This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Alaska - Glacier Bay National Park


Alaska is far from the normal and alternative routes explored on the Great Loop.  A chance to experience the magnificent beauty of a part of Southeast Alaska was made possible through an invite from some cruising friends, Jim and Robin Roberts, who live in Petersburg, AK, and cruise on their 49 DeFever pilothouse, Adventures.  An opportunity that was not to be missed.

It was an amazing voyage.  More description will be added later.  For now, with limited time as Last Dance is prepared for a summer cruise to Lake Superior, a few images are posted below.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lake Michigan - Petosky and Charlevoix




Petosky is a small, quaint town along the bottom of Little Traverse Bay.  The city marina is part of a lake front park that runs for over a mile along the water.  An active, interesting downtown, filled with merchants and eateries, is only a couple blocks walk up the hill.

The park is a beautiful way to enjoy nature and views across the bay out into Lake Michigan.  An anchor for the park is a clock tower next to the marina, a landmark that can be seen from water or land.  It all makes for a very welcoming town.










The local art community has purchased a old, large church and transformed it into a major arts center.  The sanctuary now serves as the theater for the performing arts.  The rest of the buildings are used to display fine art.  The fine arts were quite varied and all of the highest quality. Unfortunately, the timing of Last Dance's visit did not coincide with an event scheduled in the theater.  The community efforts of some local leaders have created a jewel of the towns cultural offerings.















Sunset viewed from the Petosky Marina out toward Lake Michigan.




Charlevoix is on the Lake Michigan coast south of Petosky.  The town is located on Round Lake, a small lake just inland from Lake Michigan.  Many years ago, a canal was dug to connect Round Lake to the Great Lake.  As is the norm for such waterways in Michigan, a jetty protects the inlet, marked by a lighthouse.  Charlevoix's lighthouse was getting a sprucing up.


Charlevoix has a nice city marina on Round Lake, providing cruisers a spot right in the middle of downtown along a waterfront park.  This view shows the narrow cut from Round Lake to the large Lake Chareloix with a sailing catamaran passing through. At berth on the near shore is the ferry that serves Beaver Island.  Passengers, vehicles, and freight are loaded here for the trip across Lake Michigan to the island.  Timing a visit when the farmers markets sets up in town gives one an opportunity for fresh and dried Michigan cherries directly from the farm.  A visit to Charlevoix should include viewing of the unique mushroom houses and a trip to the library.  Those aspects were detailed in a blog post on a visit in 2011 - click here to read the older Charlevoix post




The marina building has some architectural details from the mushroom houses and a cascading trout stream.  Many touches making the waterfront park a enticing and rewarding place to visit have been incorporated into the design.  A children's water park located next to the marina office was always filled with joyous kids.






Downtown is on the western shore of Round Lake, the other shores contain some most interesting homes.  Someone studying architecture could be kept quite busy studying homes in Charlevoix.




Charlevoix was the end point of the 2016 cruise for Last Dance.  A short trip through the cut into Lake Charlevoix to Irish Boat Works, then sliding into their travel lift to be pulled out of the water, finalized the summer adventure.



Boat Works of Charlevoix was there waiting to transport Last Dance over land.  Other than most of their name being common, Boat Works of Charlevoix is not related to Irish Boat Works.  Locals seem to keep them straight by using shortened names - Boat Works for the former, Irish for the latter.



Boat Works has buildings providing heated boat storage at an inland location.  With real estate prices always being much higher for waterfront property, locating inland makes financial sense.  However, seeing a boat, larger than allowed to travel on roadways, travel down the road, leaning a bit on the trailer, is a bit unnerving.   Here, Last Dance begins the journey out of the marina and up the hill.



Down a few roads, through residential neighborhoods and across highways, the journey continued. This trip is possible because Boat Works paid the utility companies to raise the power lines high enough for boats on a trailer to clear.  The transport truck and trailer are classified as farm equipment, giving them exemptions to laws about size of things using the roads.





It was a safe journey with Last Dance arriving at her new winter home.  After being kept warm and out of the snow, a few maintenance tasks over the winter months should have her ready for a new adventures in the Great Lakes, summer 2017.



A rental car provided the crew transportation back to upstate New York, near Syracuse, to the point where the 2016 journey began and where the car was left.  The route was through much of the state of Michigan, across the southern end of Ontario, Canada, and into New York State.  One of the towns along the way is most famous of recent - but, not for the best of reasons.

Until next year . . .




Lake Michigan - Garden Island


Garden Island lies just to the north of Beaver Island.  This view is from Beaver.  For many years, the population of Garden Island was mainly Native Americans.  Many, who had lived for generations on Beaver Island, decided the culture of the new colonist was not to their liking and voluntarily moved to Garden.  Only in the past few decades have the Native Americans left the island for areas where employment is available.  The island is uninhabited and now mostly owned by the state of Michigan.



While there is a large body of water between Beaver and Garden, only a small portion of it is deep enough for boat travel.  That natural channel is marked by only one buoy, a green one - hard to find when it is not green.  Seems that the buoy is a favorite resting place for sea birds.


Last Dance tucked into Garden Island Harbor, behind Little Island.  Reasonable protection from winds can be found in this spot for anchoring and gaining access to the island.  The shoreline is heavily forested and the waters shallow, making for a challenge to find places to land a dinghy.  A number of improved trails are maintained by volunteers, but they are not marked and not all trials are cleared.  Maps and local knowledge are helpful.




Fortunately, an encounter with another boat in a Georgian Bay anchorage provided detailed information on hiking Lake Michigan Islands.  The crew aboard Catamount had an extra copy of a hiking guide, which they generously gifted.  The trail map proved most helpful in finding landing spots along the shore and the hiking trails.






















































Spirit houses are a unique feature on Garden Island.  The Native Americans built houses on top of graves so the deceased's spirit would have a place for shelter.  The houses are decorated with symbols.





















































































































An old settler's house remains on the island, the last surviving building.  It is used by the state to house staff during research on the island.  It is left open to provide shelter for hikers who may be caught in bad weather.




The site with the old house also had another feature that could provide some comfort to tired hikers - a hammock.











Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lake Michigan - Beaver Island


Beaver Island is a large island in the north end of Lake Michigan.  It is only reachable by boat or airplane . . . and in the winter, only by airplane.  There is a ferry, that transports vehicles and passengers, that runs from Charlevoix to the Island, when the lake is not frozen.  All non-bridged islands are unique communities, ones even more isolated, even more so.


There is one natural harbor on Beaver Island, marked by the Whiskey Point Lighthouse.  The point got its name since it was the sight of a store that sold watered-down whiskey to the Indian population on the island.  The red roof building once housed the Coast Guard and now serves as a marine site for a university.  The ferry can be seen heading back to the mainland.


There are a couple marinas for private boats and the harbor has room for anchoring.  However, neither the ferry nor private boat are much use in the winter when the lake freezes - private aircraft becomes the only means to travel to or receives goods from the mainland.





Last Dance found a spot in the harbor across from the lighthouse to spend a few days, allowing the crew multiple expeditions into the island.  Sights, sounds, history, geography, good food and interesting people can be found.






Beaver Island is the only place in North America that was once a kingdom.  After King Strang was assassinated, the culprits were taken away to Mackinac Island where the towns people celebrated and carried the assassins on their shoulders through town.  This chapter is only one of many on Beaver Island.





















 Travel on the island is supported by roads and many bike trails.  Near the town on the northern end of the island, the roads are paved.  In other areas of the island, not so, as evidenced by the minivan.  It is a normal appearance for island cars.  And, why wash it when it will only look like that the next day.  One long section of bike trail is asphalt paved while the parallel road is dirt.  Always interesting as to where the political power lies.




The islanders are proud of their history and display it many places.   This outdoor display had machinery that had been used on the island.





With a preponderance of dirt roads, this old road grader was only retired a few years ago.  Must have been the oldest piece of road maintenance machinery operated in the U.S.





Having a generator on a distant island is normal.  It is common to have the first source of electricity made by a diesel powered generator.



A surprise was found on the other side of the engine - a carburetor and spark plugs.  Diesel injectors on the left side of the engine, and spark ignition on the other.  Odd.  The compression ratios needed for proper ignition vary greatly between spark and compression ignition that one engine should not be able to function on both fuels.  But, here it is.  A great solution on an isolated island where diesel fuel or gasoline might be in short supply.



On an island, boats are a large part of the history.  Beaver Island has a volunteer-operated museum cataloging and displaying the commercial boat industry.  Fishing was the biggest source of income on the island for many years and history of the people and boats involved in fishing make up most of the displays.




The Great Lakes fishing boat under the outdoor shed had the original engine rebuilt to like-new condition. Kahlenberg once  built large marine diesel engines.  This relatively small - pistons are twice the size of a coffee can - three cylinder, two cycle engine was rebuilt by an individual who collected parts from all around the island.




Then, there is the whimsical Beaver Island Toy Museum.  Entertaining for sure.  An islander has taken their antique toy collection and created a point of interest and a business in an old home.  Busy place.












The antique toy collection is displayed from the ceiling - a distant view, but protected from little hands that may not appreciate the value and fragility.



The biggest benefit of having the toys displayed on the ceiling to the proprietor is that this arrangement allows all the floor space to be used for displays of new toy for sale - displays packed so tightly that it is difficult to walk among them.  And, yes, the prices might look to be antique also, but they are actual prices.  Reminder of the old 5¢ & 10¢ or five & dime stores.




Libraries are always a stop in newly visited towns for the Last Dance crew.  The Friends of the Library book sales are the best resource for restocking the reading materials on the boat.  Beaver Island has a new library, donated by a local resident, the owner of Lands End.









Interesting design characteristics were employed in the interior to create engaging and brightly lighted spaces.  The glassed-in room in the back is filled with overstuffed chairs for comfortable and quiet seating with internet access.




















More than books are on display in the Beaver Island Library.  One of the residents has built accurate models of World War I airplanes.  To provide a view of the intricate wood construction, the fabric covering of the fuselage and wings was eliminated.




This is the British built Sopwith Camel, the most successful fighter airplane in terms of enemy planes shot down.  Twin machine guns were mounted on the cowl in front of the pilot, timed, of course, to fire when the propeller blade was not in front of the guns.  Today, the Sopwith Camel is best known as the place flown in the imagination of the cartoon character, Snoopy.




The Albatross was a German airplane first built in 1916.  While most planes of this period used air-cooled radial engines, the Albatross used a 6 cylinder, water-cooled Mercedes.  Top speed was 175 miles an hour, a great accomplishment a little over a decade since the Wright brothers had proved that manned flight was possible.


The French contributed the Nieuport 28 to the WWI effort.  The United States purchased this plane for use by both the US Army and Navy.  One of the original planes is on display in the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

Not history created on Beaver Island, but a unique history lesson on Beaver Island.


There is enough interesting on Beaver Island to keep one entertained for an entire summer, and there are those who choose to do so by having a summer house on the island.  This one has some interesting architecture, partially to address a code issue.  Waterfront property in the harbor, particularly where a boat can be moored along side, is rare.  Local code does not allow the footprint of an existing building to be increased.  So, an attractive home was created by renovating an old home adding architectural details and making usable space larger with an outdoor kitchen.