Month: September 2015

By the Superior..With the Apostles : Day 2&3

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So on day 2,we woke up at around 6.30 AM (If you have not read the part of 1 of this ,please read it here.)and took a stroll near the ferry to Madeline Island. It was drizzling and the sun was not up fully. Bayfield was just getting up lazily on that rainy Sunday morning. The beach was just 50 feet away from the ferry and we went there. I took my first step inside the water and ouch.. it was so cold, temperature might have been 3-4 degrees and within 2 min my feet started getting numb. We came out of the water and walked along the beach. A couple of small yachts were sailing far, with their sails fluttering against the breeze. There was freshness everywhere.. fresh water, fresh air and the freshness of the damp sand below. What else is needed to soothe you more than such a meditative aura!!

We wanted to go for kayaking into the sea caves and booked a slot for the next day. After having breakfast we headed to the Meyers Beach, it was just a 15 min drive from Bayfield. Meyers beach is the place from where most of the kayak trips to the mainland sea caves start. The beach was again mesmerizing.. quiet, calm and except for the kayaking groups, there were hardly anyone out there. We wanted to swim in the lake. It was around 10.30 AM in the morning and was sunny. But still water was very cold. Another group of people came to the beach, ready to swim. We waited to see how they are gonna do that in that chilling water. Yeah, we wanted the motivation!!.They all ran into the beach altogether and splashed into the water. Scream…!!We could feel their limbs going numb! One dip.. that is what they took and all were back on the shore. We were a little disappointed, you know, the lake was so tempting. We decided to go back to the town and got inside the car and suddenly my husband said..”We go to Apostle islands in early September and going back without taking a dip in the Superior..no way!, Let’s do it”. We jumped out of the car and went back to the beach again and decided to wait for another hour or so for it to be a little bit hotter. At around 11.15 AM, we gathered our courage and just ran into the water. Yeah… it was cold, but better this time. After having a couple of dips we were okay and it was not cold anymore. For me it was the first time swimming in a lake as I always had swam in pools only. Here the water was so shallow and we could walk more than a 150ft from the shore into the lake. The water was only neck deep and we could see the bottom, a luxury which we hardly get in normal beaches. First time when the water was going inside the mouth, there was no taste or smell of chlorine.

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In the afternoon that day, we took the ferry to Madeline island, the largest of the Apostle islands and the only one having permanent residents. The ferry took us to La Pointe, the capital town of Madeline.They have regular ferry schedule from Bay field to La Pointe from April to December. La Pointe is a beautiful small town with a number of small shops and art galleries which show case the talents of the local people. The main attraction of Madeline island is the Big Bay state park, a 10 min drive from the ferry. It is a big natural habitat area with 2418 acres of land almost 1.5 miles of Superior shoreline. We put our hiking shoes on and got into action. The best part about the Big Bay state park for us was the beautiful cliffs that majestically peep out into Superior, like proud warriors guarding her. The cliffs were not very high and there was a family having vacation on one of them and they were diving into the green waters, one after the other,hooting and clapping!!We so wanted to do that, but we were kind of tired after the swimming in the morning. You know, water drains out almost all your energy and bet me, you would be getting your best sleep after a good swim. Anyhow, we could not resist going down near the water, we hiked down a cliff on to a series of platform like rocks that lead to water. I lied down on one of the rocks and closed my eyes…The only sound I could here was the sound of the water rumbling and echoing against the rocks. Full Stop!!Any further explanation of it would be a crime.

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We took the evening ferry back to Bayfield after the most tranquilizing experience there at the Big Bay state park. We wound up the day too excited for our kayaking tour the next day.

The next day we went to Meyers beach again from where our kayaking trip was planned. Before we started ,our tour guide explained us all the details on kayaking, right from how to get inside a kayak to how to get out if incase the kayak flips in water! It was not out first time in a kayak as we had a small trip in Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis. But yeah..,Lake Calhoun cannot be compared to Superior! She is far superior in all the ways. The kayaking started and after the initial hick ups (yeah..we wanted to go towards the right, but our kayak was going to left.:D), we found the rhythm and made our way through the waves towards the sea caves. Ahh.. the sea caves..what do I tell you.. in my last post ,I had mentioned about the sea caves of devils island.I just have one word to describe them. .magnificent. The way nature has carved out the sandstones to those marvelous formations of symmetric arches, big hallways and the meandering corridors. there are only two other thing which took my breath away in the same manner; one the real Grand Canyon,Arizona and the Shravanabalgola temple in India. The caves here have been given different names like the keyhole cave which really looks like keyhole with a wide head, tapering towards the bottom ,the garage cave ,as it was as huge as a garage are a few of the names that I remember now. We kayaked into many of these caves and it was not very easy as we got stuck between the orange tinted walls of the caves many times, had head on collisions with the other kayaks, my hands were so tired of the rigorous paddling…but it was a fun filled and thrilling 2.5 hours.

It was time for us to head back home. We bid adieu to Bayfield and the Apostle islands, promising ourselves to return soon to see Superior and her jewels in another season in a different avatar, may be too soon in fall or in winter.

Now here is the list of a few things which you may want to know if you would visit the Apostle Islands.

Places to stay: Winfield Inn (www.winfieldinn.com/), Old Rittenhouse Inn (www.rittenhouseinn.com/), Gruenke’s inn(greunkesinn.com/) or may find more options at the American Chamber of Commerce website. There are camping options available in many places including the Big Bay state park in Madeline island. Visit the official website of the Big Bay state park for more details.

Places to eat: The Egg Toss (you get yummy breakfasts here. We loved the homemade jams), The Fat Radish (We had a good sandwich), Maggie’s, Gruenke’s, Bayfield Inn. It is tough to get vegetarian food though. Also, if you are driving from the city of Superior to Apostle Island, that 50mile stretch hardly has any good place to eat. So better have food at Duluth or at Superior or carry some food with you.

For cruises: http://www.apostleisland.com/

For Kayaking: Trek & Trail (http://www.trek-trail.com/Living Adventure (livingadventure.com), APOSTLE ISLANDS KAYAKS(www.apostleislandskayaks.com)

 

By the Superior..With the Apostles:Day 1

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My first encounter with Lake Superior was long back when I was in junior school in one of our Social Science classes as the world’s largest fresh water lake. While memorizing it then, I never thought that I would ever get a chance to see this lake in my life and as a very practical kid I did not want to see it as there was half a globe separating us.Frankly, I did not imagine how vast it could be or how beautiful it could be, like most of the other students I just by-hearted it. I saw Superior for the first time during my first flight journey to US. It was a cold January morning, just after the New Years and when the GPS in-front of my seat showed that we were above Lake Superior, I just peeped down through the window out of curiosity. There she was…covered in a blanket of snow, with patches of unfrozen water here and there. Though it was from a great height I just could not take my eyes off her and wanted to take her in as much as I can as I thought ‘What if I would never see her again’!

Life had other plans. As part of my husband’s job, we moved to Minnesota, one of the Northern most states of US which has a vast shoreline with Lake Superior. So as another long weekend was coming ahead ,as the official “trip planner” of our family I was surfing the net on where to go, Most of our friends around suggested to go to South Dakota for its amazing wild life. But it was like a 9 hour drive from our place and as my husband and I were lazy to drive that long, I started looking for options nearby. It was then I stumbled upon this place called Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. Having heard of The Twelve Apostles along The Great Ocean road in Victoria, Australia, I thought it would be something similar and immediately started exploring it on net. It was about 250 miles from where we stay and so only a 4 hours drive. So we decided to spend our Labor Day long weekend at Apostle Islands. After all, it was all about water and we both love it.

We started our journey from Minneapolis to Apostle Islands on a cloudy Saturday morning. The first few hours of drive were monotonous as there was nothing much to see on the road except for some occasional rivers. We went just before the fall and hence only very few trees had started changing colors. After a 3 hour drive, we reached Duluth, a beautiful city along the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota. What caught our attention in Duluth was the Blatnik bridge -a beautiful bridge that connects the city of Duluth and the city of Superior, Wisconsin, popularly known as the Twin Port Cities. The view from the bridge was so spectacular with Lake Superior and its tributaries all around, a number of small ships at the dock and in water, a couple of factories with their chimneys peaking high. We stopped by the side of the road to enjoy a better view of the lake. There was a meadow just near to where we stopped with hundreds of seagulls, like white dots on piece of green cloth. So beautiful it was!!

We resumed our journey, stopping by the side of the road a couple of times to enjoy the different moods and colors of Superior. Sometimes she was happy and clear; we could see the other side of the shore, some other times she was dull and foggy and once she was angry and red; literally and figuratively as the water had taken the color of the red soil on the shore. After about an hour and half’s drive and a couple of small villages, we reached Bayfield, the gateway to the Apostle Islands. It is a very small town with all its warmth and innocence and there in front of us was lying the mighty Superior, with all its pride. For me it was love at first sight. The crystal clear water. .the clean beaches.. array of seagulls lined upon logs that lead to dock… white yachts gently moving to the tune of the waves.. the green silhouette of the Madeline Island  against the horizon and above all the Superior itself, adorned with its jewels, the Apostle Islands.

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We took a stroll along the beach while waiting for our cruise. While my husband was busy with his camera, I started reading about the Apostle Islands-its history and geology. So here is a gist of what I read. Apostle Islands is an archipelago of 22 islands spread across Lake Superior covering an area of 69372 acres.21 of these islands are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore region. The largest of islands, the Madeline island is the only island with permanent residents, about 240 odd people and that is the reason that it is not part of the National Lakeshore region. The history of human activity on the islands can be dated back to 100 BC and from 950 AD onwards the islands were inhabited by native American tribes, predominantly the Ojibwe. In the late 1600s the European traders came to the islands and started settling there. The small town, La Pointe, in the Madeline Island got its name from its French connections. Geologically, the sand stones of the islands are more than one billion years old ;that means much older than the ice age and the age of dinosaurs!!

We had booked the evening Grand Tour at http://www.apostleisland.com which has many other tours and recreational shuttles. The cruise was almost for 3 hours and it took us near all the major islands. Our captain was a cheerful man and he kept on telling us the history and small anecdotes about each of those islands. Like how Madeline island got its name in honor of Mrs. Madeline Cadotte, the daughter of an Ojibwe chief who got married to fur trader Michael Cadotte who was a prominent leader in the island in the 1800s,that the Stockton island has the largest black bear population in the entire US and how the lighthouse keepers went mad in olden days, not because of loneliness and adverse conditions as thought by everybody back then, but by continuous exposure to Mercury which is used to help in the rotation of the lighthouse beacons.

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Another remarkable thing during the cruise was about this lady Denice who is a volunteer park ranger in one of those islands. She receives 1 dollar a month from the National Lakeshore region authorities and lives alone in a cabin in the island. She does not have gas connection, heating or running water in her cabin and she mainly lives on those things that she harvests herself on the island. When our captain honked, she came out of her cabin and waved at us. What a spirit..I bow before that.

Next we went to see the sea caves at the Devils Island. “Breath taking”, literally. I was taken aback and like always could not stop marveling at wonders of nature. The caves were carved by the lake over millions of years and still continue doing that. They are so symmetric, mysterious and inexplicable. It was a like a miniature Grand Canyon in water. We tried to click as many pics as we could, but none of them could justify the beauty.

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The cruise got over by 8.45PM and we grabbed our dinner and headed back to our hotel-the Winfield Inn and Garden, a beautiful, cozy place overlooking the lake with a huge garden which is open to public. It was very clean and we loved it there, especially the owner’s cat, Rosy. Oh yeah..I’m a cat person. 😛

So that was our first day at Apostle Islands .When I sat down to write, I thought it would be just one blog. But you know, a love at first sight affair cannot be explained in a few words, right? So stay tuned for my next post on our Day 2 at the Apostle islands which was even more exciting than Day1.

See you guys soon..!!