Many of you know that Stefan from Böbing has been visiting many of the BayernTrips Alumni throughout the Midwest. He’s had some great adventures and now he is with us in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Yesterday, we enjoyed a perfect day out on Lake Superior together.
Vonia made us a nice big American-style breakfast and we left Ironwood at 8:30 AM. We stopped in Ashland at my favorite coffee shop, the Black Cat and visited the bakery across the street. Being raised on fresh daily bread from Sepp’s bakery, Stefan has had trouble adjusting to the American stuff. But this baerly had fresh bagels, croissants, and all kinds of good things and we loaded up our cooler for our tour.
Another 40 minutes and we were loading our kayak into the water at Little Sand Bay. A bit overcast a this point and waves at about 1/2 foot seemed a little foreboding, but we pressed on. Stefan took the paddling rhythm quickly and I only called out a cadence to him just twice. Making the crossing to Sand Island takes us about 50-60 minutes – even with a bit of a head wind, we still managed to reach our destination in about 50 minutes. As we approached the island shore, the wind calmed and the waves subsided to almost nothing. The light cloud layer had left us and we were treated to blue skies and an occasional puffy white cloud.
When the seas are calm, visiting the sea caves is a magical experience. Not only are the beautiful from the outside, but the calm water allows a kayaker entrance to the deepest parts of the caves. Some of them go back more than 15 boat lengths and offer enough space to turn the boat around in side the cavern. We paddled in and out of the caves several times and poked through them slowly. At the end of our tour we met two boaters who brought their boat all the way from Lake Ontario!
After the caves, we were the first visitors of the day at the Justice Bay beach. We picked out a great spot with a bit of shade and beached the boat. Since we were both quite sweaty from the paddling, we jumped into the icy water. With the extra warmth of the wetsuits and the buoyancy they offer, we floated on our backs for a long time – so peaceful that it was possible to fall asleep!
We thought about the lunch we had purchased at the bakery, but opted to just enjoy a Keweenaw Pick Axe Blond and some fresh olives we picked up at the bakery. Not usually my favorite beer style, today it was the perfect choice – light and refreshing. We laid in the sun for a an hour or two and let the effects of the beer wash over us.
A few hours later, we took a walk to the Sand Island Lighthouse. Staffed by a volunteer ranger, she explained the history of the lighthouse and the island as well telling us some stories about the sinking of the Prussia and the Savona right off shore from the island. We climbed the tower and spent a long time enjoying the view of Minnesota’s north shore and the other Apostle’s. As we leaned on the railing, a large bald eagle soared passed up at eye level – a real treat for Stefan to see one in its natural habitat.
Approaching 3:00 PM, we had to get back to the boats. Once there, the hard-biting flies joined us. They look like a normal housefly, but pack a wallop of a bit. They encouraged us to quickly pack up the boats and make for the water! We cruised past the caves – ducking into two of them for once last look, but we quickly headed for the mainland. At the midway point, we stopped to refill our water. Stefan got a kick out of using our water filter to pull water right from Lake Superior. The purity of this water probably makes filtering redundant, but since we have the filter, we might as well use it.
After packing up the boats on the mainland, we took one last dip in the water before driving back to Bayfield. Once there, we camped out on the rooftop beergarden overlooking the harbor. It was hard to pull ourselves away from this, but one of us had to drive us back to Ironwood. At this point also, we both had developed a pretty good appetite so we drive on to the South Shore Brewery in Ashland. We devoured a pork sandwich at the bar and then went outside to the small block party that was going on. A small tent was set-up and the brewmaster, Bo, was pouring beer. We had a short chat with him before we drove on to Ironwood. On our way through the Odanah Indian Reservation, Stefan indicated he’d never been to a casino, let alone one on an Indian Reservation, so we pulled in there and promptly lost all the change in his pocket!