Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday: A Vacation Day

When asked for this blog post what day it was, Mr. GT shrugged and said, “A vacation day.”

When I went shopping the other day for the few groceries we needed, two boxes of cereal were going to cost over $9 (and would have lasted us for two breakfasts) Really, the prices up here haven’t been as ridiculous as I had expected, but this was ridiculous! So instead, I opted for the $5.68 container of Quaker quick oatmeal. (at home we eat from a 50 lb bag of thick-cut, steel-cut organic oats, but, hey, we’re on vacation!

Anyway, the oatmeal has proved to be wildly popular. Rose Bud has been eating oatmeal for snack and for breakfast and they all couldn’t get enough oatmeal this morning. Mr. GT ate his homemade chocolate chip pancakes alone.

We reached Tahquamenon Falls about 9 and there were only 4 or 5 other families there. I had joked that the place would be choked with tourists. Mr. GT commandeered the camera to take 3 million nature photos today.

We hiked down the paved trail and down the 96 metal steps. At our first view of the falls, we overheard a man talking about walking behind the falls. I asked him if this was the falls that you could walk behind as I had gone behind a waterfall in Upper Michigan with my parents when I was Daisy’s age. It was such a cool experience walking along the ledge behind the power of the enormous falls.

The man explained that this DID used to be the falls you could walk behind, but that the ledge behind the falls had since eroded and you no longer could go behind. (not only could you not go behind, but you also could not get near the edge, nor walk down the wooden steps, nor walk along the river at its edge. Guard rails lined the entire length of the hike and new, metal steps were built over the old wooden stairs (as Pepper noticed).

We explored the trails of the falls for over an hour with Sunshine in the lead. At the end we took the nature trail to the parking lot.
 Mattel CEO??

In the park was a brew pub and restaurant so we ate lunch there. I had a small raspberry ale. Mmm.

After lunch we hit the gift shop for postcards (watch your mailboxes in about 2 weeks!) and a tiny rubber pasty for our vacation Christmas ornament (we buy something for our tree every time we go on vacation).

We headed next to the Lower Falls, which are more boring and farther away. I captured the camera back from Mr. GT. The kids were tired of falls and anxious to hit the shipwreck museum, so we only had a quick look at the lower falls.
Quick!  The Lower Falls!

Next up, a 22 mile drive to Whitefish Point where we thoroughly enjoyed the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It was pricey, for what there was and I have some suggestions to make it better, but the displays they had were nicely done.

We watched a 14-minute film on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the raising of its bell 20 years later. The bell is housed here as a memorial to the 29 sailors who died in that tragedy. A fact I didn’t know was that the EF was the last of the Great Lakes freighters to go down in the Great Lakes. That was in 1975.

The museum’s focus was on sinkings around Whitefish Point, which was a most dangerous area because of the narrowing of the lake along with the amount of freighter traffic and the unpredictable and dangerous storms and fog. I was reading the display aloud and explaining this to the girls, who were more interested in this topic than anything I’ve ever seen (!!), and the docent was listening in to our discussion from her desk.

When I finished, she said she had never heard any parent or teacher explain it better and she liked how I checked in with the girls to see if they understood the vocabulary. Truly, it was no different than any discussion we have on any school topic (or really any topic we discuss). To me, this is the fun part of learning and homeschooling and I love best when they ARE so interested in a topic. Even Rose Bud, who remains a homeschooler at heart, was in on the discussion—I’m so glad she hasn’t lost her curiosity and love for learning by switching over to public school.

The museum had several components: the museum with shipwreck displays, the film about the EF, a search and rescue museum and the lighthouse museum. The lighthouse here is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. They had restored the lightkeepers’ homes to show how they and their families lived and what their work entailed.

Of course, we also had to walk down to the beach, where the kids went nuts finding lake-polished rocks and driftwood. Giant white thunderheads had blown in directly over us (but not to either side, just over us) and it was very lightly misting. Sunshine waded in the icy Lake Superior water while the rest of the kids collected.

When it began to sprinkle, we headed back to the car, with a short detour to the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory for Daisy. On the way back to Paradise (no, really! Paradise! It’s the only town up on Whitefish Point!) it POURED. POURED! But only over the road, not on either side. Much.

It stopped just before Paradise and the sun came out overhead, until we found the ice cream shop and parked. Then it poured again. So we waited in the van until it abated a bit. The second we had dashed into the tiny ice cream shop, it stopped and the sun came out.

We didn’t buy fudge today, but we did eat Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream.

Some words:

Sunshine: “When is Nonny coming? I just LOOOOOOOVE Nonny!”

Pepper: “I DON’T love the mosquitoes, but they love ME!” (it’s true, she’s on Benadryl at night and Zyrtec in the morning)

Daisy: “Daaaad!”

Banana Boy: “Today are we going to Upper Michigan?”

Rose Bud: “I’m hungry!”

Sunshine: “We almost THERE???”

Pepper: “Feel this ear. Now feel this ear. This one has only a little crack, but the other one I can put my whole finger under almost. It’s so fat! I HATE MOSQUITOES!!!!!”

Pepper: “Get that mosquito! DAD! GET IT!”


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