Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A Taste for Lake Trout

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

The area we’ve been traversing for the last week or so is called the “Upper Peninsula” of Michigan. The two parts of Michigan are not connected. We’ve been travelling along the southern shore of Lake Superior.

I’ve developed a taste for lake trout. These monsters come in sizes up to 60 pounds. The flesh, unlike their smaller cousins, is an orange hue. They are delicate and delicious on the grill. Every small town along the lake has a fish store or two where you can buy lake trout, walleye, king salmon and whitefish.

It’s now been officially 3 months since we set out on this latest journey. My mind is turning to spreadsheets and databases and I’m beginning to yearn for gainful employment. Whenever that happens I try to lie down until the feeling goes away.

We went to the upper falls the first thing this morning. It’s billed as the second largest fall east of the Mississippi, but I know three right offhand that are bigger.

We move on to a tour of a cranberry farm. We bought some raisin-like dried cranberries, cranberry bar-b-q sauce, cranberry jelly and cranberry desert topping. The cranberry farm has been in the same family 125 years. Mrs. Phred says she couldn’t live in the woods and raise cranberries. I think more empathetically. I imagine all I know is cranberry farming and think about dropping everything and looking for employment in New York City. Cranberry farming has its own hooks.

Next stop is the “Shipwreck Museum” at the lighthouse on Whitefish Point. The narrows here have accounted for a fair share of the 6,000 shipwrecks and 30,000 lives claimed by the great lakes. One old Captain made me laugh. He sunk four other ships in a month from collisions before going down himself in a fifth wreck. His attitude was “I’m carrying her Majesty’s mail and they need to get out of my way”.

The bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald was on display. That one made an impression on the locals. The modern “Big Fitz”, an ore carrier built in 1958, disappeared in a 1975 November storm with 100 MPH winds. The Captain reported a bad list, no light at Whitefish Point and both radar masts swept over board. That was his last transmission. They play some eerie music in the museum and cut over to the Gordon Lightfoot song now and then. I meet the Whitefish Point light keeper and ask him why the light was down during the storm. He is strangely silent.

We buy some lake trout and wine in the afternoon in the little community of Paradise and settle in to read. They’re playing “Dark Side of the Moon” in the fish store. I’m relieved that nobody notices my t-shirt. It’s very green here, high summer. The wildflowers are lovely. The north woods are lush and green this time of year. Everything is in a hurry to grow during the short summer months. The fall here is probably lovely. In the winter, the waves on the lake create huge ice sculptures on the frozen lakeshore.

I’m dreaming of something else, maybe a long dive trip in to Truk, maybe a job as a light house keeper, maybe something else entirely, like a flat in Ankora or a 100 acre tobacco farm...

We’re heading tomorrow for Sault Ste. Marie and then Sudbury and Ottawa before entering the U.S. in Cornwall, New York. Ontario has a lot of remote lakes where you can catch walleyes and pike.

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