Nancy was up early in the morning. She was out the door in a flash and walked over to the beach across the street to take some sunrise shots. It was a beautiful morning and the sun was at first red and then gold as it rose over Lake Superior. She took some great shots.
When she got back to the room we decided against staying a second night and loaded our gear into the truck. We took advantage of the continental breakfast and scarffed down a couple of pastries and coffee. We were anxious to hop on the ferry for the short ride over to Madeline Island.
We found the last parking spot near the ferry terminal. I unloaded the bikes and Nancy rode down the short hill to the ticket booth and purchased our passes for the day’s adventure while I closed up the truck.
The morning was perfect, clear, and refreshingly cool. As we loaded onto the ferry I had another flashback. The first time I ever saw any of the Great Lakes or had ever been on a boat bigger than a row boat took place right here. Being here with Nancy was a greater thrill than my first time here so many moons ago.
The boat we went over on had quite a few cars and trucks on board as well as vacationing pedestrians. There was only one other couple who had their bikes. It costs six bucks extra, roundtrip, to take your bike. Can you say RIP!
Lake Superior has an average visibility of 40 ft. This fact contributes to the deep blue and green colors created by the sun’s rays penetrating the surface of the vast lake. When you couple these colors with the verdant forests and red granite and sandstone cliffs and beaches, you have paradise.
From the deck of the ferry we were able to gaze upon several of the other islands in the chain. There are a total of 22 islands and all but 5 are unoccupied and undeveloped, being overseen by the park service. There are boat/kayak–in campgrounds scattered around the archipelago.
Once landed on the island, we hopped on our bikes and set off on a 15 mile round trip to view several exceptionally scenic areas. We traveled past a few small marinas and some modest homes as we rode out into the lush forest. The traffic on the shared road was practically non-existent. We saw at best only 3 or 4 cars during our ride over to Big Bay Park.
We did a short detour to take in the view at Big Bay Point. This side trip was well worth the effort. We parked our bikes at the beginning of a foot trail that followed the shoreline along 60 ft red sandstone cliffs. The boulders from the eroding cliffs could clearly be seen under the sparkling water.
From there we continued on to Big Bay. No brochure or travelogue could have prepared us for the pristine beauty of this protected bay. Just around the point the west wind sends waves crashing against red cliffs while here in the bay the water is glass. The water colors are amazing. The deep water is a midnight blue, giving way to a beautiful sea green as it approaches the shallows to a crystal clear, sand bottomed beach. There were two sailboats moored off the beach and several small groups of people on the long, red hued, sandy beach. We were reminded of the nearly deserted beaches of Molokai.
We are here in what should be almost prime vacation time, but there are no crowds whatsoever. It seems like people in Wisconsin consider the middle of August the end of summer. Works for us!
We biked back to town with added incentive. We were starved! We were having all this fun on a couple of doughnuts for fuel. I wasn’t going to be too choosey about where we ate, just along as it was sudden. We passed this one joint that we had read about, it was so far out, we couldn’t tell if it was even open. The name is ‘Tom’s Burned Down Cafe’. So we went across the street to Grampa Tony’s instead because they had elevated outside seating. We should have gone to the burned down joint.
After chow, we biked around town a little more and then hopped on the 1PM ferry for the short trip back to the mainland. Madeline Island has managed to stay quaint and unaffected by the hordes of seasonal vacationers. The place has an east coast feel about it. There are many secluded summer homes down tunnel like drive ways through the thick and luxurious forests. All supplies come by boat until the lake freezes and then the goods come over the ice road.
Once on shore we loaded up the bikes and set course for a farm that Nancy had uncovered during her iPad surfing sessions. We drove only a short ways before we arrived at Highland Valley Farm. The farms up here near the shore of Lake Superior are hacked out of the forests. It takes great effort to hold back the robust forests from overgrowing everything in their path.
At the farm, one has a choice of picking their own blueberries or buying fresh picked ones from the little shack. We already had a pretty busy day going, so we opted to buy some already picked. Part of that decision was because of my misconception about how plentiful the crop was. Dummy me; I was standing by a field of young plants that were not even close to full production. After we had made our purchase, this hippy looking female customer, told us it would only have taken us a short while to pick a couple of pounds. When the clerk totaled her pickings it came to 39 pounds. The friendly lady told us she comes to the farm once a year to stock up.
When we were leaving, the farmer suggested we drive around the farm down to the mature fields that were being harvested right now. Egad! Those were some heavily burdened blueberry bushes. It would take about two minutes to pick a pound. The berries are enormous.
After our tour of the farm, we settled in for a 90 minute ride back to ‘the Neighborhood’.
Another great 36 hours in the bag. I have a feeling I will be taking Nancy back to that blueberry farm.