“How I spent my summer vacation”

It’s the first day of school around here, you know.

And, can you believe it?, I have an assignment due already.

This brings to mind a recurring nightmare.  You’re dreaming you’re in high school or college and you’ve forgotten to go to class.  It’s six weeks into the semester and–darn it–you forgot all about Sociology 101.  Now you’ve missed tests and assignments and you’re going to get an F and your heart starts pounding and you’re sweating and you’re freaking out…and you wake up.  Sighing.  Wondering WHY you keep dreaming that stupid dream now that you’re 53 years old and long past school assignments.

Except.  I’m just about to get that F.  Or at least get my knuckles rapped with a ruler by the teacher, Scott Thomas.  He posted his latest photography assignment ‘way back in the summer when the sun still shined hot and it was 80-90 degrees and we waded in the lake, unmindful of school bells.

Here is his assignment (due tomorrow):  Unlike my other assignments, I am asking for, at least, a three (3) photograph essay relating to Travel Photography.  I know some of you cringed at the word, “essay”.  I wrote a post to explain about photo essays being no more than the addition of extended captions to your photos to pull them together into an article.

OK, I did not cringe at the word “essay”.  I can write an essay, darn it.  I cringed at the words “three photographs”.

Because I’ve already offered you all my “good” photographs.  The ones that made the heart go pitter-pat.  What to do, what to do?  You can’t just write an essay from days-gone-by with used pictures.  No.  What to do?

(I LOVE challenges.  My column-writing husband threw down the gauntlet a couple of days ago, claiming I couldn’t write an interesting column about a Cowboy Caviar recipe.  Every one of my hackles stood up!  “Can so!” I muttered at his retreating back.  Please read the silliest column in the history of the blog and let me know if I–sort of–met the challenge.)

Back to the travel essay.  I only took two “official” trips this summer, although please remind me if you remember others.  The first one was in June–a road trip to lower Michigan to visit Mom, Dad, brothers and families.  Very fun!  The second was our cruise to Duluth, Minnesota, last month.  Any cached photos from either of these trips?

Ah-ha!  The freighter tour.

Yes, my birthday present.

For some reason, my heart wasn’t into showing you our tour of a Great Lakes freighter on our Duluth trip.  But the photos still sit at-the-ready awaiting display.  Please pay your $10 and hop aboard.  Let’s tour the William A. Irvin.

The William A. Irvin

The SS William A. Irvin is a lake freighter which sailed as a bulk freighter on the Great Lakes as part US Steel’s lake fleet. She was flagship of the company fleet from her launch in the depths of the depression in 1938 until 1975 and then as a general workhorse of the fleet until her retirement in 1978.  (I’m sorry, teacher, this isn’t plagiarism, it really isn’t plagiarism.  Maybe it is.  A little.)

Here's what it looks like atop the freighter. Those are bins to store cargo.

The Irvin was launched November 21, 1937 at the yards of the American Ship Building Company in Lorain, Ohio. Her maiden voyage began June 25, 1938. The Irvin was first of a four vessel class, each costing about 1.3 million dollars. After christening by William Irvin’s wife, Gertrude Irvin, and sea trials, the boat went to work hauling bulk materials from the tip of Lake Superior down to US Steel’s mills of Lakes Michigan and Erie. She and her three sisters incorporated many technological features in their design and proved themselves excellent workers. The Irvin also hauled many company guests in the boat’s exceptional luxury on behalf US Steel. She steamed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of US Steel for her entire career. (footnote, Teacher, this all comes from Wikipedia but it’s been edited!)

For all you boiler room aficionados

On August 27, 1940 the Irvin set a record by unloading 13,856 tons of ore in 2 hours and 55 minutes using Hulett Unloaders. This record still stands as of 2007 and is unlikely to be broken, because all ships today use automatic self-unloaders in the bottom of their cargo holds. The Irvin is one of few Great Lakes vessels to be retired still holding a current Great Lakes cargo record. The Irvin had one of the smallest capacities when the ship entered final layup in 1978 due to the addition of the fleet’s first 1000′ oreboat.

The Irvin sat in layup in West Duluth for 8 years until a non-profit organization purchased her for $110,000 for an addition to their convention center along the Duluth waterfront. The Irvin was repainted and sealed up before heading to her final dock near the Aerial Lift Bridge where she sits today.  (Is this enough info?  Not yet?)

The youngest captain ever steers the ship

Here’s a fact that you surely want to know:  The Irvin stretches 610 feet.  That makes her (him?) little compared to modern-day freighters which span over 1,000 feet.  Look closely at the following photo.  You can see one of the modern-day freighters coming through the Duluth waterways.

Freighter in the distance

Finally, wrapping up this essay, let’s peer at a modern-day freighter up close.

The "Algowood" passes under raised Duluth bridge

Phew!  Handed in before deadline.  No nightmares tonight.  Just have to wait and see if I passed…  You want to start the school year off on a good foot, you know!

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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23 Responses to “How I spent my summer vacation”

  1. Dawn says:

    Nice completion! I always wondered what it was like to be on one of those freighters and now I can say it’s really cool! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I am glad you enjoyed the freighter post. Barry wrote a long column about the freighter tour for our local paper. It was an interesting tour.

  2. Susan D. says:

    Glad you chose the freighter tour as your assignment. Love the photos and all the interesting information. All things “ship” fascinate me. A+ from a reader. Lol ….

    • Kathy says:

      Didn’t you say that you had wished I posted the photos of the freighter, Susan D? That must have bee rumbling around the back of this brain when it came time to complete Scott’s assignment. Thanks for the A+. Wow!

  3. Well, if this doesn’t score an A+ then I don’t know what will. You covered the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it — in full panoramic color! And you shared it in a way that pulled the reader right in. You’ll pass with flying colors — there’s absolutely no doubt about it! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Yep, this journalist can still write a factual story–at times. She still loves writing more whimsically, though. More creatively. Hugs to you this morning, Laurie! You write a darn good story yourself.

  4. I was wondering while reading this if we had any assignments from Miss Lauries class
    Oh God I hope not…
    Don’t mention it she might just forget…..;-)

  5. “She just might forget” is right.

    Recent experience indicates that I’m going through “mental pause” as opposed to menopause 🙂

  6. Colleen Lloyd says:

    Hi Kathy, not passing is NOT even a remote possibility! Very interesting, especially with the great photos. My parents-in-law were avid sea travellers for many years and took several trips as passengers on freighters. I hope Barry enjoyed eating his words along with that tasty looking Cowboy Caviar 🙂 It was a laugh-out-loud, very funny blog.

    So interesting….your recurring dream. Wonder if this might be a universal theme. Mine was similar. The end of the school year is here and I’m sitting down to write the exams and realize in horror that I haven’t been to these classes….ever, and know NOTHING at all about the subjects in question. Along with a sense of confusion about why and where. It’s been a few years since the last one 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Colleen, it was interesting looking at the accomodations for guests on the freighter. It was very luxurious. They said that the guests were treated like kings and queens. Anything they wanted, they got.

      Yes, I think it is a recurring universal dream. Have heard variations from almost everyone I know. (And I just kind of joked about it being Sociology 101 because Chris is teaching sociology in grad school. Usually the dream involves some sort of science class.) And I can’t remember when the last actual dream was.

  7. Cindy Lou says:

    Oh you more than met Barry’s challenge w/ the CC blog – one of your funniest! And YES – I’ve had that exact same dream and still do – what is it with that? Now I also have ‘waitressing nightmares’ where they’ve added on to the restaurant but didn’t hire any extra help – NOT a good dream!

    I love the photo of the little guy piloting the ship – I’d like to be in his “magical nation!”

    Nicely done! Your journalism background is showing 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      It’s always good to meet a challenge! We can do ’em proud, can’t we?

      Can imagine the waitressing nightmares one might have. I worked in my dad’s drugstore for years and still sometimes have nightmares that I can’t add up everyone’s purchase. You try & try and can’t add it up.

  8. Susan D. says:

    OH – forgot to mention the recurring dream. I have several versions. One finds me lost on campus looking for a classroom at U of F. Can’t find it and it’s final exam time. I finally sit down on a bench to think. Stand up a little while later, and can’t move! Haven’t had that nasty nightmare in quite a while, thank goodness.

    • Kathy says:

      Can’t move! Wow, that would be a crazy dream, not being able to move. It’s bad enough being able to move and not remembering where that building is. What class was it in? Why can’t we find it? LOL. We are far too stressed, as a society, methinks.

  9. What an interesting visit and essay, Kathy ! I have never ever been on a freighter, thanks for the treat 🙂 Great pictures too. Do you think the little guy in front of the rudder will become a sailor, a captain ? A great moment in his life, surely. Thanks for this interesting tour and all the information you shared.

  10. Kathy says:

    I am suddenly nervous, worrying that I’ve blown the assignment. What if we were only suppose to write extended captions instead of a full-blown essay??? Oh no! Please no teeth-grinding in the middle of the night!

  11. Pingback: Assignment 8: Recap « Views Infinitum

  12. Nye says:

    You’ve submitted this just in time. I had nightmares about my college days also, that I didn’t take a test and won’t graduate on time and only to wake up that it was a long time ago. 🙂

    Thanks for taking us on a tour. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Nye, it was CLOSE! Phew…made it before the bell rang. Interesting that you’ve had that dream, too. I wonder if everyone has experienced it. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

  13. giiid says:

    It is fascinating to see a ship from the inside, and imagine the busy life which once was the heat of it. Thank you for the tour Kathy. The “little captain” obviously have a great time. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Glad to be able to share it. Really enjoyed doing Scott’s assignment and visiting all the other bloggers that participated. So liked your photographs…

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