Category Archives: Waterfalls

I are a Yooper

 

 

The South Shore of Lake Superior is as impressive as the north shore

After we crossed into the United States at Sarnia, we travelled through a fantastic area—the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is separate and apart from the southern part of Michigan and its people are different—very different.

When we drove into the area in the late afternoon it rained heavily so we saw little. The next morning however we woke up to gray clouds that quickly turned into blue skies. The sun was shining on us. In my humble opinion, the forests of the Upper Peninsula rival those of New England.

Alger Falls

The Upper Peninsula is filled with wonderful waterfalls. From my experience, the only place that rivals it is Iceland.

 

Scott Falls

        Everywhere we drove we kept seeing signs that talked about Yoopers. What are Yoopers. I remember that last time I drove through this area I was very puzzled about this until we stopped a small bar and grille in the middle of nowhere.

It was a large “family” restaurant and bar. To Canadian it made no sense to have children in a bar, but I thought it was wonderful. Why not? Let the kids see adults drink responsibly? It was a large bar with 2 customers and a waitress at very opposite ends of the bar. Cliff and Norm from Cheersit seemed to us.

The waitress was as tough as Carla from Cheers. She had a tough looking barbed wire tattoo on her biceps. I would never tangle with her. But she was very friendly.  Thank god for that.

The first man was dressed in a cowboy hat, Photographer’s vest, bottle-brush mustache, and large glasses. And this was the elegant one. You would not call him elegant. The other was even less elegant. I asked the first one Yooper was. We had seen a Yooper sign, and wondered what it meant. So I bravely asked the 2 customers.

He looked at me for a long time without saying a word. Then he took a sip of his beer, briefly coughed and explained, ‘it took me 70 years to learn to say Yooper and now are one.”  That did it. I wanted to be an honorary Yooper! All I had to do was move here, and I was prepared to do that.

Yoopers, it turned out, were people who lived in the Upper Peninsula. But that was not all. They were proud rural rednecks who took pride in their simple nature. Yoopers love beer, hunting, bonfires, the great outdoors, and pasties. That word pastie does not rhyme with tasty. They are sort of like meat pies. A 7 course meal is a pastie and a six pack of beer. Yes now I claim I are one too.

I peered at all of the snow-mobile paraphernalia around the bar. This was a snowmobiler’ and hunters’ bar.  And proud of it. I really liked the saying on a sticker in the men’s washroom . It said, “Kiss my Big Cat Ass,” referring to Arctic Cat snowmobiles. We drove by a place that with full honesty described itself as “Yooper Tourist Trap.”

I loved the autumn colours at Deer Lake

 

I could not resist an impressionistic image of the forest.

 

 

The Upper Peninsula is very near to heaven.

Travel Sluts

There is little doubt that Chris and I are travel sluts. We have already traveled this year from Arizona to Manitoba by way of Utah, Iceland, and now to Ottawa. After the last trip, we were so tired we thought we would not travel again for quite a while. Well, it is less than 3 months since we got home and we are off again. Yes, we are travel sluts.

So what is a travel slut? It is a person who is promiscuous about his or her travel desires and is willing to travel without a lot of courtship or foreplay. We took this trip without much forethought. The opportunity arose and we took. Surely that is a travel slut.

I had a narrow 2-week window of opportunity between teaching engagements with the Manitoba Real Estate Association. That was a window that had to be filled. Hence here we are meandering toward the nation’s capital in the autumn. Ready for the best and the worst.

 

 

 

Waterfalls for the Gods

Godafoss. (foss means waterfalls)

Iceland astounds.  I no longer remember too much about my expectations before I arrived in Island, but one thing I know. Whatever they were, Iceland exceeded those expectations immeasurably. It was truly astounding.         In my view, the glory of Island though is found most vividly in its waterfalls. I can’t believe there is another place in the world where waterfalls abound as they do in Island. It is truly astonishing.

One of my (many) favorites was Godafoss. It means “falls of the gods.” Of course, for a waterfall guy all waterfalls belong to the gods. The name is entirely apt for its beauty alone.  However there is more to the name than beauty. In about 1,000 A.D. the lawpeaker (leader) Porgeir Porkelson of the Icelandic Parliament had to decide whether or not Iceand should remain pagan or change to Christianity.  He weighed the matter for 24 hours.  His reflections were not religious but economic. He decided Iceland could improve trade with Europe if it converted, so he decided everyone was now a Christian. No travelling evangelist was needed for the purpose. There is no evidence that the people had a choice. As always the people get to follow their leader. After the choice was made Porgeir tossed all his idols into the falls and the name Godafoss was born.

Skogafoss

 

 

 

I am sure that one of the reasons for the amazing abundance of waterfalls is the fact that so many trees have disappeared from the island on account of neglect going back about a 1,000 years. Starting with the Vikings people ravished the countryside of trees and the country has paid the price ever since. The soils have mainly blown away without the tree cover. As a result even after more than a 100 years of trying, only 1% of the trees have been replaced. Trees need some soil to grow. As a result the rainfall too often does not soak into the ground but rushes along causing floods, but also glorious waterfalls! Iceland pays a heavy price for that beauty but we visitors get the benefits.

 

 

Rjúkandafoss

A bunch of us travellers begged for our driver to stop for this fall. This was one of the times he could do that, because there was a spot to stop. Often it was not possible as the roads were very narrow and stopping was impossible unless there was a place for parking. Too often Iceland provided no place for cars let alone buses to stop.

 

 

Seljandsfoss–This was my personal favourite

There are so many magnificent waterfalls it beggars the imagination. For a self-professed “Waterfall Guy” (along with “Bog Guy”, “Wild flower Guy,” “Sunset Guy,” “Lighthouse Guy”, and even “Church Guy”” of course) I found heaven. For a while I got upset at every waterfall our coach passed by. How could these Cretans not stop? Eventually I caught on that if we stopped at them all our trip would have take 2 centuries not 2 weeks.

 

 

 

Everywhere you drive water tumbles down mountains.

 

Gullfoss–One of the most photographed waterfalls in all of Iceland.  I have never seen a country with as many  waterfalls as Iceland. This is the land of the gods.

Would you not agree that all the waterfalls are the falls of the gods?