Favourite Things, Historical Places, Unexpected Treats, Climbing Places, Turtle Boats and Asian Carp

Favourite things

Roger loves the ginger ice-cream, the clarity of Lake Huron and upper Lake Michigan (thanks to the zebra mussels), and the reptiles.

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This is a water snake right beside a bike trail from Franfort to Beulah. We found 4 of these beauties together sunning (and, Roger thought, waiting for baby turtles to hatch in the adjacent nests). On our way back from Beulah, they were still there.

I am loving the biking, the swimming in the clean cold water of the Canadian Shield (am I the only one who swims in cold water),  the gardens, the sunsets, the history of the areas we visit,  and the wild and wonderful things we’ve discovered.

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Chicago’s bike paths run for miles on each side of the Shipping and Sanitary Canal that connects Lake Michigan with the Illinois River. We biked 16 miles to find a pair of Birkenstocks for Roger. His old ones were 15 years old and it was time to replace them. I am so happy!

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Interesting use of striped coleus.

Sunset over the Illinois River.

Historical people and places

We’re seeing lots of plaques about Lincoln in town parks and in parks along the Illinois River. They describe locations where he tried cases, landed by canoe after the Black Hawk war, debated against Douglas, his adversary for the Presidential election, or slept. There was even a place where he was reprimanded by the judge for not preparing properly for a case. This makes him more human to me.

Even earlier, the British and French were vying for control of eastern Michigan to control the fur trade and there are many French names and of course Native American names for places.

A name that seems to come up daily is Marquette, after Pere Marquette who travelled with explorers in the area. Train cars, monuments, tugs, and streets all carry his name. And in all the small communities the streets and monuments are named for war heroes and presidents. You start to expect a Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Lafayette St. etc.

At the North East corner of Lake Michigan where you leave the North Channel on Lake Huron, you come to an island called Mackinac Island. Mackinac Fort changed hands a few times between the British and the Americans. Incidentily, did you know that the Americans advertise that they won the war of 1812?

We stayed here at a marina just below Fort Mackinac and we saw a lot of tourists enjoying the historic Victorian Inns, driving horses and carriages, bicycling and eating the famous Mackinac Island ice cream and fudge.

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Mackinac Island pronounced Mackinaw had a fort painted white. We could see it from our boat in the harbour. Regularly they shot off canons and played reveille. We toured it and there were park staff dressed as soldiers who gave us talks and demonstrated firing their rifles.

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Long ago Mackinac Island residents decided they wouldn’t allow horseless carriages (motorized vehicles), so the whole island still relys on horses. Dray horses move food stuffs, and luggage to and from the hotels and all the shops. The grocery store is the longest continuously running store in Michigan. We saw the drays going by with boxes marked “keep frozen.” They had a blanket on top of them. This carriage was a “taxi” and tourists could also rent horses and carriages. The “traffic” was horrendous for us with all the walkers, bicyclists and horses and wagons. You had to avoid the warm, yellow puddles (no fenders) and the steaming mounds on the roads.

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The first churches were made of tree bark and were nice and cool inside. This one is situated just below the fort.


Here is an early morning shot before the ferry loads of tourists arrived. When there are no vehicles, the streets are lined with bicycles. Tandem bikes, singles, children’s’ bikes etc. and everyone has them parked close together. If one bike bumps against another, while the owner is trying to extricate it, there is a domino effect and they all fall down. The main street was for tourists and had a multitude of fudge and ice cream and t-shirt shops.

Unexpected treats!

In Charlevoix, which is part way down Lake Michigan, we learned about Earl Young. He had fascinating ideas about architecture. We rode our bikes around town to see the homes he designed, which were all different.

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This one is called the “Half House.” The flat wall on the left makes the house look like it was cut in half.

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Remember the Flintstones? There was a realtor who had a year of Architectural training who lived in Charlevois and he liked rocks and boulders. His signature roof line was curved, sometimes with wings (he liked gulls). This home backs onto Lake Michgan and it was my favourite. Note the “winged” roofline, the stacked fence stones and the curves in the fence-line.


Here is another of the stone houses. This one is on Thistledown Avenue. It’s had some modifications but the towers remain.

Climbing Places 

The east side of Lake Michigan is one long beach with or without sand dunes. At Sleeping Bear Park, we anchored the boat offshore, took the dingy to shore, and climbed the dunes.


Here is our Cabin Boy atop the sand dune at Sleeping Bear State Park. It’s over 400 feet straight up from Lake Michigan. You know, one step up and four steps back. It was much harder than I thought. Luckily Roger set the tracks for me, and I made it, so I could take this picture. See the small white dot beside Roger’s left leg? That’s our boat, the TA TA. It looks a long way off doesn’t it? It was so much fun running down. One step and slide about 10 feet. Just remember to lean back!

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Here’s another place we climbed up to above the Covered Portage Cove anchorage. We saw lots of bear sign, and ate a lot of blueberries, and the climb was worth it for the view.


Here’s Roger relaxing after the climb to the top! The snowmobilers come here in the winter, hence, the fantastic deck with furniture and fire pit. I missed my garden, so I dead-headed the petunias in the pots.

 Turtle boats 

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At Leland half way down Lake Michigan we came to “Fish Town,” a working harbour. The fishermen go out in all weathers. To do this they have special “turtle boats,” and they don’t have to worry about snow etc.

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Here is a turtle boat named the Janice Sue. It is totally enclosed. the opening at the side allows the nets to be set and brought back up by cam. The wood stove keeps everyone warm and the tiny raised windows at the back allows the skipper to see where he’s going.

Asian Carp

We met a new fish called the Asian Carp.

We saw these babies at the Chicago Aquarium and learned that there are four species. The carp at the aquarium were easily 20 – 30 pounds! Take a look at its mouth and eye location. The eye is situated much lower than the mouth and makes it look like it’s upside down.

The carp population has exploded south of Lake Michigan. We couldn’t believe the biomass when the electro-shockers arrived.

The infamous Asian Carp.

The infamous Asian Carp. This fish was trying to commit suicide by jumping out of the water and landing on the dock. Note the slime from all the jumping. Their lateral lines are sensitive. Just walking by may cause one to leap out of the water onto the dock in front or behind you. This causes me to shriek.

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Here are the electro-shockers we met at the confluence of the Fox and Illinois Rivers. Note the “wings” that are lowered and used to scoop up the shocked carp.

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This picture gives you an idea of the density of the Asian Carp.

To prevent the movement of Asian Carp into Lake Michigan they have employed an Electric Fish Barrier on the canal we transited. No need to specify “No Swimming!”

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 What really surprised us was the General Lee charter flatboat which came by our dock. It was  filled with gentlemen listening to AC/DC, drinking alcoholic beverages and shooting carp with bows and arrows. We are in the south now!


3 thoughts on “Favourite Things, Historical Places, Unexpected Treats, Climbing Places, Turtle Boats and Asian Carp

  1. As usual, so interesting and love seeing all your pics. Just finished our last camping trip for the season with a few friends (Howard Lake) and also Lillooet for 4 sockeye. Hunting time ahead soon…..weather is beautifully warm (around 21 I believe). I look forward to reading your next posts, Mary…..sounds like it’s a wonderful trip!! Hugs!!

  2. Hi you two!
    Happy Thanksgiving! Just sitting here with a cup of tea and wondering how you two are doing. All is well at our end..both boys home for Thanksgiving, David left this morning and Christopher leaving after a dinner of leftovers tonight. All the work is done and as I said I’ve got my feet up and we’ll be eating leftovers for (probably) the rest of the week.
    I wanna know where you are and how things are going? I so enjoy your travel logs. And you’re in the south….!
    Hugs and Love…Safe travels. And Mary, please send me your email address..
    Talk soon.
    Joanie and Brian

    • Hi Joanie,
      So glad your boys were home. How nice to have them close by! I am missing our children but all are coming at some point in the trip.
      We are in Alabama now and my email is m.packham@hotmail.com.
      We are missing our Thanksgiving here but are at a Rendevous or conference for Loopers.
      Andrew is visiting us this week for a few days!!
      Mary and Roger

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