Isle Royale Travelog

Journal - Day 6

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Saturday, August 18th, 2001

We got up about 6:45 and got ready for breakfast. We headed over to the dining hall at 7:00 and were greeted by a very pretty sunrise. Breakfast was great: scrambled eggs, mini muffins, bagels, french toast, pancakes, bacon, sausage, potatoes, 4 different juices -- lots to choose from!
Sunrise at Rock Harbor
Sunrise at Rock Harbor
After we finished with breakfast, we went back to our room, dubbed "Dry House," to decide what to do next. While we wanted to rent a canoe, the skies threatened rain, so we were going to take our waitress' advice and walk out to Scoville Point. We put our hiking clothes on, but when I attempted to put my boots back on, my tender ankle would have no part of it. The seam rubbing on my ankle made it nearly impossible to take a step, even with two layers of moleskin protecting the spot. We abandoned those plans, put our clean, dry clothes back on, then went to the larger gift store by the passenger boat dock. We bought an Isle Royale hat for my sister to thank her for watching our cats while we were away. While in the gift store, we found a book for Mark, The Geologic Story of Isle Royale, which he can study up on for when we retire and he works as an interpretive ranger giving talks on the geology and I as an artist-in-residence! We also bought a poster of a photograph one of the artists-in-residence took on the island, as well as a map of the island, both of which we will frame.
After our shopping expedition, we went back to the room and took a nap. We woke at 11:30, time enough for Mark to take a shower. We had already packed up earlier in the morning when we were thinking of renting a canoe, so we didn't have to do that again. We headed over to the office to check out and learned that if we left our packs in our room, they would transport them over to the boat for us. While Mark finished the checking out process, I walked the packs back to the room, then dropped the key off in the office. We only had a few minutes to wait before lunch so we grabbed a bench by the dock an enjoyed the sunshine that had broken through.
For lunch, we had Cokes, a tuna melt, fries and Apple Crisp (Mark), and a veggie burger with fries and Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream (me). We also gave Marjorie, our waitress from dinner the night before, her tip after discovering the office, for some reason, didn't charge it to our room.
island with view of America dock
The America Dock is to the right, at the end of this finger of land that helps form Rock Harbor.
After lunch, we took a couple small walks: we checked out the America Dock, which was used in the late 1800s and early 1900's by the S.S. America, one of the boats that brought people over to stay at the very-popular resorts in Rock Harbor. It amazes me that people back then were coming to the island. What adventurous sorts they must have been!
We then went and looked at Smithwick Mine, and also looked at their outdoor amphitheater -- what a neat little place! I don't know if they use it for evening programs at Rock Harbor, but I would be interested in attending one the next time we come. Rock Harbor Amphitheatre
The outdoor amphitheater at Rock Harbor
After our little treks around, we went and sat on a bench for a bit, then headed over to the dock to wait. We had our picture taken in front of the Isle Royale sign by a woman from a group nearby, then we went and laid down on the dock, enjoying the sunshine. Around 2:20, we moved closer to where the Isle Royale Queen was anchored, and waited while they loaded the luggage on to the boat. As we waited, we heard a large "Sploosh!" behind us and we, and everyone else waiting on the dock, turned to see three guys and their canoe, and gear, in the harbor. Everyone lamented for them -- not the best way to start one's trip - soaking wet! A number of people rushed over to help them get their stuff out of the water. Shortly after the commotion, we boarded the boat and managed to get a seat with a wall behind it, making it easy to take naps. As the boat started to take off, we watched as the three canoe guys launched from a somewhat better place -- the shore.
The water was not bad on the ride back. We both took Dramamine again (not wanting to chance sickness) and we napped for the first part of the trip. Later, Mark headed up to the front to watch the ride from outside while I worked on the journal.
Copper Harbor lighthouse
Copper Harbor lighthouse
The ride was smoother coming back to the mainland, and we didn't see as large of waves as we had on the way over. When we got back to Copper Harbor, we passed by the Copper Harbor lighthouse -- I had missed it on the trip over. This lighthouse is open to tours, and the only way to get to it is to take a boat ride over to it.
Getting closer to town, we could see the businesses that line the shore of Copper Harbor. The captain directed our attention to the back deck of the Harbor Haus restaurant; all of the waitresses were out on the deck, performing a kick-line for us, and waving to us. It seems they welcome back every boatload of passengers from Isle Royale in the same manner! Harbor Haus restaurant
Waitresses at the Harbor Haus Restaurant, performing a "Welcome Home" dance for the Isle Royale Queen passengers
cabins at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
Two of the cabins at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
When we got back to Copper Harbor, we waited for them to unload our packs, then went and got our truck and headed up to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, where we stayed that last night. The lodge is good-sized; it has a nine-hole golf course, around 25 cabins (ours was a duplex, with two 1 bedroom units), and the main Lodge has a restaurant and bar. What's interesting about the lodge is that it was built in the 1920's and 1930's as a WPA project to employ the young men in the area who were hit hard by the depression. Initially they had planned an 18 hole golf course, but when they finished the first 9 holes, they decided to leave it at that.
We checked in at the office, went and dropped our stuff off at the room, which was very good sized, and included a working fireplace with wood and kindling! We then headed back to the main lodge to get some dinner. Saturday nights their special feature is an all-you-can-eat Prime Rib buffet, with a hosted carving station. We both decided to take them up on that offer, and it was a delicious choice!
After dinner, we went back to our room and watched some tv, "Rocky" was on TNT, before going to sleep. We had a 5-6 hour drive back to Sault Ste, Marie the next day, so we wanted to get some good rest. After so many nights out in the fresh air, it was very easy.
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Isle Royale Travelog
Conceived and developed by Alexandra Van Doren and Carol Whittaker
Photographs by Alexandra Van Doren
Text by Carol Whittaker and Alexandra Van Doren