The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bay City!!

Bay City, Michigan, was at the 302-mile mark of this part of my journey. Bay City is sliced in two by Saginaw River as it makes its way to Saginaw Bay. The bay forms the separation between Michigan's thumb and the rest of the "mitten."

I stayed at the Historic Webster House B&B in Bay City.

And, yes, I booked a room with a jacuzzi! After hiking 302 miles, it seemed to be the logical move.

My family gathered me and my backpack and boots and swept me away to a lunch filled with laughter and catching up! Thanks to Leslie, my Mom, and Lucas (in last photo) for making the trip to Bay City to bring me home. I will take most of May off to write about this portion of my adventure and to plan the next part!

Location:Bay City, MI

Friday, April 27, 2012

Driven by Erma!

I hiked 59 miles in three days to arrive in the town of Sebewaing.

Bay City -- the ending point for the first part of my adventure -- is over 30 miles away from Sebewaing and there was nowhere to stay in between.

So, I asked the owner of Rummel's Tree Haven B&B if she would drive me to a park on Saginaw Bay the final two days of this part of my hike.

The first day I would hike back to Sebewaing, the final day I'd hike to Bay City.

So, Erma (in first photo ) graciously chauffeured me, allowing me to cover the final stretch to Bay City, Michigan.

Thank you, Erma!

The final photo here is of the century-old maple tree that grows through the porch roof at Tree Haven.
Location:Sebewaing, MI

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lighthouses on the First Part of My Hike

1. Marblehead, OH
2. Detroit River, MI
3. Marine City, MI
4. White Rock, MI (private residence)
5. Pointe Aux Barques, MI
6. Port Austin, MI
7. Fort Gratiot, Port Huron, MI

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lumber in the Thumb

It's hard to imagine the state of Michigan as it was in the mid-1800s. Back then the state was mostly filled with massive trees. These forests were so dense that the waterways were the preferred way to move around the region.

Now, most of those trees are gone, either logged off or destroyed (in the thumb of Michigan) in two massive fires in the late 1800s.

One of the B&Bs that I stayed at (Stafford House) was built by W.R. Stafford in 1886. Stafford founded the town of Port Hope and made his fortune as a lumber baron.

The house has been lovingly maintained by Greg &Kathy Gephart (in last photo). They are looking to retire soon, so the inn is currently on the market.

Location:Port Hope, MI

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Safe Harbor

In the mid 1800s there were thousands of schooners transported goods -- lumber, copper, iron ore and more -- on the Great Lakes. These ships had no natural harbor on the Lake Huron portion of Michigan's thumb to take refuge. If a storm struck, these vessels couldn't navigate into Saginaw Bay and would have to return 80 miles to the safety of the St. Clair River.

After many ships were lost navigating this route, the Army Corps of Engineers chose Harbor Beach as the place to construct a safe harbor.

It took 11 years to build a breakwall enclosing approximately three square miles. When it was constructed, it was the largest manmade harbor in the world.

I enjoyed my stay in Harbor Beach and even had a day off to learn all about the area.

I stayed at the State Street Inn, a comfortable B&B in an old farmhouse just a few blocks from the center of town run by Bill and Janice Duerr.

Breakfast began with my favorite: fruit/yogurt/granola parfait.

And Janice (with me in last photo) even walked with me most of the way to Port Hope!

Lake Huron Shipwreck

I came across this odd pattern in the sand south of Port Sanilac.

I stopped, because I had seen this before...

My boot in one shot gives some scale to this piece of ship that washed up onto the Lake Huron shore.

The protrusions are iron spikes that once held a ship together. The wooden boards are covered with a layer of sand.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seawall after Seawall

I usually clip along at 3 miles per hour when hiking on a roadside or flat beach. Along many stretches of Lake Huron, however, there have been these long seawalls perpendicular to the shoreline making for a more, well, vigorous hike and slowing my pace by half.

Sometimes I wade around the water end, or I might climb the mounded sand at the inland end.

There are times when I have had to climb up and over the walls.

Michigan law states that the zone by the water where nothing grows is a public corridor that anyone can walk (unless unsafe, like near power plants). These seawalls attempt to keep the shore from being swept away by the lake, but they turn a stroll on the beach into an obstacle course.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Adventure Landed Me at the Adventure Inn B&B!

Okay...I had a long, rainy, and hot hike the day I arrived at this beautiful B&B on the shores of Lake Huron north of Port Huron. I looked pretty roughed up, but the owners (Nicholas and Sandy) swept me into their home and installed me in the "Toy Room."

This modern house is filled with up-to-the-moment touches like WiFi, large flatscreen televisions, and generous common areas. Oh ya, and it's right on the beach!

The first photo is the view from the couch in this lovely room! Nothing but LAKE HURON as far as the eye can see.

The Toy Room is filled with antique toys (no clowns, thank goodness...they freak me out) including antique slot machines and baskets of coins and tokens to play them.

The room is flooded with light from the windows and three skylights.

There are two rooms in the B&B and the owners have also renovated the adjacent cottage for larger groups (sleeps 6) for longer stays.

The second-to-last photo is of my favorite breakfast table looking out on Lake Huron set with a gorgeous fruit and yogurt and granola parfait. Nicholas also baked scones with dried Michigan cherries.

The last photo is of The Adventure Inn from the beach.

Check out the website for The Adventure Inn!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vantage Point

Vantage Point is located in the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron where the Black River merges with the St. Clair River.

Three volunteers (Marlene, Ellen, and Mary in photo) sat down with me to tell me all about this special place.

With floor-to-ceiling windows facing the river, people gather here to hang out, play cards, visit over lunch or a donut, and (of course) watch the freighters pass by. Each passing boat is announced over a speaker system at the center. Volunteers broadcast information about each freighter including what they are hauling and where they are taking it.

There is no fee to go to Vantage Point and there is free access to WiFi for visitors. People come from all over the nation and world. "I've personally spoken with people from England, Scotland, Korea, Japan, and New Zealand," Marlene told me. "Last year we had 300,000 people pass through the center."

The center serves as a gathering place and offers events like a farmer's market and flower market in the warmer months. They also have activities for kids at times like teaching them how to fish.

Learn more at The Great Lakes Maritime Center's website
Location:Port Huron, MI

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sage House B&B

I stayed at the Sage House B&B in Port Huron. Since I had hiked 145 miles upon reaching the front porch, I was delighted when Joan (the owner and master baker) informed me that she had upgraded me to a room with a jacuzzi tub. Yay!

This home was built in the late 1800s and has a history tied to the Great Lakes. One owner, Albert Sage, was a conductor on the Grand Trunk Railroad. There is a tunnel underneath the St. Clair River here that allows trains to go between Port Huron and Sarnia (Ontario).

A later owner of the house was the retired Commodore of the entire fleet of lake freighters for the Great Lakes Steel Company!

From the comfortable front porch, you can watch the freighters moving up and down the river.

The house has the largest window seat I've ever seen. "I almost bought the house just for that window seat," Joan told me.

Breakfast began with a delicious baked apple with spiced ricotta and was followed by a perfect vegetable frittata. Yum!
Location:Port Huron, MI