Monday, July 25, 2016

Experience Color

First Signs of Color Along Tahquamenon Scenic Byway, September 3, 2015
As humans, we like color.  If not, we would still be watching black and white television.  As photographers we try to capture the “true” colors of an image; vibrant, beautiful colors.  For many of us, we fail.  The printed image just doesn’t do justice to our memories.  We like colors.  Maybe that is just one of the reasons why we are enamored by autumn colors.  Remember learning about Chlorophyll and photosynthesis in elementary school.  As children we could relate to the leaves.  After all, when they were vibrantly green and it was very warm outside, we were often, OUT OF SCHOOL.  The change of colors was an indication that there would be relief from the heat, and time for studies.

Please note the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the National Forest Service do a fabulous job of explaining why the leaves change color at their website  Why Leaves Change Color.    I highly recommend giving it a read before the grand kids and neighborhood children start asking questions.  Even for children that tend to lean away from science, the change of leaf colors, sparks questions of interest at a very early age.
Bold Colors Against Blue Skies, October 7, 2015

I think that as we age, the seasons become a strong reminder of the seasons within our own lives.  The summer within our lives was busy, stress-fully filled with jobs within and outside the home.  Children presented us with needs and concerns while relationships with our parents and friends needed tending.  Just as the summer changes pace with the onset of autumn through the gradual shortening of the days and the decline in temperature highs, our children grow up, move out of the home and start their own families.  All of a sudden, our pace slows down, and we again, notice the changing of the seasons.  Hiking a trail, or taking a drive to immerse ourselves in color, allows us to slow down and appreciate the seasonal changes within us.

My father was a farmer in north eastern Indiana.  He had a Sunday ritual through the summer months of going for a drive in the car.   He would drive along the county dirt roads, listening to an afternoon sermon.  I didn’t realize until I was older but he was checking on the neighboring farms, Bill’s wheat, and Larry’s soybeans.  He would also check his own fields.  He would stop by the wheat field and roll the head in the palm of his hand to estimate harvest time or he would step in to the corn field and palm a couple of ears of corn.  I was so impatient.  There was no game boy  in those days or even air conditioning.  But as time passed, autumn often meant for me, a time for harvest.  Exploring the colors of autumns often fills us with pleasant memories of times past.

A Mix of Hardwoods and Evergreens
My husband and I have always enjoyed a leisurely drive in the country; if at all possible, no four lane highway, but gently curving roads that provide for a burst of one color and then another on the next curve.  Whenever possible our windows are down to let in that cooler, natural air.  Today we live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one of the top locations in the country for leaf peeping and gently curving state and county roads bordered by national and state forests of sugar maples, red maples, American Beech, and northern white cedar filled with colors among the many pines that remain green and highlight the contrasts.

National scenic byways are often designed to enhance that color tour experience. In the Paradise area there are a number of fine color tours. Physically located on the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway, Michigan State Road 123, Paradise is an ideal location for your base camp.  Check your calendar and see if you can start planning your color tour adventure even today.  The region has a limited number of accommodations, making plans ahead of schedule allows you to select the dates that interest you most and the accommodations that you prefer.
North Country Scenic Trail, October 10, 2015, Tahqua Trail

The Tahquamenon Scenic Byway is a dilapidated horseshoe-shape of sorts, starting and ending along M-28 between Eckerman and Newberry, Michigan.  But the drive on the well-maintained M-123 from its origin at Exit 352 off Intersate-75 just north of the Mighty Mac Bridge is a pleasurable drive. The Tahquamenon Scenic Byway offers no less than 10 points of interest along the route including the Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the Whitefish Point Lighthouse.  If you have a four wheel drive, Luce County Road 500 to the Crisp Point Lighthouse is an adventure, but the breathtaking views of Lake Superior and Crisp Point are well worth the trip.  Following the curve of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay is the Whitefish Bay National Scenic Byway within the Hiawatha National Forest.  This is an ideal drive from just south of Paradise to Sault Ste Marie, check out the Soo Locks, explore Sault Ste Marie and then return to Paradise for a quiet evening reminiscing the day.
October 22, 2015 Colors Are Still Present

The peak season of color change is often mid September to mid October.  The primary factor for color change is the longer nights, decreasing the opportunity for photosynthesis.  So this time frame stays very consistent.  Having said this, other factors have an impact on the length of time colors are present.  If trees become stressed because of a lack of water, or major temperature changes, leaves can change colors as well.  The color may fade quickly or drop to the ground sooner.  The UP Travel website offers some insight as to the progression of colors.  The local weather stations provide insight as well.  This region is served well by 9and10News, Fox32 and Up North Live.  With Internet access you can quickly check on the current status (Start checking in September) for making a quick trip north.  Better yet, give your favorite establishment a call to see what the weather conditions are and  receive a direct, eye-witnessed leaf peeping status update.

906-492-3445 Curley’s Paradise Motel
906-492-3266 Freighter’s View on the Bay
906-492-3770 Magnuson Grand Lakefront Hotel
906-492-3940 Paradise Inn
906-492-3477 Vagabond Motel   

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Make Sure You Stop At the Shipwreck Museum

In 2010 a friend said, “Make sure you stop at the Shipwreck Museum when you go to the UP!”  I thought, “a Shipwreck Museum, seriously?”  I grew up in northeastern Indiana among corn fields and Aberdeen Angus.  The UP was a long trip and although, I do love Lake Superior, a shipwreck museum struck me as a bit morbid.  Why would I be interested in a shipwreck museum?  Two reasons: the scenery is out of this world and the respect and dignity shown to the story of the missing and the lost of Great Lakes Shipwrecks is awe inspiring. She was right, and I don’t tell her that very often.  The Shipwreck Museum is a must see when you go the UP.

Located just 9 miles north of the blinking light in Paradise, Michigan, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, ranked by Destination Travel Magazine in September 2014, as one of the top 10 maritime Museums in the world is an outstanding destination. You will be amazed at the location and the facility.   At Whitefish Point, a land structure on Lake Superior’s south eastern shore directing ships to the entrance of Whitefish Bay, the complex includes a number of historically significant buildings.

Towering above the complex is the Whitefish Point Light Station, established by the US Congress in 1849.  To date, this light station continues to offer a life-saving beam to mariners serving as the longest operating light station on Lake Superior.  At the base of the tower you’ll find a restored 1861 Lightkeepers Quarters, 1861 Oil House, 1910 Alcohol House, 1923 Lookout Tower, 1923 Surfboat House, 1923 Crews Quarters Building, and 1937 Fog Signal Building.  The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society is currently restoring the 1861 Light Tower and a 1929 U. S. Navy Radio Station Living Quarters Building.  Dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Great Lakes maritime history, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society hales the attention of sailors, educators, historians, divers, archeologists, and museum visitors from around the world.  Open from May 1 to October 31, daily from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Whitefish Point is located along a North American migratory flyway, making it a premier site for observing migrating raptors, water birds, and songbirds.  The path to the hawk count platform is to the left of the path to the museum gift shop’s public restrooms. This platform offers a fabulous view of Lake Superior and the Whitefish Point Light Station to your north. Standing east of the museum is the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory’s Owl Roost a quaint little gift shop and stumping grounds of WPBO members, dedicated to researching and documenting bird migrations.

An 80-Mile stretch of shoreline from the area of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Whitefish Point is known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast.  The Shipwreck Museum’s website,, reports 200 of the 550 known shipwrecks in that region are located near Whitefish Point.  The most well known loss is the steamship, Edmund Fitzgerald. All 29 crew members were lost when the big ship sank and they are forever memorialized with the ship’s bell holding a place of honor within the museum.

Great Lakes freighters pass by the point regularly carrying cargo up bound or downbound to the St. Mary’s River and then the Soo Locks.  These transport ships have the potential of traversing the St. Lawrence Seaway, reaching any destination in the world.  The Soo Locks have been serving schooners and transport vessels for over 160 years.  Maneuvering a 21 foot drop from Lake Superior’s lake levels to Lake Huron is only possible based on the locks.

The Shipwreck Museum offers insight into the history of the vessels maneuvering the Great Lakes while uncovering the mysteries of the deep for those ships that failed to make their destinations.  Witness the stories of the lost and catch a glimpse of the freighters that continue to pass the point. Stroll the shoreline looking for a unique agate or capture an image of a Spruce Grouse.   Experience the Point, Whitefish Point.