Day 12 – Everything Superior

We left Thunder Bay, Ontario (and the Eastern Time Zone) by crossing the Pigeon River back into the USA. It was so thick with morning fog we could hardly see the road ahead of us. We needed that great reserve of faith to believe there was a lake out there somewhere. We were closely following the shoreline of Lake Superior, but nothing was visible!

By 8:30 we were back in the Central Time Zone and were just in time for the doors of Grand Portage Visitor Center to open. It’s a lovely spot situated on Lake Superior that tells the story of the French traders and voyageurs working with the Ojibway Indians to find an overland passage for portage of their goods. They needed to carry materials overland to avoid the Pigeon River’s rapids. There was a very informative museum and film detailing the history of the cooperation between the trappers and the Native Americans. ¬†Of course, beaver pelt was the commodity that was in great demand. In 1793, over a period of one year, they shipped 180,000 beaver pelts across the grand portage to Lake Superior and points East, all the way to Europe and beyond. Some even made it as far as Russia.We walked down into the fort of Grand Portage that has been recreated on the exact spot. Electing not to stay for the ranger led tour, we saw what interested us and moved on.

Once again, moving south along the shoreline of Lake Superior, we marveled when about noon the lake revealed itself. We stopped at a Minnesota State Park for comfort and coffee and took a little hike. It was situated on a cliff right at the lake’s edge. Stunningly beautiful . . . what we could see of it. The fog was still lifting.

Eventually we reached Duluth and turned east when the lake allowed and drove into the city of Superior in Wisconsin. The Northern Lakes Visitor Center for the Apostle Islands was our destination. These 22 islands in Lake Superior are a National Park and only accessible by boat. We didn’t allow for the time to go out exploring by boat, but we did learn all about the history and ecology of the region. It looks like another place to plan for a return trip when we can stay longer and fully explore the entire area.

One of the attractions in the museum was a display of tapestries made by an Ojibway woman who wove them on her loom. She combined ancient technique with current technology and computer assisted images, but the results were like nothing I had ever seen. Quite remarkable – and beautiful.

As we made our way to the car after our visit, we realized we were hot! During our travels from Thunder Bay at 7:45 a.m. to Ashland, Michigan at 5:15 p.m. the temperature had gone from 42 degrees to 78 and from dense fog to scattered clouds and showers. That’s quite a difference in one day’s travels. No wonder we felt hot!

Our stomachs told us it was time to stop for fuel, so we made a swing through the main street of Ashland and settled on cheap and quick – pizza. It was nothing great; it wan’t bad; and it filled us satisfactorily. While we ate, a huge cloud burst emptied the skies and we thought we would get drenched going back out to the car. However, by the time we were finished, the rain had stopped and the clouds had parted so we could see tiny streaks of pink across the horizon over the lake.

One more jaunt of about 45 miles before we could rest for the night. We finished our fourth hour of “Philosophize This” for today just in time as we crossed over into Michigan State and found our motel in Ironwood.

It was a full day; filled with information; interesting facts; stunning views; intricate weavings; and philosophical discussions. What more could we ask for? It was Superior in every way.