Friday, June 29, 2018

Apostle Islands 3 Hour Boat Tour

Location: Northland Camping and RV Park; Superior, Wisconsin (el. 680 ft)

Route to date

I was told about the Apostle Islands a few years ago by someone I used to work with who was from Wisconsin. His name was Casey Allen. Following his advice, I was headed towards them when my son Brandon had his first stroke. (BY THE WAY, he was just placed on the active waiting list for a Kidney/Pancreas transplant.) I received the news about the stroke when I was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota three years ago this month. I headed back to Louisiana instead of the Apostle Islands. Well, I completed the circle yesterday with a day trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin to catch a boat tour of the islands. The round trip drive was about 150 miles and was a nice trip although only partially scenic. Wisconsin called the road very scenic, but they way over-exaggerated that adjective.

The road trip to Bayfield had a couple of turn outs where you could see Lake Superior. Every one I pulled into, Freedom was immediately swarmed with horseflies. I was lucky in that I had just rolled up the windows before pulling over. Had the windows been down, the cab of Freedom would have been full of horseflies. I wouldn't have been able to escape by leaving Freedom since they would have gotten me outside. My only choice would have been to drive with the windows down in hopes of blowing them out the windows. By swarming, I mean in the hundreds, all at once, landing on all parts of Freedom. I don't know what attracted them, but I'm glad I wasn't bitten. I hate them things. 

Most of the road was smooth riding with the trees along the side. They didn't seem to create the tunnel effect as bad as usual. Highway 13 does not have much traffic. The weather was great with a temperature in the low to mid 60's.

This was one of the pull-offs along the way. Horseflies were everywhere. I'm surprised the lake is even visible due to the shear number of horseflies. 

Another pull-over

This pull-over had a picnic table (bench?). If the horse flies had not been swarming, I would have gotten a better view from the table.
I passed a brand new Indian casino just north of Bayfield. It seems out of place since the nearest big city would be Duluth. Oh well, I'm sure they know what they are doing. Bayfield is a smallish tourist trap town. They have the typical shops that sell all the stuff I don't need. However, I did look for a cheese shop since I'm out of that good cheese I got a few days ago. Sadly, I didn't find one. I thought Wisconsin would have cheese stores on every corner of every town. I guess not. The main attraction in town seems to be the Apostle Island boat tours.
A view of the bay from residential Bayfield

A lot of sailboats. There wasn't as many when we returned from the tour.

I couldn't find an official meaning for the sculpture on the left. It was interesting and right in the middle of the harbor.

The boat of the left is our sister boat. Notice the "sun-bathers" up top. 

Two boats, both full of people, left the docks at the same time for a three hour tour of the islands. I was one of the early boarders so I had a choice of topside, in the sun, or the main deck, inside. The day was mostly sunny and the temperature was due to top out in the low 70's. This was not my first boat tour so I immediately found a seat on the main deck, inside, next to an open window. I knew that the boat captains on tours like this always make 360 degree turns at all of the important points of interest so it wasn't a matter of being on the wrong side of the boat. After about an hour of the people up top sitting in the direct sun, some came down looking for seats, but none were available. They sure looked hot. Quite of few of those probably bought a sunburn with their ticket. My seating location was comfortable and cool. 

All of the islands have trees growing on them and are protected from any industry. It was not like that a hundred years ago. Back then, most of the timber was harvested as well as some of the rock quarried. The National Forest Service is controlling the action now so, that means mostly just watching the trees grow. There is a lot about the islands from brochures and the talk by the captain during the tour, but I think it will be easier to do some of that explaining in the captions of the pictures.
From a distance, almost all of the islands looked like this one. The do vary in size.

Just a simple picture of the lake as I was looking out my window

Notice the square blocks of stone towards the right hand side of the picture. They are what is left over from when this island was quarried for its stone. Prior to the quarry opening, it was clear cut of its trees. 

This is an old fish camp that is not operating anymore but the National Forest Service is still maintaining it for historical reasons. There is a woman who stays here during the summer. She volunteers to mow the grass and keeps things cleaned up and working. She volunteers at this place because she likes the solitude of being alone most of the time. Sometimes she waves at the tour boats, but didn't on this day. 

The little detached place is called "lookout point". It used to be connected to the main island by an stone arch that collapsed many years ago. When the British controlled this area, they stationed military people on this island and posted sentries on this "lookout point" due to its viewpoint. 

There are some lighthouses scattered around on some of the islands. They are all automated now. Again, volunteers are staying on the island to do maintenance, mowing and painting. 

These are some of the lake caves on one of the islands.
This wasn't the best tour I've been on but was a little above average. The other tour on Lake Superior that I did a few years ago was the Pictured Rocks Tour out of Munising, Michigan. It is by far the better of these two tours.  

Today was a lazy, rest up day, but tomorrow is another exploring day. I have a few choices of places to go but I'm not sure which ones yet. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  


  1. Being in Wisconsin I be you saw a lot of cheese heads!

    1. I haven't seen any yet. Since I'm right on the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, there may be a peace

  2. Good information. The islands look pretty. Smart choice for seating. We had the same experience in Wisconsin.......not always easy to find cheese but when we did it was delicious.

    1. I'm using information from your blog as well, but it won't allow me to comment.

  3. You weren't concerned about signing up for "a three hour tour"? Glad you weren't shipwrecked. :)

    1. The thought of the SS Minnow was going through my mind but I didn't see Mary Ann or Ginger on board so I knew it was OK. :)