Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Big Lake

The Big Lake is really big. It is the largest fresh water lake in the world by area its over 1300 feet deep and 160 miles across. The lake is so big the water never warms up. In the summer the average temperature is 40 degrees. The Big Lake, Lake Superior is one awesome lake.

The area along the Northwest shore of the lake in Minnesota is called the North Shore. Its a great place to hike and bike or just explore. The rocky rugged shore line and countless rivers that empty into the Lake are spectacular places to spend time.

We have been there many times. You have already seen some posts from along the North Shore including Eagle Mountain and Carlton Peak from us. We have hiked, biked, dived, and climbed all along the Great Lake over the years. This post is a recap of several trips and and focuses on the just the Great Lake itself.

It seems like you can spend hours just exploring the rocky coast almost anywhere along the North Shore. Some favorite places are Split Rock Light House, Gooseberry Falls, Grand Marais, Lutsen, Cascade River and many more State Parks all along the shore.

Gooseberry Falls Area

At Gooseberry Falls State Park you can see the falls, camp, and explore a section of the lake with large boulders, and beautiful rocky inlets. After scrambling down the steep cliff to the lake you can walk along the shore exploring the nooks and crannies with little pools of water.

There is always a sunny spot to enjoy the views and pose for a picture.

The water in the lake is an amazingly clear and an azure blue green color that makes is very inviting. However it is cold. Do not fall in!

Sometimes it takes both hands to get down to the water.

You never know what surprising little creatures you will find lurking in the cracks of the large boulders.

Or sunning itself on the cliffs overlooking the lake.

Now here is and interesting pair!

Tofte Area

There are of course many places to stay along the big lake, but one of the more popular and almost legendary places is the Blue Fin Inn in Tofte. Built right on the lakeshore on Blue Fin Bay it is a complex of privately owned condos that are rented out as a hotel. We have stayed here several times and have enjoyed each and every time.

It has a rock beach where they have camp fires every night with marshmallow roasts, as well as bars restaurants, pools and hot tubs.

You can walk the boardwalk between buildings along the bay to different parts of the complex where you will find a variety of things to see and do.

From old fishing museums that show how they used to catch the Blue Fin Fish in the bay

To picnic shelters and walkways through the little village of Tofte.

Early one morning just before the sun rises in the east over the lake Margaret sat out on the lakeshore behind the Blue Fin Inn wrapped in a blanket and took this set of beautiful sunrise photos. (while I slept peacefully inside in the nice warm room)

Later I managed to get up and make my way outside to get this snapshot of the great sunrise photographer having her tea at the patio outside our room.

Split Rock

One of the many attractions on the North Shore is the Split Rock Lighthouse. No longer in use as a warning beacon to protect ships on the lake from the treacherous rocks on the shoreline it has become a museum in a State Park. (Its worth the few bucks to take the tour)

Notice how this picture of the lighthouse looks much better with the additional content in the photo.

Just down the shoreline from the lighthouse is a beautiful rocky beach with the remains of an old fishing camp where a few brave souls dare take a plunge in the freezing waters of Lake Superior.

After a brisk swim we dressed and sat on the beach and had a picnic. Shortly after a pair of young ladies came down to the beach dressed in their swimming suits. They placed all their belongs neatly on the rocky shore and prepared to go into the inviting looking water for an enjoyable swim in warm bright sunshine. (This is going to be good!) Well you have never heard so much screaming! The swim was short and sweet. One girl managed to get in the water for a short dip the other couldn't quit do it ,and retreated to the safety of the beach.

Border Country

Just to the north of Grand Marias is the Pigeon River and Grand Portage State Park. The river acts as the border between Canada and Minnesota. The tallest waterfalls in Minnesota is located on the river just a mile or two from the highway in a scenic park.

Standing on a boulder in the middle of the river the right hand side is Canada the left hand side is Minnesota. Looks like Homeland Security missed securing this part of the border.

Here is a couple of potential terrorist sneaking across the border.

The Pigeon River Falls

The “Big Lake” is a not to be missed area to be visited in anyone’s personal tour of our beautiful planet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Colombia River Gorge

hood riverFor anyone that is a windsurfer the Colombia River Gorge is a required pilgrimage. The river separates Washington and Oregon emptying into the Pacific Ocean just west of Portland Oregon. To wind surfers its just called “The Gorge”. It is indeed a gorge. The Colombia river running out of the high plains to the east has eroded a deep gorge between mountain peaks as it wanders its way to the ocean.


Swellcity Weather conditions on the coast in the months of June, July, and August are daily high pressure systems, and the weather inland on the high plains are hot dry low pressure systems.  This creates strong winds traveling east up the river. Combine that with a 5 mile and hour current flowing west as the water flows downhill and you get some incredible waves and windsurfing condition.

There are a few locations where the river narrows to a few hundred yard across between high mountain cliffs on each side that act like a funnel creating extremely high winds and waves. That is of course where thousands of people go to sail.

I have flown out to the Gorge on a surfing trip the previous summer  but this summer we were planning a road trip. The trip would of course include plenty of windsurfing, but also biking, camping, and hiking in the Hood River area as well as the Pacific Ocean. The trip would last two weeks and we were taking our jeep and pulling our windsurfing trailer with our bikes and camping gear.

Here’s Margaret at a rest stop on Interstate 90 somewhere in the Great Plains heading west towards the Pacific Ocean. Its a 3 day drive and almost 2000 miles from where we were living.

Our plan was to camp at different places on the way out to the Gorge and a few days while we were there, but some of time while in Hood River we planned on staying at a hotel that had a hot tub to sooth aching muscles after windsurfing on the river.

Here we are parked at a campground near Missoula Montana about to grill supper after a days driving.

The scenery in the Rocky Mountains is fantastic requiring a stop along the road for pictures and a break.

Somewhere in Idaho on the Lewis and Clark trail we stopped for lunch along a beautiful little river flowing next to the road where there was a gravel pull out. We packed our lunch and went down by the river and discovered one of those places that you remember for the rest of your life. There was no one else anywhere around, but the trusty timer on our camera at the time recorded a few images for us.


We arrived at the east end of  the Columbia River later in the day and decided to camp at an Army Corp of Engineers campground along the river.  We set up the tent in a spot right next to the river had dinner and a beer and went to sleep in out tent.

Later in the evening we were awaken by a horrible noise and the tent shaking violently.  At first we thought someone was out there shaking the tent, but quickly it became obvious that the wind was blowing very hard causing all the noise and shaking.  We  got dressed and went out to see what had happened. Checking out the campground all the tents in the park were blown down. It appeared that there had been a brief violent downdraft of wind that had knocked all the tents over except ours.

The next day we moved on down the river to a hotel near Hood River where we stayed for several days using it as a base camp to surf, bike and hike out of.  They has a nice pool, hot tub and a comfortable room to return to after a full day of play.

Daily when the wind was blowing we hit the river and sailed. There was always plenty of people on the beach to watch and great sailing.


One of the reasons the sailing at the Gorge is so great certainly is the steady wind, but because the current flows against the wind you never lose ground on a high speed run across the river. This is unlike normal sailing on a lake where you are forced to tack back into the wind at slower speeds to not lose ground.

On one of the days when the wind was not blowing so hard we took our bikes out onto one of the many biking trails in the mountains south of Hood River near Mount Hood.

The bike trail turned out to be more pushing and carrying than riding, but it made for an exciting time and a good day.

The bike trail ultimately took us to the top of a minor peak with a great view of Mount Hood in the background,


Nearing the end of out time in Hood river we took a day and traveled to the Pacific  coast along Highway 1. Our intent was to sail on the ocean for a day, but the wind wasn’t cooperating. While I never got to sail the Pacific the views and coast were outstanding. We settled for lunch and a picnic along the beach before working our way back to Hood river.

The Gorge trip was one of the few long cross country driving trips we have ever taken due to our time spent at the lake. As life leads us onward I think that we will see that change.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bungee Jumping

I learned early on when I meet Scott, that  he was a bit of a dare devil so it was  of  no surprise to me when he told me he had signed up to bungee jump for charity one summer.  He said it was for  a good cause.. I knew for sure that  the charity was not what he had in mind.
Since the so called charity event was going to be held at Lake Washington on a Saturday and we often would go boating there it was going to be a party weekend. I was friends with some of the other dare devils wives', and we all had boats. It was going to be a day of fun with friend at the lake even thought I did not like the bungee jumping. We set out with our boat,  beer, and food for an afternoon of sun, fun, and adventure at the lake.

While the audience could  have a beer as soon as we got our boats in place for the show, the bungee jumpers had  to put on a  show first before they could have  their beers.  So they had to wait!
Here is Scott getting ready to go up for the big jump
Finally at the top are you really going to jump or come back down.
I Guess he jumpedimg900 
I  would like to add that I did not take these picture or did  I even see Scott jumping out I closed my eyes. I could not look I was so afraid. 
A  Happy Bungee Jumper heading for the boat for a beer, and a day of celebrating with friends, and fun in the sun at the lake.
Congratulation Scott, sorry we were so excited, we drank all the beer.