Friday, September 24, 2010

An American Exile: Let sleeping bears lie!

After three days of exploring the Pictured Rocks area, it was time to start making our way back home. We broke down our camp, made one more stop at the Falling Rock Café, and headed east. We made a plan to go to Whitefish Point on the way, so we headed in that direction.

During the day we zigzagged along county roads and arrived at the Whitefish Point Lighthouse just as the sun was going down. Maybe it was the extra cups of coffee and the cinnamon rolls we had at the café, maybe it was the extra scenic stops along the way, or maybe it was our sense of not being in a hurry but it seemed as though we mistimed this particular stop on our adventure. Pam really wanted to make a stop at Whitefish Point because of the beach and the numerous dead wood that seemed to wash up there. This spot, where Lake Superior narrowed into the straits, was littered with bleached ghosts of former trees…a pretty impressive sight really.

Pam was a little disappointed that we missed this opportunity so I devised a plan to stay there overnight. We headed to the nearest town where we were met by an 8-foot sculpture that included the greeting “Welcome to Paradise.” It was fitting that our greeter was a chain saw hewn bear in full hunting garb complete with a shotgun. Paradise???...Okay I’ll buy it!

We spent the night at the Vagabond Motel where I was beginning to be overwhelmed by the irony of this particular layover. After nearly two-and-a-half weeks on the road, we finally got to sleep in a real bed. We showered, we snacked, had some libations and rested our bones. Oddly enough, I had trouble sleeping and was glad to get going the next day.

After spending some time at Whitefish Point, we moved south and then east towards Sault Ste. Marie. I was determined to see the locks of the Soo so I could cross that particular item off my list of things to do. We got to see two incredibly gigantic cargo vessels pass through the storied locks. It was a very cool thing to see!

As we continued south towards Michigan’s lower peninsula, we chased some very dramatic thunderstorms. It was ironic, I thought, that we started out being chased by the weather and now, I was hunting it. This made for an interesting drive and some interesting photographs. We arrived late to our destination and set up camp at the D.H. Day campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I could tell Pam was tired because she strongly questioned why we were going to a “day camp.” This was perhaps, a flashback to her days at the Arts Camp.

The next couples of days were pretty uneventful as we explored the dunes, relaxed on the beach and hung out at the campsite. I was a little sad knowing that our adventure would soon be coming to an end but I was also excited to get back to things and start moving forward. I knew that I would not return the same person as when I left. As the momma bear of the legend had ended her journey on the shores of the Leelenau Peninsula, so too would I.

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