Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tahquamenon Falls River plus Sault Ste. Marie

We had a big day yesterday. 

First we kayaked part of the Tahquamenon River at Tahquamenon State Park in Paradise, Michigan.  We put in our boats at Whitefish Bay, where the Tahquamenon meets Lake Superior.  When a river meets a big body of water like a Great Lake, the river’s speed slows as the river collides with a nearly immovable object.  And it did seem like a pretty easy paddle.  But the upstream route took two hours and 45 minutes to paddle while the downstream trip took us an hour and 15 minutes, so there was more resistance than I thought. 

No one else was on the river our entire upstream leg except for a fisherman who passed us twice in his boat.  The second time he slowed down enough for a conversation:

Fisherman:  Seen anything exciting?
Jim:  A turtle.
Fisherman:  Four years ago a moose swam in front of my boat.

Wow!  That would be cool. We kept our eyes open, but only saw more turtles, an osprey, a bald eagle and a heron.  Still cool. We also saw a few people on the way back (two more boats and two kayakers) but for the most part we were pretty much by ourselves.  So quiet.  So pretty. 

After kayaking we drove through the little town of Paradise, Michigan and then to the lower and the upper Tahquamenon Falls, the two main features of the park.  We had dinner at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, a brew pub right off the parking lot of the upper falls.  It’s got be be one of the few (if not the only) brew pub inside a state park.  According to information on the menu, the grand children of a family that donated land for the park now own and run the restaurant/brewery; a grand daughter is the brew master.  (As I re-read this, I realize I used more words on the park's brew pub than I did it namesake waterfalls. Oh well.)

When we got back to the rig I was a tired girlie and went to bed about 8:30 p.m.  Jim was not far behind.  

Today we spent the morning getting Upper Peninsula campground reservations for the next couple of days.  Then we drove along the edge of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, a city of about 14,000 people and home to the Soo Locks, the locks that make it possible for ships to pass between Lake Huron and Lake Superior.  
After watching ships go up and down from a visitor observation area, we walked around the tourist traps on the street across from the locks. I hit the fudge shop (chocolate peanut butter) and Jim hit the Soo Brewery (a sampler with two IPAs, a rye and an ale).  Then we ate a late lunch and headed back to the rig on the same pretty road we came in on, with a view of Whitefish Bay nearly the entire way. 

The front tip of my kayak on Tahquamenon Falls River.  I read that in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Song of Hiawatha," the hero learns to paddle his canoe on this same river.

We read that the banks of the Tahquamenon are eroding at the rate of one foot per year --- how can that be?  But the photo above shows that there is a problem. 
I know nothing about water lilies but want to at least learn their names. I can paddle right up to them (but make sure I don't hit them).
A wild animal on the Tahquamenon River. 
If you look closely (double clicking first on the photo to enlarge will help) you can see Jim and his kayak in Whitefish Bay.  I was too chicken to follow (I like to be able to see land in all directions) but Jim said the water was shallow.
Lower Tahquamenon Falls.
Bev and the Upper Tahquamenon Falls.  The rust color is due to tannins from hemlock, spruce and other trees and plants. I just noticed, however, that my hair is similar in color to the falls. I may have to address that.
Some indoor scenery at the Tahquamenon Falls brewery. I had the Black Bear Stout; Jim had the Falls Tannin. Both very good.  For eats I had a burger and Jim had a beef pastie (a beef pot pie-type dish pronounced "past-tee;" we're not talking stripper gear).  Again, both dishes were very good.  
A view out the car on the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway.  The straps you see are part of our kayak carrying system.  Since the kayaks are on our tow car, the kayaks go along for the ride when we take a side trip. 
The Whitefish Scenic Byway had two campgrounds and several scenic stops on the way to Sault Ste. Marie.  Here Cooper gets a look at Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay as seen from the Big Pine day use area. And those storm clouds did give us a little hail later in the day.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse, another stop on the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway along Lake Superior.
Now we're at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  The opening gate gives the OK for a ship to leave the lock.  This ship was huge; big ones are usually cargo vessels carrying iron ore, coal, grain or stone. 11,000 vessels pass through the locks each year.  There is no charge.

Small vessels like this tourist boat also use the locks.  This boat enters from the Lake Huron side...
Then heads for Lake Superior after water entered the lock and raised the boat to Lake Superior's higher water level.  

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