Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beautiful Boat Watching This Weekend

 Although boat traffic has been rather slow this weekend, we have been treated to some beautiful boats to enjoy.  The United States Coast Guard Mackinaw, an ice breaker, went up the St. Marys River on Friday at 10 AM.  But then I saw the Mackinaw on Saturday, August 17, while visiting Mission Hill Overlook.

 We also saw the Lake Guardian, a research vessel of the Environmental Protection Agency as she headed out to Whitefish Bay.

Saturday evening we saw a beautiful sunset while visiting my sister at Birch Point.  It was a stunning evening. 

This afternoon we saw the Thunder Bay-a new ship for the Canada Steamship Lines.  I believe she has a load of coal out of Duluth.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Moon Rise Over Sugar Island

The July full moon is a favorite time here at the cabin near Sault Ste. Marie.  Last night, (7-23-13) was absolutely beautiful.  Here are a few pictures that show some of what we saw last night.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Severe Weather Hits the St. Marys River

The weather this week has been hot and the humidity has increased every day. As a cold front approached yesterday, so did some severe weather.  This isn't typical for this area.

We had a Severe Thunderstorm Warning Thursday night.  These pictures show the storm rolling down the St. Marys River.  

There were power outages across Chippewa County but I haven't heard of any additional damage  yet.

 This is the Roger Blough passing just before the heavy weather hit. 

The heaviest weather hit right after I took this picture.

We had heavy rain, wind and some thunder and lightning for several hours during the evening.  But as I sit here this morning,  the air has definitely cooled down.  We are in for some more typical UP weather for the weekend with highs predicted around 70 degrees tomorrow.

This picture from last night's storm has been posted on Facebook by several people.  The photo was taken by Laura Brown according to

This speaks to a fear that all Yoopers have when we cross the Mackinac Bridge.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Reunions-More than Just Fun!

Many people make their way back to their hometown of Sault Ste. Marie in the summer time.  Class reunions, family reunions or just reconnecting with family and friends are common every weekend in our area.  Turns out these reunions may be good for our health as well.  More about that later.

Sault Area High School Class of 1968 recently celebrated their 45th Class Reunion.  That was my class.

There were 218 students in the class of 1968.  We graduated June 6, 1968 in Pullar Stadium-the first 
class not to walk across the stage of Richie Auditorium in the old high school on Spruce Street.  Graduation was moved to the Pullar Stadium that year because of the large size of our class.  

The spring of ’68 was a tremulous time.  Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in April.  We marched into the Pullar that June night under the shadow of the death of Robert Kennedy.  Kennedy had been gunned down the day before but succumbed to his injuries that next day in June.

After that day in 1968, our class spread out across the country.  Maybe that’s why reunions have been so important to a large number of my classmates.  Several classmates have worked faithfully to ensure that we have had reunions every five years since 1968.

At our reunion the weekend of June 28 – 29, I surveyed the classmates that we have contact with.  About 117 still live in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.  Another 7 live in other parts of the UP.  The Lower Peninsula is home to 34 classmates.  Ten classmates are living in Ontario. The remaining students are spread across 28 different states from Alaska to Florida. 

The class of 1968  had to go far and wide to make their way in this world.   But a large number of them still come back to the Soo every five years to reconnect with those from their school days.
What is the draw and pull that brings so many people back to town?

It turns out nostalgia is a universal emotion and even more than that, it is good for you physically and emotionally.  So all this reconnecting with your past is actually beneficial to your health.

Researchers at the University of Southampton, England have found that nostalgia’s benefits are many.  Nostalgia can counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety.   It can make you more generous and tolerant to strangers.  

According to the New York Times recent article What is Nostalgia Good For?,  nostalgia can make “couples feel closer and look happier when they are sharing nostalgic memories.  On cold days, or in cold rooms, people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer.”

I don’t think any members of the Sault High Class of 1968 were thinking about research when they attended the reunion.   

                             Here are classmates from the Soo, lower Michigan, Utah and Minnesota

                                                    Loren & Marilyn from Texas

                              Canada, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all represented here

These 1968 alum are enjoying reconnecting & sharing stories

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thank You to Lake Superior

We woke during the night to find the curtains blowing almost out straight and rain coming in.  We quickly got up to close all the windows in the cabin.  A new weather system had moved in.  Thank you Lake Superior for providing the cool air after several days of heat and humidity.

 In the morning we were greeted by mayflies.  Obviously a hatch had occurred overnight and the sides of our cabin, car and any other flat surface was covered with these insects.

The seagulls had also noticed the mayflies and a large flock was congregating out front to eat the buffet.  Either that or they were making plans for the day by deciding whether to go to Clydes or West Pier for a day's feasting.

 Most of the day was damp, windy and cold.  We stopped at Karl's Cuisine and had a grilled three cheese sandwich and tomato basil soup-perfect food for a fall-feeling day.

We arrived home just as the sun was peeking out and before long the thick cloud cover had blown away and the nicest part of the day arrived.  It is now 65 degrees with an almost cloudless sky.

There was a special treat on the river this afternoon.  Paul R. Tregurtha and Hon. James L. Oberstar passed out front.  They each sounded a salute.  I never tire of witnessing this.

We also saw the Edwin H. Gott at the Locks while eating at Karl's.  I keep a log of the boats I see and I've done that for years.  Actually it is a hobby I started as a youngster.  I wish I had kept those logs books from the 50's, but I didn't.  I know it is slightly obsessive but it is something I enjoy.  If you ever have questions about what's happening in the lower St. Mary's River, be sure to ask.  I would be glad to share whatever information I have.

Happy boat watching
Sault Boat Watcher

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Every Town Erases Its History"

"Every town erases its history".  Professor James Moody of  Lake Superior State University explained why it is important to document our history before it disappears.

Moody was speaking at the Central United Methodist Church in downtown Sault Ste. Marie as part of the Celebrate with the Historic Churches program held every Monday during July and August.

I have always enjoyed these programs for the peek inside our beautiful churches as well the as the informative programs and concerts.

Professor Moody summarized the past 400 years in a program interspersed with personal accounts of citizens from the past.

The Soo has had a long history with the military starting with American troops that came here during the War of 1812 to burn the house of John Johnston for his support of the British.

There have been three Fort Brady forts starting with a wooden palisade fort.  The third location was on the hill where Lake Superior State University is located.

During the Cold War, Kincheloe Air Force Base housed atomic bombs-possibility 20 of them.  They were loaded on the B-52's and used to maintain the  stand-off with the Russians.

During my high school years I worked as a waitress at Woolworth's in the Soo.  I have no pictures of the store or the lunch counter (although it is firmly in my mind).  Now the store is closed and there is no Woolworths in the Soo.  Professor Moody is right. 

This morning there was a beautiful sunrise here on the St. Marys River.  This sight only lasts a few minutes.  I had to get out there during those few minutes to get the picture.

It is the same with our history.  It is always changing, although slower than a sunrise, but we need to document  to help us remember.  We don't know what will be important to remember 40 years from now.  I did not know that a Woolworth's lunch counter would be important to our country's civil rights struggle.  I would love to be able to show my grandchildren pictures of where I worked and explain that another Woolworths made a difference to our country.

Enjoy your today but save it for tomorrow.

Sault Boat Watcher

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Algorail-Whatever & Wherever

Sometimes boats glide silently by our cabin.  We wouldn't even know they are there.  Other times, we hear them approaching from far off.  The chug of the engine rings loud especially during the middle of the night if I happen to be up.

I've learned that it is not the size of the boat that causes the noise but rather the type and age of the engine.

The Algorail just passed on her way up to the Soo.  The Algorail definitely is in the category of a noise maker.

I read her history on  She was built in 1968 and at 640' long, she is certainly not one of the largest ships.  But this gives her an advantage.  She can maneuver into smaller ports to drop her load of stone, ore, salt, sand, coal or whatever she is carrying.

The Algorail has diesel engines that alert us to her comings and goings.

I would think a good motto for the Algorail would be -Whatever & Wherever.  That's the type of person I would like to be.  To be of service whenever and wherever I'm needed.

Algoma Montrealis just passed down bound.  Although this boat is older and longer than the Algorail, she glided silently by. However, her engines are steam-turbines.  What a difference it makes.

Algoma Montrealis

Another visitor this morning are sun fish that come into the shallow areas to play.  At least that's what we always said about this fish when I was young.  Every year for several weeks during July, the water is churned by this schools of large fish.  As I youngster I was always trying to catch them but never had any success.  Now I can 'catch' them with the camera.

Sun fish in the shallow water

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Boat Watching Weekend

Monday and Tuesday have been good days for boat watching on the St. Marys River.  Early this morning I was able to enjoy the Edgar B. Speer make her way quietly up the river while enjoying a beautiful sunrise.  The geese and seagulls are always busy at an early morning hour.

You can see the gulls getting stirred up on the small islands found in the St. Marys River.  These 'islands' were formed when soil that was dredged from the shipping channel in the 1960's was dumped here.  When the water level was high, they were underwater.  But now they are visible and have become a nesting area for gulls.  This is a very noisy and smelly addition to the river during the early summer days.

 Yesterday boats included the Stewart J. Cort and the Alpena.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

St. Marys River on NBC Nightly News

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams did a piece on the low water levels of the Great Lakes called Deep Impact on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. 

They interviewed Mark Barker of Interlake Steamship Company and had some footage of the Mesabi Miner.

The piece also mentioned the St. Marys River and how the water levels in the river control the amount of cargo a greighter can carry.

Interesting and worth listening to.

This photo shows the low water level of the St. Marys River.  The green grass was river bottom a few years back.  Now we mow it to keep it from filling in with scrub vegetation.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Roger Blough

Roger Blough 6-15-2013

Roger Blough showing through the fog on June 11, 2013
Both of the above pictures are of the same boat-the Roger Blough.  Both pictures were taken last week and they show the big changes we have been experiencing in our weather here on the St. Marys River.

 Three times in the past week the river has been shut down to shipping because of fog.  I was able to take the photo where just the front and the rear  of the Blough are showing.  When the river system is closed, boats must anchor and wait for the fog to lift.

The other picture was taken Saturday, June 15, 2013, as the Blough was heading up the river on a perfectly calm day. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Quiet Day for June 13, 2013

Mesabi Miner-1,000 footer

 Burns Harbor and American Spirit salute while passing
As always, our Canada geese enjoy boat watching!
My day started around 5:30 am.  The first thing in my morning routine is to look out at the river for boats and geese.  If there are geese, I make sure they aren't coming close to our yard.  They do come into our yard frequently.  I don't see them but I see evidence that they have been there.

Today there were no geese but the St. Clair was moving silently up the river.  Some boats are very noisy and I can hear their engines chugging for a while.  But the St. Clair was just gliding by as the sun came peeking up over Sugar Island.  It was a peaceful way to start my day.

My next step is then to start the coffee maker which I set up the night before.  I read today that research is showing that 1 - 3 cups of coffee daily will help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.  I certainly am doing my part for my future mental health.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NY Times Writes About Great Lakes Water Levels

Philip R. Clarke
 The St. Marys River system closed at 1 am this morning because of fog and remained closed for most of the morning.  As a result, we had a steady parade of boats all afternoon.

American Century

This shows the variety of boats and it looks like the evening is going to continue to be busy.

The NY Times ran an article today detailing the difficulties for shipping in the Great Lakes because of the low water levels, Great Lakes Shipping Suffers.  The article talks about the Dorothy Anne and Pathfinder but tells how low water levels affect all shipping.

The following quote summarizes the article.  "
"The combination of low water and infrequent dredging is annoying to recreational boaters, but the biggest impact is economic: shippers, carriers and the industries that rely on the bulk materials like limestone, iron ore, coal and salt are hugely dependent on lake travel.
Lakers can move products at prices that beat rail or road by as much as $20 per ton of cargo, using much less fuel. Given those advantages and an improving economy, about 30 ships are being built this year to run cargo on the Great Lakes, according to Craig H. Middlebrook, the deputy administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation." 

What do you think the answer to the low water level problem in the Great Lakes?  As I sit here tonight watching the calm river flow by and listening to the quiet peace of a summer evening, there don't appear to be any problems.  But many of the problems are just under the surface of the water.  The low levels create havoc for shipping but what about the invasive species that have invaded our water ways