Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sleeping Bear Dunes

We made our annual trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes at the end of our trip to the U.P.   I didn't really like tacking it on to the end of a long road trip like that, but it made the most sense logistically.  We were there over 4th of July, which we've done before, but after our experience this summer, I can safely say we will actively avoid being there that time of year again.

What we love about the area is the beauty, the lack of development, the lack of chain stores and restaurants, and how relatively uncrowded it is.  Well, that area has gotten some national exposure in the past couple of years, what with being named America's Most Beautiful Place by Good Morning America, and a certain celebrity chef who bought a vacation home in the area.  I hear there was also a write up about Leelanau County in Martha Stewart's magazine.  Whether it is this exposure, or the fact that we were there for the 4th of July, or a combination of the two, the place was wall to wall people this summer.  Long lines to our favorite restaurants, overcrowded beaches, and no place to park!  What has happened to my lovely little retreat?  It was shocking.  Someone even walked off with one of our beach towels when we weren't looking.  I can only hope that was an honest mistake.  That's the first time I've ever had something of mine disappear while on a Michigan beach, and I've been going to Michigan beaches my entire life.

I take some solace in thinking about what it must be like there now: peaceful and uncrowded, all the tourists gone home.  And I will admit that even while we were fighting the masses, the sunsets were still calming, the view over the water was free of crowds, and, if you know where to go, you can still find a quiet place in the woods.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Finished: my scarf


Details on yarn and pattern are in this post.

Here it is all pinned out for blocking. This last photo shows the truest colors:

Finished just in time for fall!  I'm pretty proud of that lace edging.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tahquamenon Falls, Shipwreck Museum, and Sault Ste. Marie

The last few days of our trip to the Upper Peninsula were just as busy as the first few days.  We went to Tahquamenon Falls State Park on my birthday.  There are hiking trails all around to access different vantage points and viewing decks of the upper and lower falls.  We had such lovely weather that day!

upper falls

upper falls

lower falls from a distance

lower falls

After the state park, we headed to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.  Whitefish Point is along a treacherous stretch of Lake Superior.  That area of the lake is a shipwreck graveyard.  The Edmund Fitzgerald sank near there.

Lighthouse at Whitefish Point

A few years ago divers removed the bell from the ship and put it in the museum.  A replica of the bell, engraved with the names of all the lost crew members, was installed on the sunken ship in place of the original bell.

 Someone built a replica of the Edmund Fitzgerald out of Lego!  I was impressed.  I wonder how many bricks that took?

The last place we visited in the U.P. was Sault Ste. Marie, to see the Soo Locks.  This is where Lake Superior flows into the St. Marys River, and eventually on to Lake Huron.  There are rapids in the river, and the water level drops between the two lakes.  The locks were built to accommodate freighters navigating the Great Lakes.  The river is an international border here, separating the U.S. and Canada.  The locks are on the U.S. side, and there is an observation platform to watch the locks in action.  

Here is a coast guard ship, on its way in from Lake Superior.  You can see it takes up just a little portion of the lock.

Later we saw a freighter come through, and that was quite interesting.  

Here it is, entering the lock as it heads downstream from Lake Superior:
 It took up pretty much the whole lock.  As you stand on the observation deck, you can watch all the crew hands running around on board, doing what needs to be done.
After the water in the lock dropped, the freighter moved into the river, engines thrumming steadily, churning up the water behind it.  A flock of seagulls followed closely  behind, swooping and diving to catch the fish tossed up in the wake of the ship.
That was my favorite part of the whole process!

I'd like to make another trip to the U.P. in September sometime when the autumn colors are at their peak.  Maybe someday, when my kids are done with school.  Before we had children, my husband and I liked to vacation in October.  It was just us and the retirees, out seeing the sights.  We felt so young and carefree!  When the time comes that we can vacation in autumn again, we'll be closer to being retirees than to being young and carefree.  Funny how raising a family takes you from being young to being old without you realizing that is what is happening!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Scarf progress

I am making good progress on my scarf!

I am almost to the part where I begin decreasing, and I think once I'm there, finishing it will go fast.  I can't wait to block this.  The pattern is here.

I posted a picture of my scarf on Flickr several months ago when I started it, commenting that I was terrified I'd make a mistake because I didn't know to "tink" lace.  Someone who has never commented on anything I've ever posted before said "Lifelines.  Lots of lifelines." At first I thought she meant have lots of people who are good at knitting at the ready to help me, like the phone-a-friend thing on game shows.  Then I thought maybe I should figure out if she meant something else, and sure enough, a quick search revealed how to use lifelines in knitting.  This has changed my attitude about knitting completely, and given me so much more confidence.

I need to finish this, because it's September already, and that means it's time to start on Christmas projects!

ETA: The yarn used is String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn, Caper Sock, in the color Oban.