Exploring the Bruce

Bruce Peninsula


I mentioned our trip up the Bruce Peninsula in last week’s blog, but we wanted to try a little video presentation, so if you’d like to see the waves crash, give it a watch:



Illegal Pie!

When we crossed the border from Canada back to the USofA, we were asked if we had any illegal substances aboard.  Fruit qualifies.  I told the nice officer I thought we had about 4 peaches in the fridge.  He said they are not legal to bring into the States, asked a few more questions, and then said you are free to go… Eat those peaches!  It turns out we had 6 of them, and some strawberries too.  We decided to get rid of all the evidence quickly; we made a pie!  An experimental, illegal substance pie.  Cherryl ground the wheat, making the flour; I made the crust, and she made the awesome Peach-Strawberry Pie innards.  Our crust didn’t work too well – not very pretty and a little too healthy tasting 😉 but overall the pie was a success!  The insides made good topping for breakfast pancakes!


iPhone Photo Class

We saw a class offered on creative portrait photography… and had great fun with it.  I’m only going to show you a few…

Cherryl’s self portrait as reflected in a Tesla:



And a shot of both of us. Can you figure it out?



Mundane Life Events

Just in case you think exploring Our Next Horizon is a never ending Avalanche of Adventure, we present this short description of one of the more mundane aspects of nomad life:


Another not so thrilling event is getting service done.  Here is an early morning deposit of our home to get its filters and fluids changed. (How often do you do that for your home??)


We were also going to have any open recalls addressed, and fix a sticky blinker switch.  I thought we should do it soon, as I was told our 3 year warranty was over sometime mid- November. The service guy told me it was good we brought it in when we did… the warranty was up the NEXT DAY!  The part needed for the blinker switch is backordered, but no problem with the warranty because I started the repair in time.  We will have to get it finished somewhere else… but saved a bunch by getting it started!  God is Good!

Camping in Michigan



Notice we had a lake view from the front right side of our house…  😉

IMG_5738 2


O Canada!

Algoma Central Railway

The railway was incorporated in 1899, with the intention of making a line all the way to Hudson’s Bay.  They started north from Sault Ste. Marie, but by 1914 they had given up on reaching the Bay.  It was used for some lumber and ore transport, but what really made it big was the famous “Group of Seven”.  Haven’t heard of the Group of Seven?  Then I guess you aren’t Canadian.  Seven artists rented a boxcar, fitted it out kind of like a motorhome, and spent the summer of 1918 on side tracks of the railway, painting their impressions of the beautiful landscape.  They had so much fun they did it for about 5 more years.  Their work was to Canada like Thomas Moran’s paintings were to the U.S. and Yellowstone.  (If you don’t know about him, look it up.  His work was a lot of the reason Yellowstone was made into our first National Park, and that started the whole National Park thing elsewhere in the world). (but I digress…)  So the Group of Seven popularized the Sault Ste. Marie area and the train, and now it runs daily 114 miles (4.5 hours) up into a beautiful park, lets you hike for 90 minutes, and then ride back again.

Most of the native animals avoid the noisy train, and stay out of sight.  But when the railway was being built, they noticed Bull Moose seemed to be drawn by the train whistle or horn.  During mating season they would sometimes try to challenge the trains!  They tell of one Moose that stood in the middle of the track, staring down the engine. Even when the engineer gently pushed him, he turned and walked… right down the tracks for a long way.  He might have to give in, but not too easily!

I never shoot through glass or from moving vehicles… unless I am on a train, in Canada, and it’s raining, and the windows don’t open anyway.


Once at the park, it was raining like crazy.  And we, like crazy, hiked all over in the rain.  First destination was a lookout post.  What did we think we would see??  Well, it was beautiful, but quite soggy!




Then we took the trail to Black Beaver Falls (below left) and Bridal Veil Falls (below other).


The last part of the trail was so rain-soaked we walked on the tracks most of the way back.  And it was nice to know the train couldn’t leave without us if we were standing on the tracks!  Rather like a Moose.





So, soaking wet made the trip back home seem quite long.  We were cold and soggy and very glad to get back to a nice warm home!




Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre

Bushplanes are the only way in or out of much of the Canadian forest lands.  This museum is dedicated to the interesting machines (and pilots) who make this land accessible.




A large part of the exhibit is about fire fighting… Canadians seem to rule the world when it comes to using planes for fire fighting.  One model of their awesome planes can skim over a lake and pick up 6,000 pounds of water in 12 seconds!  They drop millions of gallons of water on forest fires in an amazingly short time.  They have to be sure there are no ground crews in the dump zone: the weight of the falling water can snap tree limbs and mess up a fire fighters whole day.

So here’s a firefighter and his lookout tower:



Lunch and Walking

On “Moving Days” we tend to be rolling around lunchtime.  Sometimes we eat as we go (If we really have to be someplace), but often we pull over somewhere, have lunch, and then go for an exploratory walk.  In the middle of nowhere.  Or anywhere.  One day, somewhere east of Sault Ste. Marie, on our after-lunch walk, we came upon an old cemetery.  This stone had an imaginative display:


There were several French-looking stones that were quite different in tone:


These are from early 1900’s.  The one on the right died on my birthday, (except almost 50 years prior), at 7 months old.  Sad.


Owen Sound

St George’s Anglican Church caught my eye… there are several beautiful churches nearby, but this was the most interesting architecture.




Bruce Peninsula National Park / Grotto


It’s rather fun to have a whole region named after one’s self!  The Bruce Peninsula is very picturesque, and very popular.  We have seen several Provincial Parks, which are like our State Parks, but Bruce gets a National Park status.  There are all kinds of Bruce named places and companies and congregations and whatever scattered all over the place.  The Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, runs all the way from the Niagra River to the tip of Bruce Peninsula – over 500 miles.  We did a couple hundred yards of it…

Ok, we’d probably have done more, except it was VERY windy and really cold.  The waves breaking over the rocky shoreline were very impressive.  The wind was blowing so violently it was hard to hold still enough to shoot pictures; and the freezing fingers didn’t help out much!


A nice hike through the forest leads to a rock arch and a deep grotto.  This area is so popular in the summer that you have to reserve a parking time slot ahead of time.








I will say I wasn’t the least bit tempted to jump… but this sign makes it look like some have been.



The Sweet Shop in town had some more fun signs:


Canadian Campsites





For the last week we have been associating with Yoopers.  Voluntarily!  Seems that residents of Michigan’s U.P., or Upper Peninsula, are called Yoopers.  And very nice ‘ers they are.  We’ve enjoyed their beautiful environment.


Sand Point Lighthouse

Construction was started on Sand Point Lighthouse in 1864.  John Terry was appointed to be the light keeper, but he died just before the lighthouse was finished.  His wife, Mary, lit the lamp for the first time on May 13, 1868. (Happy Bday Lori!)  She ended up serving as the light keeper until 1886 when she died in a “mysterious fire” in the lighthouse.  Was it an accident?  Or was she murdered, the lighthouse robbed, and fire set to cover the deed? It was never discovered what really happened…

The lighthouse was shut down in 1939 when a new light was installed in the harbor.


The harbor at Sand Point was very peaceful.




Sunrise from our bedroom window:



Mackinac Island

This beautiful island is named for the reaction my Dad would have had here:
Mac – in – awe.  Sometimes it is spelled with a “w” as the last letter, most of the time with a “c”.  Usually the pronunciation is blamed on the Indians who lived here, but I think it more likely the French influence.  They seem to love lots of letters that they don’t bother to pronounce.

The trip to the island starts with loading our bikes onto a ferry, at a very nice terminal.

The ferry takes only about 15 minutes, and gives a nice view of the Mackinac Bridge.  Some of the ferries throw up a big “rooster tail” of water, looking to me like the most inefficiently trimmed jet boat ever.  I asked the captain of our ferry about that… He said they have a third diesel engine just to pump water up and out the back like that – just for show.  Make the kiddies happy!  They are powered with two diesels running huge props.



The most prestigious lodging on the island is the Grand Hotel:


The island is unique in that no cars are allowed.  Transportation is by bicycle or horse drawn carriages.  Or of course, you can use your feet.  The architecture is elegant, the scenery gorgeous… just watch out on the street for all the exhaust from the horse drawn vehicles!

There must be 500 shops selling fudge!



The bike trails are plentiful and plenty pretty.  Sometimes a bit challenging to avoid horse exhaust…


A stone arch makes for a nice framed ocean view:


Sugar Loaf Rock stands all alone it its clearing, much larger than it appears in the photo:


From the lookout you can see it rising far above the treeline.


While at the lookout, a pair of Bald Eagles flew right by us!  Magnificent!



The main fort on the island is Fort Mackinac (Who’d have guessed?) which is NOT pictured here.  This is Fort Holmes, up above the much larger fort, and on the highest point of the island.  This is a re-creation, but very interesting to note construction techniques and a great place to eat lunch!




We have a photo (somewhere) of both of our lovely daughters on this cannon, taken many years ago.  Sorry they couldn’t be here this time!


Here’s the Arch Rock from sea level:



Everything is so well manicured, it’s hard to tell the golf courses from the hotel lawns.



Three Churches

The first is the evangelical protestant Mission Church.  Built in 1829, it hosted very simple worship services, in a very modest interior with enclosed pews.




In marked contrast to the Mission Church is the Saint Anne’s Church.  This Catholic congregation got started on the island in 1670.  It later moved to the mainland in St. Ignace, and later again moved to what is now Mackinac City.  The first church dedicated to Saint Anne was built in 1742.  In 1780 the building was moved across the ice to the island, near the fort, and then later moved to this site.  This church structure was built in 1874.  I can’t believe all the moving!!  And you will notice this is far more ornate, with fancy woodwork and impressive stained glass windows.IMG_1860


The third church I’m featuring here is the “Little Stone” Church.  It was built by the Union Congregational Church in 1904, and 10 years later they added hand painted stained glass windows.  These have almost photo-like images for the faces, and the scenes depict the progress of the protestant movement on the island.





The Grand Hotel

If you are privileged to stay at the Grand, you must arrive in a classy carriage.


These two seemed dressed appropriately, (I’m pretty sure they worked there) but the fascination with the cell phones somewhat ruined the effect.



There were hundreds of butterflies in the flower gardens… so I shot a few.



Before we left, we had to get something at what is billed as America’s Oldest Grocery Store.  I’m not sure how they have decided this.  Maybe they sell the oldest groceries??



Ste. Anne’s from the water:



A little lighthouse guarding the harbor entrance:




Back home



In a park Gladstone, MI, is this interesting collection of concrete figures, made around 1910, to honor the Indians who were there first.  They are life sized, and remarkably colorful.


The park in Gladstone



We’ve heard many times that Lake Michigan is very high right now.  We’ve seen docks either underwater, or floating way off kilter, but this playground was the most striking evidence we’ve seen so far!



Another sign (literally) is this rock.  “Chi-Sin” or “Big Rock” sits near the shore as a water level indicator.  I include this sign here to show how it is usually far out of the water…


And here it is today… the one on the left.  Under a fair bit of water.




McGulpin Point Lighthouse

… was closed.  So you don’t have to read a lot of history about it.




So now we have moved our home to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.  Talk about funny pronunciations… “Sault” is pronounced “Sioux”.  Does that help?  Or “Sue” if you’re not French. Or “Sue” if you’re a lawyer.

Anyway, “Sault” means “Rapids”, so the name is really “Saint Mary’s Rapids”.  The rapids have been augmented by a series of locks, so the resulting channel is a huge shipping route from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, and eventually out to the Atlantic.  [The locks are called the “Soo Locks”, just to further complicate things!]

The St. Mary’s river forms the border between the USA and Canada.  A walk along the Canadian shore in the evening was fascinating, both in the beautiful colors present and the interesting swirling of the water coming from the locks.





More Door County

Wagon Trail Campground


Our Secluded Campsite



Wagon Trail has Yurt campsites – really cute!  I read through the yurt’s guest book, and loved this kid’s entry…



They also have cabins…




A “Sister Resort” to the campground is Rowley’s Bay Resort.  In their lobby is an old pump organ that reminded me of my Grandmother, and the organ they shipped to Peru in 1913.  And it turns out this one was carried across Green Bay- by horses and a sleigh over the ice on the winter of 1920!




I know this may sound like a paid commercial, (it’s not!), but we have really enjoyed this place!

Bike Ride to Europe

We rode our bikes through the woods all the way to Europe!  Europe Bay.  Super beautiful and it didn’t involve trying to pedal over the ocean.




While traipsing through the woods, I picked up some cute hitchhikers- This plant had nice little flowers, and interesting baskets of seeds waiting to get out and travel!




Peninsula State Park





Blossomburg cemetery is in the middle of the State Park – a pretty area with some very old stones.



Here’s a guy who didn’t take many notes… and Charlie is pretty scarce on details too.



Eagle Bluff Lighthouse

Opened in 1868, this lighthouse and others in the area are where virtually all lighthouse keepers in the country were trained in those days.





The grounds are surrounded by these berries – and we can’t verify what they are!  Maybe Autumn Olive Berries?  Please feel free to enlighten us!



Cana Island County Park

This is the only island I’ve been to where we were pulled through the water by a Deere.  The road ends on the sand, with a sign saying “No parking beyond this point”.  The sign is somewhat pointless itself, because there is only water past the sign.  Then a John Deere tractor arrives from the island, pulling a wagon over a narrow spit of land, covered with 2-3 feet of water.  Then it’s our turn, and off we go into the bay and to the island. It’s a unique experience!



Down the stairs and up into the Fresnel lens:






A quaint little town, with an interesting history.  Originally founded near what is now Green Bay, by a Moravian preacher, to give those of his faith a wholesome place to live.  He turned out to be a bit more of a shady land developer than a preacher, however.  He was buying property from the government and reselling it to the locals at a great markup, and not even producing legal deeds.  When he was found out, he left town, and so did everyone else.  They started a new town, same name, same goals, well up on Door Peninsula.  The religious foundation of the area is perhaps the reason why this community is so peaceful… and was the last “Dry City” in Wisconsin… only voting to allow sales of alcohol in 2016, thus ending a 163-year ban on beer and wine sales!






Met a cutie while shopping…





Washington Island








This fascinating building looks like it might have been designed by Darth Vader, but it really is modeled after medieval Norwegian chapels.  A “Stav” is a pole, or mast.  This chapel has 12 center staves, and is built with joinery like a Viking ship.

A replica of a sailing ship from the early 1800’s hangs from the nave, and a tool belt hangs in a corner as a memorial to one of the builders who died before the chapel’s completion.


Schoolhouse Beach

This beach claims to be one of very few with such rounded rocks.  Seems we’ve seen them elsewhere, but whatever… it’s very pretty!


Jackson Harbor




Washington Island Farm Museum








Jacobsen Museum

Jens Jacobsen built his cabin in the Norwegian style, with vertical logs instead of horizontal logs like Abe Lincoln would have done.  Leaving the bark on, the vertical logs were supposed to shed water quickly and be preserved longer.



In his museum, we met 11 cousins there for a reunion… some of which had never met each other previously.  The one on the stairs works at the museum.









Ellison Bay / Death’s Door Maritime museum





I was fascinated by these old Kahlenberg diesel engines.  Very interesting early 1900’s technology.







Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

A Door County must is this beautiful restaurant in Sister Bay.  It’s easy to find… the only place with goats on the roof!  The sod roof is home to a number of goats, and has been a landmark for decades.  But it’s the Swedish Pancakes that make it worth the trip!


Here’s a little video of how they make these Swedish Pancakes…

Evening in Sister Bay:






Opening Door County

Becky’s Birthday

We gave our daughter a surprise birthday party in our “home”.  It was fun because our grandkids helped decorate and did a pretty good job of not letting the cat out of the bag…

At least Becky acted surprised!

Nothing better than a good bowl of Melting Ice Cream Birthday Cake!


Omro Wisconsin

We had a great time for about two weeks at their house, and then it was time to move on.     We were headed for Door County, Wisconsin.  We are trying to have short driving days, to help us remember we’re retired and don’t have to do 9 hour marathon driving days.  So we stopped at a campground in Omro.  No frills, just long level sites and electrical hookups.  Water and dump station near the office.  But only $15.  A great place if you are just passing through.



Door County

A small peninsula cuts from eastern Wisconsin into Lake Michigan, and creates Green Bay on its western shore.  A couple of miles north of the tip of this promontory is Washington Island.  The small stretch of water between the peninsula and the island looks fairly safe, but storms can arise almost instantly out of nowhere and turn it into a very treacherous channel.  When French trappers arrived here in the early 1600’s, the local Indians told about how many lives had been lost in making that crossing.  They gave the channel the attractive name “Porte des Morts”, or “Door of Death”.  Over the years the peninsula was called the Door of Death Peninsula, and then just Door Peninsula, and now is officially Door County.  We haven’t yet braved crossing the Door of Death, but we sure are impressed with how beautiful everything is here!  We had loosely planned to stay maybe five days… but have extended our reservation to ten days.

It has rained a lot since we’ve arrived, but we still love it here.  We’ve spent a little time riding bikes through the forest, looking at nice beaches, checking out quaint towns, shopping at huge produce markets, and eating very well!  (We have made some awesome scones, and some terrific home made bread in our convection oven.  Our first baking in the convection oven has turned out very well, and we are encouraged!  Some have said you can’t bake in convection… WRONG!)  

Last night was our 43rd anniversary! (Congrats to us!)  We went out to dinner and then to an interesting theatrical venue.  The Peninsula Players have been doing professional Summer Stock productions for 84 years on the shore of Green Bay!  They are the longest running professional summer theater in the country.

The play was called “George Washington’s Teeth”, and I thought as part of my ongoing professional continuing education I really should see it. 😉  It was well done and fun, but the coolest part was the beautiful grounds and facility.  Right on the bay, they have a lot of chairs in a lightly wooded area, and a large bonfire.  I’ve never sat on a log by a lakeshore 5 minutes before curtain time before!  I didn’t take any pictures there, but here is a promo of the company you might enjoy.  If you don’t like it, I didn’t make it, so fine…


We are staying at the Wagon Trail Campground near the northern tip of Door County.  They claim to “Specialize in Quiet Nights and Secluded Sites”.  Our spot is both quiet and secluded, and absolutely gorgeous.