Friday, September 16, 2011

Asian Carp in the St. Marys River-Let's Hope Not!

These photos were taken at the Masters Walleye Circuit Tournament held in Sault Ste. Marie on August 26-27th this summer.  My husband and I had a great time volunteering at the tournament.

I had a very interesting meeting with Dr. Dan O'Keefe who is pictured in the 2nd photo holding an Asian Carp that is used for display. (It didn't come out of the St. Marys River)

Dan is with the Michigan Sea Grant  SW District Extension Educator.  Dr. O'Keefe explained many things about the Asian carp to me.  To summarize what he said, Asian carp may indeed make their way to the St. Marys River but he predicts they won't thrive because of the cold temperatures.  He thinks if they do reach the St. Marys River, they will never reach the numbers found in the Illinois River.

Dr. O'Keefe produces an interesting newsletter called West Michigan Angler News.  You can link through here to read the newsletter.

The Grand Rapids Press ran an article today about an upcoming first Asian Carp regional coordinating Committee meeting to be held in Michigan.  The meeting will be held Sept. 23 at Saginaw Valley Community College.

"Some Asian carp may grow to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds. The fish could crowd out and deprive other species in the foot chain, critics fear. Silver carp, a variety of Asian carp, are known to jump as much as 10 feet out of the water at the sound of boat engines.

Committee members will detail strategies authorities have taken to monitor and harvest Asian carp, barriers constructed to prevent their movement into the lakes and biological controls, among other priorities."

 The meeting will be webcast at The conference number is: PG4559418 and the passcode is ASIAN CARP. To listen in to the meeting, dial 888-603-8914. For information, log onto

What do you think?  Are you filling to get involved to prevent the ecological disaster of Asian carp coming to our precious waterway?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Last Blooms of Summer

My hydrangea tree in full glory-Sept. 1, 2011

 Every season has its glory.  I can never decide which season I like the best.  Right now I'm thinking that it is fall. There is something comforting about fall.  Maybe it is because I've been a teacher for so many years and fall always reprsenting the known.  We are back in a schedule.  I know what every day is going to bring-at least schedule-wise.  No more lazy days of summer with spur of the moment decisions to take off to go swimming or berry picking. 

But last summer is glory days for my hydrangea tree here at the cabin.  My hydrangea tree was planted by my grandmother decades ago.  We bought the cabin from her in 1999 and I've enjoyed it every summer.   Even though it was broken off at the root by a fallen tree one time.  But that's another story.  The tree returned in full glory the following summer.

We are also having a large bloom of purple loosestrife here on the St. Marys River.  This plant is dangerous and an invasive species.  I spoke with some authorities this summer on how to eliminate it and I will share that in a later post.  But there isn't much we can do about it as land owners.

Purple loosestrife on the St. Marys River

Our cabin invites us to relax and enjoy the views.

Relaxing with the neighbor as summer draws to a close.

We have had some of our busiest shipping days of the season this week.  I only record the boats that I see, so it may be that I am home more this last week getting ready to move south and return to work soon.  But on Tuesday, August 30, 2011,  we had 19 boats pass by the cabin. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Congestion at The Locks


This afternoon the Burns Harbor was sliding by heading up to The Locks.  I noticed that she was proceeding very slowly.  So I checked the computer to see if there was another boat in the Poe Lock.  Actually there were 2 thousand-foot boats at the Locks.  So the Burns Harbor was the 4th footer waiting at one time for passage through the Locks.  Also at The Locks was the Stewart J. Cort, the Walter J. McCarthy and I can't remember the 4th one.  That's what I get for not writing it down.

 In the afternoon, my husband and I were volunteering at the Masters Walleye Circuit Tournament in the Soo.  He helped stage trucks and boats for weigh-in and I took pictures of each team with their fish. 

After the tournament was done, we stopped by Clyde's Hamburgers for a delicious burger and malts.  Actually Tom likes the root beer shakes.  Clydes seem to be the only place he has ever had one.

While we were sitting there, we were treated to see the American Century.  She saluted the crowd on Rotary Island which made the sighting extra fun.

The American Century was formerly the Columbia Star.  Build in 1980, she became the Century in 2006.

The Edgar B. Speer and the James R. Barker, both 1,000 footers, are both in the river system.  The Speer is just north of  Neebish Island and will be here in a few minutes.  The Barker is approaching the Locks out of Superior.  It may be dark before she comes by here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Polar Bear in the St. Marys River

Yes, it is true, dear reader, that a polar bear found its way into the St. Marys River located here in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

But it may not be exactly what you are thinking.  It can be cold and snowy up here but it is not cold and snowy enough to support polar bear life.  We have no glacier ice sheets or no groups of seals on which polar bears like to feed.

But a recent news item out of Ottawa County is southwestern Michigan tells the story. Wood TV in Grand Rapids ran the story today.

In 2000, big game hunter, Rodger DeVries, of Georgetown Township near Grand Rapids, Michigan returned from a successful polar bear hunt in northern Canada.

DeVries apparently knew the laws of the United States would not allow him to bring his prize polar bear into Michigan because he had not been hunting with a US approved hunting guide.  Apparently the US laws are stricter than Canadian laws on this point.  So DeVries had to be creative about getting his game home.

So DeVries and his grandsons brought the bear and skull (no explanation why they were separate) to St. Joseph's Island and transported it across the St. Marys River is his personal boat.  They landed in Raber Bay and took the contraband down state.

DeVries pleaded guilty today to illegally bringing a trophy mount across the US border.  He will be sentenced on Sept. 8.  He can receive up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

"Defense lawyer Terry Tobias described DeVries as an "avid hunter" who has acknowledged his mistake in not getting proper U.S. permission, the Grand Rapids Press reports. He obtained permits from the Canadian government, including an export permit, and complied with Indian and province laws."

I've heard for years that the St. Marys River was used during Prohibition to smuggle alcohol into the US but this is the first time I've heard of a polar bear.

I was out yesterday morning for a run and noticed a US Border Patrol truck driving slowly down Scenic Drive  2 times.  We have a quiet road but maybe there is more going on than I thought!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rock Cut-A Great Boatwatching Site

 We have had another week with guests from out of town.  It is always fun to see them become boat watchers.  When they first arrive, they are surprised to see such big boats right out front of our cabin.  As we begin to explain about the boats-that each one has an interesting name & that they all look different.  They are different colors, carry different cargoes, and are different lengths.  I can begin to see a new 'boatnerd' begin to sprout.  By the time they leave, the are true 'boatnerds'-watching and asking about each ship.

We always take them to other locations to get a closer look at the boats.  Usually that means Clydes Drive-in or the Locks.

 But this week, we headed south from our cabin to the Rock Cut.  The Rock Cut is just south of Barbeau, a small community located at 15 Mile Road and Scenic Drive. 

The Rock Cut is the down bound channel on the east side of Neebish Island.  It was literally cut out of rock.  My grandfather always talked about working on the cut and I believe that was around the 1920's.  I'll have to look into that!

The weather has been picture perfect this past week. The day time temperatures have been moderate and the evenings very cool-in the 50's.  That makes great sleeping weather.  We have been treated to a full moon this past week.  The moon has been rising over Sugar Island around 10 pm in its orange glory. 

These last shot was taken at Lake Superior State University.  I attended the 65th Class Reunion of the Sault High School Class of 1946.  I went with my father.  This is a beautiful spot to catch a view of the International Bridge and the east side of Sault Ste. Marie.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Entertaining Visitors

 We always take our guests to the Locks.  We have been fortunate this summer to watch many boats there.
 The Soo Locks Visitors Center has great displays about the Locks, the Great Lakes and shipping in general.

 Rotary Park is a double bonus because we can get lunch at Clyde's Drive-in and take it to a picnic table and enjoy the boats.

We have been entertaining several groups of guests at our cabin on the St. Marys River this past week.  It is always an easy job because the St. Marys River, the Locks, and the freighters do all the work for us.  We just take them around town and show them the sights.

Last week, my friend said, "There's a big boat."  She was referring to the Canadian Olympic.  Her husband explained to her that the boat was not a 1,000 footer so it wasn't a big one.  She replied, "They're all big ones!"  And she is right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August Brings A Cool Down

I've written about the strike that hit American Steamship Company but I'm happy to report that the two parties found a way to return everyone to work while still working on resolution.  So we're back in business.

Business in August means savoring the last weeks of summer.  For me that means gardening, hosting lots of company and boat watching.

Boat watching has been great this week.  Lots of traffic but no surprises.  Yesterday we saw the Manitoba.  That was the first time I have observed the Manitoba this year.

The goal of my gardening has been to have flower beds that resist weeds.  Every year when we arrive, the weeds have had a head start in our gardens and I spend the first weeks weeding.  So I'm trying several approaches.

My weeding theories:
My sweet pea bed:  I haven't been weeding it very much

One of my sea walls beds:  I put down landscape fabric and covered it with river pebbles

 My hosta bed grows so thick that very few weeds even try to grow.
 A couple of beds must be weeded by traditional methods.

 I'm trying to establish some perennials that will come up in the spring before we arrive at the cabin and choke out the weeds.

Do you notice the Kaye E. Barker in the background?

My husband tried a new method-drive over the flower bed with the truck.  Yes, that was an effective means of weed control.

Any suggestions, dear reader, to help me?  Remember, we usually don't arrive here until the beginning of June and most weeds are choking out my flower beds by then. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Edwin H. Gott Salutes the Calloway

We have been undertaking a huge project at our house of moving a small metal barn to farther back on our property.  It sat right where we want to put a new garage.  We have been talking about this move for 13 years and we (my husband) and our neighbor tackled the job this week.

While on break at noon, we were treated to a nice show with the Edwin H. Gott and the Cason J. Calloway.  They passed in the river.  The Gott sounded one long and 2 short.  The Calloway didn't return the salute which surprised me.  But we enjoyed the meetings of these two ships.

And we finished the move today.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Land of the Midnight Sun

 We have our morning coffee looking out on the river.  This morning we were treated to a visit from 2 pair of sandhill cranes.  They came right up into our yard and seemed to be feasting on the abundance of insects in the grass.  They were very quiet and could have come and gone unnoticed.  In the above picture, you can just see them scooting over to the neighbor's yard after they had finished up at our place.

The next three pictures show the St. Marys River this evening.  They were taken about 9 PM.  I call this area the Land of the Midnight Sun because the days are much longer here than our place near Grand Rapids.  The Soo has about 20 more minutes of daylight in the morning and in the evening because we are closer to the Arctic Circle.   When we first arrive here in June, the first sign of the sun peeking over Sugar Island occurs shortly after 4 AM.  But now the night has lengthened and this morning it was about 5 AM before the gray was breaking over Sugar Island.

Boat traffic has been moderately heavy today.  I''m just watching the Manitowoc heading up and passed the Kaministiqua who was heading down.  Both are a light gray color and they saluted each other with 1 long and 2 short.  They both sail for divisions of Upper Lakes Towing Ltd. 

Other boats sighted today include:

Great Republic                       John D. Leitch       Indiana Harbor
Captain Henry Jackman         Algoway         Stewart J. Cort

Edwin H. Gott    Algosteel       Kaye E. Barker
Burns Harbor      Joyce L. Van Enkevort

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Picture Perfect Day

 Federal Weser-I just got a glance as she headed down the river.
 My boat watching equipment
 Looking north at the St. Marys River

 Looking east at Sugar Island

Our wonderful cabin on the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Saturday, July 30, has proven to be a picture perfect day here on the St. Marys River.  The humidity is low with a dew point in the mid-50's.  There is a breeze coming off the river that has kept the temperature down.  It is in the high 80's but feels great.  Seating in the front yard is so relaxing.  With a cup of iced tea, we are storing warm memories for the cold winter.

We had a moderate day of boat traffic today.  Weekends on the St. Marys River are always quiet.  And it was quiet with commercial traffic as well. Here are the boats I've observed today.

Hon. James L. Oberstar-she was heading down at 4 am and was a beautiful sight all lit up.  I've heard her called J Lo by Cathy from DeTour.  Very funny!
John G. Munson-heading up
Kaye E. Barker-up
Alizzan-up-a small boat possibly a pleasure craft.  With the new AIS, I can see those too
Mesabi Miner-I observed the top of the bridge from 7 Mile Road and Ridge Road-a full two miles from the river.  A pretty sight to see it moving silently through the trees
American Mariner-up
Federal Weser-down

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 28 is busy day on the St. Marys River

Bad news-I was laid low yesterday by some kind of stomach bug.

Good news-I was able to watch boats all day long and into the night.  It was a busy day for freighters.   Here's what I saw with the approximate times they passed our cabin.

Algosar           Up              7 AM
Mesabi Miner       Down     7:15 AM
Lee A. Tregurtha    Down                                    
Victory & James L. Kuper  Down
Canadian Enterprise   Up
Edwin H. Gott             Up
Anglian Lady             Up
Great Republic          Down
Algoway                   Up 
Algoma Discovery    Up
Frontenac      Down       5 PM
Saginaw   Up    5 PM
Steward J. Cort     Up    9 PM
American Century   Down 11 PM
Arthur M. Anderson  Down    4 AM

What a great day for boat watching.  The weather was in the low 80's but very muggy.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to assist on the project for the day which was removing tree tops that had blown over in the freak wind storm from May.  We have removed the 6 trees that were blown down but there were two trees that had broken off at the top and they were balancing precariously across the driveway.  My husband and our neighbor completed the project.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Herbert C. Jackson in the Fog

 When we woke this morning, we were treated to having a boat closer than normal.  The Herbert C. Jackson was anchored in the anchorage area because of the dense fog.  I don't know how long she had been there but we enjoyed a closer look than normal.  One of my friends suggested that I invite the captain in for coffee.  We were drinking our morning coffee and I think that maybe he was too.  So I can say I had coffee with the captain this morning!

When a ship is anchored, they always face into the current.  When the fog had lifted the Jackson had to turn around because they were actually headed downbound.  We were treated to watch them raise the anchor and turn around.  The St. Marys River doesn't appear that wide but there is plenty of room for the maneuvers.

Here's the pictures of the process.

 Now she is underway and heading for her next stop.