Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Monday, April 30, 2012

Halfway to 118

Steve's favorite birthday was when he turned 50 in 2003 and brought home "his baby," the 50th anniversary edition Corvette.  If you know Steve, you know he loves that car.  It has 9,000 miles (mostly U.P. miles) and still smells like new.  He says this year was his second favorite birthday. . . because we're living in the U.P.  I told him we should do whatever he wants to do.  "Let's go for a ride," he said.  Does that sound familiar?  Hey, I think we just did that 6 days ago on my birthday.  We really are perfect for each other.

We hopped in the Traverse on the morning of April 27.  What's that on the window?

Frost!  Guess it got a little cold last night.  We turned on the defrost and headed for our favorite coffee joint.  The 5th & Elm Coffee House is just around the corner from us in Calumet.

Steve ordered 2 to go with double hits of cream.  Extra Bonus:  They now have a coffee card.  Get 11 punches and the 12th coffee is free.  The gal even gave us some extra punches because she recognized us.  Steve announced his birthday, and she gave him a "Happy Birthday," too.

OK, next errand.  Head over to the U.S. Post Office on 6th Street to drop some mail in the box. 

The exterior of that building doesn't look sufficiently old for this town, but the interior looks quite historic.  By the way, they have an "Out-of-Town" mail slot inside, but no slot for local mail.  Isn't that peculiar?  Next, we headed for the gas station to top off the tank.  I noticed the flag there billowing so beautifully in the breeze.  It was going to be a lovely day.

On our way out of Calumet, we noticed a sign for an estate sale.  Why pass it up?  It was our first estate sale since moving to the U.P., and we picked up a few things including an antique chair perfect for the enclosed front porch - just a spot to remove the shoes before entering the house.

Yes, we do plan to do something about that awful paneling when the weather warms up.  Steve pointed the vehicle back on course up Hwy. 41 and zoomed past the cliffs where you still see lots of taupe-colored bare trees.

We turned left on Hwy. 26 at Phoenix and headed toward Eagle River.  There's that sapphire blue water again.

Shortly before entering Eagle River, we passed the cemetery on the left.  It's a pretty, peaceful setting.

We took the long way through town.  If you've ever been to Eagle River, you would laugh at that last sentence. 

After our 2-block detour, we returned to Hwy. 26 and drove a short distance down this scenic stretch.

Then, we made a stop at The Jampot.  It was the bakery's opening day.  I warned Steve in advance that they might not have his favorite coffee muffins yet.  It's hardly peak tourist season.  Not only didn't they have his coffee muffin, they didn't have any muffins at all that day.  They were only offering some of their homemade candies, brownies, breads, jams and cookies - no sugar cookies, however.  We suffered and purchased 2 German Chocolate Brownies with Caramel filling.  We drove a short distance further and pulled off at the roadside overlook at Great Sand Bay.  It was time to crack the windows and consume our treats with some more coffee.  We brought along a thermos full of our own "Hamilton House Blend."  Here's the birthday boy.

After listening to the water, smelling the fresh air and satisfying the sweet tooth, it was time to be on our way again.  There's a piece of land you can see from that overlook that we wanted to explore.  We turned off the main road onto the path that leads to 4 or 5 cabins. 

From this area, you can look back at the spot where we were previously parked - near the yellow road sign on the left.

This family got creative with some driftwood on the side of their cabin.

Back on the road toward Eagle Harbor.  Oh, there's another road to explore just before entering Eagle Harbor.  Off we go!  Stop, what's that on the hill?  Steve's eagle eye rarely misses a deer in the woods.  Can you see it?

We watched several deer in that area for about 10 minutes before we discovered the road was a dead end.  There was a nice house at the end of it with a beautiful view of Lake Superior.  We turned around and decided to go on and explore the lighthouse area in Eagle Harbor.  I took so many photos there that I need to save them for another post.  I promise I won't forget.  We paused for a few seconds at this sign in Eagle Harbor while Steve made up his mind about what to do next.

He decided to skip Copper Harbor for the day and go to our property instead.  We walked around the property for a bit - talking about our dreams of living there.  A woodpecker (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) was pecking away at one of the trees, but he was so quick that he was difficult to capture on film.  He blends into the color of the tree, but I think you can find him in this photo.

Here's an old rusty object Steve found in our woods.  Wish we knew how it got there.  If you know what it is, please let us know. 

Time to leave, as we wanted to do a bit more exploring before dinner.  As we headed back down Hwy. 41, we noticed a deceased deer along the road with a flock of turkey vultures happily feasting upon it.  The vultures flew up into the trees as we came to a stop.  Wow, there was a bald eagle, too!  He flew into a nearby tree, and I zoomed in to get a good photo.  Unfortunately, he decided to take flight before I snapped the picture and I didn't have enough time to zoom back out.  He flew directly over us just above the vehicle.  He had an incredible wingspan.  It was truly impressive.  I must admit that I took a few photos of the deer carcass, but I won't share them with you.  The poor deer had his entire rib cage fully exposed and picked clean, but the rest of the animal was basically intact. 

As long as we stopped in this area, we decided to walk down the nearby trail to the Cliff Cemetery.  The cemetery hasn't been used for years and and has been swallowed up by the forest.  It's very cool.  I'll save those photos and description for another future post.  One more thing in this general area is the Keweenaw County Snow Gauge - some call it the Snow Thermometer.

The red arrow shows the total for the 2010-2011 season (174.5"), and here's what it says at the top.

We don't know anyone who is hoping for a repeat of the winter of 1978-79.  I believe the 2011-12 season stands at 196" as of today - still far below average.  We've had slightly more than that here in northern Houghton County.

Next, we made a quick detour to the old Centennial Mine located between Calumet and Kearsarge.  The exterior of the No. 6 shafthouse is still in good condition.

It was now time for Steve's dinner at The Hut Inn - a Copper Country landmark since 1952.

It was Friday, so all their fish dinners were on special, but Steve hasn't had a burger since December.  As a self-professed burger connoisseur, he had to go with the burger on his birthday.  I had fresh batteries in the camera, but I forgot the camera in the Traverse, so no photos were taken inside The Hut again.  Sorry!  I guess you deserve a description instead.  He ordered "The Hut Hut Burger - 1 pound of hamburger served on a French loaf.  Created for the insatiable appetite."  Toppings:  Onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mayo, ketchup and mustard, plus a side order of homemade fries.  The birthday boy also had a dish of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream for dessert!  Did he eat everything?  No, he had to get a doggy box for half of the burger.

Time to go home?  Not yet.  Steve remembered that he wanted to pick up a few Lake Superior rocks for his daughter's yard.  We still had plenty of daylight left, so we headed back to an area where he saw some good rocks.  On the way back up Hwy. 41, we again noticed the turkey vultures and the eagle.  They flew into the trees again, but I was able to snap some photos this time.  The vultures looked like something out of a creepy movie.

Bald eagles always look majestic.

I even got a couple of shots as he flew away.

Rock hunting was the last thing on the agenda before we returned home.  The sun was setting, so the breeze along the shore was cold.  Steve was determined to get a few good specimens, so he put on a warmer jacket and used his hoodie to cover his head.

I couldn't help but notice the sky.  Clouds had settled in, but it was still pretty.

With rocks in hand, we headed back up the hill to the Traverse.

We made our way home for a quiet evening.  Before turning in for the night, Steve somehow managed to consume most of the remaining burger.  However, his chocolate cake and ice cream had to wait until the next day!  He says he thoroughly enjoyed his special day.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is It Winter? Is It Spring?

It's sometimes difficult to tell what time of year it is.  Here was the view out the kitchen window this morning.

More snow!  Even Cocoa is confused.  It melted by mid-afternoon, however.  The sun came out and the sky was bright blue with no clouds.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Halfway To 102

OK, so maybe I'm not absolutely thrilled about getting older, but I'm not depressed about it either.  There's nothing I can do to stop it, so I'm not going to get upset about it - even though I'm now halfway to 102.  I must admit, my birthday last Saturday was actually rather pleasant.  My darling husband asked me what I wanted to do, and that's exactly what we did.  We did one of my favorite things. . . in my very favorite place. . . with the person I love most. . . and ended the day at one of the restaurants I like the best.  Want the details?  If so, keep reading.

"Let's go for a ride," I said.  So, we toured the Keweenaw and even discovered a few roads we hadn't already explored.  That doesn't happen very often.  When driving around this peninsula, it's sometimes easy to lose your bearings.  You start out heading west or east and you suddenly realize you're going north.  You may think you're heading deeper into the peninsula when you reach the crest of a hill and this comes into view.

Maybe you're driving along an unpopulated road and come upon an old mining structure.  We thought that was the case when we saw this old building along the side of the road.  I researched it later and discovered it was the remains of the Calumet Brewery - out in the middle of nowhere.

We then went on to some roads we hadn't been down in a while.  Five Mile Point Road is a pretty one we wanted to tour before all the leaves pop out on the trees.  You're able to see things you can't see at other times of year.  The road runs parallel to Lake Superior part of the way, and we were treated to quite a few lake views.

Funny how we don't remember noticing this roadside park in the past.

Now that we know that park is there, we'll be visiting it again.  It would be the perfect picnic spot on a warm summer day.  It has picnic tables, grills and outhouses - all the comforts of home.  Plus, your visit would be enhanced by the intoxicating smell of those pine trees and the sound of Lake Superior waves lapping against the shore while you ate. 

We continued on Five Mile Point Road to its conclusion in Eagle River and turned left onto Hwy. 26 towards Eagle Harbor.  We paused briefly at Jacob's Falls to snap a photo for you.  It's right next to the road, so it can be photographed through your open car window. 

We also paused just down the road at The Jampot.  We wanted to read the sign in the window.

Yes!  They open for the season on Steve's birthday.  We'll be there first thing in the morning that day.  If you're ever in this area, you must try their muffins and cookies.  The lemon cream cheese muffin is my personal favorite, and Steve loves the coffee muffin.  The sugar cookies come in a close second.

We drove through Eagle Harbor and turned onto the road going out to the marina.  If you check out a map, you'll notice that it's a C-shaped harbor.  The eastern side of the "C" is the finger where the marina is located.  From that point, you are actually looking back across the harbor toward the land.  It's nice how they made the road go around this tree.

We spotted some geese out for a stroll.

Seagulls were also nearby, and one decided it was time for a swim.

We left the marina road and continued toward Copper Harbor.  We wanted to take the drive up Brockway Mountain.  It's closed to auto traffic during the winter months and is only used as a snowmobile trail.  The vegetation still looks dull and gray.

Once you reach the summit, you're always impressed with the view at any time of year.

You find yourself turning around in circles to take it all in.  You can see Lake Bailey with the island in the middle of it in the distance.

If you're nearby on a hot summer day, this summit is where you go to cool off.  We couldn't stay up there forever, so we started down toward Copper Harbor.  We could see the golf course of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge peaking through the trees.  I had to zoom way in to get this shot.

We continued down the mountain, and Lake Fanny Hooe and the waters of Copper Harbor and Lake Superior came into view.

We rounded another curve and pulled over at the overlook.  You can see the tiny community of Copper Harbor in the foreground, the lighthouse out on that narrow sliver of land and Lake Superior beyond.

We continued to comment all day that we never tire of looking at that beautiful sapphire blue water of Lake Superior.  If someone is depressed or tense, it seems all they would have to do is drive out to the shoreline and sit for a few moments to be rejuvenated.  Ahhh!

Well, our tummies were beginning to rumble, so it was time to start back down the peninsula toward Calumet.  We chose to take Hwy. 26 back again.  Like I said, we never tire of looking at that water.  Esrey Park is about midway between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor, and it's pretty difficult for us to pass by without stopping.  We missed it on the way up because we got off 26 and took Brockway Mountain Drive the rest of the way to Copper Harbor.  Esrey Park is a lovely little roadside park with rock steps you can climb to get a great view if you desire.

If you don't care to make the climb, you can still see this from your car window.

OK, one last deep breath of Lake Superior air, and it was back on the road.  Our tummies were really speaking loudly now, so we wasted no time getting to The Hut in Kearsarge - about 3 miles from Calumet.

The Hut Inn is nothing fancy on the inside or outside, but the food is fantastic.  Plus, they don't serve alcohol, so the atmosphere is very family friendly. 

Can you say generous portions?  Unfortunately, the batteries in the camera gave up the ghost, so we don't have any photos of the "Northern" fried chicken or the walleye we ordered.  Take our word for it:  Delicious!!!  I got a piece of birthday cheesecake to take home, and it was creamy and wonderful.  Best of all, we get to go back again on Friday night for Steve's birthday!  Yippee!  We'll let you know what he decides to do on his big day, and I'm sure we'll have more photos.  All is well in the Keweenaw.

P.S.  I updated one of the blog pages tonight.  Click on "Scenic Beauty Of The Keweenaw" to see the new photos.  It's in the list of Blog Pages in the left column.