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Coronavirus 2020 Virginia

Staying with Jen and family as shelter-in-place begins. Jeff doing wonderful meals between meetings (on-line) and other communications to decide what University of Mary Washington is going to do about the shut down (they are at the end of Spring Break with students due to return). Students who are able to go somewhere else are being told to do so but some students have no other real choice but returning to the dorm so, for now, they are being allowed to return. Many questions at this time! Fairfax County school (in which Jen teaches) have been closed for now.

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Today we drove to Mackinaw City, MI in the Lower Peninsula. As we got south in the UP we were on Lake Huron (2nd Great Lake this trip). Another BIG lake. After parking the RV we drove to Sault Ste. Marie (only Mexican food in the area and told by a local that it was good – it was). We had been to see the Soo Locks with Granny and Grumpy some years ago and they really are quite amazing. Great Lakes comprise 1/5th of the fresh surface water in the world! With ice breaker ships the locks now stay open about 10 months of the year moving primarily iron ore and coal on 1,000 foot ships. Wow! The two locks on the right side are for the 1,000 foot long ships. The one on the left is what one goes through on the tour boat. The viewing area is really nice (and out of the cold!) These gates don’t look like they would hold back tons of water. The far right in the picture of the locks shows the falls on the St. Mary River. Before the locks goods had to be carried around these falls, a height difference of about 21 feet from Lake Superior to Lake Huron.

This is one of the 1,000 foot ships of iron ore or coal (we think). We have seen several today, both here and as we crossed the bridge to Mackinaw City. That is one LONG ship.

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Apparently Bob has long wanted to see this lakeshore so, since they are best seen from the water, we purchased tickets online for the cruise. Unfortunately, both yesterday and today, they have had to cancel due to large waves on Lake Superior. We were very disappointed. However, we drove up to Miner’s Castle and went out to the overlook to see the 8 foot waves we were told caused the cruise to be cancelled. Our second disappointment of the day. Bob walked down to the lower overlook – Marilyn was too cold!. From the water this apparently looks like a castle (or it did to the miners as they passed in the water below). It probably looked more like a castle before one of the turrets collapsed in 2006. Wish the colors were more vibrant on the cliffside. For some pictures taken by someone on a better day, click here.

Driving back to the RV we stopped for a quick shot of Alger’s Falls, one of many falls in the area. We also saw pretty color driving back.

UP Michigan

Today we left Duluth, MI, drove east through a little of northern Wisconsin and into the Upper Pennisula of Michigan. By the way, we have asked locals and the rest of Michigan is, as you might expect, the Lower Pennisula or LP. We started seeing more color (although we had seen some lovely color in the Duluth area, much of it the yellows of the quaking Aspen).

This is the road into the park and the train tracks we cross to enter. There were some beautiful trees in the park.

By the time we reached our park for the night we were seeing lovely reds, golds, yellows, etc. and the view across the lake was breathtaking. Unfortunately, we have had very cloudy days so the colors are not as bright as what we actually experienced

Great Lakes Aquarium

This is a wonderful fresh water aquarium. There is so much hands on for children and clever ideas such as, in the raptors section, areas on the floor that represent the size of different bird’s nests and invite the children to see if they can fit in the nest. Many areas with “can you find” for questions ranging from animal/fish/insect etc. habitats to Native American issues. This exhibit allows children to put small boats through locks between the Great Lakes. What a wonderful way to understand how a lock works.

In this tank, 26 feet deep and water of about 56 degrees F., the divers were cleaning the tank walls and feeding the fish. The diver doing the cleaning used a suction cup at one point to move from one side to the other along the window. I assume to avoid too much flipper action. Marilyn would love this job. Lake Superior’s water is about 48 degrees we were told.

Duluth Lift Bridge

The Aerial Lift Bridge is an iconic site in Duluth. Unfortunately, we did not see it let a ship through but it is still quite amazing. It is a hugh bridge in terms of structure. There are apparently two primary types of boats one will see pass through. The “Lakers” (90% of the traffic) are ships built specifically to ply the waters of the Great Lakes. They can be 1,000 feet long and carry 70,000 short tons. They usually last 40 – 50 years and are too large to navigate the St. Lawrence Sea Way. “Salties” are smaller and less buoyant in the fresh water so can’t carry such large loads but can pass through the St. Lawrence Sea Way. Their lifespan is shorter due to their time in salt water.

Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Today we drove some of the Wisconsin side of Lake Superior. It was different in some ways. We drove out the penisula that ends in the Red Cliff Reservation of the Ojibwa and included a look at the Apostle Islands .

How would you like to get to school in one of these?

Rather clever of Misters Okerstrom and Daly to think of consolidation. They were ahead of their time!

When we reached this area of our trip (some distance down a gravel road) the visitors’ center was closed and nothing told us about this boat, sigh. Storms in 2017 and 2018 did significant damage here from which they are still trying to recover. A pretty little harbor from which one can clearly canoe or kayak in good weather (you probably couldn’t get me past the exit of the harbor – Lake Superior is an intimidating body of water!). The Ojibwa were obviously a courageous and hardy peoples to have lived on the islands.

We had lunch at the Red Cliff Casino (by the window overlooking the lake – lovely) and then drove on to Bayfield which had the main Visitors’ Center for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bob had to work to get a picture of the light.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior

Further up the coast we visited another lighthouse. It is interesting to read about how isolated this one was. There were no roads when it was built around 1909 so everything came to them by water. The housing was for the light keepers and their families. There were 4 keepers because every 2 – 4 hours, day and night, they had to pull the ropes for the pulley to reset the light to revolve. The keepers and their families left when the shipping season was over and returned the following spring.