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#63181 - 08/12/01 06:02 AM White River, MI to Grand Marais, MN
Jake Offline

Registered: 12/23/98
Posts: 529
Loc: Indiana/ Milwaukee, WI
This a travel log of our trip to Duluth for the Lake Superior Conference put on through the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA). This is the link to the gallery of some of the lights and other things that we saw.

Images of Jakers Trip in a new Gallery

Day 1:

We left Highland in the morning and started driving toward Ludington because we were going to catch the carferry Badger across the lake to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. On the way, we stopped at the light at White River, MI. We went through the museum and climbed the tower. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the view out to the lake was great. This was our second visit to this light.

We kept driving and got to the Ludington area. Since we had a couple hours until we had to be on the Badger (they ask that you be there about and hour before the departure time), we decided to trek back out to Big Sable.

The first time we had gone there, it was overcast and drizzled the whole time, but we still loved it. This time, we walked the beach (we didn't mean to, the lady at the gate put us in a different parking lot than we were in before, and we weren't sure which way to go), but it was still a nice walk, and neat watching the tower gradually get taller over the dunes. We went in, paid the fee to climb the tower, and watched the video before climbing the tower.

It was nice and cool in the building, which was good because it was hot on the beach. We climbed the tower, and the view was breathtaking, even better than the first time because it was nice out, since all you see is the dunes surrounding the light, you get the idea of what it must have been like for keepers stationed here all those years ago when the looked out from the top of the tower.

We climbed back down, grabbed a couple of bottles of water (they have the light on the label, so it's going w/ my collection of stuff like that) for the walk back, and when we got back to the car, we headed for the carferry.

When we got to the dock, we were instructed where to park and got everything out of the car that we thought we would want for the four hour crossing, because once your car is on board, you aren't allowed to go to it. We went to the ticket office, and got everything we had to get.

The ticket office is neat because they have a couple of models of ships, such as one of their most famous carferries: City of Midland 41. It was cut down to a barge called the Pere Marquette 41 a few years ago, but is now up for sale and seems like such a waste IMHO.
ANYWAYS, we boarded, and stood at the stern watching them load the cars and semis (they frequently use the Badger).

There's also a good view at the stern of the Spartan, the Badger's sister ship, the Arthur K. Atkinson, another carferry from the Ann Arbor fleet (Spartan and Badger were from Chessie and later C&O fleet, same with the City of Midland, but she also sailed for Pere Marquette), and finally the Pere Marquette 41. The last time I had seen the 3 ships from the Badger, the Pere Marquette 41 had yet to be cut down.

There are also plans to refurbish the Spartan, rename her Wisconsin Clipper (I have no idea why) and running her between Milwaukee and Muskegon.

Finally, we started to moved, and I met my parents at the bow (they went up there while I stayed to get pics of ships at the stern) and I went over to them, and waited until we got close to the Ludington light, and got some great pics from the bow.

It's really different to be at eye level with the lantern room. Off in the distance, Big Sable could also be seen, but it was a bit harder to see because of the haze. Finally, we were out on the lake, and it was beautiful outside. we stayed out for a little while, and then we went in side for dinner.

After dinner, they started a bingo game, and so we played a bit, but we didn't win anything. So when she took a brake, we got up and went to the small museum about the carferries that they have one board, but we didn't stay there too long because it was very HOT in there!

Then we went to the Badger Boatique which is the gift shop on board with all kinds of Badger and carferry stuff, along with other things that would help to keep you occupied during the crossing. We checked out what movie was playing in the movie theater, but none of us liked it.

By the time it started to get dark, it had also started to get cloudy, so we couldn't see the stars , but it was still neat to be outside on the bow and hearing the water and just peering into the darkness and enjoying the breeze. When we got to Manitowoc four hours after leaving Ludington, it was dark, and the light was on.

It was eye level, just like Ludington, and it was pretty blinding, but it was still neat. We docked, and then they started taking the cars off. There was already a lot of cars for the next crossing, and we finally went down to the car deck and got off. The car deck is really neat, and is a very cavernous area. We then went to our hotel (we had troubles with that, but never mind... ) and we ended our first day.


We drove from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Grand Marais, Minnesota. we took the wrong road at first, so we had to catch a different one in Green Bay and happened to cross the bridge right by the Grassy Island Range Lights.

Our next stop was Superior, Wisconsin, Duluth, Minnesota's Neighbor, and one of the Twin Ports (Duluth, of course, being the other). We stopped to walk around and stretch out by the Meteor, the last surviving whaleback ship in the world. we browsed through the gift shops there, and then got back in and crossed the bridge to the Duluth side (and we saw 6 ships) and headed out of Duluth to Grand Marais.

We drove and drove, taking the North Shore Highway, passing Two Harbors, Split Rock State Park, a couple of ore mining operations, and a few more small towns, and we finally got to Grand Marais. We checked in, and went to a couple of the shops downtown (I think that was it, Grand Marais isn't that big).

We asked the lady at the Harbour Lights dealer what place was good to eat at, and she told us The Birch Terrace, so we went there. It was a nice restaurant in a very historic house. After dinner, we went back to the hotel, and we picked up my tripod and set out for the lighthouse for some evening shots.

I got some great shots of the light with the sunset, moon, and various boats around the small harbor.It is a very unusual breakwater in that it alternates between the concrete and natural flat rock that makes up the shoreline there. And that was Day 2.


We got up and check out of the hotel, and went back to check out the rest of the shops downtown after we grabbed breakfast at a small place called The Bluewater Cafe, and walked out to the light to get some day pics.

We left Grand Marais and started south for Duluth. We drove until we got to Split Rock, a, as the armbands that show that you paid say, SUPERIOR light! Sure, It's probably a biased opinion on both our parts, but whatever.

We spent some time there, going down to the lake, and taking a trail to the other side of the fog signal building and seeing it from a different angle. We of course joined up with a tour and went into the tower and saw the beautiful clamshell lens.

We then went into the fog signal building and saw the exhibits there with another tour. We then went to the gift shop, and went on to Two Harbors.

At Two Harbors, we first went to the land light and looked around at the grounds. The pilothouse is currently closed for renovation, but the tower can now be climbed up to the level just below the lantern.

We then went out to the breakwater light and ended up making some new friends in a couple who are also interested in lighthouses, and he's also very interested in ocean liners. We walked back with them, exchanged addresses, and we then left for Duluth.

We got there when the sun was setting, checked in and went straight for the canal to see the ship schedule (quite possibly the most important piece of equipment besides you camera in Duluth ), and the lights.

The setting sun cast a golden light on everything, and made it very pretty, even though there was a cold wind off the lake. We met one of our friends from GLLKA, Wayne Sapulski at the end of the North Pier. His fiancee Jennifer is one of the organizers for the Lake Superior Conference, and he's a photographer with a new book about Lake Michigan lighthouses, past and present, famous and not so famous.

We then went and had dinner and went back to the hotel to get in touch with Jennifer, and to wait until the 1,000 foot long freighter Walter J. McCarthy Jr. came in. My mom, tired from the day, decided to stay and my dad and I went and saw the ship come in.

Even though it was dark, it was still impressive, and I got a night pic of the famous Aerial Lift Bridge. We checked the schedule at the Army Corps of Engineer's building, and went back to the hotel. And that was the end of Day 3.


Day 4 was overcast and cold, which was what it was going to be like until we were well into Wisconsin going home. We went to the year old (their birthday bash was the next day) Great Lakes Aquarium. It was a neat place, with different exhibits about the Twin Ports, shipping on the Great Lakes, the formation of the lakes, and, of course, the wildlife.

They also had an exhibit about birds there, which was neat, and they actually had live birds that were injured and saved, but couldn't be released into the wild. The Aquarium also has 2 otters, and a massive tank called the Isle Royale tank. Also, at the entrance, there's a large glass wall with various symbols (I think some were the Zodiac) with a thin veil of water going down.

We then started going through the various shops and stopped by the museum ship William A. Irvin to go on a tour. We saw a small sign for a hard hat tour of the ship that took you to places the regular tour didn't. Since we had taken the regular one before, we decided to take that one. It was at 2:00, so we grabbed lunch and hit a couple shops and then went back to the ship. We were the only ones on that particular tour, but it was fun.

Our tour guide, Tal (but his nickname was Ole) was a former sailor and had a great story of just about everything that we saw, and the hour and a half tour took well over two hours, but it was fun. We went everywhere, and he acted out the whole process of leaving Duluth Harbor in the pilothouse in front of us.

He was shouting, dinging bells, and everything, and people from a tour waiting outside were looking in the windows wondering what the heck was going on.

After the tour, we went through some more shops, and then grabbed dinner. that night at the hotel, there was a small get together of the people there for the Lake Superior Conference. We went there, but we were a bit late. When we went to check for a ship, we saw it was just outside the piers,

I sprinted to the room, grabbed my digital, and ran all the way from our hotel to the ship canal. I was sore for the rest of the trip, but hey, it was a ship I really wanted to see! And that's how Day 4 was ended.


Day 5 was the main day for the Lakes Superior Conference. We headed over to the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (the DECC) for a continental breakfast, some speakers, and lunch. We had a few hours before we had to be at the Vista Tour Boat Dock for the dinner cruise, so we explored more shops, and my dad and I left my mom behind at an antique shop with stuff that we had found to see a ship that was leaving (she was still looking) and so my dad and I went and saw the Buckeye leave.

We then went to get something to hold us over until dinner, and then went to the hotel to relax and get ready for the cruise and to drop off our bags.

The dinner cruise was another neat thing. We had our own deck and we saw a few ships, and, of course, the lights on the canal. We met and talked with people, and had a good time.


Day 5 was the final day, we said our good byes, and left over the bridge to Superior. We saw a few more ships, and then started on our way across Wisconsin to Illinois, and then home. We misjudged traffic around Chicago (as usual) and got tied up there for a bit, but we got home, ending a fun trip, even if it was cold and overcast (and we'd packed 2 pairs of long pants! )

[This message has been edited by JChidester (edited 08-12-2001).]

[This message has been edited by JChidester (edited 08-12-2001).]

[This message has been edited by JChidester (edited 08-12-2001).]

[This message has been edited by JChidester (edited 08-12-2001).]

#63182 - 08/12/01 05:31 PM Re: White River, MI to Grand Marais, MN
kscroope Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 03/25/01
Posts: 673
Loc: Manorville, Long Island, New Y...
Grand Marais MN
Lighthouse of the Day - TODAY! - August 12, 2001


#63183 - 08/13/01 03:50 AM Re: White River, MI to Grand Marais, MN
mombo Offline

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 7088
Loc: Phoenix, NY
Wow, some trip there kid! And your pictures are fabulous! (Your Mom did great too!)
Did you find the message I left for you in the bow of the Badger a few, actually quite a few, years back?

#63184 - 08/13/01 04:25 AM Re: White River, MI to Grand Marais, MN
Jake Offline

Registered: 12/23/98
Posts: 529
Loc: Indiana/ Milwaukee, WI
Yeah, Mombo, I think it said "Where's my beer?"
Thanks for the compliments!


#63185 - 08/13/01 05:27 AM Re: White River, MI to Grand Marais, MN
WisKeeper Offline
Super Wacko

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 1290
Loc: Madison, Wisconsin USA
Wonderful account of your trip! Beautiful photos! I was in Duluth last year in August for the opening of the new Great Lakes Aquarium. I loved the Duluth pier and had the opportunity to watch an ore freighter go under the bridge from the pier lighthouse.


[This message has been edited by Suzanne Murphy (edited 08-12-2001).]
Suzanne Murphy
President, Wisconsin Lighthouse District (WILD)


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