Saturday, July 16, 2016

Vacation Day 5: In Which My Mom Never Wants to Walk Another Step

So today began with a breakfast at our hotel. I put on a dress without really thinking (because it is JULY), but when I got outside I realized it was cold.  I quickly changed into jeans and we headed down the road to see if the Shipwreck Tour was on. It was!  It was also never going to get out of the 60s today, it was overcast and occasionally spitting rain, and I realized that I was going to hear an "I told you so" about the conversation I had with Dr. BB about leaving my sweatshirt at home (IT IS JULY!!!).  Mom and I marched into the gift shop and purchased windbreakers for $19.99 (hers in pink, mine in purple).

We hopped on the Lady Michigan with about twenty other people, two deckhands, the captain, and the volunteer docent.  

The Lady Michigan has two wells at the bottom of the boat in which there are glass panels you can huddle around to see the wrecks in the water.
People huddling.
There are lots of wrecks in Thunder Bay, not least of which is because people used to be encouraged to just sink their old ships in the marina.  We saw two of these types of "purposeful" wrecks in the Shamrock and the Harvey Bissell.  We then went to an unknown ship that was actually discovered on one of these very shipwreck cruises a few years ago. Then we went to see the William P. Rend and it was amazing. I actually hadn't planned on taking any pictures from the wells because I thought they wouldn't turn out (and the NOAA photos on those links are better than anything I could do!), but here you go.
It's the spine of the ship!
After this, I was excited to see what else I could see and you know what happened? We spent more than 25% of our 2-hour tour ($30 a person!!!) LOOKING AT A FUCKING CEMENT PLANT.  Apparently the thing used to be a polluting nightmare, but has since cleaned up its act and the captain used to work there and he talked incessantly about it and I guess I kind of care, but I was there to see shipwrecks, not discuss industry. I was pissed at the last 40 minutes of our tour.
Fucking cement plant.
If we'd been less impatient yesterday, we might have known we'd see Little Red, the Alpena Light, from the water today.
It's for sale if you want it. The Coast Guard doesn't.
I actually have a lot of quibbles with this tour. The volunteer docent often didn't turn on her mike, so who the hell knew what she was saying? Even if she did turn on her mike, the amplification was pretty much nil, so if you weren't within hearing distance of her, you couldn't hear it. Also, she just wasn't very knowledgeable. Other than one cute story about a dog surviving a shipwreck, all she provided was the name of the ship, the year it went down, and how deep it was.  And I don't even want to talk anymore about the cement plant tour.

So, the museum from yesterday gets a five out of five stars. The tour itself gets three out of five. It was kind of expensive and I had such high hopes after reading the Trip Advisor reviews and having such a great time at the museum that it was a bit of a let down for me.

We left Alpena and headed south down Lake Huron to the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse where we wandered around, being sure to stay on the path because of threatening signs about the prevalence of poison ivy. We paid $3 a piece to climb to the top of the tower.  The museum wasn't very interesting, but that didn't stop us from spending the better part of an hour there.
We then kept going on US-23 South towards the Tawas Point State Park (where we had to pay $9 for ANOTHER daily "recreation passport) to see the Tawas Point Lighthouse. For $5 each, we got an interesting tour of the lighthouse in which four different volunteers spoke about different historical time periods in the lighthouse's history.  We also got to climb the tower of Tawas Point, so it was a win-win for climbing lighthouses today.
The state park was pretty amazing in its own right. While we waited for the lighthouse tour to begin, we wandered around some of the trails and beaches. Tawas Point itself is constantly changing so many of the beaches are currently underwater while others are getting larger. Mom and I were particularly amused by the "pet-friendly beach" that was entirely underwater (see the bench in the collage below).
Then we walked the two-mile loop of the Sandy Hook Nature Trail. My mom is not always the most active of people and my guess is that she's going to be glad to see the last of me tomorrow when I leave and she won't have to walk another nature trail until I see her again.  This particular trail was lovely and mom and I had it all to ourselves and I took a million photos, but if you've made it this far in the post you've already seen a million photos, so I will leave you with this adorableness.
Then we drove to my mom's house where I called Dr. BB and started typing this.

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