Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point - Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Roger here...  First some fun news:  Last night when we returned from taking the dogs on their daily long walk, we found a note on our door.  It seems that Jim and Dee, who we met briefly at the April, 2010 South Carolina RV Dreams Rally and who write the blog Tumbleweed, are parked directly behind us.  (We are actually blocking their view of the river!)  We had such a great time at that rally, so all connections to it are wonderful news.  

Mutual friends Nancy and Bill (Our Road to Retirement) as well as Margie and Roger, (RV-Adventure of Margie and Roger) emailed Jim and Dee (and us) to let them/us know that we were in the same RV park.  Dee went to the office to figure out where we were, and....  discovered that the view from the large back window of their fifth wheel is the back end of our motor home :-)  four feet away.  Such a small world. 

We both had plans for today, but tomorrow should give us a chance to get to know each other better.

OK --  Today -- I knew that Sault Ste. Marie would  be the home base for finding Tahquamenon Falls and Whitefish Point.  I also knew that both places were dog-friendly, so Dianne tied the red kerchiefs on the dogs and off we went.  The drive to Paradise (the closest town to our destinations) was a little more than an hour.  We opted to take the back roads next to Lake Superior instead of the state roads -- a pleasant road, lined by the ever-present pine trees.  We hoped to see a moose, but not this day.  

Our first stop was the upper Tahquamenon Falls (pronounced like phenomenon).  After paying the state park admission fee, we found a picnic table to enjoy the lunch that Dianne packed.

We then headed for the trail head.  After a short walk on the paved trail, we began to hear falling water.  And then we were able to view the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi!  (Except for Niagara)

Definitely the largest waterfall that looks like a root-beer float.  The tannins in the water are responsible for the color -- sorry, can't help explaining -- the old science teacher in me!

(Dianne here:  Just a FYI for our dog-lover friends, there is a 94-step stair section down to the falls, which would not be an issue for a dog except that it is open metal grating.  If you have your dog with you, prepare to either carry it down or take turns like Roger and I did.)

We opted to take a more undeveloped nature trail back to the parking area.  Dianne got some great pictures of the daisies (that grow like weeds here, like the lupines in MN) and other wild flowers and her favorite, the fungus.  

My favorite photo is of the ferns -- that also grow like weeds.  Wow, look at that bright, bright green color.

Back in the parking lot area we took turns (one of us entertaining the dogs) walking through the gift shops and the microbrewery ???  This is not something you would see in Indiana, the place we grew up.  Absolutely amazing.  Behind the totem pole is the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery.  I did not imbibe because there were miles of driving ahead, but I was fascinated, nonetheless.  There was a sign indicating that you were leaving the state park just before walking up the steps into the brewery.  However, you could not enter the brewery without entering the state park.  Amazing discovery for a small town Indiana boy.

We skipped the lower falls, four miles down the road, because we wanted to spend time at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the historic Whitefish Point Light Station.  (Also, because the lower falls are best seen from a canoe -- difficult for two dogs, and especially for an active Blue Heeler puppy.)

Back to Paradise and then eleven miles to Whitefish Point.  The attraction here is the lighthouse and museum that is dedicated to the lost ships of the Great Lakes.

The admission to the museum was $13 per person.  Kind of steep for two people.  We decided that Dianne should go inside while I entertained the doggies.  It was not difficult for me because, though interested, I would probably not get $13 worth in the museum, AND the rocky beach of Lake Superior was our playground.   Bandido loves plunging into the water and digging in the sand.  Chaplin likes the walking part, but would not consider getting his feet wet.  Needless to say we added more weight to the motor home with new Lake Superior Rocks.  (Dianne had a hand in this.)

I will let Dianne tell you about the museum...

Dianne here....  I'm sure many of you remember the Gordon Lightfoot song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  I remember the song, but always just assumed it was about a fishing boat.  
The Edmund Fitzgerald was not a fishing boat, it was a huge freighter, just like most of those we've been watching these past weeks.  Interestingly, I've recognized at least one ship pass our RV in Sault Ste. Marie that also passed our RV in Duluth a few weeks ago.

Here are two placards which I found particularly interesting, 

because the ship Arthur M. Anderson, the last ship to have contact with the Fitzgerald, sailed right in front of our motor home yesterday afternoon, 

and I managed to get a photo of it through our windshield.  Of course, that photo just shows one small part of the ship... the rest can be seen here:

 As I mentioned, these ships are huge!

The museum contains artifacts from that shipwreck, as well as others dating as far back as the early 1800s.   

The way the museum is arranged typically showed a scale model of each ship, an underwater photo (if available) showing divers retrieving the same artifacts in the display, along with informational placards and a pinpoint map showing the shipwreck location in the Lake.  Many of the ships were lost right near Whitefish Point due to the severe storms that develop on Lake Superior in this area.
After taking in all the exhibits, I found Roger and the dogs on the beach where we did a little rockhounding.  Back to Roger....

The pet picture of the day depicts Bandido enjoying a drink of water (especially for dogs) at the entrance to the Tahquamenon Falls trail, compliments of the park rangers.  Some places are so-o-o much friendlier to dogs than others.  Obviously we like and support the ones that are friendly.


Malone said...

Lake Superior is sooo dramatic and beautiful. I saw it for the first time last fall. Thanks for a wonderful post about parts that I didn't get to see. It's so much fun to meet up with fellow RV'rs, you are right, it's a very small world.

Nancy and Bill said...

Great Post!! Loved the falls and the view from your motorhome!!!

Putting that campground on our TODOS list:o))

Glad the 4 RV-Dreamers made contact. It is a small world, but what a great one !!!!

Jim and Dee said...

We must have passed on the road, or followed you at a distance. We went to Brimley State Park but didn't make the full trip to the falls. Thanks for the Shipwreck museum info. We'll have something to do the next time we're in this area.

Mark from Missouri said...

I've never met Dee and Lee in person but they have answered many questions for me in the RV Dreams chat room. I've tried to lure Jim to Kansas City, knowing they visit her sister out by St. Louis. He is a big baseball fan and there is a minor league park here he has not seen. Suppose if the Cardinals and Royals have a game this year in post session, I might take another run and Lee to come to town.

There really is a lot to see in Kansas City, although it is not a big stop for fulltimers. I've been researching all the RV parks in the area so I can give reasonable advise to visitors while at the same time finding a good spot to spend time parked when visiting family.

Seems like I learn the most from your generation of fulltimers. Really enjoying your blog.