Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Munising, MI

Today we had the luxury of sleeping in a little bit and taking showers in a lake. Pretty sweet. Still think $16 dollars is pretty steep for a night at a campsite in a National Forest…

The tickets for our boat tour this morning seemed pretty steep as well, especially with a bit of rain starting. But as soon as we got going and Captain Chuck Cook started talking, we knew we were in for a good two and a half hour tour. If it had been three hours and our captain insisted on us calling him Skipper, then we would have worried…

The boat tour was a trip 17 miles down the coast of Lake Superior and back. The scenery? Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Weird name I know. We’ll get there. But, regardless of the name, they are really spectacular. The captain pointed out and named a bunch of formations, pulled in close to a few places, pointed out various rockfalls that have happened recently, and even at one point pulled the entire boat into a cave!!! What follows is a smattering of the large amount of photos we took today…

Pretty awesome huh?!?! If you ever somehow find yourself in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so far, Mackinac Island and the Pictured Rocks are definitely on the must-see list.

But the ride wasn’t over yet! We turned around and headed back along the cliffs. Our enigmatic captain handed over the microphone to Ranger George. Ranger George first walked around the entire ship asking basically every person on board where they were from. Shockingly, almost the entire boat was filled with folks from Michigan. Thankfully, however, Ranger George did not ask them whether they support Michigan or Michigan State… That might have caused some trouble.

Plus the rain developing was trouble enough… We had sat up top for the good view, but also because the cabin underneath was completely packed with people. To this point we had been damp, but fine. Now it really started coming down. So we scooted over to behind the captain’s cabin for a little protection and then basically just used our umbrellas as shields. Worked out well enough.

While we were doing this, Ranger George regaled us with information about the National Lakeshore and then began a brand new, never before heard, presentation on the history of shipwrecks on Lake Superior. He said that he usually likes to throw jokes into his programs, but since this one was of serious material, he would just tell one in the beginning. It was terrible… But we gave Ranger George a chance, he seemed pretty chummy with Captain Chuck, and we liked him. Ranger George began with an exhaustive list of all the vessels which have been lost over the years on the unforgiving waters of Lake Superior. We had heard about 10 times over there course of the day that “Lake Superior doesn’t give up its dead”…

At the end of his list was when he got to the meat of his program. The most famous vessel to ever be lost on Lake Superior, the Edmund Fitzgerald. Ranger George told us about the history of the ship in the area. Then, when he had finished recounting the events leading up to the day, he said the words, “For this part I am going to use the famous song ‘Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ by Gordon Lightfoot…” **My heart leapt! Was this actually happening?! Was Ranger George going to make all my dreams come true and play “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” over the loudspeaker of a random boat tour?!?! Could this be real?!** “…in poem form.”

Just as good. Actually, it’s really descriptive and factual as to what transpired that night. A huge storm came up out of nowhere. The various radio communications with the Coast Guard. And then the sinking of a huge modern freighter, full of materials. I just, for some reason, never realized how recent it was! 1975? Ranger George talked about remembering that night. How Walter Cronkite finished his broadcast by telling everyone that the ship was in trouble. Ranger George and his grandfather listened to the marine radio all night as the Coast Guard searched for signs of the ship.

Then he had one of the shipmates ring the bell for each of the perished sailors’ as he read off their names.

Very unexpected. Very cool.

Soon we were back in the bay and almost back to the harbor. And I had a question for Ranger George… But as he came by me, I panicked! I couldn’t decide what to call him… So I said, “Hey Goerge, I’ve got a question.” Oh well, I guess we were intimate enough now. I asked George why they called them the Pictured Rocks. Because, obviously, it is kinda a weird name… George said that that was what the first people that saw them, called them. And that when they translated the Native American name for them, it was about the same, so they kept it…

So basically we learned that the people who first saw the Pictured Rocks spoke English horribly. And that the area Native Americans weren’t any better at their own language… Interesting. Regardless, Megs and I decided, upon disembarking the boat, that we had pictured the crap out of those rocks!

Now it is on to Wisconsin and Minnesota! Really though, we are pretty much just driving through northern Wisconsin and looking at the scenery on our way to Minneapolis/St. Paul tomorrow. But we’ll get to Madison, Milwaukee, and some other spots on our way back through to Chicago, IL. Chicago soon!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Just some additional info on the Edmund Fitzgerald... A friend of ours father was on the ship when it sank. They have done extensive research and have come to the conclusion that it was not human error that sank the ship. Gordon Lightfoot has changed the words from his song whenever he sings it now to reflect the new information.