The Artwork of
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Day one in Pictured Rocks. I left my home in Evansville about 8:00 yesterday morning. I was in Door County by noon. I stopped by three galleries, as it seemed like a good time to try and stir up some interest in my work. After introductions and and handshakes, I returned south and drove through Green Bay (the city) and back up along the west bank of Green Bay (the body of water) into Michigan's upper peninsula - to Escanaba where I spent the night.
This morning I left Escanaba, driving almost due north through the central UP to Munising and the Lakeshore headquarters. I was early for my meeting with Gregg Bruff, my contact at the park service, so I went out to the Miners River area where there is a beach, the Lakeshore trail and Miner Falls (a couple miles inland). Starting at the beach, I explored around the eastern base of Miners Castle, a shapely sandstone cliff formation, near where the river flows into Lake Superior. Mid morning, the light was wonderful, a bright sunny day with clear blue skies and bright green foliage - the rain of just a day before bringing a little life back to the forest.
I waded across the river and climbed for a bit on the sandstone at the base of Miners Caste Rock - but I couldn't go too far as I ran out of footing - it was wet and slippery. I explored up the river, finding a small footpath through the woods. It lead me to the North Country Trail, the trail that runs along the lakeshore for much of the southern shore of Lake Superior. This trail led me back to the parking area.
I then drove over to Miners Falls - one of the more photographed sections of the park. A brief broad trail, just made for crowds, wound through the woods to the falls. It is a nice falls and I vowed to return and paint it at some future point. I then drove back to the park headquarters to meet Gregg. We spoke for a while; he told me some of the unmarked places, places kept secret among the park staff and not marked for tourists, that I might find interesting. He handed over the key to my cabin and I departed.
I drove east the 35 or so miles to my cabin, though I stopped in town first where a cute waitress with the nicest legs served me a fresh whitefish sandwich at the A & W. How fresh? It had been caught in Lake Superior earlier in the day, the waitress told me, by her uncle. Nice. I also stopped at the local grocery for some perishables and headed east.
For ten miles, a fine paved highway flowed through the North Country scrub - and then abruptly stopped with little warning as I flew off the blacktop onto the gravel the road became at about 30 mph faster than it was designed to take. For 25 miles of very rough "main road" I wound through scrub, forest and lakeshore to my cabin. What I thought would be a 40-minute drive turned out to be 2 hours - and I realized I would be more cut-off from Park HQ than I had thought. I'm probably not going all the way back there too often - and they're not likely to come way out here.
I unpacked and tried to settle in while waiting for the east-end ranger to formally check me into the cabin - with a checklist on the condition of everything (serviceable but rustic).
The cabin is quaint - meaning not the Sheraton. No big fluffy pillows & milled soap. The cabin is French styled, Gregg had told me, with the logs running up and down rather than horizontally. Sitting here, I would guess it was built shortly after World War II and hasn't changed a great deal, other than a newer range and refrigerator.
The refrigerator runs on gas. Seems to take a very long time getting cold, though I am finally getting a little ice forming in the freezer - which has taken hours. Hopefully some of that cold will work its way down to the main area so my milk, juice and meat don't spoil. I made catfish tonight. It was probably my costliest entrée item - so I thought better than to waste it just in case. Sautéed in butter and onions with a little garlic, it was very fine catfish.
It is very quiet here. I knew that and was looking forward to giving up TV and the Internet and the phone, but no music either. I may have to find a cheap CD player, some bedding and a pillow for the couch. Those things are missing. I guess you need to bring your own bedding, the one thing I really missed.
This quiet, quiet so the only sound I can hear is the pen scratching on the paper with the faint sound of the fridge and water heater. Otherwise, dead silence.
The cabin consists of 4 rooms: A small bathroom with shower (very north woods but it works). The main room, a living room; has some tables, a couch, a plush chair, and a wood stove complete with saw and ax.
The cabin has electricity, generated by solar panels in the roof and stored in some kind of battery. I have no idea how long this will last, and as the most important electric need other than light to cook by is the morning coffee, I am using the oil lamp along with my LED, camping headlamp. I can't for the life of me understand how painters of old could have possibly painted under oil lamps. They must have painted only by open windows or under skylights. Still, the light is warm and inviting.