Back today from our weekend trip to the Eastern Upper Penninsula. Traffic was light going up Friday afternoon. We made it from West MI to the bridge in just under 4 hours with 2 short stops. We arrived in St Ignace after dark and drove to the Budget Host. We enjoy staying there because of the suites. They have a 4 room suite that we try and rent every time we travel there. It has 2 bedrooms with doors (1 queen bed in each) & a livingroom/wet bar/table & 4 chair combo. The bathroom is huge with 2 dressing area's. The Budget Host does a good job for the most part. The motels that were open were pretty full due to an indoor hockey tournament of elementary boys age at the ice arena. Noise was not a factor, everyone was well behaved.
Saturday was a busy day with lots of freighter viewing and birding. First the freighters: we saw 4 great lake freighters: 2 going under the Bridge and 2 going thru the Locks in the Sault. DS said the locks close next week for the winter. The lock closest to the viewing stand was already closed and partly drained. The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was stationary for 24hrs in the bay north of Mackinaw Island. It was a pretty site out in the bay. We got some great shots from the St Ignace airport looking east.
We took our snow shoe's and really enjoyed a new spot. We drove only about 6 miles north of St Ignace to the Carp River Recreation area. The road was passable, not plowed but our Escape made it fine. There is not a lot of snow up in the U.P. The snowmobile trails are open but not in the best condition. We did scare up one deer but saw no other wildlife except nuthutches & chickadee's.
Ice on Moran Bay in St Ignace is non existant. The Arnolds ferry is still running to the island and doing a good business from all the cars parked in the lots. We saw lots of grocery supplies etc being loaded. Its not the normal summer ferry but more enclosed & heavy duty.
The highlight of our Saturday was the "Owl Hunt". We were hoping to spot one of the Artic Snowy Owls, that are in the area. I had done a lot of research and knew where most of the birds had been spotted. We headed up the Mackinaw Trail Road toward Rudyard. We found the gravel road where the sighting had been and were not disappointed! Within a half mile we spotted 3 snowy owls. The first one was on the "T" of a telephone pole. Second one was about 10 ft up on a dead tree and the third one was sitting in the rafters of a barn what had fallen down. We were not alone, people with huge camera scopes & tripods came and went. 2 of the owls did fly off when 2 snowmachine's decided to roar down the middle of the road past us all. I know the other birders were very irritated with the snowmobilers but they didnt stick around-they probably did it on purpose..........
From there we headed up to the Sault for a late lunch. The Locks viewing stand is closed, but there are still 2 guards that have to inspect us as we walk into the park. They must sit in their little office all day and watch TV. The Sault was quiet except for the 3 tour buses. I dont know what they were doing downtown, but nothing was open on Saturday afternoon.
We headed back to St Ignace for the evening. We had dinner at a nice restaurant downtown. A huge loud group of parents & hockey players had just sat down before we arrived. Our waitress took care of us and got us our food before the huge group did. We left her a good tip.
We noticed that there is not a lot of ice on Lake MIchigan either. Especially on the Mackinaw City side. We also did hear about that the poor women who committed suicide on the bridge last week,her body has still not been recovered.
Our return trip to West MI was uneventful, except for a huge bald eagle spotted in a tree. It was near Fife Lake and US 131 on a side road. We turned around and got some great pictures as it was perched right above the road.