Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Pictured Rocks: Part One

Hello there! Technically this is Part Two of my trip, but anyways...As mentioned in the last blog post we stayed one night at Bay City, MI. We drove about 5 hours from Bay City to another Econo Lodge in Wetmore, which is a few minutes away from Munising, where we will embark on a 2.5 hour sunset cruise of the Pictured Rocks.  

Note about our hotel:
We stayed at Econo Lodge in Wetmore for 2 nights. It was a pretty good experience except for the alarming number of mosquitoes in our hotel room when we entered. They even provided us with a fly swatter. For our own sake, we bought two of those clip-on Off! repellents and placed them on the bedside table. There was also no fridge in the room. The bathroom and beds were very clean though. For $85 a night I say it ain't too bad--plus, breakfast was included. 
It actually took us about 5-6 hours to get here because we took the long way by accident. By the way, if you're Catholic, there's a Roman Catholic church in Munising called "Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish" which offers mass at 4 pm on Saturday and 10 pm on Sunday. 
Finally, we reach Lake Superior! This is a milestone. We've never been this far north before! About a week before our trip, I booked the sunset cruise from here. You can check out all the fees and cruise times there. I suggest booking in advance because the sunset cruise fills up quickly. When you get there, come at least 30 minutes to 1 hour early if you want to get the best seats on the boat (I suggest sitting on the right side, top deck). There were two boats for the sunset cruise the time I went--we chose to go on the "Grand Island" boat which was smaller with a better front view. The man you see in the picture is our tour guide. 
Here is "Miner's Castle," the most famous formation in the park (Source)
In the next part of the trip, I'll show you the vantage point from the actual "castle" itself. 
These cliffs are composed of 500 million year-old Cambrian sandstone. The name "Pictured Rocks" come from the streaks of mineral stain (oxides of copper, manganese, iron and other organic materials) that decorate these cliffs (Source). The trickle of water you see here is Bridalveil Falls. 
 Notice the unique striations on the cliffs. 
My mom enjoying the view. It was really bright and hot the time we went. 
My dad taking pictures with his S4.  
There were so many different colours on the rocks--looks like they were painted on.  
Not sure if this is related but the water in our hotel smelled of iron and minerals. Maybe there is a correlation between the minerals and the smell? Unless it was just the hotel in which I would be concerned. I'm not kidding when I say that every time you take a hot shower it smelled like blood. 
It is quite awe-inspiring to see the copper-stained cliffs rise out of the blue Lake Superior. 
Look at those cool holes. If I heard right, they're formed by erosion from wave action.  
This is the "Lovers Leap." Legend has it that a couple displayed their love for each other by jumping off the top of this arch together. Unfortunately, the water and the base is only a few feet deep--guess the should've thought that over (Source)
Not sure if this has an official name. 
This is the "Indian Head" because...well...it resembles an Indian's head. Can you see it?  
This is the Grand Portal. To get a sense of how enormous these rocks are, the white spots are seagulls.  
These are the "Battleship Rocks." If you can picture it, it looks like battleships sailing side by side. 
The guide said that this was knows as the Pirate rock and the hole is the eye/eyepatch. The white substance you see inside the "eye" is actually ice that lingered from the winter.  
The highlight of the cruise: the boat actually goes into this "Chapel Cove." It was awesome. 
The rocks in Chapel Cove. Look at them lines! 
Here you can see how close we were to the edges of the cove wall. Expert navigating skills right there. 
Look at the colour. Makes you want to jump in but you really shouldn't because the water is ice cold.  
This is Chapel Rock. More on this formation on the next post. 
That was it for the guided tour--the boat starts to turn around back to the pier so the other side of the boat can see the rocks too. Now we just sit back and enjoy the sunset.
Mi bro. 
Couldn't resist taking some portraits in the golden light.  
Mi little bro Instagramming the sunset.  
The sunset was quite standard since there were really no clouds to make it more interesting. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.  
I walked to the bottom deck of the boat so I can look at the sunset more closely.  
America, your land is beautiful! 
At this point it started to get real windy and chilly especially if you're sitting on the top deck. I suggest that you bring a hooded jacket or windbreaker with you if you plan on going in the evening.  
It was a hair-raising experience.  
Wind in mah hair. 
10 p.m: the sun goes down. 
Finally the tour ends! 

Verdict on the sunset cruise: do it at least once but not if you have little kids. Kids don't really care about rocks. There were a few kids who were super duper rowdy because they were restless. It is also a fairly long cruise so bring plenty of water and snacks if you get hungry. It actually gets pretty repetitive after the first hour or so but nonetheless, it is an impressive display of beauty. My other suggestion is to kayak the waters if you know how. You can probably take your time and take more intimate pictures.  

Note for photographers: 
In addition to a wide-angle lens, if you have a telephoto lens, bring one! You'll get really nice close-up shots of the rocks. I used the 16-35mm focal length on the crop sensor and it worked out quite nicely. 

-e.m. 


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