Friday, August 18, 2017

Back to the USA

August 8, 2017
      We left Killarney for the short hop to Little Current.  This was more of a real town with some great shops and a grocery store.  We met some other Loopers when we got in and were invited to Docktails.  There were some new people and some we had seen before.  Unfortunately one of the couples we had met in Trenton at the start of the Trent Severn Waterway was there because they had gone aground a little farther north on the North Channel and had to be towed back to Little
Current to get their propeller fixed. We all went to dinner together and had a good evening.  Did I mention that in Georgian Bay and the North Channel when you go aground it is usually on rocks and damages the boat?  That’s part of what has made us a little leery of wandering off the beaten path into anchorages. Also, anchorages are about scenery, trees, rocks, water.  I like the marina life.

August 9. 2017
    After Little Current we headed for Gore Bay.  Both of these stops are on Manitoulin Island, the biggest fresh water island in North America.  The cute little shops were highly overated but there was a big arts center where artists made and displayed their works for sale which was interesting.  And a good restaurant, good enough that we had to wait an hour for a table.  

August 10, 2017
This was used by the women in the logging towns!
     Next stop was Blind River.  It had once been the largest sawmill west of the Mississippi and shipped more white pine than anywhere in the world.  The marina that were stayed in was a repurposed mill pond.  But they had nice grills in the park by the marina and I finally got a rib eye just about perfect!   I rode my bike out to a logging museum which had a lot of neat artifacts, though not a lot of interpretation.

   That evening there was a free concert in the park put on by the Rotary Club, pretty lame with two guitarists sort of Karaoke to 50’s and 60’s song tape, but friendly atmosphere and a lovely evening in the park. 
    There was a good golf course and we had tee times for the next day, but Dad got nervous about the weather report so we headed out to get closer back to the states.

 August 11, 12, 2017
       Long run back across the North Channel in the rain, but not too rough seas, and we reentered the US and got inspected by customs at Drummond Island.  Then ended up 10 miles further at De Tour Village.  The state of Michigan has spent a lot of money helping to fix up marinas in the state as a form of economic development for a lot of these small towns where logging, mining and fishing have really died out.  De Tour was a nice little town, one good tourist shop with local stuff, and old Catholic that had a convenient 7 pm Saturday Mass.  The churches around here are very ethnic so they had four churches in four pretty close towns that they had consolidated into one. 
Looping lifestyle
The marina was right on the maid channel
between Lake Superior and Lake Huron
     Despite the weather forecast, Saturday was gorgeous and I spent the afternoon reading on the prow of the boat with a bottle of white wine. 

August 13, 2017
     Trying to figure out where to go until our reservation at Mackinaw city for Monday night we realized that we could back track to Drummond Island and the marina there would rent us a car to drive to the golf course.  There were courses around DeTour but no way to get to them.  Uber hasn’t quite made it to the UP.   Really nice golf course and friendly people who let us play through. Drummond Island is an old but nice resort island, only accessible by boat or ferry.  In this whole area there are a lot of places that aren’t open.  One person blamed it on kids not wanting to work the summer season.  Maybe the weather was so bad in May and June that some decided just not to open this year.  We did find one restaurant that seemed to be a pretty going concern and open year round.  We had their Sunday chicken special and headed back to the boat to finish watching the PGA. 
North Woods Inn

August 14, 2017
     Another long day across Lake Michigan to Mackinaw City.  Everyone says Mackinac Island is a must see and we couldn’t get a slip reservation on the Island so we stayed on the mainland and took the ferry over.  Mackinaw City wasn’t much, about 10 fudge and candy stores and 10 T shirt stores and not much else.  There was a small museum about the building of the bridge over the Straits of Mackinac, built in 1957 and the longest suspension bridge of its time.  The museum was really a tribute to the iron workers who built the bridge.  Pretty impressive.  One bookstore did have a lot of local books.  I just finished reading a murder mystery set on Mackinac Island that I got there.  Dinner was at the Dixie Saloon, so named at it was the northern terminus of a string of highways that led to Florida in the days before the interstate system.   The fish you get up here are whitefish, or walleye and perch.  The walleye is really good, the whitefish not so much and we get a lot of Lake Michigan perch from our Wisconsin hunting friends.

August 15, 2017
      Got up to catch an early ferry to Mackinac Island with our bicycles.  It’s an old fort that went back and forth between the British and Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries and then after being a really nice posting for US troops in the late 18th century was given to the state of Michigan for a park.  In the meantime lots of wealthy people from Detroit and Chicago built summer homes here in the nineteenth century.  Think Cape Cod or Cape May. 

Gorgeousgardens.  This is a 19th century house.
The newer mansions are back in the hills.
When the army left in 1885 the people of the village voted to ban automobiles from the island, and they really kept to it.  There are horse driven carriages for people and delivery vans and garbage trucks.  And bicycles everywhere.  We took our bikes and cycled the eight mile road around the island first thing.  Then John decided to play golf at the Grand Hotel golf course while I toured the fort, had a lovely lunch up at the tea room at the fort with a beautiful view and checked out the shops.  Again, lots of fudge and Tshirts but not much else.  I also had noticed that the Catholic Church, St Anne’s had a daily Mass at 11 am so after John teed off I headed down there, not realizing until I walked in that it was the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, so the church was full and good music and singing.  And a great mural on the ceiling of St Anne, the grandmother of Jesus!

St Anne's Church

Bad selfie but a great view

Lighthouse marking the Mackinac Straits
I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the horses.  They are beautiful percherons and other draft horse breeds and mixes.  You Tube had some good pictures if you're interested.
         We met up again for dinner.  John had gotten a flat tire so we had to walk to the end of town to get it fixed.  Thousands of bicycles on the island, and one repair store.  A delicious dinner at the Carriage House with a view of the harbor and exhausted, we caught the ferry back to the boat.  Mackinac Island is a nice place to visit once, but unless you have one of the huge old homes and spend the summer, one visit is enough.  But I guess its quite a tradition in Michicagn.
        The island  gets pretty isolated in the winter when the lake freezes over and the ferry stops running, though if the ice is really good then can drive across.

August 16, 2017
        After finding a really classy little tea shop (and lattes) and bakery and eavesdropping on some of the locals having coffee, that morning, we headed out the Straits of Mackinac and into Lake Michigan. 
It was 45 miles across to Beaver Island, a more modest, but lovely, summer island in northern Lake Michigan, part way to the Wisconsin side of the lake.  We got to the dock just as the wind picked up and hard a tough time docking, but with some help from people on the dock and John’s improving skills we got in just in time.  The wind really picked up overnight and we were really rocking and rolling all night. In the morning we understood the island’s nick name, “the Emerald Isle” since the weather was straight out of Ireland.  Its actually named that for all the Irish that came here after the Mormons assassinated their leader, King Strang,  who had gotten some delusions of grandeur, after breaking off from the church that Brigham Young led west and setting up shop on the island.
      We’re stuck here until the wind dies down, but had a nice breakfast at a local bakery/deli and even got to play the nine hole golf course when the sun came out for a few hours.

August 18, 2017
    The wind has now completed a circle coming first from the NE as we came into dock, switching to south, then SE and now its from the West.  Waves on the lake are 4-6 feet and intermittent to 8 ft.   Waves are measure from the bottom of the trough to the top of the next wave.  I'm not crazy about 2 ft. waves! Dad went to play golf.  They picked us up yesterday but he decided to try to carry his clubs on his bike this morning.  No moderation in that guy.  From non biker to crazy biker in  months.  I'm doing laundry, watching the Solheim Cup and headed out to the shops and art galleries after lunch.    

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rocks and trees and water Georgian Bay

August 2, 2017
     We weren’t in a big hurry to get going so I rode back into town, got lost and climbed some ugly hills but found a latte, smoothie and pastries for breakfast. John is riding his bicycle a lot and getting pretty good at hills, but as we have come farther north, the flat trails along the water have given way to hills up out of the valleys and aren’t as much fun.  We got to Henry’s, a famous restaurant along Georgian Bay, on Frying Pan Island, that had closed the week before but had a very small but good dock for the night.  I got to go for a kayak ride and a guy that we had passed in Delaware Bay 6 weeks back stopped by to talk to John.  Our boat and its name are not easily forgotten once someone has seen them.

August 3, 2017
    Georgian Bay is famous for beautiful secluded anchorages, but I am beginning to realize that I like marinas where I can get up and walk to a latte better, and these are few and far between.  Lots of people out for weekends on their day cruisers and one we met in Midland had recommended Gilly’s in Snug Harbor.  When we called they said no problem to our docking but when we got there we figured we could get in but probably not get out again.  So we went out in the bay a little, dropped the anchor for the first time since the ICW and launched our dinghy to go in for lunch.  It worked well and lunch was great.  Pan fried Pickerel (Walleye) and Whitefish.  
August 4, 2017
     We headed west, not sure how far we would go since the wind was picking up.  After navigating a well-marked but tight and winding channel in the open water we headed for Bayfield Inlet for the night.  We went by Pointe Au Baril light house and a replica of the barrel that they used to place a lantern on to guide boats up the channel.  I'm really glad we have GPS and digital charts!!

Just out of the picture to the left is the barrel.
  Tight channels between rocks with trees are one thing, but a tight channel in the open water, marking the rocks you can’t see is something else, especially when the wind is blowing and the boat harder to control.  We got a little out of the channel at one point but a boat going the other way warned us to get back to the markers and kept on us till we were back in the channel.
Bayfield had a dock big enough for us but not much else. I got out the kayak and toured the harbor.   Wandered through some beautiful lily pads still in bloom with standard white lilies and a different kind of yellow ones. 

      As the wind continued to blow and the rain started we decided to stay at the dock for the next day. 

August 5, 2017
       John had come down with a cold and it continued to blow and rain all day so we stayed in our sweats and watch the Women’s British Open and the Bridgestone all day.  I got out for a walk later in the day as the storm moved out but in trying to get my kayak back on the boat I dropped my glasses into the water.  John had done that in Herrington Harbor in Maryland, and one swipe with the fishing net and picked them up.  Unfortunately this water was a little deeper, and even getting in with my swim mask I couldn’t find them in the grass and mud on the bottom.

August 6,7,  2017

       The wind was down but we were tired of Georgian Bay and there really weren’t any marinas left so headed out across the water 50 miles to Killarney at the start of the North Channel.  A little bit of rocking and rolling kept me up on the bridge the first few hours, but it calmed down and we pretty smooth for most of the 6 hours.  There isn’t a lot here in Killarney, but there’s lots of room for big boats, a couple of restaurants, a coffee shop for lattes in the morning and a big enough town to get a pretty good bike ride in.  I went to mail Laila’s birthday card, but since August 6 is Canada Day, the post office wasn’t open.   John’s still not feeling too good so we’re staying here for tonight and we’ll head out tomorrow.  We’re actually not very far from Detroit and I thinks a lot of the boaters are from that area.  I stopped at the little Catholic church and there was a dedication plaque in gratitude for help building the church to the Detroit Yacht Club.

 I thought about going to the inn at the marina for an after dinner drink, but opted for the view from our bow and the scotch I got in Charleston.
Even the smallest Canadian towns have curling rinks, right next door to the hockey rink. No ice this time of year, but soon.

Niagara Falls is the reason for the Trent Severn Waterway

July 25, 2017
Evening shot rainbow over the falls
        It’s a very busy season in the lakes of Ontario, so getting a rental car was a bit of a problem even with a reservation but we ended up with a fancy 4 door Ford 150 which John liked and I didn’t have to get in and out of for very long.  Then we found out how much fun Toronto traffic can be.  As with any city on a shore, there are limited ways in and out, and Toronto has over two million people wanting to do that every day.  We ended up in Niagara Falls, Canadian side which is about 50 miles south of Toronto and the same north of Buffalo, NY.  A walk along the plaza above the falls on our way to dinner was our first glimpse of the falls.  With all of the water they are getting in the area this summer they are really impressive.  Dinner was classic Toronto area.  Well recommended Fish and Chips, in a hole in the wall café with no atmosphere, owned by Pakistanis.  The sticky pudding was good and all the fancy restaurants were in the big chain hotels. 
As close as you can get 

July 26, 2017
      Got the boat ride to the Falls.  Lots of people but they are really organized about the way they handle everyone.  Got soaking wet, but a real close up look at both the American and Canadian Falls.  Then we headed back towards Toronto by way of Niagara on the Lake, a lovely little town and not so much the Coney Island of Niagara Falls.  Saw a huge dam and power plant, golf courses and stopped at a couple of wineries.  They are everywhere on this peninsula.  They explained that the climate is very good for wine and it looked like lots of other truck farming.  They make a special wine called Ice wine which they can do because the grapes can freeze on the vine early enough what they haven’t turned sour.  A taste was good, like a sweet sherry, but it’s really expensive.  We found a lovely winery where we could have a really gourmet lunch on a patio overlooking the vineyard. 
        Then stopped at the really big commercial lock on the Welland canal which is now the main shipping route out of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic.  It was amazing to watch a huge ship 300 feet long doing exactly the same thing that we were doing.
A really big ship on the Welland Canal, lock 7

July 27, 2017
New Toronto City Hall and plaza
        Stayed at an airport hotel the night before and headed into Toronto for a bicycle tour of the old downtown area.  We had breakfast in a café in the middle of a big park in Toronto and then saw lots of old ethnic neighborhoods that had been “saved” from the Expressway, by Jane Jacobs when she and her sons came to Canada to escape the Vietnam draft.  Now they are being taken over by rich people and funky old houses are selling for millions.  Oh, the Life and Death of cities.  Our guide has a second generation Moroccan and very knowledgeable about the history of Toronto.

July 28, 2017
    I left John sleeping and caught the airport shuttle to go to Portland for a reunion. We had gotten good news that all of the work had been done on our boat and it was back in the water, so he headed back of Orillia and slept on the boat and played golf for three days.  The reunion was great, seeing women that I had lived with 50 years ago, reminiscing and catching up and a nice but short visit with David and Julie.

July 31, 2017
     John picked me up at the airport after fighting Toronto traffic again and we got back to the boat.  Trip to the grocery store, and return the car and we were off for our last two days on the Trent Severn Waterway.    We only sent about 20 miles and tied up above lock 43 for the night. 

August 1, 2017
     Through that 45 foot drop and on to the amazing Great Chute.  This is not exactly a lock, it is actually a cable car that the boats float on to, then the straps, like a crane lift secure the boat and we get pulled out of the water and down tracks to the water below.  Originally they didn’t have time to build a lock at this spot before the First World War, then when they were modernizing the locks in the 1960’s they started building a lock and realized that some kind of eel that was on one side or the other could populate the other lakes if there were a lock so they rebuilt the railroad and kept it. I have been trying to make videos of the canals and their workings, but I found some that were much better on YouTube.  This one is the big Chute.
this one is a lift lock that we did
 One more lock on the Trent Severn and we were in Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.  We went to Midland, ON that night.  Stayed in a nice marina and rode bikes into town to a good restaurant.