end.  I learned that from Hobbs.

He did get stuck.  But that's why you carry ropes and winches.  Was even fun dealing with the mud.
I rode hard and fast through the mud ... and did not get stuck.  Mud was aflying everywhere, even on me.  Was loving it.
Yep, there are some real ugly patches on the trail after it's been raining.  Some of it never dries out.
And there's something pretty to see in every direction.

On Sunday we rode two four-wheelers to do some looking around and see where he'd put up another deer stand and looked at the stakes we'd planted on the land. They're in a pretty straight line. And we drove in the truck to another place where he has a stand aleady up. This time we cut a tree and took it to use as camouflage so the deer couldn't see him up in it.

I got to cut down the tree.
He got to carry it.
I also had to photograph everything, even leaves on the ground.
Meanwhile, the tree was "planted" to help hide a view of the tree stand.
And I sat in the tree stand taking pictures ... of leaves, and so on.

Then Hobbs sat in the tree stand and I pretended to be a deer coming through the woods. I could not see him.  Ha ha!!

I had a great time … doing everything. I wouldn't go to the outhouse in the dark as there are bear and I used a pot … yep, primitive. But it was camping to a much higher standard than tents and sleeping bags on the ground. I liked the cabin a lot as it's very comfortable, and there's even entertainment. I heard “snap” in the night and early morning. Hobbs caught six mice in traps!!!  They keep him busy outsmarting them.  They like peanut butter and Mounds bars.

This young lady was enjoying the deer buffet I'd put out the afternoon before.

Come Sunday, we drank coffee, saw a deer in the pasture eating the sugar beets and carrots I'd put out, rode the four wheelers, and then went into town early.  We spent the night at a hotel since I had to be at the airport by 5 a.m. to try to  be on the 6:30 a.m. flight.

There's always an old barn to photograph.  They're some of my favorite types of  buildings ... you know there's a history behind every one of them.

We also stopped to visit the Sand Point Lighthouse that warned mariners from 1868 to 1939 of the spit of land extending into Little Bay de Noc at the entrance to Escanaba Harbor.  Congress authorized the lighthouse construction in 1864, shortly after the first railroad began hauling iron ore from the mines to the docks at Escanaba. 
 All went well.  We spent a nice night, I got on the first flight Monday morning from Escanaba to Detroit, as well as the second flight from Detroit to Minneapolis.  Then there was a bottleneck and I didn't make the first flight to Anchorage.  But I got on the second one, got into Anchorage about 12:40 a.m., and wouldn't you know it, my luggage beat me home!!!  That luggage traveled more than I did this trip!! 

I so enjoyed all the colorful foliage.  The trip was so worth any aggravation, large or small ... white deer, Soo locks, Valley Camp Museum, good friends, colors, cabin, regular deer, spending time with Hobbs.  All priceless.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Soo Locks and so much more

The shoreline was beautiful even if there was fog.

We got up not so early today and readied ourselves for the Soo Locks boat tour.  Breakfast, batteries for Hobbs' camera, warm clothes, cameras. We were ready for our adventure.

While we were waiting for the fog to lift, I was over taking photos of the power plant.  Old habits of taking power plant photos die hard.  This hydro plant began as Edison and was started in 1902.  It generates more than 150 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year to operate the locks.  What is not used for the locks is distributed to homes and businesses in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 
We arrived at the dock about 20 minutes before the tour was due to leave. If there aren't 10 people to take the tour, they cancel. There were 16. Yay. The area was foggy. Wouldn't you know it, weather delay. Now I'm wondering if the tour will be cancelled.

About 15 minutes or so later the captain of the vessel Bide-a-wee, advised us that we would start boarding. It was still foggy here and there, but was lifting rapidly.

Our transportation for the tour had all the amenities ... restrooms, snacks, drinks, enclosed area, and not too many people on the tour so we could wander at will and not be crowded at all.  Not so good for their business, but wonderful for us.
The tour was two hours, and the first part took us around over near the Canadian side, then back to the U.S. side, past the old Edison Power Plant (Cloverland) (hydro) started in 1902, all the while giving us a history of the ships, boats, buildings and area.

When the Edison plant was built the dividers were constructed to resemble light houses.

The locks and more.

There are four U.S. locks, one Canadian lock, the St. Mary's Rapids (St. Marys River), three hydro electric plants, the International Highway Bridge linking Sault Ste, Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. There's so much history in this small area it's hard to take it all in.

Then we headed toward the first lock we'd be going through. This one is on the American side, going from Lake Huron to
Lake Superior.

The whole process is fascinating and is an engineering marvel that overcomes the 21-foot difference in water level between Lake Superior and some of her sister lakes by “locking” a boat into a canal of a certain length, then either raising or lowering the water level to allow the boat to sail calmly into the next lake. The locks allow safe passage, as well, past the St. Marys Rapids for ships carrying iron ore, coal, grain, stone, road salt, petroleum and manufactured goods. Tankers, Coast Guard cutters, tour boats, pleasure boats – all go through the locks at no cost.

We went through the lock on the left, the MacArthur Lock, named after World War II Gen. Douglas MacArthur.  It measures 800 feet long between the inner gates, 80 feet wide and 31 feet deep.  It was built during the war years of 1942-43.  The longest vessel that can go through the MacArthur lock is 730 feet long by 76 feet wide.  In emergencies, the limit may be exceeded for vessels up to 767 feet in length.  There's a ship in the lock on the right, waiting for the water level to rise and allow it to pass through to Lake Superior.  The building between the two locks is the Administration Building, built in 1897.

As we pulled into the lock, you can see the gates at the other end are closed.  The water level is low, to accomodate our boat coming from a lower lake to one that is higher in elevation.  The difference between the two lakes is about 21 feet.  That means our boat has to be enclosed in the lock and the water level raised 21 feet before allowing us to come out into Lake Superior. 

The gates behind us closed, locking us into the MacArthur Lock.

The water is coming through the gates and takes about 12 minutes to rise 21 feet.  The water flows in naturally without the help of pumps.

The difference between the beginning and ending photos is startling, and the locks become a marvel. 

This ship exited the Poe Lock shortly after we came through the MacArthur Lock.  The Poe Lock is the only lock capable of handling vessels more than 730 feet in length.  The size limit is 1,100 feet long by 105 feet wide.   

Hobbs can always find a cup of coffee somewhere.
In the early days canoes, boats and ships had to be portaged past the rapids, sometimes taking not just months but years using oxen and skids. By comparison, although the water level quickly rises or lowers, there is time spent entering and leaving the locks, positioning the boats and so on, with large vessels spending an average of slightly more than an hour from the time they enter the canal at one end and exiting at the other. What a difference!!!

Because of Charles T. Harvey, a salesman, entrepreneur and builder, the first lock became a reality in 1855. The State Lock is the site of succeeding locks, the first Poe Lock in 1896 and the present Poe Lock constructed in 1968. It's the largest of the four locks and was rebuilt to accommodate 1,000-foot-long ships. It's the only lock ever rebuilt over an existing lock between two operating locks. The Poe Lock was named for Colonel Orlando M. Poe, Engineer Officer during the Civil War.

It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, and the big ship coming behind us did not catch up nor run us over.
Two other locks, Davis (named for Colonel Charles E.L.B. Davis, Detroit District Engineer) and the Sabin Lock (named for L.C. Sabin, the only civilian to serve as a Detroit District Engineer) are currently both closed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to replace them with a larger lock to handle even larger vessels. Due to the price tag, it's unlikely construction will begin anytime soon.

We sailed easily through and then out and around over toward the Canadian side of the river. We had great views of the International Bridge, 2.8-miles in length, and opened to traffic in 1962. It's the only vehicle link between the United States and Canada for 350 miles to the south and 580 miles to the west. It hangs 140-feet above the ground and is jointly owned by the State of Michigan and the Province of Ontario.

I've ridden over this bridge, a long time ago.
Located close by the International Bridge are Canadian National Railway bridges that date back to 1887. The bridges have counterweights that are so well balanced that it takes only a 40-horsepower electric motor to raise and lower the bridges so ships can sail under them.
This contraption is used to get boats out of the water and up on the ramp for repairs.
On the Ontario side of the river we passed the Algoma Steel plant. It's the largest employer in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The main raw materials that go into making steel (coal, limestone and taconite iron ore) are all shipped by water on self-unloading vessels. The plant handles about 3.5 million tons of iron ore, 1.5 million tons of coal and about 300,000 tons of limestone. Large cranes take the raw materials from the dock area and place them into rail cars that take them to the blast furnaces.

The steel plant is huge, and yet it's quite fascinating to right next to big industry.
I've often likened the ride into Phoenix as riding into a blast furnace.  Now I know what one looks like.

The whole plant area.

The Lake Superior Power, Inc., plant.

What's a photo in Canada without some of their fall colors?

There are beautiful old buildings on the Canadian side, too.

All too soon we were traveling through the Canadian lock, used exclusively by small vessels and tour boats due to the restricted draft of 12 feet or less, sailing in, having the gates closed, the water lowered and the second gate opened. Out we sailed. You know the water's rising or falling, and you can see it, but you don't really feel the motion from the movement.

We were now in the Canadian lock.  See how high we seem to be.  Yep, we're 21 feet higher than the next lake over, Lake Huron.
The gates are closing behind us ... locking us in.

The gates are closed and the water level has dropped.

The gates are opening and we're making our escape.
And here we go, setting sail out and back into Lake Huron, 21 feet lower than Lake Superior.  I was still marveling at how this whole process works.
Two large ships had come through and were heading for the locks.  We skittered around them like a pesky fly.

The fog had disbursed and the bridges were quite visible.  You could even see the vehicles crossing.

Our little boat didn't stand up to these big ships.  But we were quicker.

We sailed back alongside the power plant. The old plant is a quarter-of-a-mile long, 80 feet wide and has 74 horizontal shaft turbines, each driving a 60-cycle generator. The excavation of the hydro canal began in 1898 and was completed in 1902. The plant is constructed of steel and red sandstone. The stone was excavated from the power canal and each individual stone was hand cut to fit perfectly.   It's a beautiful building and reminiscent of the old age of craftsmanship and pride of a job well-done.

The tall building is the Tower of History, that we had visited the day before.

While the boat tour was more history than a person could take and I've got a very short attention span, once we were back on land, we opted to visit the Valley Camp Ship Museum.

Valley Camp, the world's largest maritime museum within a great lakes freighter.

A painting of Valley Camp in its heyday.
The Valley Camp ship was owned by the Republic Steel Corp. It's 532 feet long and 58 feet wide, more than large enough to handle lots of seagoing memorabilia and history. We couldn't tarry too long, but we went through it. There are ship models, four large fish aquariums and two lifeboats from the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on Lake Superior Nov. 10, 1975. (Remember the song?)

Looking aft.  There are numerous holds which carried all types of cargo.
The bridge.
There were loads of displays, and while everything is interesting, I mostly liked seeing into the rooms the crew used because it really takes you back in history. There was a time when some folks used linen table napkins and fine china for meals, but I surely wouldn't miss doing the dishes. There was quite a difference between the captain's stateroom, space for his or his immediate officer's guests and the lower-ranked sailors. Of course, the toilet facilities and washing were a lot more limited than most of us currently have now, and I wouldn't give up my washer and dryer at the house. That's not a luxury but a necessity.

There's not much room although the captain has more of a "suite.'

The captain's table for his guests and officers.

The table for the regulars.  There's quite a difference ... no fine linen here.

The steam-powered winces raised the two anchors, each of which weighed 6.5 tons.  The anchors are attached to 300 feet of chain, weighing 25 pounds per link. 

The two Edmund Fitzgerald lifeboats were of interest as 29 sailors lost their lives in the wreck. The lifeboats were the largest pieces of wreckage recovered, and it's still a mystery as to what really happened. There are theories, a sketch of the ship broken into three pieces, and so much more. But Lake Superior weather is unforgiving and many lives have been taken to show that those things can happen quickly and without warning.

The lifeboats were pretty beaten up.
The upper decks were open to us as well as the cargo decks that have exhibits. Originally these held coal, iron ore and limestone and the large hatches remind you that this was once an operational vessel.

One other point of interest was the four 1,200-gallon fishtanks. They hold a variety of fish that eat only live food. When live food is not used, the fish die. Hobbs found out that when the exhibit shuts down for the winter months the fish are used for a fish fry for the employees. I think that's pretty cool. There were some pretty large fish in there, too, so maybe there wouldn't be too many bones. Yuk to bones. (I have tasted whitefish, walleye and perch on this trip now, though and haven't run into any bones.)

Birds rested on the rocks in the lake.  Or showed off for those of us who were watching them.
From Valley Camp we had to get on the road, and head to Escanaba. The plan was to spend the night somewhere (no destination planned) and roll into Escanaba and visit friends at a fish fry Friday evening.