Kayaking to Turnip Rock

Kayak at Turnip Rock

Turnip Rock, Port Austin, MI, photo by Seasons Photography

The second in our series of “Cool Places Your Kayak Can Take You” features this cool rock formation in Lake Huron. Port Austin Kayak’s page on kayaking to Turnip Rock says:

A trip to Turnip Rock in Port Austin is unmistakably one of the best activities for kayakers on Lake Huron. The trip consists of a 7 mile out-and-back trip via the Point aux Barques trail. The shallow waters surrounding Turnip Rock allow you to get out and enjoy the area as well as snap a few photos while you are there. Be sure to wear suitable footwear if you are going to exit the kayak as the rocks are slippery. For an account of what it’s like kayaking out to Turnip Rock, read this adventurer’s great story. While this story also goes out to the lighthouse, that leg of the trip is for experienced kayakers only and is reserved for the calmest weather days, as you will be kayaking two miles out into Lake Huron.

Please note that the property surrounding Turnip Rock is privately owned, which is why kayaking is the premier way to access the rock. The owners of the surrounding properties take great care of the land and we ask that you respect their space by not trespassing or littering.

If you don’t have a kayak, they can certainly rent you one. That link goes to one of my favorite photographer’s trips: Lars Jensen and his Turnip Rock expedition.

View the photo bigger and see more in Seasons Photography’s Michigan slideshow.

More kayaks & kayaking and more about Turnip Rock on Michigan in Pictures.

Better Know a Michigan State Park: Port Crescent State Park edition

Port Crescent State Park

Port Crescent State Park, Michigan, photo by Zack Schindler

The Michigan DNR says that Port Crescent State Park:

…is located at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Some of the modern campsites offer a waterfront view, either of the Bay or the Old Pinnebog River channel. Port Crescent recently added a new camper cabin which sleeps six and has a scenic view of Saginaw Bay. A wooden boardwalk parallels the day-use shoreline offering many scenic vistas of Saginaw Bay. The park also offers excellent fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities.

And see the map and book campsites here.

View Zack’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Fuji X-series slideshow.

More state parks and more incredible Michigan wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Bridge to the North

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Dan Moran

If you want to call this the world’s most beautiful bridge, you’ll get no argument from me.

View Dan’s photo background bigtacular and settle into his slideshow for a couple more amazing shots from Michigan. Then – because everyone needs a vacation every so often – keep watching for some jaw-dropping pics from Alaska. Seriously: wow, wow, WOW.

There’s lots more winter wallpaper and lots more of the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.

Headed Out with the Cason J Callaway

Cason J Calloway

headed out, photo by Susan H

The Cason J. Callaway made an appearance this winter when she was locked in the ice on Lake Huron. Boatnerd’s page on the Callaway says that the 767′ ship took her maiden voyage on September 16, 1952, draws 36′ and is able to haul over 250,00 tons:

The Cason J. Callaway was one of the eight “AAA” class vessels which entered service during 1952 and 1953. She was the last of the trio of vessels in this class (the Philip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson were the first two) built for Pittsburgh Steamship Company, who originally developed the blueprints used for all eight members of this class.

…Initially, the Callaway was used almost exclusively in the iron ore trade. In the early 1960s, the Callaway occasionally visited the St. Lawrence Seaway, often hauling grain from Toledo to ports on the St. Lawrence River and returning with iron ore. By the end of the 1960s, the Callaway returned to the traditional U.S. Steel iron ore trade route. She remained on this route regularly until her conversion to a self-unloader. After the conversion, the vessel began loading a wider variety of cargoes and visiting an even greater variety of ports. Ports such as Ashland and Green Bay, Wisconsin and Ontonagon and Dollar Bay, Michigan would occasionally become part of the Callaway’s trade route. By the late 1980s, the Callaway fell into a somewhat regular trade route, including a trip from either Duluth or Two Harbors with iron ore to a Lower Lakes port, often Lorain; one or two intermediate trips between ports on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Erie; and a limestone load from quarries at Rogers City (Calcite) and Cedarville (Port Dolomite), Michigan back up to Duluth. An occasional odd cargo or port remains a possibility.

Susan had a great view of the Callaway as the ship headed out to the open water near Cedarville. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow.

New Presque Isle Lighthouse

Presque Isle lighthouse (new)

Presque Isle lighthouse (new), photo by Jeff Rozema

Terry Pepper writes that the first Presque Isle Light was established in 1840 to serve as a guide to mariners seeking the harbor on Presque Isle, the spit of land protruding from the eastern shore of Lake Huron French trappers named “almost an island.” By 1866, the dwelling was judged to be a tear-down candidate and in March of 1967, Congress appropriated $28,000 for construction of the New Presque Isle Light according to the plan of District Engineer Orlando M Poe:

Poe’s classic design for the new tower was atypically elegant for such a utilitarian structure, and was so successful that it would be duplicated at a number of stations throughout the district, including Outer Island and Au Sable Point on Lake Superior, and at Little Sable, Big Sable and Grosse Point on Lake Michigan. Erected on a limestone foundation that extended almost ten feet below grade, the red brick tower stood 113 feet in height. 19 feet 3 inches in exterior diameter at the base, the structure tapered gracefully to a diameter of 12 feet beneath the gallery. Constructed with a double wall system, the outer walls stood 5 feet three inches in thickness at the base and the inner wall one 1 foot thick with a 2 foot three inch air space between. The inner walls did not reflect the taper of the exterior, but were erected as a pure cylinder, encasing a spiral cast iron stairway consisting of 138 steps and incorporating five landings and a watch room with four windows immediately below the gallery. Each of these windows featured a graceful arched top section, typical of Poe’s groundbreaking design.

Supported by a series of ornate cast iron corbels, the gallery provided a convenient location from which the keepers could observe vessels out on the lake during fair weather, and created a natural location from which to suspend a boatswain’s chair to conduct maintenance on the gallery supports and the masonry of the tower walls. Centered on the gallery, a prefabricated cast iron apparatus room was erected with a smaller encircling gallery. Centered within this secondary gallery, a cast iron lantern with vertical astragals was equipped with hand-holds to provide the keepers with an extra measure of safety while standing on the narrow upper gallery when cleaning or scraping ice from the plate glass lantern panes. A large cast iron pedestal to support for the lens was erected in the mechanical room below the lantern, and the massive Third Order Fresnel lens, which had been ordered from Henry LePaute Cie. of Paris assembled at its upper flare. Consisting of a brass support structure standing 8 feet in diameter, ten prismatic panels, each six feet in height and 2 feet 6 inches wide were carefully assembled within the frame to create the “crystal beehive” look typical of such lenses.

Read on for more about this lighthouse including some old pics.

View Jeff’s photo bigger and see more shots from here and far in his Lighthouses slideshow.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Winter at Turnip Rock

"Turnip Rock" Pointe Aux Barques, Lake Huron

“Turnip Rock” Pointe Aux Barques, Lake Huron, photo by Michigan Nut

Michigan’s Little Finger has been getting a lot of national media attention for the fantastic ice caves that have formed off the Leelanau Peninsula, but it’s a good time to check out the Thumb as well! Turnip Rock is on private property and reachable in the summer only by boat. In wintertime, however, walking on publicly owned Lake Huron becomes an option.

The Point Aux Barques – Turnip Rock geocache explains:

Everyone that received their grade school education in Michigan learned that glaciers pushed their way over Michigan several times. The result is glacial drift averaging 200 to 300 feet deep covering on top of the bedrock. The thickness of drift has measured over 1,000 feet in a few Michigan locations. Rarely can we see exposed bedrock that has been sculptured by non glacier forces. This is one of the locations in southern Michigan where the sandstone bedrock is exposed at the surface. The amount of shoreline that has exposed sandstone is about one mile, but a lot of beauty has been sculptured in the stone.

The locals call the main structure here “Turnip Rock”, because of it’s shape. Geologists call it a “Sea Stack”. A definition of a sea stack is an isolated pillar-like rocky island or mass near a cliff shore, detached from a headland by wave erosion assisted by weathering. Waves force air and small pieces of rock into small cracks, future opening them. The cracks then gradually get larger and turn into a small cave. When the cave wears through the headland, an arch forms. Further erosion causes the arch to collapse. This causes a pillar of hard rock standing away from the coast. Generally occurring in sedimentary rocks, sea stacks can occur in any rock type.

Here’s a map to Turnip Rock.

View John’s photo bigger and see more including nearby Point Aux Barques Lighthouse in his Lake Huron slideshow.

Icebreaking on the Great Lakes with USCG Bristol Bay

Shipping Lane

Shipping Lane, photo by rellet17

Winter 2014 has been a big challenge to keep up with for road crews and homeowners, and it’s a challenge that doesn’t end at the shoreline!

On Friday, Ross got a chance ride aboard the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Bristol Bay as it opened a path for shipping traffic on Lake Saint Clair. The captain told him the ice has only been this dense one other time in the past 30 years! The Coast Guard says:

The USCGC BRISTOL BAY is one of just two Bay-class cutters that work in conjunction with a special barge. BRISTOL BAY the second of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 140-foot icebreaking tugs. She is named after the body of water formed by the Alaskan peninsula which empties into the Bering Sea. BRISTOL BAY was built by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Co. in 1978. She was commissioned in Detroit in 1979.

Designed by U.S. Coast Guard engineers, the BRISTOL BAY’s primary responsibility is opening and maintaining icebound shipping lanes in the Great Lakes. Bay-class tugs are designed to continuously break at least 20 inches of hard, freshwater ice. The ships can break more than 3 feet of ice by backing and ramming. The Bay tugs have a special hull air lubrication system that helps extract the ship from thick ice and improves ice breaking ability at slower speeds.

View Ross’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his ice breaking slideshow.

PS: A few weeks ago I came across this video of more Great Lakes icebreaking action, showing the Icebreaker Mackinaw and others clearing a path from Sault Ste Marie down the St Marys River that you might enjoy. It was shot from the wheelhouse of the CSL Assiniboine.

There’s more ice and more winter wallpaper to be found on Michigan in Pictures!

One of many at Forty Mile Point

EDIT: WOW!! Check out the video that Tudor did at Forty Mile Point, The Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac!

2013_10_11-WTA-5DM3-4448

2013_10_11-WTA-5DM3-4448, photo by Tudor ApMadoc

Wikipedia’s U.S. Lighthouses entry says that the United States has had approximately a thousand lights as well as light towers, range lights, and pier head lights. With the second longest coastline in the U.S. and a history of vibrant trade across the Great Lakes, it makes sense that Michigan has the most lights of any state with over 150 past and present lights (166 by their count and as many as 247 by some). While the current number varies depending on who you talk to, 115 seems to be the accepted number.

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light is a fabulous guide to the lighthouses of the Great Lakes and definitely a resource to review before you visit a Michigan lighthouse. The Forty Mile Point Light entry in explains:

While the Presque Isle Peninsula had been lighted since 1840, and the entrance to the Cheboygan River fifty miles to the north had been lighted since 1851, the New Presque Isle Light’s range of visibility of 19 miles and the Cheboygan Light’s visible range of 13 miles left an unlighted 18 mile intervening stretch of coastline along which mariners were forced to navigate blind. In it’s annual report for fiscal 1890, the Board recommended that $25,000 be appropriated for the construction of a new light and fog signal at Forty Mile Point near Hammond’s Bay, at the approximate mid point between the two lights.

(the project languished for nearly 60 years until…)

Eleventh District Engineer Major Milton B. Adams selected and surveyed the site for the new Light. With an offer of $200 for the property accepted by the owner, Adams approved the plans and specifications for the station in February 1896. Contracts for the ironwork for the lantern, gallery, boilers and fog whistles were awarded soon thereafter, and with receipt of the materials at the Detroit depot, were loaded aboard the lighthouse tender AMARANTH and delivered to the site on July 5, 1896. Work at the site began with the construction of a wood-framed building, which would be used by the work crew as a temporary dwelling during construction, and converted into a barn for the keeper’s horses on the completion of the work.

Adams’ plan for the main lighthouse structure was a virtual duplicate of that simultaneously under construction at Big Bay Point on Lake Superior. Consisting of a duplex dwelling with a tower incorporated into the center of one side-wall, the structure stood 35 feet by 57 feet in plan. Erected on a 20″ thick cut limestone foundation, the brick walls featured double walls with an air space between to provide insulation. The integrated tower stood twelve feet in plan, and fifty-two feet in height. The apartments on each side of the dwelling were exact mirrored duplicates and were set-up to afford complete privacy. Each apartment featured its own main entry, cellar, kitchen, parlor, tower entry door and stairway to the bedrooms on the second floor. Indicative of Adam’s thoughtfulness in designing the structure, each of the stairways incorporated a skylight in its ceiling through which the lantern could be observed, thereby allowing both keeper and his assistant to verify the correct operation of the light from within the warmth of their apartment without having to leave the building or climb to the top of the tower itself to see the light. The brick tower was capped by a square gallery with iron safety railing, and a prefabricated octagonal cast iron lantern erected at its center.

Read on for more at Seeing the Light and also check out this shot of the construction crew posing in front of the lighthouse in 1896. Forty Mile Point Light is now a museum, click here to visit their website for more including directions.

Check this photo out bigger, have a look at this panoramic shot of the light and see more in Tudor’s 2013-10 Fall Trip slideshow.

Many more Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Orange is the new … orange

Orange is the new orange

_JMC1593aw, photo by Jeff Caverly

Sunrise on the Saginaw River in Bay City.

Check Jeff’s photo out background big and see more in his slideshow.

More sunrises on Michigan in Pictures.

The Sky Walker of Huron

"Winter Moon" Sturgeon Point , Lake Huron

“Winter Moon” Sturgeon Point, Lake Huron, photo by Michigan Nut

Myths and Legends of our Own Land by Charles M. Skinner (1896) has some incredible stories from Michigan’s first people. Here’s The Sky Walker of Huron:

Here is the myth of Endymion and Diana, as told on the shores of Saginaw Bay, in Michigan, by Indians who never heard of Greeks. Cloud Catcher, a handsome youth of the Ojibways, offended his family by refusing to fast during the ceremony of his coming of age, and was put out of the paternal wigwam. It was so fine a night that the sky served him as well as a roof, and he had a boy’s confidence in his ability to make a living, and something of fame and fortune, maybe. He dropped upon a tuft of moss to plan for his future, and drowsily noted the rising of the moon, in which he seemed to see a face. On awaking he found that it was not day, yet the darkness was half dispelled by light that rayed from a figure near him—the form of a lovely woman.

“Cloud Catcher, I have come for you,” she said. And as she turned away he felt impelled to rise and follow. But, instead of walking, she began to move into the air with the flight of an eagle, and, endowed with a new power, he too ascended beside her. The earth was dim and vast below, stars blazed as they drew near them, yet the radiance of the woman seemed to dull their glory. Presently they passed through a gate of clouds and stood on a beautiful plain, with crystal ponds and brooks watering noble trees and leagues of flowery meadow; birds of brightest colors darted here and there, singing like flutes; the very stones were agate, jasper, and chalcedony. An immense lodge stood on the plain, and within were embroideries and ornaments, couches of rich furs, pipes and arms cut from jasper and tipped with silver. While the young man was gazing around him with delight, the brother of his guide appeared and reproved her, advising her to send the young man back to earth at once, but, as she flatly refused to do so, he gave a pipe and bow and arrows to Cloud Catcher, as a token of his consent to their marriage, and wished them happiness, which, in fact, they had.

This brother, who was commanding, tall, and so dazzling in his gold and silver ornaments that one could hardly look upon him, was abroad all day, while his sister was absent for a part of the night. He permitted Cloud Catcher to go with him on one of his daily walks, and as they crossed the lovely Sky Land they glanced down through open valley bottoms on the green earth below. The rapid pace they struck gave to Cloud Catcher an appetite and he asked if there were no game. “Patience,” counselled his companion. On arriving at a spot where a large hole had been broken through the sky they reclined on mats, and the tall man loosing one of his silver ornaments flung it into a group of children playing before a lodge. One of the little ones fell and was carried within, amid lamentations. Then the villagers left their sports and labors and looked up at the sky. The tall man cried, in a voice of thunder, “Offer a sacrifice and the child shall be well again.” A white dog was killed, roasted, and in a twinkling it shot up to the feet of Cloud Catcher, who, being empty, attacked it voraciously.

Many such walks and feasts came after, and the sights of earth and taste of meat filled the mortal with a longing to see his people again. He told his wife that he wanted to go back. She consented, after a time, saying, “Since you are better pleased with the cares, the ills, the labor, and the poverty of the world than with the comfort and abundance of Sky Land, you may return; but remember you are still my husband, and beware how you venture to take an earthly maiden for a wife.”

She arose lightly, clasped Cloud Catcher by the wrist, and began to move with him through the air. The motion lulled him and he fell asleep, waking at the door of his father’s lodge. His relatives gathered and gave him welcome, and he learned that he had been in the sky for a year. He took the privations of a hunter’s and warrior’s life less kindly than he thought to, and after a time he enlivened its monotony by taking to wife a bright-eyed girl of his tribe. In four days she was dead. The lesson was unheeded and he married again. Shortly after, he stepped from his lodge one evening and never came back. The woods were filled with a strange radiance on that night, and it is asserted that Cloud Catcher was taken back to the lodge of the Sun and Moon, and is now content to live in heaven.

Check John’s photo out bigger and see more in his Lake Huron slideshow.

More Lake Huron on Michigan in Pictures.