The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Harley takes his role as navigator seriously!

Views from the St Clair River, MI

The Traveling Longdogs and I were parked along the water where Lake Huron enters the St Clair River in our hunt for the big ships that are always elusive when I get to this area. The day was cool by my Texas standards but warm enough for Michiganders to be out boating. Lots of sailboats enjoying the brisk breezes on the big lake.

As I said, a little cool for me but the Canadian swimmers were out in full force enjoying the water.

This guy is motoring up the river towards the lake to join his fellow sailboaters. That is the Canadian shore across the way.  Remember the picture above and then look very closely along the edge of the bank to the left of the sailboat. Yup, that is a group of swimmers from the earlier picture. As I watched, group after group went floating by with no life rafts or even water floats that I could see. And I kept wondering where they were going to get out of the water after they went past as I could see only high sides and no beaches. They were whipping right along in the current too. The current on the Canadian side is not nearly as strong as it is on the American side but it is still strong.

Both the Canadian side and the American side have parks across from each other with flags from both countries. At one time, boaters could freely cross but now you must have passports. This is the Lady Huron tour boat.

Alas, the only big ship I saw was anchored at a dock in Sarnia on the Canadian side. They are there, my timing is just off. My BIL was telling me about the first time he saw one of the new 1000 footers come through.

Port Huron has quite a few different museums to visit. The Thomas Edison Depot Museum is right along the lakeshore.

Interesting Coffee Shop don't you think? "The Exquisite Corpse" does not sound that enticing.

Port Huron has quite a few family style restaurants that are not chains. This is one of my favorites. Have you ever had Auce Cod? My SIL had it and it was very good. Okay....All U Can Eat....took me a while too.

They make some fantastic corn bread here too and you can even get a pan of it to go with honey butter. Don't ask me how I know.

I'm not quite done enjoying the water views yet. Hopefully the rain won't materialize this weekend.

A Surprise Visit

On my previous post about the drive up the western shore of Lake Huron, I mentioned that we had another adventure. As we drove past Port Sanilac, Nadine and I were talking about how Aunt Shirley and Uncle Steve used to bring their RV to a park near Port Sanilac. We passed Holiday Beach RV Park and thought that was probably the place.

Uncle Steve passed away quite a few years ago and Aunt Shirley wasn't expected to live long after she moved in with her son Stevie and his wife JoJo. Well, she fooled them all and made a miraculous recovery. Nadine said she hadn't heard from her in a number of weeks and she was a little worried but she figured they might be up at their resort park. She didn't have the phone number with her so we were just looking along the shore when another Resort Park appeared on the lakeshore. It had more park models and mobile homes than RVs. We drove past. Then we looked at each other and made a joint decision to turn around and see if we check at the office and find out if they might be at that particular park. The office was closed of course!

We drove a little further along when Nadine said "that kind of looks like JoJo...I haven't seen her in a few years." Ever helpful, I said hop out and ask.....if it isn't her, she might know them and if not, we'll never see her again anyway.

It was JoJo....what are the chances of that....don't know the park....don't know their mobile home....stopped on a whim. We had a fantastic visit. Aunt Shirley was so very surprised and so happy to see us. We all laughed at this picture because Aunt Shirley was never too fond of small dogs and cats as pets.....until her great granddog came along. Now she keeps treats to entice Canela to visit her room. Canela is Spanish for cinnamon which is a little confusing until you know that the dog was cinnamon colored when she was very small.

It's been a few years since I've seen Stevie and JoJo. Stevie is my DH's and Nadine's cousin. They have a lovely rehabbed mobile home with a huge deck that even has a firepit. You can see the lake from the deck too. This is their first season at this beach resort but they are really enjoying it...lots going on and a friendly place....also not as far to drive from their home in Mt Clemmons.

Nadine and I had a fantastic day and this unexpected visit may have been the very best part of it.

Lake Huron Western Shore: Lexington and Port Sanilac

Sunday afternoon my SIL, Nadine, and I headed up the western shore of Lake Huron for a drive. As you head north from Port Huron, you can't see a lot of the lake because of all the houses and private property between the highway and the lake but once you get a little further north, the view opens up. We didn't leave until about 1PM, hoping that the sun would make more of an appearance.

Our first stop was Lexington.

I am always scanning the lake for the elusive ocean going freighters or even the ore carriers but this was what we saw the most of. Lots of boats in the harbor. These small town harbors are not built for any of the big ships. The day was cloudy but not foggy. I was here several years ago when you could not even see the land when you walked out on the pier. That was kind of spooky.

The sandy beach on the other side of the pier had people sunbathing and a few intrepid souls in the water.... not this Texan....too cold for even wading for me.

Looking back toward the shore from the L-shaped pier, you can what a great view those condo dwellers have from the windows on the lake side.

We walked back up the hill to the main street and had lunch at Sweetwater Deli and Bakery. The Pizza Con Carne was absolutely pizza I've had in a long time. The crust had poppy seeds and seasoning in it.

Lots of the towns around here have hanging baskets including downtown Port Huron. The season is short but they get lots of rain so the flowers are beautiful.

We checked out the General Store for tourists.

Another choice for lunch would have been Wimpy's. They are pretty famous in the area.

Heading back down to the truck, we admired the view this place has of the lake.

Then we got a real surprise, there was an otter walking around near the walkway. He didn't seem to be bothered by the humans walking nearby.

Back in the truck heading further up the shore, our next stop was Port Sanilac.

Another small harbor for yachts and pleasure boats.

We had another adventure in Port Sanilac but I'll save that for a separate post. You can just see the ghost image of a big ship out on the horizon.

M-25 has a really nice Rest Area with lots of parking right along the shore. If you come up this way, be sure to stop and the views are great.

It was a great afternoon.

Looking for the Big Ships

Yesterday afternoon I headed out with my niece's 6 year old daughter with two purposes in mind, one was to see if we could watch some of the big freighters go through the St Clair River on their way north to Lake Huron or south to Lake Erie. The second purpose was to separate the two kids and give my sister-in-law a break for the afternoon. You know the old adage: have sibling, will fight.

We headed back down to the Blue Water River Walk. First we saw the Lady Huron, a tour boat, headed back into her slip in the Black River. No big ships were in sight coming from either direction.

So we headed a little further north to where we could see out onto Lake Huron. Hmmmm.....nothing but sailboats over by the Canadian shoreline.

We were on the beach at Lighthouse Park along with some seagulls and a few hardy souls wading in the water or sunbathing.

We went by the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. It is an active Coast Guard station but they do have a gift shop and small museum on sight as well as tours of the lighthouse itself. We passed on that today as I wanted to see some of the big ships.

Ah....our first sighting. This is a foreign ocean liner heading towards the St Clair River and Lake Erie.

She was moving right along.

We saw a couple others way out on Lake Huron so we decided to head back to the river area for closer viewing when they came through. The Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia, Canada is the the background with the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock in the left foreground.

Alas, the big ships out on the lake were taking too long to get to the river and we had to head home for dinner so all we saw was these kayakers.

I also found the new offices for the Great Lakes Pilots Assn. The foreign ships traveling up the St Lawrence Seaway into the interior of the U.S. and Canada are required to have a pilot on board for so many trips across the great lakes and then to have a pilot on board every time they navigate one of the ports or the access rivers. The reason I really enjoy seeing the ships is that my dad, Captain Alfred Irving Amundson, was one of the founding members of the American Pilot's Assn. 

You can see the pilot boat at the dock here. The pilots ride the pilot boat out to the ship in the lake and climb a rope ladder up the side while both boats are moving if a pilot is required just for the riverway or locks. I have some very good memories of my younger years when dad was piloting Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. One year he was station near St Ignace and Drummond Island. The pilot boat driver did not show up to take my dad out to the ship so he ran the pilot boat out, got it alongside and told me to hold it steady until he climbed up and the other pilot climbed down, and then the other pilot would drive the pilot boat back to the dock and tie up. Well, all went well until the other pilot climbed down and informed me he had no idea how to run the pilot boat and I would have to do it. I got us in and docked okay.....I was 17 and it was the first time I had driven the boat. Dad was furious with the other pilot. Another time, I actually got to go through the river with my Dad. He thought that that particular ship would have a boom seat like a swing that they would lower down for me to get aboard or I probably wouldn't have gotten to go.  I climbed the rope ladder ahead of him and it was a long way up. It was a great adventure and had times been different, I might have tried to follow in my Dad's footsteps, alas, no women pilots back in those days. And to think that I am leery of heights these days.

Stopped a local produce market the other day and picked up some beautiful tomatoes, not cheap but oh so pretty and even more delicious.

 It's BLTs for dinner tonight!

Time for me to head out. A truckload of pigs has arrived at the Inspection Station next to McDonald's and it is noisy and smelly out here in the truck. See you soon.

Blue Water Riverwalk in Port Huron, MI

I found some changes since I last visited Port Huron. The town now has a riverwalk. The Blue Water River Walk is almost a mile long view of the St Clair River shoreline which starts just south of the mouth of the Black River in Port Huron. This is a whole new section about a mile south of the walk near the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia, Canada.

The shoreline used to create this beautiful River Walk was donated to the Community Foundation of St Clair County by a local philanthropist, James C. Acheson and his wife Suzanne at Christmas 2011 with the stipulation that it always be open to the public. The $1.5 million initial gift has now been leveraged to create a total public and private partnership investing more than $6 million.

Just across the Black River at the beginning of the River Walk is the old Railroad Bridge. There is some controversy between those who want to tear it down (the Yacht Club sits just beyond it) and those who say it is a landmark and helps them find the mouth of the Black River if the weather turns bad.

This is the entrance to Desmond Landing with the Maritime Museum just behind it. There is lots of free parking here. You could probably even find room for your RV while you visit the River Walk. The museum is small but free and tells all about the river and what they are doing to improve the water quality and. There is even a camera down at the bottom of the river where you can see fish swim by. Yes, the water is very deep but pretty clear these days.

The is a small cafe with inside tables and a couple of food stands at the museum with picnic tables outside for those who prefer the fresh air.

The beginning of the River Walk is just beyond the museum.

Ships like these docked at terminals across the river in Canada regularly use the river to get between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. The water is deep and the current strong.

The river has long been a fishing ground and a lot of work has been done and is still ongoing to bring it back to its best state.

This is an old Navy training ship docked along the walk.

You'll also find some neat sculptures along the way.

I got my BIL and SIL to pose for me.

This huge sturgeon weighs in at 15 tons.

There are lots of signs telling about the river and nature along the walk.

Another view of the Navy training vessel.

This is an old railcar ferry crossing which has been restored.

The exhibit sign gives you a much better idea of how it worked.

It was a beautiful day and the flowers and butterflies were out in force.

A little further up the river you will find a new Seaway Terminal. I guarantee you that the temperature shown was at the least, 10 degrees optimistic. lol

The Coast Guard ship Bramble has been here for a long time. Again, that is Canada across the river.

Some people were seeing the sites in this little vehicle.

I took this picture of the traffic on the Blue Water Bridge crossing from Canada to the U.S. on a Sunday afternoon. It was bumper to bumper all the way across the bridge coming south to the U.S.

Don't miss the Blue Water River Walk if you are in the area. It also connects up to the Bridge to Bay Trailway for those that want a much longer walk or bike ride.