Saturday, August 27, 2011

Willow's First Isle Royale Trip!

We had an AWESOME time at Isle Royale last weekend!!

In addition to it being Willow's first time, it was also a special trip because Willow turned 2 1/2 while we were there, and Josh and I had our 6th anniversary.

Willow, me, Josh and Beth went out on the Ranger Friday morning. The first half-hour on the boat, the weather was a little gray and rainy, but we had perfect weather the whole rest of the trip. Here's Willow and I before boarding the boat. We often walk by the Ranger on our stroller rides, so Willow was very excited to get on the "Big Blue Boat".

It was about a 5-hour trip, and she did pretty good. She was so excited she refused to nap. We spent most of the time inside the boat; anytime Willow was out on the deck, she had to have her life jacket on (a rule I completely agree with!), which she doesn't like very much. Here she is on a chair inside the Ranger.

Rather than going all the way to Rock Harbor (as most people do), we got to get off at Mott Island, where Seth was waiting for us. Mott Island is where the park headquarters are, where many of the employees work and live.

We stayed at Seth's house on Mott, which was very luxurious! This was the first time I have been to Isle Royale where I wasn't backpacking. It was great to have flush toilets, a soft bed and cold beer! Our first night there, we actually went to a pizza party at some of Seth's friends' house, then we went to a keg party at the rec center. It was really fun and all the people were so cool and laid back. After being out there for 3 days, I was ready to quit my job and go be a park ranger. Seriously, I wish I could. Here's Josh and Seth at the pizza party.

Willow had lots of kids to play with. Here she is with a little girl named Acorn who was showing her the way to the kegger. :)

On Saturday, after sleeping in and eating a leisurely breakfast, we headed to the beach on Mott Island, where we snorkeled at a shipwreck. This was a new experience for me, and I can't really describe how cool it was, especially since this blurry photo is the only proof I have. Seth had an underwater camera and took lots of cool photos, so maybe we can get some from him. The wreck we saw was the Algoma. It wrecked in the 1880s right off of Mott Island. I mean right off - it happened just 50 feet or so from the shore! Seth the archaeologist/historian told us all about it. Apparently it was such a bad storm the people couldn't get to shore and just got thrashed on the rocks. This shipwreck is actually the shipwreck where the most people died in the whole history of shipping on Lake Superior - 45. Crazy, huh? We could see the ship's mast, all sorts of bent metal and stuff, and even a couple plates. Before we even went out, I found a tiny shard of ceramic on the beach and Seth goes, "that's from the Algoma". He wouldn't let me take it though; that is how seriously he takes his job of preserving the island's cultural heritage. He told us how in the 60s, these scuba divers looted all this stuff from the Algoma wreck, including the big brass steering wheel. Just recently, the guys returned it to the park, and it was sitting down in Seth's office all shiny and awe-inducing. Anyhow, enough about that. (oh, and Willow didn't snorkel, obviously. We went in shifts.)

Here's Willow playing on the Mott Island beach while Seth, Beth and Josh were snorkelling.

Here are some ducks we saw - Beth said they were mergansers, which I had never heard of before and had to google to figure out how to spell.

Saturday afternoon we went on a little tour in Seth's boat. We went to all sorts of historical areas of the park that I had never been to, having always been focused on the wilderness aspects, I guess. We went to the Edisen fishery, the Rock Harbor lighthouse and Cemetery Island. Here is Beth by some of the graves there.

Seth told us this creepy story how in the 90s, some teenagers actually dug up one of the graves. There was a piece of a baby's skull from that incident that somehow ended up in a box in the office that became Seth's when he got the job out there. He would always be working in his office in the evening and was sort of creeped out by the baby skull on the shelf. So finally he built a little cedar box for it and re-buried it in the same grave it was taken from, just a little ways down, but enough where it wouldn't easily be unearthed again. It was a very eerie place.

Sunday, we went in Seth's boat again down to Tobin Harbor. He told us of the community that lived there back before the island was a park. Most of the cabins are still there. When the island became a park, the park bought all the cabins, and basically struck a deal with the owners where any of their descendants who were alive at that time could use the cabin, and after they all died, the park would take possession. Well, that transition is currently happening, because this took place in the 1930s. A big part of Seth's job is working with those families and figuring out what to's pretty complicated. Can you tell I'm like, inthralled by how cool and interesting Seth's job is? This trip was made 100% more awesome by his great stories and what a great tour guide he was. Thanks Seth!

Here's Willow driving Seth's boat.

We hiked from Tobin Harbor up a trail to "Lookout Louise". Willow fell asleep.

That's Canada in the distance!

The rock behind us in this photo is called Monument Rock.

Here's Willow by a natural rock tunnel that was on the trail. She had fun playing inside.

When we got down from Lookout Louise, we jumped in the water. Here's Willow and I warming up afterward.

Monday morning, we hiked aong the shore on Mott Island to this little cliff-jumping place called Gilbert's Hole. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with that time. Then we sadly went down to Rock Harbor and caught the Queen back to the mainland. What a great trip!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Busy Summer!

We've either been out of town, had visitors or had something going on every weekend of the past several weeks. It's been a crazy, busy, fun summer! I wish I could do detailed posts on every fun weekend, but I've realized that is just not going to happen. So I'll have to settle for a quick weekday-morning update.

In July and August, Willow has...

...fed some sheep:

...picked blueberries:

...and chased bubbles.

Kevin and Liz came to visit, and we went on a hike to the top of Mount Baldy:

Grandma Jean and Auntie Jill came to visit too!

This coming weekend we're taking Willow on her first trip to Isle Royale! I will for sure write a full post on that. We are so excited!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For Auntie Jill

Willow's favorite sweater, made by talented Auntie Jill. :)