Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: A Superior vacation!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Superior vacation!

I'm trying something new with a slideshow of photos from our trip.  Our summer Road Scholar/Elderhostel trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula and Isle Royale was wonderful.   We went to Green Bay on Saturday and enjoyed walking around Heritage Hill  with relocated and restored 19th century buildiings. On Sunday morning we picked up Dan at the Green Bay airport. (He was on our 2009 Utah trip.) We headed north via Peshtigo, which burned to the ground the same October day in 1871 as Chicago. (We knew that Dan, from Connecticut, was unlikely to ever go to Peshtigo again. We also had lunch at Culver's in Escanaba so he could experience that aspect of Midwestern life.)  We arrived in Houghton in time for dinner with our fellow Road Scholars -- held at the public library  of all places. 

I've wanted to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula ever since I read Mystery at Laughing Water by Dorothy Maywood Bird fifty years ago. (I still have the book and I plan to re-read it now.)  Monday provided that visit with a coach bus tour from Houghton to Copper Harbor and back.

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Tuesday we parked our cars at the dock and boarded the Ranger III for Isle Royale National Park .  The island is 45 x 9 miles (with hundreds of smaller islands).  Native Americans began mining copper there 4000 years ago.  Benjamin Franklin successfully negotiated its annexation to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris for the copper.  (He probably had little idea of where I.R. actually was.)  Europeans mined, too, and everyone fished the rich waters around the island.  In the late 19th/early 20th century Isle Royale became a tourist destination.   We met Michael Gale, Bowdoin '13, and his parents, who are among the "life lessees" who still have a cabin on one of the small islands.  When I.R. became a national park in 1940 any family could keep title to their property until the last person who was living at that time passes away. (We met one woman whose father and cousin are 95, her aunt 90.) 

Accommodations at Rock Harbor Lodge, the National Park Service hotel, were great.  Our room opened onto a deck right on shore -- just two yards from the water!  Meals at the lodge restaurant were delicious.

Leaders Ann and John Mahan were excellent:  deft, caring, interested, and interesting. (See their photography at Sweetwater Visions)  Ann led hikes at 6:00 each morning. John's superb photos were the basis of lectures about wildflowers and Lake Superior.  We hiked the 'easy' trails -- the entire park has 165 miles of trail and we were on just a few of them.

The largest mammals on the island (besides humans) are moose and wolf.  The moose swam over from Canada in the early 1900's.  The wolves crossed the frozen lake one winter in the late '40's.  The wolves manage the moose by culling the small, young, old, or weak.  We visited Rolf and Candy Peterson's cabin where he (with her assistance) has been studying the Isle Royale moose for more than 40 years. Click here for one of many stories about their work. 

We settled into vacation mode....and then it was time to go home.  As a friend says, "It was a sufficiency, more of which would be a superfluity."  Yesterday was travel day: the six-hour ferry ride back to Houghton, then to Green Bay to drop Dan at the airport, and then home to Winthrop Harbor. We pulled into the driveway at 9:02 p.m.


  1. Your slideshow was delightful! Was this all in Michigan? Is UP stand for the Upper Peninsula? Maybe? Thanks for sharing your trip.

  2. Beautiful photography, looks like a lovely place to visit.

  3. I am so jealous. I absolutely love Isle Royale. In high school I hiked 50+ miles there but have not stayed in the lodge. Would really like to some day. Basically I'm in love with all things Lake Superior. I guess that is from my Maritime Academy days.



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