“Keep Off During Storms or Rough Seas”

Wild waves on the breakwall

Hello, everyone!  I’m home after another adventure.  My friend Bertha and I met for an overnight mid-winter retreat in Marquette yesterday.  Since we’re both so independent, we had to drive separately.  (Also because she’s spending another night with a friend before returning home.)

I worked on Thursday instead of Friday to negotiate more hours in the “big city”.  Leisurely drove over there along US-41.  Approaching Marquette, the bright sunny sky dimmed and gray clouds scudded overhead.  A fierce wind blew from either the north or the east (I forgot to wet my finger and put it in the air to determine direction).

Oh so foreboding...

Down by Lake Superior on Presque Isle, the water looked foreboding.  The wind whipped off the waves with fierce intensity.  I looked at the camera, looked outside, looked at the camera, settled deeper in the warm car…and finally opened the door.  The door almost blew off the hinges!

The wind roared:  “Get back in the car, you fool!”

I burrowed deeper in boots and winter jacket, shaking, attempting to maneuver on the slippery ice underfoot.

“You can’t beat us!” I yelled back to the wind.  (Well, in imagination, that is…)

I slipped and slided closer and closer and closer, attempting to capture the waves crashing helter-skelter against the breakwall.  It seemed strange that Marquette’s harbor held no ice like our sheltered bays in Baraga County.  Both the Huron and Keweenaw Bays lie covered with ice (at least part-way out).  No ice fishermen are jigging on the waves near Marquette.

Don't step out on that breakwall. Too many have lost their lives...

I want to accurately tell you how high the waves crescendoed into the sky.  But I’m terrible at estimating these things.  Twenty feet?  Thirty feet?  High enough to take away your breath, anyway.  (Post script–Barry just read this and laughed.  He said, “Maybe ten feet, anyway.”  Hmmm…  I’m voting for at least twenty.)

A half-dozen other photographers crept closer to the waves, attempting to capture “The Shot”.  You never knew when the wave would crest, so you snapped, snapped, furiously snapped the shutter, hoping.  People would last maybe five minutes before dashing back to their warm cars and trucks.

Lone tree braves icy winds

Every few years you hear tales of people–usually students at Northern Michigan University–who drown off this breakwall.  Perhaps they think themselves a match for the fierce wind.  Perhaps they’re not thinking at all.  You wouldn’t pay me to walk even on to the edges of the breakwall during a high wind.  Standing on shore felt threatening enough.

Another crashing wave! And another!

Spray burst upward as the waves crashed, sometimes sending droplets toward the innocent on shore.  We kept our cameras sheltered.  I wanted a long lens and a single lens reflex camera so much.

The wind threatens to blow photographers into the drink.

After maybe seven minutes, every bone in my body chilled by the penetrating wind, I raced for the car.  On to other adventures in Marquette!  I won’t tell you what they were until tomorrow’s blog.  Too many photos to fit in one blog, you know.

"Keep off during storms or rough seas."

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend and staying away from breakwalls during high seas.  Please.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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24 Responses to “Keep Off During Storms or Rough Seas”

  1. Oh my gosh, Kathy — your detailed description and breathtaking photographs and have chilled me to the bone! The one titled “Foreboding” looks like a frozen blanket that’s hastily been pulled over bodies of people its lurred to their deaths.

  2. Barb says:

    These shots are just spectacular, Kathy! I love the light in the crashing waves – and yes – they are at LEAST 30 feet high. What’s you husband thinking? After all, he wasn’t there to hear them roar and crash.

  3. Emma says:

    Wow, that is amazing ice! I definitely feel colder now! =O

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you!! (grinning from ear to ear now!) Don’t you just love high adventure?!? Wish I was there with you…..but next time, God willing, I will. And we will dine at Coco’s! 😉

    • Kathy says:

      Sue, every single time I go to Houghton or Marquette, I think of you. Think that you would love to be there exploring. You could probably teach and show me at least a dozen new things. I wanna go to Coco’s! Let’s make a date, next time you’re in the UP.

  5. Gerry says:

    Isn’t it odd how something that looks so frothy and pretty can be so deadly? And so alluring . . .

    Dunno if a long lens would help, ma’am. It’s sort of like having 4WD. You just get stuck five miles farther out in the woods. (Or five feet farther out on the breakwall, thinking how really cool the next shot is going to be.)

    • Kathy says:

      Gerry, thank you for setting me straight. I will listen to your wisdom. I was thinking afterwards what a whine I’m getting to be about wanting that new camera… It’s one of those “grass is always greener” problems of perceptions. I will appreciate Lil SonyCybershot more from now on, thanks to you.

  6. Dawn says:

    I remember a few scary moments photographing Superior in winter. I think I”m older and wiser now, but you never know. Put a camera in my hands and things change. Glad you stayed safe! Even I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near that breakwater! Loved the wave shots though. Thanks for letting me experience them from the warmth of my sofa!

    • Kathy says:

      Thank goodness, Dawn, we get a little older and wiser! (We hope??) I’m glad you enjoyed the wave action from the warmth of your sofa. The best of both worlds?

  7. kseverny says:

    my goodness.
    These are incredible

  8. The power of nature keeps me humble and fills me with awe. With all our technology and despite our massive brains, we are still small creatures who
    tremble when storms assail us.
    You did a magnificent job of recording the awesomeness of nature in your corner of the world, Kathy. I loved your photographs.

    • Kathy says:

      That is a very wise comment, treewithroots. Nature does keep us humble, keeps us in persepective. Thank you for stopping by to visit our icy lake. Will check out your blog, as well.

  9. Cindy Lou says:

    When my older brother, Jeff, and I were @ NMU – one of our favoritist things to do was to snowshoe around Presque Isle and watch the waves at that breakwall. Nothing like a good Lake Superior storm! We were out there once during a minor-ish storm one summer and that ‘forboding power’ was scary and awe inspiring!

    • Kathy says:

      Presque Isle is a cool place, Cindy. How neat that you and your brother both went to NMU together and took time to snowshoe together. That is a precious memory. Know what you mean about those Lake Superior storms… Scary…but awe-inspiring for sure.

  10. Susan D says:

    The photos stir my soul … could stare at them forever. I think being born in a blizzard next to Lake Michigan makes me pant for dangerous waves and all things wildly winter … thank you! Look forward to popping in to visit you newest baby soon 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, you were born in a blizzard next to Lake Michigan? What a fascinating thing to know. Only visit the baby blog if you have time…it’s more about writing magic words that writing chatty words. I am head-over-heels have a thrilling time falling in love with the words. Looking forward to our lunch date on Thursday.

  11. Wow … amazing series of photos! I see waves like this over breakwaters here in Southern California but the SNOW makes it all the more dramatic. Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs and blessings,

    • Kathy says:

      I somehow missed your comment…so sorry! I suppose you do see magnificent waves like this in Southern California. (Oh how I loved the visit to San Diego in November.) You’re right, the snow does make it look dramatic. Bet you don’t get much of that there! LOL.

  12. Angelique says:

    I am so impressed with these pictures.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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