Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Like a Slurpee on a Summer Day

The shore ice I saw forming on Lake Michigan has melted like a slurpie on a summer day. The sun is shining. This is the way the beach looks now with a seagul reflected in the wet sand.  Read more about ice formation on the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Niagara Falls

A Brief History of the Falls

Information below graciously provided courtesy of Niagara Parks

Ice Age History of the Niagara River and Whirlpool Rapids

The Niagara River, as is the entire Great Lakes Basin of which the river is an integral part, is a legacy of the last Ice Age. 18,000 years ago southern Ontario was covered by ice sheets 2-3 kilometers thick. As they advanced southward the ice sheets gouged out the basins of the Great Lakes. Then as they melted northward for the last time they released vast quantities of meltwater into these basins. Our water is "fossil water"; less than one percent of it is renewable on an annual basis, the rest leftover from the ice sheets.

The Niagara Peninsula became free of the ice about 12,500 years ago. As the ice retreated northward, its meltwaters began to flow down through what became Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, down to the St. Lawrence River, and, finally, down to the sea. There were originally 5 spillways from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Eventually these were reduced to one, the original Niagara Falls, at Queenston-Lewiston. From here the Falls began its steady erosion through the bedrock.

However, about 10,500 years ago, through an interplay of geological effects including alternating retreats and re-advances of the ice, and rebounding of the land when released from the intense pressure of the ice (isostatic rebound), this process was interrupted. The glacial meltwaters were rerouted through northern Ontario, bypassing the southern route. For the next 5,000 years Lake Erie remained only half the size of today, the Niagara River was reduced to about 10% of its current flow, and a much-reduced Falls stalled in the area of the Niagara Glen.

About 5,500 years ago the meltwaters were once again routed through southern Ontario, restoring the river and Falls to their full power. Then the Falls reached the Whirlpool.

It was a brief and violent encounter, a geological moment lasting only weeks, maybe even only days. In this moment the Falls of the youthful Niagara River intersected an old riverbed, one that had been buried and sealed during the last Ice Age. The Falls turned into this buried gorge, tore out the glacial debris that filled it, and scoured the old river bottom clean. It was probably not a falls at all now but a huge, churning rapids. When it was all over it left behind a 90-degree turn in the river we know today as the Whirlpool, and North America's largest series of standing waves we know today as the Whirlpool Rapids.

The Falls then re-established at about the area of the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge upriver to our right, and resumed carving its way through solid rock to its present location.

Straddling the Canadian-United States International Border and both in the Province of Ontario

and the State of New York, Niagara Falls attracts some 12 Million tourists to her majestic

awesome beauty each year.

The Niagara is a fairly young river, only 12,000 years old!, a microsecond in geological time. The

Niagara Escarpment, which was created by erosion is much older. The glaciers pressed down on

the land during the last ice age and laid down layers of sediment, then the slow process of erosion

of ice and water ate at the surface of the escarpment


The mighty river plunges over a cliff of dolostone and shale. Niagara Falls is the second largest

falls on the globe next to Victoria Falls in southern Africa.

One fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four Upper Great Lakes-Michigan, Huron,

Superior and Erie. All the outflow empties into the Niagara river and eventually cascades over

the falls.

At the bottom of the falls, the water travels 15 miles over many gorges until it reaches the fifth

Great Lake-Ontario. The land between the lakes does not slope at an even grade, but forms a

spectacular drop approximately the same height as a 20 story building and this is known as the

"Niagara Escarpment" Two billion years ago it was buried under a blanket of ice.

As the years past, the process of erosion took place, (and still does) five distinct 'gorges' were

formed-Lewiston Brange Gorge, Old Narrow Gorge, Upper & Lower Great Gorges and the

Whirlpool Narrow Gorge.

Approximately 500 years ago the river encountered an obstacle that caused it to 'split into two

channels', thus Goat Island was formed named after John Stedman whose goat herds froze to

death in the winter of 1780). This was the original sediment left from a vanished Lake Tonawanda

(an Indian name).

On the eastern part of the island, the American Falls took shape, the Horseshoe Falls, is on the

western side, where the river angles some 90 degrees.

The water flow on the American side of the falls is much less in strength because of Goat Island,

whereas Horseshoe Falls has no obstruction to divert it.

It should be noted that a third much narrower falls exists. Over the years these falls have been

called at different times; Luna Falls, Iris Falls and is currently named Bridal Veil Falls.

Man has not been able to completely control the flow of the water over the falls, even modern

engineers have tried. Much of the water today is fed through underground channels and pipes to

nearby hydro electric power stations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Steelhead catch along with a northern pike that was released and a coho salmon (in back).  It was cold yesterday when these fish were caught in the Pere Marquette River.

Pictured is Norm Spring who was one of the founders of the Michigan Steelheaders and Salmon Organization.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

Here is an excellent explanation of wind power in the Great Lakes.  It's 12 minutes long and well worth watching.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dynamic Great Lakes

I am a lake watcher.  Yesterday there was snow on Lake Michigan here in West Michigan.  Today people should stay off of piers because of the high waves.  Usually, ice begins to form on the shore by Thanksgiving.  I am watching to see if it does this year.

The title of my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, is about how and why the five Great Lakes change.  They are always changing.  There is a new edition out for 2010 with updates.

Here is the best place to order a new copy online:

Monday, November 15, 2010


Milkweed seeds blow in the wind.  Monarch butterflies need milkweed to carry out their life cycles.  We often see them migrating along the shores of the Great Lakes.

9&10 News - Alpena's Amazing Sinkholes

9&10 News - Alpena's Amazing Sinkholes Here is a link to a video and story about what lies under Lake Huron near Alpena, Michigan.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Herring Gull Reflected on the Beach

A herring gull stands reflected in the water.  Breakers roll in and in the distance is the pier with its lighthouse and foghorn.  This is the place where the Grand River enters Lake Michigan.  Sometimes, with a little luck, fishermen catch whitefish this time of year or anything else that swims by.  Some use salmon eggs as bait.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear power plants must be maintained diligently.  If there is not good oversight, the Great Lakes, the world's greatest freshwater system is at risk.

The link below explains the problems.

There are 37 aging nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes basin.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I love to see swans on the lake or flying over it.  They are very beautiful.  They can be feisty though.  They have gone after people who approach their nests too closely.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Dynamic Great Lakes non fiction book     Best Price from the publisher: $12.95 + shipping

The Dynamic Great Lakes is a critically acclaimed non-fiction book about changes in the Great Lakes through the works of nature and the hand of man.

The book includes the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters since this is all one flowing river of freshwater seas.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bird Watching on Lake Michigan

We often see swans flying over Lake Michigan.  They like the marshes on the tributaries near us.
This is good habitat for the blue heron pictured below. We occasionally see the American bald eagle, sand hill cranes flying in formation, Canadian geese and many varieties of ducks. There is a pileated woodpecker that hangs around the neighborhood and several sorts of owls we hear at night and occasionally see.

The hummingbirds we fed all summer have left and now we get chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and downy woodpeckers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Next for Great Lakes Weather.

Heavy winds from west to east caused rip currents and cross currents on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  This photo was taken on Tuesday.  The weather was quite warm and the unusual weather pattern has now changed to cold with rain.

What next?  Heavy snow is predicted for this winter.  I like to ski.

Read more about the Great Lakes in my non-fiction book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

High Winds on Lake Michigan  For the past three days we have been in a huge weather bomb from Minnesota all the way to the east coast and south to the southern states.  The wind has been howling like thousands of dragons and we have felt the lash of the dragons breath and the whip of dragon's tails.  I took this video October 27 about 6:30 p.m.  The wind even got stronger where I live on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan after dark.

On the video my voice is barely heard over the wind blasts and I was having trouble keeping upright.  The wind has reconfigured the beach sand into small dunes in spite of the snow fence meant to contain the sand.  The city has been at work keeping the sand off the road that runs parallel to the beach.  Today the wind is still howling but the colder weather has brought rain.

The waves have stood over 14 feet here at times.  People are walking the beach to feel the strength of the wind.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Muskegon Light on Lake Michigan

West Michigan's shore is lovely right now.  Pictured above is the Muskegon Light.

The Muskegon Harbor and the sandy beach with beach grasses.

Above: Afternoon light shines through sassafras leaves at Hoffmaster State Park in West Michigan.

A red maple and yellow sassafras leaves.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A herring gull at the marina

This herring gull did not mind at all when I walked up to him to take his photo.  He is perched on a post at the Grand Haven city Marina.  These birds are always looking for a hand out and they have found that people will feed them.  But I had nothing to give.  He will need to find his own lunch, maybe a dead fish or some such flotsam.

If he wants a change of scenes he can always fly a short distance to the sandy beach a few blocks away.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Great Lakes Basin

This chart is from Seagrant.  It shows the Great Lakes watershed in green and the five Great Lakes in blue.  Also shown in this freshwater system are Lake Nipigon north of Lake Superior and Lake St. Clair between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.  Although large, these lakes are not called Great Lakes.  Starting from Lake Superior some say is shaped like a wolf's head, the water flows into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, then into Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.  The freshwater then takes a tremendous plunge over Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario and from there it flows out the St. Lawrence River  until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.  Also seen on this chart are the states in the United States and the provinces in Canada surrounding the Great Lakes.  Canada and the U.S. share this mighty freshwater system. 

Read more about the Great Lakes in my critically acclaimed  book, The Dynamic Great Lakes Now available from the Kindle for $9.95, Barnes & Noble in paperback and many other fine bookstores.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fishing on the Great Lakes

Anadramous fish such as coho salmon and king salmon are now starting to run from the Great Lakes and then up the same streams where they were hatched.  This knowledge lies embedded in their bodies along the lateral line that runs up their sides.  They will find the place then the females will deposit their eggs on the streambed and males will follow and deposit their sticky milt on the eggs.

Sports fishers fish from piers or boats hoping to catch a salmon or even a steelhead.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Satellite view of The Upper Great Lakes

As seen from a satellite, Lake Michigan  is in the foreground with some of Lake Superior showing above it and Lake Huron to the east.  Geologically, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are the same lake because they are at the same sea level.  They are like Siamese twins attached through the straits of Mackinac.  These are the upper Great Lakes.

Not in the picture are Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the lower Great Lakes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September on Lake Michigan

It's September on Lake Michigan.  The water is rough and kids can still enjoy the beach.  It's too rough to go in the water though due to rip currents.
This looks like a very active kid.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumnal Equinox on the Great Lakes

Autumnal Equinox.  Yes, the trees are turning brilliant colors: gold, vermilion, rust, and all combinations of patterns and shapes.  This is a scene I painted at Hoffmaster State Park on the wooded dunes of West Michigan.

At the park you can hike the trails and see displays of how the sand dunes were formed and the species of plants and animals found therein.

For more information about the Great Lakes, my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes may be ordered here:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Great Lakes Change

The Dynamic Great Lakes is about changes in the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters.

The new 4th edition for 2010 has new information and it is available for $9.95 from the publisher.

The book encourages people to be aware of the importance of these freshwater seas.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kite Boarding

Dangerous conditions on Lake Michigan today with wind gusts.  The red flag is warning people not to go in the water, but some cannot resisit the temptation to fly on a kite board.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Great Lakes diporeia and research vessel

Research vessels on the Great Lakes are important since there is much we need to know.
Diporeia are wanted since they are food for fish and sustain life in the Great Lakes.

Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles and Ospreys Oh My!

The peregrine falcon, the American bald eagle and the fish eating osprey are indicators of a healthy environment.  I am thrilled every time I see one of these birds along the shoreline of the Great Lakes.
Before DDT was banned, these birds had become nearly extinct in this area.  After DDT was banned, the Great Lakes very slowly purged of this economic poison that had magnified in water through food chains.  These birds at the top of the food chain started to return.

Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, made people aware of what was happening to our environment.  Citizens (and I was one) went to their local governments and state governments to protest the widespread use of DDT.  Finally, the U. S. banned its use and Canada followed.

Read more about the Great Lakes and its fish, birds and ecology in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. Presently the best place to get the new updated book for $9.95 + s&h is from the publisher:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lake Ontario

Thirty-four miles from Niagara Falls the Niagara River empties into Lake Ontario, the last Great Lake in the flowing river of freshwater seas.  On the Canadian shore in the Province of Ontario, a peregrine falcon that started its peregrinations from a tall building in Detroit follows the shoreline.  The falcon passes the industrial city of Hamilton, then passes Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and then spots the tall buildings of Toronto.  The swift falcon lands on top of a tall building where she can dive upon birds.

Cities with tall buildings are a good habitat for peregrine falcons and benefit the cities by cutting down on nuisance birds.  From the top of a skyscraper, the falcon can see sailboats on the lake and freighters passing the second largest city on the Great Lakes.

Read more about the Great Lakes in The Dynamic Great Lakes.  Here is the best place to order: Here is a link to photos of Toronto

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Niagara Falls are Part of the Great Lakes Ecosystem

The Canadian Niagara Falls

Native Americans called Niagara Falls "Thunderer of Waters" a very apt name.  A rainbow arcs in the mist above the horseshoe shaped Canadian Falls.  On the United States side of the falls a powerful gathering of waters rush over the lip of the rock.

Some years ago I was watching from the Canadian side when someone decided to go over in a barrel.  I was watching at the exact time the barrel went over the falls, but I did not see it since the falls are so immense.  As we drove away from the falls in our car we heard about it on the radio.  This is against the law because so many have attempted this stunt and were killed.  Fortunately on that day, the person survived.

Below the falls the water thunders over rapids and curls into spinning whirlpools and finally reaches the Niagara River's mouth where the water flows into Lake Ontario.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Buffalo New York

As a falcon flies, it's 80 miles from Presqueile, PA to Buffalo, New York, a highly populated city.  Freighters carry coal, iron and grains to ports on Lake Erie and the upper Great Lakes. Fishing boats are catching walleye.

 Buffalo is located on the Niagara River where the waters from the Great Lakes above it rush madly toward Niagara Falls.  The Welland Canal was built parallel to the Niagara River to let ships pass around Niagara Falls.  Unlike the Niagara River with its turbulent currents and mighty waterfall, the Welland Canal was engineered with a system of locks that allow 1,000 foot ships as well as small pleasure boats to pass around Niagara Falls and into and out of the Upper Great Lakes on the giant staircase filled with water.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Youtube video Underwater Lake Erie

In case you were wondering about what's under water in Lake Erie, here is a video showing the biota.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Pennsyvania Coast: Lake Erie and Presquile  Here is a good link to pictures and natural features of Presquile, PA.

The French name, Presquile means almost an island. It is a spit of land built by the wind and waves and the wind and waves change its shape continually depending upon the storms and water levels of Lake Erie.  It is dynamic--always changing.

There is a hardwood forest of oaks, hemlocks and ash trees and on the damp forest floor ferns and mushrooms of many shapes and colors push up through the dead leaves.  It's a good place for bird watchers.

In the summer, people flock to its sandy beaches.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lake Erie's Ohio Shore and Islands

There is an archipelago of islands on the western end of Lake Erie:  South Bass Island, Middle Bass Island, North Bass Isand, Pelee Island and Kelleys Island.  On the North side of Kelleys Island, great grooves left by the last glacier are scoured deep into the limestone.  A trough 400 feet long and thirty five feet wide shows the direction of the glacier as it moved forward.

Fishing boats troll for warm water species of fish such as bass, walleye and yellow perch around these islands and elsewhere on Lake Erie.  Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and holds good fishing for these species.

Pictured are Glacial grooves on Kelley's Island

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Map of Bird and Wildlife Refuges on the Detroit River

An ore boat loaded with iron ore from Lake Superior passes manufacturing plants along the Detroit River.  Other freighters carrying grain and manufactured goods head for their home ports that could be any place in the world since the outlet of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River is the Atlantic Ocean. 

The peregrine falcon lands on Grassy Island in the Detroit River, 18 miles from the outlet of Lake St. Clair.  Grassy Isand is a favorite resting spot for migrating birds.  She snatches a weary Blackburnian warbler with bright orange and black plumage in her talons.  This is one of many refuges for birds.  Large cities near Lake Erie have not discouraged wildlife from following the patterns they have followed for thousands of years.  With its shallow, warm waters and abundant wetlands, Lake Eries fish and wildlife still find an environment with abundant food and shelter.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chart for Lake St. Clair and its delta

Chart of Lake St. Clair showing its freshwater delta, a nursery for fish and fowl.

I'm told sturgeon are making a comeback in this area.

Mayflies hatch in abundance here and that's when the fishing gets good.

Flight of the Peregrine Falcon from Detroit

Peregrine\noun a swift nearly cosmopolitan falcon that is used much in falconry

Peregrination\noun a journey

Webster’s Dictionary

Detroit, Lake St. Clair and Flight of the Peregrine Falcon

From a skyscraper in Detroit, a peregrine falcon flies northeast toward Lake St. Clair. Flying over cattails on its edge she hears the rasping voice of redwing blackbirds and the great blue heron’s loud clacking signal of alarm. She circles over heart shaped Lake St. Clair, past mansions on its shore and boats bobbing in the gentle waves. She soon reaches Lake St. Clair’s wetlands: St. John’s Marsh and the rich delta area above it where the St. Clair River fans out into hundreds of tiny channels to form the world’s largest freshwater delta, a rich breeding ground for many species of fish and birds. Her peregrination takes her to Lake St. Clair’s outlet, the Detroit River.

From the outlet of Lake St. Clair the peregrine flies eighteen miles down the Detroit River passing the large industrial centers in Windsor Canada and Detroit and River Rouge in Michigan. The Detroit River’s powerful current seems to boil as it drops about eight feet in elevation: the blue green waters of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have filtered through the marshes and Lake St. Clair and rush past Detroit, Michigan on one side of the river and Windsor Ontario on the other side.

Read more about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes fourth edition now available for $9.95 + s&h

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beach Grass at Hoffmaster State Park

I painted this on the beach at Hoffmaster State Park where one can learn about dune succession.

This single beach grass can withstand drought and wind and helps build sand dunes.

I got much of the information for my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes from park naturalists at Hoffmaster State Park located in Norton Shores West Michigan. 

Now $9.95 + s&h

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marram Grass Builds Sand Dunes

Marram grass holds sand in place on the shores of the Great Lakes when westerly winds blow.  The roots of marram grass are a fine network that help build sand dunes.  I wrote this poem:

 Marram Grass

Roots of marram grass weave fine

webs under the sands as

a network expands

thousands of feet.

Stalks bow down to west winds

and multiply season after season

until the tasseled dune

waves with green grace.

Each year the dunes grow higher

in tasseled grasses

in marram grasses’

loving embrace.
         __Barbara Spring
         Sophia's Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below
This book is available here:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Updated: The Dynamic Great Lakes

The Dynamic Great Lakes received rave reviews when it first was released.  Now it has been updated with the latest information about the Great Lakes and their ecosystems and may be purchased online at a lower price:

This is the fourth edition of The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Purple Loosestrife: an invasive

Over 180 invasive species have entered the Great Lakes and their wetlands.  Pictured is purple loosestrife, a European plant that will take over a wetland like the Mafia takes over a neighborhood.

 Native species do not stand a chance against it.  Wetlands serve as natural filters for pollutants and help prevent floods.  The species of plants that evolved around the Great Lakes serve an important purpose in their ecology. 

Read more on this topic in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lake Huron Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay on Lake Huron could almost be called another Great Lake since it is so large.  Pictured is an alvar, a limestone plain where rare plants may be found.  I used this photo for the cover of my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.  In the Bruce Peninsula, Canada, I hiked the Bruce trail and saw plants found nowhere else.  The Bruce Peninsula is a finger of land that is part of the Niagara escarpment.  The Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan is also a part of this escarpment.

I cruised the waters of Georgian Bay in a glass bottom boat and saw shipwrecks beneath the green waters.  Many shipwrecks also lie under the waters around the Door Peninsula. Sailors used to call this Death's Door.

There are alvars on Wisconsin's Door Peninsula also. 

Books by Barbara Spring

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lake Superior's Wild Shore and Michipicoten Island

Roaring waterfalls, dark pine forests, moose, bear and hiking trails abound on Lake Superior's wild shore.  Bird watchers will enjoy these wild places.

Kayaking, boating and fishing here are popular in the summer.  By fall, the weather may become too cold and the waters too rough for most.

Native Americans living on Lake Superior's shores avoided landing on Michipicoten Island they believe was inhabited by the Manitou of waters and fishes: Michibichi.  They asked this spirit to keep them safe and to grant them an abundant catch.  They also believed the gods who lived below the water gave them copper.

There are islands to explore although some are difficult to reach such as  Michipicoten Island.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior, Ontario Canada

Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior is fed by many small gurgling tributary streams from the north that flow into Lake Nipigon and then for 90 miles through the Nipigon River. This is the northernmost point of Lake Superior.

This is the high north; the habitat lake trout and brook trout.  Sometimes a caribou is seen.

The scenery is beautiful but sadly, both Thunder Bay and Nipigon Bay have been designated  as Areas of Concern due to pollution. The government of Canada is working to remedy the degradation.

For more information about this:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lake Superior's Witch Tree Ontario, Canada

On the east side of Hat Point on the Sibley Peninsula stands a single white cedar called the Witch tree.  It clings to the rocks ten feet above the water.  Its trunk is twisted like a corkscrew and its green scale like leaves are scanty.  It is called by some arbor vitae or the tree of life.  This is the oldest type of tree on the Great Lakes shores.  It may live more than 800 years.  People have wondered how it stays alive since it appears as though there is no soil under it; its roots wrap around rock. 

Both the Cree and the Ojibway indians have used this tree for offerings by placing tobacco around its roots.  They call it a Manitou or spirit tree and tell legends about it.  One legend is of the manitou Nanboujou who wears the cedar tree on his head with the roots bound around his body.

Another legend tell of an evil spirit in the form of a large bird who would plunge from the top of the tree and swamp canoes.

Map of area

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lighthouses of Lake Superior

Lake Superior's rocky shore.  Some of the oldest rocks in the world are found on the shores of Lake Superior. Ships find the lake wild at times and need the help of light houses.  See the link below to Lake Superior lighthouses and their pictures.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From the top of Mount McKay formerly called Thunder Mountain one can have a bird’s eye view of Thunder Bay, an important shipping port in Ontario, Canada.

According to Ojibwe legend, this sacred mountain is the nesting place of the Thunder Bird, a creature huge enough to carry away men or horses. The mountain is used by the Ojibwe for sacred ceremonies.

There is another Thunder Bay on Lake Huron, but I will write about that one later.

Here is a link to Thunder Bay Ontario:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lake Superior's North Shore

Grand Portage Minnesota

Twenty miles from Isle Royale the sound of waves washing and polishing stones may be heard.

Lake Superior's powerful waves have smoothed and shaped rocks of many sizes on the beach and ice moved inland by waves has stacked the rocks in piles on the beach. Small stones clink and roll back and forth in the foaming surf. It's a good place to find agates.

The sound of rushing water--the Pigeon River runs over twenty miles of rapids to empty into Lake Superior. This river marks the boundary between Minnesota and Ontario, Canada. It is also the boundary between the United States and Canada.

The high rock cliffs along the coast line of the North Shore face south at an angle and collect the warmth of the sun so it is often warmer on the coast than inland.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior

Hiking Isle Royale made me feel I was living in Edenic times.  Thimbleberry bushes  grow taller than people and bear delicious fruit.  We saw a moose and heard its cry like a rusty bugle but we never saw  the elusive wolves.   The quavering calls of loons rang through the air.  The reason it felt like Eden was the absence of cars and roads and the beautiful flora and fauna.  We hiked paths and found greenstones, a semi precious stone formed in the volcanic rock of the island.

We also saw ancient copper mines where the First Nations dug the very pure copper found on Isle Royale and traded it as far away as Texas thousands of years ago.

We had to buy tickets for the boat trip to Isle Royale far in advance.  A small plane also takes passengers to the island but tickets for the flight must also be purchased long in advance.

Even thought it is not easy to reach, the trip is well worth it.    Here is a link with particulars:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keweenaw Peninsula

A young eagle flies from Grand Island in Lake Superior.  On a northwesterly thermal he glides with little effort for 150 miles and sights the Keweenaw Peninsula jutting out into Lake Superior, an 80 mile spine of hard rock and at its end, the town of Copper Harbor.

A stand of ancient white pines provide a shelter where the eagle spends the night.  Called the Estivant Pines, they are a remnant of a virgin forest; one of the very few stands of this age that remains after the lumber jacks cut timber to build cities in the mid 1800's.  Below him the ground is covered with thick, fragrant pine needles that have accumulated for over 200 years.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grand Island: American Bald Eagles

Near Munising, Michigan a pair of American bald eagles has built a large untidy nest on Grand Island in the tallest tree.  They have a clear view of their surroundings and an uobstructed flight path to an inland lake on the island.  Just as other bald eagles, the pair mate for life and return to their nest year after year.

Protecting their nesting territory which has an invisible radius of fifteen miles around it, the male of the pair rushes at an immature eagle--his voice like an unoiled hinge.  Startled by this display, the young eagle takes flight.  Seeing that he has successfully defended his territory, the eagle returns to his mate.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Lake Superior

Near Grand Marais, Michigan there are high sandstone cliffs called the Pictured Rocks that stretch for 38 miles.  I took a boat trip along this shore and saw a pair of peregrine falcons that had a nest on top of the rocks.  This was a great spot for them to dive upon their prey.

I could hear the sound of waves thundering in the caves at the base of the cliffs.  The soft sandstone of the Pictured Rocks was formed when saltwater seas covered much of the continental United States millions of years ago.  Later, the powerful wave action of Lake Superior carved the stone into many beautiful shapes: one resembles a castle, others three battle ships, two indian drums, a broken flower vase, and the profile of an indian's face.  The buff colored rocks are steaked with green, red and black caused by deposits of copper, iron, and other minerals along with white limestone.

The Pictured Rocks are covered on top with forested sand dunes.  In the Grand Marais area there are waterfalls to explore.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Whitefish Point in Lake Superior: Graveyard of the Great Lakes

Hidden beneathe Lake superior's waters lie the skeletal remains of many shipwrecks.  Sailors call it the graveyard of the Great Lakes because more that 300 ships have been lost there in Lake Superior storms including the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald 17 miles off of Whitefish Point.

The 729 foot ore carrier went down in a November storm in 1975 after being buffeted by 30 foot waves and tossed by 70 knot winds.  The ship broke in half and sank with all 29 crewmen.  It now lies in 530 feet of water.

There is a shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point: http//