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holiday on the keweenaw

Well, we can’t believe our first week of vacation is over already. We were all a bit sad yesterday to leave Whitecaps Cottage and our views of Lake Superior, but we had a good week there–chillaxin’ (a word Mike adopted recently) and exploring the area. I simply love the water, and being so close to the vastness of Lake Superior was incredible. It was nice hearing the waves crashing against the rocky shore as we slept. And it was so much fun playing on the rocky shoreline. Aidan learned how to skip rocks, which he was thrilled about! We ventured into the water walking on rock plates that jutted out into the lake (the water was cold, but invigorating). We also left our trace (minimally) with rock “art” on the shoreline for those who come next to enjoy.

agate beach and beyond

Some of our adventures away from the cottage were exploring various trails and beaches. Agate Beach, just outside of Toivola, was a beautiful beach that we had almost completely to ourselves until a couple of horses (with their owners) decided to take a swim! We walked along the beach and waded in the water and collected a bag full of colorful rocks. Mike kept called me “Lucy” since I was finding just as many rocks to bring home as Aidan was! (a reference to Lucille Ball’s The Long, Long Trailer). I’m not sure if we found any agates, but we sure found some great additions for Aidan’s rock collection.

Another day, we just took it easy (chillaxin’). We drove into the college town of Houghton, found a stone labyrinth that we walked in the rain, and lunched on shrimp po’ boys and eggplant parmesan sandwiches and fresh brewed root beer at a pretty tasty brewery called The Library. It was so yummy that we went back there another day–at which time I had their very delicious veggie quesadillas and Aidan had awesome homemade chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. He graciously shared a bit at first but got a little reluctant when my spoon couldn’t stay away from the dish!. After some reading and relaxing back at the cottage, we decided to go to the grocery store at which time during our drive Mike spotted a large bird flying in the sky. We pulled over at the Nara Nature Park and hiked in a bit to see if we could spot what type of bird it was, and low and behold, we spotted a bald headed eagle sitting so proudly on a branch of a large birch. Of course we forgot the cameras (since our plan was a grocery store), but boy was that a spectacular to see an eagle–this was a first for all us.

the porkies

One of my favorite jaunts so far was going to the “Porkies.” The Porcupine Mountain State Park in Ontonagon was simply beautiful. The park consists of 60,000 acres of wilderness areas with one road that runs through the park and numerous trails. We started at the Visitor’s Center where, of course, Aidan had to deliberate over which stuffed animal to get as a souvenir. After what seemed like hours, he finally selected a cute black bear (whom he named Porky after the park). We then headed out to explore the main attractions. The first place we went was the Summit Peak observation tower where we climbed a 40-foot tower to reach the highest point in the mountains–what a view! After trekking back down the mountain, we drove over to the Presque Isle area of the park where we hiked the trails and viewed the spectacular waterfalls. We ended our trip there by going to a large island by means of a suspended footbridge that went over the raging rapids of the Presque Isle River. Here on the island, we walked under a grove of pines to an opening of a rocky ledge that led right up near the rapids and the smaller waterfalls–definitely a cool area! Even though we explored for hours, we barely scratched the surface of this magnificent place. Night time was upon us, though, so we had to leave; this is definitely a place I want to come back to and see more.

eagle and copper harbors

Another day, we took a driving tour of the Keweenaw Peninsula up to Copper Harbor. It was a long drive (with way too much of Harry Potter audio book for Mike and me), but the views were wonderful. On the way, we stopped at an old blacksmith shop and a road-side waterfall. We also drove along the Brockway Mountain trail through the trees, stopping to see some panoramic views of the area. We spent time at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and museums. Here we had a local tour guide (an older gentleman by the name of Paul) who talked to us about the lighthouse and the keepers. He told us about a shipwreck (The City of Bangor) of the winter of 1926. The ship was carrying a full cargo of automobiles. Many of the local high school boys (including our tour guide’s father-in-law) were paid to help salvage the cars. This stop offered us a nice little overview of the history of the peninsula. From here, we jumped back in the car to continue our journey to Copper Harbor. We finally made it and stopped for lunch at Mariner North where they offered good paninis but nickel-and-dimed us on the fries. After filling our tummies, we decided to take the road to the end, and boy did we! The paved road ended near the tip of the peninsula, and we decided to take our Jeep off the beaten track over what started as a gravel road but quickly turned to dips, boulders, and large crevices. At one point, I thought for sure we were on some back-country hiking trail (and not a road at all)! But we finally made our way out–us and our Jeep still intact; although, I swear there is now a new squeaking noise coming from the Jeep’s suspension.

quincy copper mines

Our last full day in the area was a bit rainy, so we decided to tour a copper mine. Just north of Hancock is the Quincy Mine. This mining tour was an interesting one that included a surface level tour through many of the old buildings and a tram car ride down to the mine entrance where a tractor wagon brought us underground for a guided tour of an area where the copper was excavated. While there are many copper mines on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the Quincy Mine has the world’s largest steam-powered hoist engine. I have to say the guides that we had for this two-hour tour were extremely informative. After the “official” tour, the three of us walked the grounds taking a look at the old equipment on display and exploring the ruins of old buildings. It was a fun way to spend a rainy day.

So, this was our first week. :-) We have since arrived at our latest cabin in the woods just south of Munising, MI. Today we’ve been mostly chilaxin’, catching up with work and our blog/photos, but we did take a couple-mile hike through the Hiawatha National Forest (which is our backyard for the next week). Man, I’m loving this trip (but don’t tell my hubby who’s itching to just go off and buy up some land out here)! :-)

Oh, by the way, if anyone we know wants to be spontaneous and come up and stay with us here in Munising for a couple of days, we’re here ’til Saturday and there’s extra rooms (just drop us an email)! Until next time . . .

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