Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mother Boat & Baby Boat

Last Thursday around noon, I saw two boats coming down the St. Marys River and it looked to me like a mother boat and her baby. It was actually the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and a tug and barge. But it was a cute sight. I'm sure that the tug didn't feel like her mother was behind her with that 1,000 footer bearing down on her.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cormorant Control

We sat at Mission Point this summer and watched cormorants dive into the deep water of the channel repeatedly. We have read and heard about the problem cormorants have been causing to the fish population around the Great Lakes.

I read an article today Government killing once-endangered cormorant that explains the history of the cormorant population which have gone from near extinction to over population in a short time. The government is now trying to find ways to reduce the numbers of birds but no one is sure if their methods are successful yet. They may only be causing the birds to move to other locations.

I'd like to hear from my readers about cormorant problems and if you are still experiencing them.

We certainly have had problems with Canada geese and sea gulls here on the St. Marys River. I am sure that their presence has added some pollution to our stretch of the river.

Any thoughts on this?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on the River

The Calloway just went up. I took this picture last year.

Tom & I arrived back at the Cabin last night and found things in good order. Our kind neighbors kept the grass cut. That is how things work in our neighborhood. The people next door have very similar lifestyles to us. They are retired with a home here and one down state with lots of travel between. Our neighbor's mother is also in an assisted living home just like Tom's mother and that means we like to see our mother's often too so there is lots of travel downstate and back. Whoever cuts the grass tries to do both yards if possible. It works great for both of us.

Last night was so cool that we finally lit our furnace and I'm glad we did. We had gotten through the entire summer without the furnace with the thought that it was going to warm up soon. We used an electric heater many mornings but we gave up last night with the temperature forecast to be in the low 40's. It actually only got to 47 degrees but I was so happy to have it warm in here this morning.

I woke up around 3 AM and couldn't sleep but I could just enjoy the beauty of the St. Marys River at night and sat and watched the clear night and many blinking lights on the river. The stars were out in full force and there was a boat coming up the river which made a wonderful picture because it was fully lit up.

This morning the Cason J. Calloway just went up stream, sounding a salute out front a bit up from us. I've heard the Calloway do that before so there must be someone living there that the crew knows. I would love to get a boat to sound a salute for me. I'm now friends with several crew members on Facebook and absolutely love the pictures and videos they post. I'm seeing what sights they see from the ship as they travel the Great Lakes.

My small vegetable garden has been sorely neglected so that is the order for the day once the dew burns off and it warms up a bit. There might even be some veggies out there to harvest for a great dinner.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I know that I have been terribly negligent about posting this past week and I felt that I owed my faithful and not so faithful readers an explanation.

Believe me, I've been having fun. I had an opportunity to do something that I had only dreamed of doing. So here it is.

Great Lakes shipping is one of my hobbies but I have several others. For the past year and a half I have been writing a weekly column for a NASCAR web site. I became a NASCAR fan after my oldest daughter moved to Concord, North Carolina for a teaching job. Concord is right in the middle of NASCAR country and visiting there we got hooked on the spectacle of NASCAR. After I retired my teaching, I found an opportunity to write the column and I've been doing it faithfully whether I had something important to say or not. You can read my past columns at Brenda Benedict Columns.

NASCAR recently opened up their definition of the media to include web-sites which had been excluded in the past. This was partly due to the economic downturn for newspapers and also an acknowledgment of the popularity and legitimacy of the internet in news reporting.

The website that I write for is Insider Racing News and it was one of the 29 sites chosen by NASCAR to obtain media rights at races. So my editor suggested that I represent IRN at the race at Michigan International Speedway and I jumped at the chance. So last weekend, I traveled to Brooklyn, Michigan near Jackson and got to live the live of a sports reporter for the weekend. I loved every minute of it. I was rubbing shoulders with reporters from ESPN, USA Today, and Scene Daily. I basically sat back and learned how the system operated. The media is heavily weighed with males and there were not many gray haired grandma's there so I stuck out. I didn't care. I got to see everything close up and then write about it. My idea of a good time.

I attended the driver press conferences. Here, Tony Stewart is answering questions which ranged from technical to really weird and he maintained his composure during all of it. Some of the drivers weren't so diplomatic.

My credentials included a 'hot pass' which means I had full access to the garages. Here Kasey Kahne's engine is being replaced prior to qualifying. It was a quick and smooth process with lots of workers who each had their job and did it efficiently and quickly.
Michael Waltrip's team is making adjustments to his car during practice. I had to be very aware of race cars and my main job was staying out of their way.

The opening ceremonies and especially the flyover were wonderful up close.

Watching the race from the press box may have spoiled me for future races in my living room. I could see the whole track and wasn't depending on the TV to show me one section of the track at a time. The room was air-conditioned with snacks provided. The best part for me was that race data was everywhere and I was constantly aware of what was happening every lap. NASCAR PR kept bringing us updates of what was happening in the race. I loved that. But nothing can be better than a recliner to watch the race from and taking a nap during those laps when the drone of the cars puts me to sleep.
Are any of you NASCAR fans? Let me know who your favorite drivers are. I'd love to hear about it.

This week I've been working as a consultant and literacy coach in Grand Rapids Public Schools which I've been doing on a contract for the past year. My contract expires on Sept. 30 and I don't know what the future will hold. I may be a full-time resident on the St. Mary's River and that can only be good!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spectacular Sunrise

We had a spectacular sunrise over Sugar Island this morning. The sun is coming up later now and so I get to see it more often. In June, the day was breaking between 5 and 5:30 AM and that was just a bit too early for life here at the Cabin. Back home, when I'm working, I'm up and out to run or walk by that time. I have my walking friends and my running buddy and so I get out most days of the week. But the sun is making her appearance around 6 AM now so I am getting to enjoy it.

My bedroom faces the river so the first thing I saw this morning, after my eyes focused, was the sun above the Edwin H Gott as she silently slipped up the St. Marys River which was as smooth as glass. There were a few wisps of fogs sitting on the water. This makes one of those mornings I would like to hang on to all year but with everything in nature, it is fleeting and gone in a few short minutes.

Yesterday, I observed the Burns Harbor before leaving the cabin for a day in the Soo. I saw the Canadian Olympic entering the Locks while going to Pullar Stadium for the annual Chili Cook-off for the United Way. It was a great time and so wonderful to see a community event so well-supported by many Soo citizens. You wouldn't believe the many different kinds of chili in just three categories-hot, mild and white.

I'm off on a new adventure this morning. We're heading home to Caledonia so I can get ready for this weekend. I'll be attending the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway as a reporter. I will be representing the website Insider Racing I've been writing a weekly column for them since February 2008 and I'm really looking forward to this time at the track. I will keep you posted how it goes. I'll also be posting on Facebook under Brenda Hoath Benedict and Twitter under

Bill, can you keep us posted about boat traffic for the next week. I'll also be working for three days while we're home. I'm a literacy coach for Grand Rapids Public Schools. This is a part-time job where I assist classroom teachers as they work to build the reading and writing schools of their students. My work has mainly been in three Hispanic elementary schools which I just love. This next year is still up in the air because I'm working under a grant and every year is different.

One last thought this morning. Yesterday Tom and I saw the movie Julie and Julia. I loved it, of course, because it was about blogging. Tom found it a little slow moving (meaning no car chases or killing) but thought it was ok. Have any of you seen it? I'm going out to get Julia Child's book-Mastering the Art of French Cooking as soon as a Barnes and Noble comes into sight!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Alpena in the Fog

Last Friday morning, one of my Facebook friends, Teresa Parker, from St. Joseph's Island took these wonderful photos of the Alpena as she came up the St. Marys River in the early morning fog. She graciously agreed go let me share them with you.

She took the pictures at Sailors Encampment on St. Joseph's Island. They are very beautiful.

Today was a great boat-watching day after a clunker yesterday. I only saw the Algosoo on Sunday but here is what I spotted today.

Tim S. Dool-anchored for a couple of hours out front but moved on around 5 PM
Liamare-Saltie from Netherlands-first time I've seen in here
Walter J. McCarthy Jr.
Canadian Enterprise

Edgar B. Speer
Adam E. Cornelius

Our temperature almost reached 80 today but it is heading back into the 60's tomorrow. It was a beautiful , calm day on the water. We saw lots of fishing boats and wave runners in spite of the 'Do not touch' order from the Health Dept. because of sewage that was dumped in the river. :(

Trouble in the St. Marys River

Yesterday a 'no contact' order was issued for our part of the St. Marys River. I don't ever remember this happening before and I don't know the source of the problem. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Hot temperatures this week are going to have many people in the viewing
area heading for the beach. But there's one area the Chippewa County
Health Department says people need to stay away from. The lower St.
Mary's River down to Neebish Island is under a "no contact body advisory."
The Health Department issued the advisory early yesterday morning after a
sewage overflow was released into the river. They say people should avoid
body contact with the water until they announce the situation clears up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shipping Down but Not Out wrote an interesting article yesterday on the state of the shipping industry, Shipping Down but not Out. We all know that the shipping industry is hurting like our entire state is suffering. Michigan is continually appearing in news articles because we are taking the brunt of this economic downturn.

The shipping industry is showing some improvement mainly in the shipments of grain. The article states.

But there has been signs of improvement. The Duluth-Superior port shipped 3.5 million tons in May and 3.9 million in June. Grain shipments are up 23 percent from record-setting lows last year. Coal shipments are doing much better than the rest of the Great Lakes, down only seven percent compared to 30 percent overall.

I know from personal experience that our economy is down. I have four grown children. Only one of them lives in Michigan. My oldest daughter is a teacher and had to move to North Carolina for a teaching position. The other two children are in business. One moved to Phoenix mostly for the climate and the progressive economy there (at least it was when she moved there). My youngest lives in Minneapolis where he moved for a job.

Fortunately, my grandchildren are all here in Michigan. You might think with kids in Phoenix, Charlotte, NC, and Minneapolis, Tom and I have great travel destinations. And you are right. We do enjoy visiting all three places.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Following Blogs & the Linda Lou

How many blogs do you follow regularly? I follow many and although I don't read them every day, I do check to see if there is any news I might be interested in. I follow blogs that represent all my interests-Great Lakes Shipping, Michigan tourism, teaching, freelance writing, cupcakes (that is a story in itself), gardening, spiritual writings, NASCAR, blogs of friends and then blogs that are just fun to read. Yooper Yarns is one of the fun blogs.

While reading a blog called The Ship Watcher today, I learned about a ship that I had heard about recently. The Linda Lou is the yacht pictured above and it was recently near Michigan. You can see some more interesting pictures of her on his blog. The name intrigued me because one of my favorite cousins is Linda Lou.

Shipping has been very slow today. Early this morning while drinking my first cup of coffee, Indiana Harbor went up. The Grand Mariner went up around 10 am and down again about 5 pm. It must have been a short stop in the Soo. The Dongeborg, one of the Wagenborg salties, went up this afternoon. It was my first sighting of the boat.

Let me know if you have any blogs to recommend. I'm always up for another good read.

Enjoying Boat Watching

I was sent a direct tweet from Michael Purvis, a reporter for the Sault Star, and someone I follow on Twitter. He alerted me to an article in a Fort Wayne newspaper/website titled "Boatnerd reveals childhood obession." You might enjoy reading the reporter, Jeff Jones, reactions to a recent visit to the Soo Locks. Jones stated, " There’s something so indescribably tranquil about sitting beside the water, listening to the waves crash against the beach, the cries of seagulls and the quacking of ducks."

It is always fun to see how people enjoy the boats and their wonder and excitement at seeing them for the first time. When we introduce visitors to our cabin to the boats, it usually takes about a day and a half and they are hooked. They are out watching for what is coming up the river and I often see them looking in Know Your Ships for more information on the sighting.

Jeff Jones says that

"Many years ago, before I was 10, my grandparents had a summer cottage at DeTour Village, next to Lake Huron, where the big freighters would pass either to or from the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

While the boats were at a great distance from the cottage, a telescope enabled the grandchildren to zoom in and read each ship’s name. At night, reading the names was impossible, but we could still see ship lights in the darkness."

Many of us started our boat nerd obsession at some place along the river where we watched ships as a child. For many of us it was at our grandparent's cabin. I loved having my grandchildren here last week because I hope to pass on this 'obsession' to them.

I'd like to hear your stories about where your love of boats or the St. Marys River or just the Upper Peninsula began. Please share them with us.

The boat traffic has been light but rather steady. The Clelia II is making her trips right on schedule. Last night, a full moon rose over the river and gave us a spectacular show. I always look forward to the full moons during the summer. The show this year was perfect.

I saw the Lee A. Tregurtha in the Locks last night. Because of the technology of my new phone, I snapped a picture and sent it to Facebook. Are you on Facebook? There are lots of boat watchers and people who are on the boats. The sailors are sharing lots of great pictures from their travels that I am loving. If you need any assistance navigating Facebook, just send me an email at

Thanks, Brenda

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Arts Festival

Tomorrow, Aug. 3rd is the 37th Annual Sault Summer Arts Festival held on Portage Ave. on the grounds of the former Federal Building in the Sault. There are many quality artists from around the Eastern Upper Peninsula and also from down state.

There is also live music during the day. We always like to sit and enjoy the variety of music styles throughout the day.

Our first purchase is always the fresh roasted almonds. There a hit in our family. These pictures were taken at last year's Arts Festival. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Do the Days Go?

I had to turn the calendar this morning to August. July is a blur of activities, work and yes, lots of fun. I've enjoying getting to know a new group of 'friends' on Facebook. The boat watching community are some very humorous people and their posts on Facebook are always good for a laugh.

This above photo was taken by my 5 year old granddaughter. Things look different from that vantage point.
Stopped by Clyde's for dinner and boatwatching.

The St. Marys River has kept the kids busy this week. Lots of memories are being made here. They never caught any fish but they did see several jumping which has kept them motivated to stand out in that cold water.

Today's a rainy day so we're in the cabin making cupcakes.
Today there have been several boats including the Gott, Quebecois, Canadian Progress, and the Burns Harbor is just coming into view. I think I just saw a peak of the sun too!