Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lime Island, Michigan

August 25, 2008

Lime Island is a little spot north of Detour Villiage, MI, on the St. Mary's Navigational passage. It has a long concrete dock, previously used as a refueling station for the big freighters. Now that the freighters have larger capacity for fuel, the pier is used for pleasure boat transients and as a gull conservancy.

Lime Island has quite the history. At one point there was a beautiful hotel that was frequented by Mae West. A Victorian house that now serves as a museum was moved to the island across the ice when the superintendent of the coal company that ran the refueling station needed a fancy house to live in. (It was such a traumatic transport that, legend has it, the movers needed to go to nearby Raber for whiskey after getting the house to the shore, leaving the final placement on the shore site to the next day. That's remarkably similar to a longstanding nautical tradition that we on Meridian faithfully keep after the more unpleasant rough water crossings.)

Currently Lime Island is managed by the Michigan DNR and the island caretakers, Howard and Janet, manage the island from May to September. And they work! Howard drove a John Deere tractor down to the dock as we were coming in and helped us with our lines. Janet was working on fixing up the museum (scraping lead paint and repainting with non-lead paint). They always were working on projects when we were there. There are a number of guest houses on the island that rent for $65/night. (Dockage is $15/night which is the same as the nightly rate for rustic campsites.) The island is all solar powered: each house has solar shingles that power a bank of batteries at the caretakers house. The guest houses are wood-stove heated but do not have indoor plumbing. Guests use outdoor facilities and it is BYOS (bring-your-own shower).

There are several hiking trails, which don't require hiking boots but give you a great leg workout. One goes to the old lime kilns used by the old limestone quarry. The other path goes to Little Lime Island at the far end of Lime Island.

It wasn't too long before we remembered we were in Freighter Alley. Larger freighters passed by day and night. We didn't mind the southern-bound freighters. The wake from the northern bound freighters, though, create a little movement at the dock so we added extra fenders. It still is cool to watch the freighters go by. They are so quiet except for a subtle hum. Meridian looks so tiny -- like a little toy boat -- next to this freighter.

A cool front moved through overnight and the resulting dew on the spider webs were rather artistic.

We planned to leave early the next morning to stop in Detour Village for gas and a few supplies before heading on to Bois Blanc. The weather had other plans. Just about the time we were ready to leave, a dense fog moved in. We knew it would burn off fairly quickly - and we definitely didn't want to be out in the middle of the freighter traffic with zero visibility - so we just enjoyed our coffee and the surreal appearance of the shore line and sun in the fog.

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