Sunday, August 23, 2009

Exploring--Wisconsin, Lake Superior's Apostle Islands, Part II

Last post, I began describing a side trip we took during a visit to relatives in Wisconsin. Even though we have explored many areas in this lovely state, we had not yet seen the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. After telling you about our home base in Bayfield last time, it is time to show you the islands themselves. 
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, part of the National Park System, includes 21 heavily wooded islands. We took a narrated cruise to see them and to hear about their history, including sagas of fur traders, missionaries, shipwrecks and ghostly, howling sea caves. Exploration by Europeans dates back at least to the mid 1600s. The weather was beautiful, warmer than normal on Lake Superior, with bright sunshine early and beautiful clouds building during our ride. The lower left photo shows a typical wooded island, in this case, the shore of Hermit Island with beautiful, rosy sandstone cliffs. The remains of fish camps dating back to a thriving industry in the 1800s dot the shore of a couple of islands; we could see the remains of sandstone quarries on others. Another photo shows the Raspberry Island's light station and outbuildings, parts of which date back to 1864; there are 7 lighthouses on the islands. Other islands boast sandy beaches, large blueberry and raspberry patches, and sites where artifacts have been found dating back to human settlements from 3,000 or more years ago.
Another afternoon, a short ferry ride took us to Madeline Island, the largest island in the chain (not a part of the National Lakeshore), where fewer than 200 year-round residents enjoy living in charming bungalows or some of the stately homes that were the fashionable summer "cottages" of the wealthy for a few decades in the early 1900s. We enjoyed a long, lazy stroll in the village, with its historic Catholic church, old library, and former town hall, topped off by scrumptious homemade ice cream in one of the shops. The top left photo shows our view of the island as we approached it by ferry. 
For a peaceful, laid-back break from a busy vacation to see family members, exploring the Apostle Islands was perfect for us--there is little appeal here for vacationers looking for parties, night life and glitz. Visitors also enjoy camping, bird watching, fishing, water sports, winter sports, and several seasonal festivals. 
In spite of the number of times we have visited Wisconsin, we find creative travel opportunities and new areas to explore every time we go. Of course, we love the familiar, memory laden places, too, and were pleased that including some of each provided relaxation and balance during our time away this summer.
Question of the day: If you have vacationed often in the same area, do you most enjoy renewing your love of the familiar places and activities or do you seek out new sights--or some of each?


  1. Such a beautiful Island...The color of the sky and trees are making this landscape more fantastic!...:)

    Color Pencil Drawing: Warkaris/Varkaris of Pune

  2. I agree, Megha! These islands are jewels, and I am grateful that the National Lakeshore is preserving their natural character and beauty.