MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Trying to Get to the Apostle Islands

The Fog kept us in.
The Black Flies!
On my trip to Wisconsin, I was looking forward to visiting the Apostle Islands.  Situated in the very northern part of the state, it was a 5 1/2 hour drive from Madison (where I flew into).  I had allotted 3 days time in the area, thinking that was plenty to experience the small town, the lake, the islands and the area's natural beauty.  I had planned on several boat and kayak tours, hiking and exploring.  BUT, mother nature, with an assist from the airlines, had other plans.  I was delayed, fogged out, rained on and swarmed with biting black flies.  All of that was not going to keep me from seeing them - I had come too far!

Sea Caves at Devil's Island
The Apostle Islands are a more recent park in the system.  The National Lakeshore was established on the south shore of Lake Superior in 1970; it protects a collection of small islands off the northern coast of Wisconsin for their sheer beauty (i.e. their scenic, biological, geological, historical architectural and wilderness resources).  These low sitting islands checker the lake breaking the smooth water with strips of green.  A few of them still house historic fishing camps and others have lighthouses.

I had never been to Lake Superior.  I was ready to dip my toes in its waters,   I was drawn to the pictures of the flat coastal rocks.  I was looking forward to the sea cave system.  It looked peaceful.  And really, it was tranquil. That tranquility was necessary since my vacation began with stress - I missed my flight out of DC, my next flight was delayed and I missed my connection as a result.  I can't blame United since I would have made the connection if I had made my original initial flight.  So, I spent 5 hours in Chicago waiting for a 20 minute flight.  By the time I finally landed in Madison, I had just enough time to make it for my ghost tour in Bayfield.  Gone was my plan to stop at cheese factories and the Great Lakes Visitor's Center.  I need to power drive (all those drives up and down I-95 come in handy at times like these).

My plan when arriving in Bayfield was to quickly check into my Bed and Breakfast and run to meet my tour.  I made it (whew) and got my first taste of obstacles for the weekend - the small town was under construction and the rain and fog would not let go...  it made for a spooky evening, but was not ideal for my plans for daylight.  Still, the ghost and historical tour provided some great stories.  Apparently, the local B&B's look for ghost stories and histories in their accommodations; we were told a great story of how one proprietor went looking for one since they thought that they were at a disadvantage.  They asked other ghosts to come to their home.  When they finally got their wish, they ended up with a bad accordion player ghost.  See, cute!  We also learned some of the history of the area and the islands - founded for timber, brownstone and fishing; as the area was settled, farming took a foothold and the cows took over downtown!

My birthday was to be celebrated with the Grand Tour of the islands.  Instead, I woke up to thunder
and pouring rain.  By the time it was time to load the boat, the rain stopped (yeah), but a thick fog, Scooby Doo fog, started rolling in off the Lake (boo).  Our captain tried to wait it out.  Alas, it was not to be.  He called it off and also admitted to me that the afternoon tour of the shipwrecks would be a bust since the rain kicked up the silt.  Damn!

I contacted a kayak outfitter that could fit me in a tour.  I figured fog couldn't hurt if we weren't going out too far.  I was all ready to sign up for the excursion, when they mentioned wet suits... I did not pack a wet suit.  I did not have a bathing suit to wear under one of the generics they had.  I was going to Wisconsin, I wasn't planning on swimming.  And hey, I have kayaked in Alaska and never needed a wet suit... what was this about?  So, off to the Park headquarters I went.  There, the fantastic rangers told me to head to Madeline Island on the car ferry, there I could visit the state park (if I could deal with the mud).  So, off on my first car ferry adventure I went!

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