Monday night when I walked out on the lighthouse pier I stood there in awe of the waves that rolled in from the lake into the St. Joseph River. Giant serpents rolled in and crashed against the concrete structure where I was standing. I looked out into that vast body of water and could see nothing but water and sky.
The lighthouses in Lake Michigan – and all of the Great Lakes – are beautiful and many people travel all over to see them. A family from Indiana stood in Holland Sunday afternoon and recounted to me the ones they’d seen and the ones on their bucket lists. Each are unique in their appearance, but their life-saving purpose was the same. Light beacons warned ships of the shore in days before GPS and other navigational tools were available.
The Great Lakes are known for their unpredictable weather and I’ve heard they are some the most dangerous waters in the world. Even with the vast numbers of lighthouses, the Great Lakes are a graveyard for shipwrecks. They say there are over 6,000 known shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, and about 20% of those are in Lake Michigan. There is a Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in the Upper Peninsula which proudly displays the bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The museum is located on Whitefish Point, the closest point to the wreck site.
Sunday was a beautiful day. It was sunny and about 60 degrees. I walked with Ashok out to the lighthouse and hung out among the other visitors on the beach. There is a shipwreck about 5 miles out from that lighthouse. I read about it when I got home. The SS Michigan sunk after getting stuck in the ice trying to save another ship. The story is pretty incredible. The video linked below is a reenactment of the shipwreck and features some great photos of the ice on Lake Michigan in the coldest of winters. (Click to the article and scroll down for the video.)
This morning it started raining. The temperature is dropping, and the wind is blowing. I could barely keep the rain off me if I put my umbrella right in front of my face. It continued throughout the day. When I got home, I let Ashok out, and she ran into the yard. In a matter of seconds she ran back to the house, pleading to me through the door. I giggled. “You are going to have to get used to this,” I muttered through the glass. “This is nothing.” She will get used to it, and so will I. But neither of us have to get out on that lake in the deep winter and risk our lives carrying cargo. They say about 30,000 people have lost their lives in shipwrecks in the Great Lakes over the centuries – if they even came close to correctly guessing the number of shipwrecks.
I found a website today called the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association. They have a film festival in March which features films about shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. I’ll have to mark my calendar for that. By March it will still be cold and hanging out in a warm theater learning about the history of my new land sounds like a great thing to do. Maybe I’ll grab a hot chocolate before heading out into the snow.
Brrrrr…. here it comes…