TOPIC: June 22nd
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sun, Aug 3 2008 7:50 am
This is day #2 of our journey. Day #3 will follow in a day or two.
Monica and I arose the second morning of our trip to empty stomachs.
Our options were to eat a nutritious, low calorie breakfast out of
our cooler, or a greasy, high calorie breakfast at a local café. We
thought about it and decided to have a robust meal at the only
restaurant open in Fair Haven on Sunday morning. We support local
establishments as much as our budget will permit and we used that as
our excuse to bypass our cooler.
The restaurant was a couple of miles away within the intersection of
two roads. The positioning seemed unusual, but it was the only show
in town. It was run by several delightful, full-figured ladies with
the assistance of the child of the only slender one of the group.
There had obviously been no parsimonious calorie intake among the
three of the four ladies who ran the establishment. I don’t
ordinarily comment on the profiles of folks who become subjects in
my descriptions, but their collective appearance caused me to think
along marketing lines. They were a successful advertisement for the
restaurant. It was clearly popular with local folks. All tables were
taken when we arrived, so we squeezed in at the counter, but even
then, we had a long wait.
While waiting on breakfast, Monica struck up a conversation with
the little girl who was helping her mother keep the coffee fresh and
do various and other sundry tasks. The girl was about 8 and was
alert, bright-eyed, and eager to help. She seemed stimulated by the
hustle and bustle and responded readily to Monica’s questions. She
enjoyed the attention she was getting, but also wanted to be of
assistance. When called she was instantly on the job. The little
miss had the makings of a person who would stay in command of her
life. Both Monica and I were impressed. It was refreshing to see so
young a child content to help her mother.
We hoped our long wait would be worth it, but when our breakfast
arrived, it ranked only a B on my breakfast evaluation scale. The
quantity of food was sufficient, but the quality was less than we
expected. The exception might have been the homemade bread. Although
our breakfasts didn’t reach the A level, at least mine far outdid
what one gets at the restaurant chains. Despite our quality
evaluation, the other patrons appeared to relish their food. I
cautiously observed the large fellow to my left. He consumed a
gargantuan breakfast. The quantity of food on his plate reminded my
of my younger days when I was one continuous gullet, according to my
folks. Alas, but no more; I secretly longed for the days when I
could east as much as I desired and not gain an ounce.
We left the restaurant still talking about the little maid, her
alertness and willingness to work. Observing her had been
refreshing, given today’s coddling of children with all the
electronic gadgetry and other objects that we shower on the young,
potentially robbing them of the chance to develop character through
work and sacrifice.
As we rolled westward, we continued on the Seaway path that hugs the
coast of Lake Ontario. Though slow, it is the most scenic route in
the vicinity of the Lake. At the least, it offers periodic peeps at
Ontario, and on occasion, direct access. Besides, we had agreed not
to be in a hurry, so we knew that we were making the right choice of
As we approached Rochester, we had to make a decision. Should we
skirt that city going around it on its southern side or continue on
the Seaway, which would hem us in between water and congestion. I
didn’t want to get trapped in the latter, but we decided to take
our chances. It was Sunday morning. In retrospect, the decision was,
basically, a good one.
As we approached Rochester, a continuous line of homes blocked
our access to and full view of Lake Ontario. Such interference would
normally have disappointed me, but I founds myself intrigued by the
neighborhoods. The grounds of the homes were well landscaped and
each blended with the lakeshore in an unexpectedly appealing way. I
was looking at properties that given their suburban nature didn’t
detract from or compromise the appearance of the area.
As we motored along, the scene continued. Large manors of varied
architecture, all with elegant lawns lined with shrubs and trees,
directed our attentions across the lawns and toward the houses with
a scenic backdrop of water glimpsed through trees. The fleeting
sights of the lake beyond, though partial, were satisfying. The area
had all the trappings of old money. Homes were individualistic and
tastefully designed. They stood in contrast to the huge unsightly
block-shaped houses, the “McMansions” that I was accustomed to
seeing along the coast of Massachusetts.
As we got closer to the commercial area of Rochester, my
tolerance of human dwellings became strained. We were forced to wind
around narrow streets passing through Irondequoit’s and
Rochester’s lakeside real estate. We took a wrong turn or two, but
then found our way out to an opening landscape and back into
pleasant country, still following the Seaway. A number of
miles up the Seaway, we stopped at the Lakeside Beach State Park. It
was time for another commune with Lake Ontario. I was surprised when
the immaculately maintained Park turned out to be virtually
deserted. That suited me just fine, but was unexpected. There were
freshly mowed fields, a good assortment of trees, the principal
feature, the lake, and us.
Monica sat beneath a clump of aspens and took in the sound of
rustling leaves as she looked out over the placid waters of the
lake. While she meditated, I measured a few trees to include a
couple of green ashes and an equal number of sugar maples. A lone
maple stood out as conspicuously tall. It just eclipsed 100 feet in
height. All other trees were well below 100 feet and most had dead
tops. After surveying field, forest, and water, I concluded that
while the surrounding forest was not physically impressive, but the
combination of forest, lake, and sky, experienced as a gestalt was
satisfying. It was tranquil.
As we left the small lakeside park, I mulled over its sparse
visitation. I was puzzled. The size of the parking lot spoke to
heavy visitation, probably on the weekends, and this was a Sunday.
We were probably just very lucky.
When we left the Seaway, we set ourselves for a long period of
travel. We crossed the border between Canada and the U.S. at Niagara
Falls. The wait was not excessive, and the Canadian official
checking our passports was quite respectful. I feared a hassle, but
it did not happen. That would not have been the case at a crossing
such as Detroit. Lee confirmed wait times there of as much as 3
We crossed about 210 miles of Canada on what was supposed to be a
fast route, but a traffic jam slowed us along the way. There had
been an accident. I was in physical pain as we crept along.
Eventually, we passed the spot of the accident and traffic sped up.
We were able to stop for a restroom and ice cream break, but outside
of that single rest, we moved on as rapidly as we could and
reentered the U.S. at Port Huron. The reentry was as easy as the
exit. All in all, the shortcut had worked for us. Let me explain.
Canadian route 401 to 403 and then 402 is the shortcut we took.
It is the 4-lane corridor that links populations centers, and I will
stately categorically, it is uninteresting for a route in Canada.
The land in the region is a combination of agricultural and
industrial. It is like being in the U.S. except the road signs are
bilingual (English and French) and there is that funny little crown
emblem on the route signs – an anachronism in my humble opinion.
Though harmless, the crown symbol is remindful of the ties of both
the U.S. and Canada to Great Britain and the monarchy of the past.
I had an unanticipated negative reaction to seeing the crown emblem.
For me, monarchies are a testament to the degree that humans seek to
subjugate each other and do so by a combination of brute force and
persuasion that calls into play human gullibility. European kings
and queens ruled according to a perceived divine right. That utterly
loathsome and false cloak of authority was a convenient artifice
that monarchs and religious leaders invoked to convince the unwashed
masses to give them unquestioning allegiance. If God willed it, what
was a poor peasant to do? Even when emasculated of any real
authority, the mere symbol of kingly/queenly power makes me bristle.
I was happy to leave behind those little reminders of the human
propensity to endow other humans with absolute power.
Once in Michigan, and back on familiar terrain, we began searching
for nightly accommodations. The hour was getting late when we found
a cheap motel just north of Port Huron with easy access to Lake
Huron. There was a path down to the lakeshore from the motel, and we
decided after a quick dinner, we would rendezvous with the lake –
a fitting goodbye to the day and a welcome to the dark cloak of
night. It would be Monica’s second of the Great Lakes and quite a
jump in size, as my customary rain of statistics will reveal.
At 23,010 square miles, Lake Huron is the second largest of the
Great Lakes in surface area and the third largest fresh water lake
in the world. It is almost as large as West Virginia. However, at
849 cubic miles of H2O, Huron is the third largest in water volume
of the Great Lakes ranking behind Superior and Michigan. Huron’s
greatest depth is 750 feet and its average depth is 195 feet. Part
of Lake Huron is the huge Georgian Bay, a scenic treasure with its
30,000 advertised islands. Incidentally, all the lakes lie at
different elevations except Lakes Huron and Michigan which are
connected through the Straights of Mackinac, and consequently lie at
the same elevation. Technically one might consider them as one lake,
i.e. Michigan-Huron, and if so, the largest fresh water lake on
After dinner, we took the 10-minute walk down to the lake from
the motel. The owner of the motel had once owned lake front property
on Huron. He had lost his land through eminent domain through a
dubious exercise of power supposedly in the public interest. The
elderly gentleman explained that he retained a convenient path to
the lake for his motel guests. That was sufficient for us. The old
gent was not outwardly bitter at the exercise of eminent domain, at
least not in our conversation with him. He explained to us that he
was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He was struggling just to
complete simple tasks. Ownership of real property had ceased to be a
priority for him.
After a delicious dinner from the bountiful wealth of our cooler,
Monica and I went for a stroll. As we approached its shores, Monica
looked out over the waters of Huron. The color was fading, but
pacifying. This was Monica’s second of the five Great Lakes. Was
it to be her conversion? Apparently not.
Monica’s Ontario reaction continued as best I could tell. At
that instant in time, the calm blue waters of Huron did not make any
more sense to Monica than those of Ontario. Was this another wannabe
ocean? It would take her more time to assimilate the sights, sounds,
smells, and ambience of the Great Lakes. She would get there, but
not at that moment. Nonetheless, we had put in a good day’s work.
We had covered our quota of miles and we were both ready to rest in
our exceedingly modest, but less expensive, accommodations than the
On the following day, we planned to travel up Michigan’s
eastern border along Lake Huron and absorb more of transcending
qualities of its bright blue waters, its reflections, its bands of
color, and maybe a glimpse of its darker side. Whatever the nature
of its message to us, I was determined to convert Monica to a Great
Lakes advocate – or know the reason why I failed. Was I making
more of the Great Lakes than they deserved, or was it a question of
time, of repeated exposure, of experiencing the range of faces and
moods of a large body of water? Time would tell.
TOPIC: June 22nd
== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Aug 6 2008 2:27 pm
Bob, Good descriptive writing. I could almost see the lake with you
guys. Having been to Lake Superior several times I think I know what
you mean. My first visit to Superior was Awesome, an inland ocean.
Northshore has some fantastic scenery and I look forward to my
in November. Larry
== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Aug 6 2008 3:09 pm
Thanks. I think Superior's largely unspoilded nature is the key to
understanding its appeal. Our last Great Lake was Erie. I couldn't
help feel it was more a huge private lake for rich people. I know it
is much more than that, but the weight of the surrounding human
infrastructure compromises its basic nature. Well, that's my two
cents worth anyway.