Split Rock

_MG_1550.JPGI foolishly thought Lake Superior’s edge would be frozen in some interesting way this past weekend, but the lake was too rambunctious for that.

A piercing wind blew in from the choppy water and pushed up waves a few feet tall that crashed too loudly for conversation. Occasionally a deeper, concussive boom sounded as the water slammed against Split Rock Lighthouse State Park’s dark cliffs. It was another gray, overcast day on the North Shore, yet the waves and churning bubbles somehow glowed a vivid teal. I was entranced.

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_MG_1270.JPGIt seemed ideal for the lake to be in a lively mood for this visit. The Minnesota Historical Society’s visitor center says the park’s namesake lighthouse was built more than a century ago, even before a road reached the spot, shortly after a disastrous storm rolled over the lake in 1905. The storm sunk or damaged a couple dozen ships and killed more people, including some within view of the lighthouse’s future perch.

Lake Superior is the biggest and deepest of the Great Lakes and is full of danger and shipwrecks from edge to edge, including that of the Edmund Fitzgerald from the 1970s over on the eastern end. The area’s weather and wind get much of the blame, but the historical society also pointed out the iron in the very rock, which helped make the region so important for shipping to begin with, could also screw around with ships’ compasses. I never would have guessed that.

The park’s just a few miles from another park we visited back in October, but still far enough to see a new side of Superior. The water was placid then, and the old, igneous rock of the shoreline was wine-red there instead of black. Instead of October’s fall colors, last weekend we hiked through a foot of snow.

I’m still waiting for the Cities to get that kind of decent snowfall this season.

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Thanks for looking!

Dan

Eclipse

_C1_2789---CopyToday I saw my first solar eclipse. It’s tough to convey how exciting it was for me; I was thoroughly geeking out. Just look at that crescent and remind yourself that it’s an unfathomably huge, seething sphere of gas and energy that’s being obscured by a much smaller, but no less beautiful, sphere of rock and cold. How cool is that?

You can also barely see a massive sunspot moving across the Sun’s “southern” surface. It’s about the size of Jupiter. Sunspots are regions of particularly intense magnetic activity, and they only look dark compared to the rest of the Sun; they’re still plenty bright.

_C1_2890---CopyI always like to think of eclipses from the perspective of people 2,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 years ago. What would you think if you saw the light of the sky dimming, or going out as during a total eclipse? I’d think the world was ending. I wonder how terrifying it was. Or maybe ancient people were more relaxed than I suspect. Either way, I wonder.

_C1_2855---CopyIt was a really lovely evening here. I spent most of the day nervous that the clouds wouldn’t get out of the way in time. They broke just enough to let me see the Sun through their filter — perfect. A few other creatures joined me to see it.

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_C1_3017---CopyBeautiful all around. I’m looking forward to the total eclipse coming in 2017.

Thanks for looking,

Dan