Dwight Peck's personal website

Summer 2020

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Big waves on Lake Superior

Our annual summer pilgrimage to the Wisconsin Northwoods

Dawn (and a little extra) on 29 August 2020, and yesterday's drizzly visit to Houghton MI has morphed into a right weather event. We heard the wind, etc., overnight, and here's the state of play in the morning.

It's actually not a bad day, warm enough, no gale force winds, just few prospects for sunbathing on the beach and shampooing in the lake.

The sandy bottom is quite shallow, in parallel sandy ridges, to about 100-150 meters out, whence the major surf is getting organized right about there.

A little depressing, but fun to look at

This lake can do much worse. Almost exactly ten years ago, walking along the shore near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, from the Hurricane River to the Au Sable Light Station, we passed any number of wrecked ships that had foundered or run aground in Lake Superior storms over very many years.

Like this. It's known as 'the Shipwreck Coast'.

So this is not really a Sign of the End Times, meteorologically speaking. Just a mild disappointment, which we'll have forgotten about a fortnight hence.

The rain's stopped and we can let the other participants out into La Nature again.

They're just getting their bearings now, and . . .

. . . working on a plan.

Vigilance, and patience

This is called 'Far Shores', the family's Lake Superior retreat for many years, as it was when I first showed up for a visit in about 1996 or so. It's still in use by one branch of the family, whilst the other branch has generously moved over in new digs to the other side of Ontonagon, some 10 miles or so to the east (where Melvin and Choupette are presently waiting for us to come home and open the catfood tins).

It's a nostalgic visit to see how the old multigenerational refuge has been holding up -- the present owners are currently quarantining from the Trump Virus in their Chicago residence, and we're here to see how the lakefront is faring these days.

The story is that ill-advised constructions many years ago, intended to use clever modern engineering methods to keep the savage lake storms at bay forever, have gone horribly awry and brought the breakers virtually to the back door.

Thus. 'You can't fool Mother Nature'. Forget about sandy beaches.

But there's no further damage to report at the moment.

Nostalgic indeed for Kristin, who spent much of her early summers here with the grandparents, etc.

Since we're here, we're heading over to see how the neighbors' establishment is doing as well.

Looks okay, so far

More poignant memories, presumably

Just alongside the property, this is one of many small rivers or creeks coming down out of the higher ground to the lake.

More shore defenses taking a beating.

Oh, here they come. The Canadian geese in a loose formation

It looks like they've settled in here for a while. Presumably en route to somewhere more congenial for the winter.

It's not obvious what they're waiting for -- too windy today, maybe?

Still, it's a mild sort of fun to watch them strutting about.

What do they think about, when just idling about?

Unhappy lake

We're driving back eastward now. The local rivers entering the lake are over the banks. This is the Floodwood River. (No kidding.)

The same

Here's such another, and this . . .

And this, improbably enough, is the Potato River . . .

. . . muddying up the lake.

Glimpses of downtown Ontonagon

This is the lake end of River Street in downtown Ontonagon, at the mouth of the Ontonagon River unsurprisingly, a not uninteresting town about about 1,500 residents, declining year by year.

The Gitchee Gumee Landing artisanal mini-mall sits on a narrow almost-island between the river and some kind of canal or river branch along the eastern riverbank.

This is the some-kind-of-canal-or-river branch on the eastern side, presently about to come out of its banks.

The path along the river to the East Pier is currently being washed out by the high waters. Don't anybody mention Climate Change.

The some-kind-of-canal and the river behind, with a pleasure boat tied up in what might not be the best place for it, considering.

The mouth of the river is entirely dominated by this huge yard full of tin warehouses like this one -- the sign on the main building reads 'Lake Shore Systems', specializing in 'marine/defense equipment' (employing military vets as 15% of their work force, which makes them especially aware of 'the need for safe and reliable products'). This is good news for the town, presumably, because according to Wikipedia the facility was once owned by the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., which filed for bankruptcy and closed the place down in 2010. And by the way, God Bless Our Law Enforcement; just sayin'. (And KEEP OUT.)

Here, too, on River St., is the AU .. P. RTS Company's modest establishment. Nearly all sources of quality employment left the UP with the trees and the iron and copper, long ago, and it's a fairly depressed area these days, but at the same time it has its own attractions and, to some extent, culture.

Small Is Beautiful. Often, but not always.

Whilst awaiting Kristin, who's running her errands, we're just wandering round the lakeshore end of Ontonagon looking for really tiny houses.

This is a breakwater sticking 500 meters out from the shore.

The Sip & Snack specializes in Cone, Shakes, and Undaes.

A very grand claim, but evidently it's true; the concrete north-south highway was opened in 1915. (Almost before cars)

Syl's Cafe is a magnificent establishment, not least for its pasties and breakfasts, in my experience, and pastries as well. It's just takeouts and the sidewalk in these fallen days of the Trump Virus, but perhaps next summer we'll all be better placed to sit down comfortably for the eggs-and-sausages breakfast.

A right-thinking sort of sign, seeking healthful cooperation from all right-thinking people who can read. Those numbers do not appear to be high in this part of the country.

At the moment, the cats have been trying to hide from us, but Choup has just noticed me sneaking up on them.

Kristin is still searching for them, and I haven't given them away yet.

Another standoff

The peacemaker

Just now, both cats are squirming about underneath the car -- Choupette is pursuing Melvin and they're both getting filthy.

Like this. And Choupie will not give up . . .

. . . until Melvin bolts out into the forest.

So, for Choupette, tearing little insects apart will have to suffice.

The end of a long day of no suntanning or shampooing in the gentle surf.


It's time to tidy up and go home now, which sometimes sends the cats scrambling into hiding.

But so far Melvin hasn't caught on yet.

They're beginning to notice something's up.

Choupette bolts for the foliage.

But they're both easier to catch than they used to be, when they were younger and more monomanical.

Next up: More scenes from the lake, early September 2020

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 14 November 2020.


Wisconsin Northwoods,
June-Sep 2023

Wisconsin Northwoods,
June-Oct 2022

Wisconsin Northwoods,
June-Oct 2021

Wisconsin Northwoods,
June-Oct 2020

Wisconsin Northwoods,
June-Sept 2019

Virginia and Wisconsin, July-Sept 2018

Wisconsin on the lake, July-Sept 2017

Wisconsin on the lake, July-Sept 2016

Wisconsin on the lake, July-Sept 2015

Wisconsin & road trip, July-Sept 2014

Wisconsin & Virginia, July-Sept 2013

Wisconsin on the lake, July-Sept 2012

Wisconsin 'Northwoods', June-Aug. 2011

Wisconsin on the lake, July-August 2010

August 2009

Boston and Maine, 2007

Marlowe's wedding, 2006

Olympic National Park, 2004