January 2023

I did not realize I have not updated the Gitche Gumee Museum’s web page in a year. The year 2022 was crazy and did not allow me time to accomplish all of the desired tasks. This will be my last update on this page since I have permanently closed the museum. The new webpage for the new Agatelady Rock Shop can be accessed at www.agateladyrockshop.com.

The new webpage has been created to explain services and products offered through the new rock shop including scheduling private appointments, reserving seats at the weekly 6:00 pm Friday lecture (Understanding and Finding Agates), requesting private group lectures, and more. The new website will not have updates like the old website. However, I will leave this original webpage accessible so that people can access its archive of information.

Three spring photos are included including a Lake Superior sunset image, a photo taken in the Grand Sable Dunes, and a picture showing a large amount of driftwood on a Grand Marais beach.

Three photos from the 2022 summer are included including one of the Au Sable lighthouse, a photo from the top of the lighthouse looking east toward the Grand Sable Dunes and Grand Marais, and a picture of one of the shipwreck sections located on the beach west of Au Sable lighthouse.

Photos taken last fall include two showing massive waves hitting the outer harbor lighthouse and pier in Grand Marais, MI, and three pictures taken up in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth photo shows one of the dunes as well as one of the telegraph poles that is still standing after more than a century. The telegraph line was installed to connect Au Sable lighthouse to Grand Marais. The sixth photo is one I took from Coast Guard Point in Grand Marais. I had never seen this picket-fence-looking light show before but was told by a friend of mine (Shawn Malone) that it is a STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. These are often visible from areas farther south than a typical aurora, and it looks like a ribbon of pink or mauve light, with green columns of light passing through the ribbon. Auroras, by contrast, usually are shimmering green ribbons.

STEVE’s mauve streaks occur when charged particles are heated up high in the atmosphere. For a while, STEVE’s origins were elusive. The picket-fence-formation was investigated in 2016 by citizen scientists in western Canada. The new study examined satellite data gathered above STEVE events in April 2008 and May 2016. The measurements included information about Earth’s magnetic and electrical fields in the magnetosphere, the region of Earth’s atmosphere where the planet’s magnetic field is stronger than any influence coming from the sun. Then, scientists compared the satellites’ findings with amateur photos of STEVE taken from the ground at the same time. When STEVE was on display, the study authors discovered that energetic electrons were pouring into Earth’s ionosphere, the layer of the planet’s atmosphere where atoms lose electrons due to solar and cosmic radiation. The friction caused by the movement of the electrons creates a pinkish glow, almost like an incandescent light bulb. Satellite information further revealed how the “picket fence” aspect of STEVE develops. The data revealed waves moving from Earth’s magnetosphere to the ionosphere. In this region, the waves can both energize electrons and move them out of the magnetosphere, creating the picket-fence appearance, which happens simultaneously in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The phenomenon appears as a very narrow arc extending for hundreds or thousands of miles, aligned east–west. It generally lasts for twenty minutes to an hour.

Since I get more time to get out adventuring in the winter, I have more pictures from this season. The first shows a shelf of Lake Superior rocks pushed up the beach by waves and frozen in place. The second shows Tahquamenon Falls at sunset. The third was taken in the Grand Sable Dunes. The fourth and fifth pictures are views of Sable Lake are taken from the boat ramp and from the dunes. The seventh and eighth images demonstrate just how deep the snow gets in Grand Marais. The ninth show the outer harbor lighthouse peaking up above the mound of ice piled on the western pier along the channel leading from Lake Superior to Grand Marais Bay. The last picture was taken from the bluff of the dunes overlooking Lake Superior. It shows melting mounds of ice covered in sand that accumulates on top when the ice mounds melt.

Current Grand Marais Scenes – January 2022

Because it has been several months since I posted a web page update, I will include photos from late summer, fall, and early winter.

The four late summer photos below include a photo I took of the Mackinac Bridge when I was on a ferry going to Mackinac Island to visit with my oldest son and his family, a photo of Sable Falls, a photo of the ferry at Kitch-iti-kipi Springs (located west of Manistique, MI), and a photo of me on the golf course.

Three fall photos are below including one of the inland portions of the Pictured Rocks located not far from the Beaver campground area, a photo taken at sunset from the beach east of Grand Marais, and a photo of fall colors taken during a hike in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Six photos taken during early winter are below including two taken on the beach near Woodland Park, one picture taken on a foggy day in the Grand Sable Dunes, two photos taken in the Burt Township School Forest (located four miles east of town), one picture of the future Agatelady Rock Shop, four photos taken during a beach snowshoe on and west of Coast Guard Point, and two pictures taken at the Sable Lake boat ramp.

Current Grand Marais Scenes – July 2021

Because it has been several months since I posted a web page update, I will include photos from winter, spring, and summer.

These three photos were taken at the end of the winter season. The first image was taken from the east side of Sable Lake looking toward the Grand Sable Dunes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The second was taken from the top of the dunes looking over the frozen Sable Lake. The third photo shows shore ice in front of the campground in Grand Marais. We had very little ice this winter due to the low snowfall amount as well as the warmer than usual temperatures.

During the spring I was busy finishing up the new book, so I do not have any photos taken in Grand Marais. However, I did participate in an awesome three-day hike in the Porcupine Mountain State Park. The first image shows my friends and me on the shoreline along the Lake Superior Trail in the Porkies. Our hiking club is named Helkarcia (Hel for Helen, Kar for Karen, and Cia for Marcia). We named the falls Helkarcia Falls. The second photo shows a female merganser duck. These are large, long-bodied ducks with thin, pointed wings. Their bills are straight and narrow, unlike the wide, flat bill of a “typical” duck. Females have shaggy crests on the backs of their heads. They are smaller than a Canadian Goose and slightly larger than a mallard duck.  Adult males are patterned with white bodies and dark, iridescent-green heads for most of the year. The back is black and the bill red. Females and immatures are gray-bodied with a white chest and rusty cinnamon heads. From late summer to mid-autumn, males wear a nonbreeding plumage that looks very similar to female plumage. In-flight, both sexes show large white patches on the upper wings (larger in adult males). The third sunset photo was taken from our rented cabin, which was located at the mouth of the Big Carp River along the Lake Superior shoreline.

Grand Marais has a traditional July 4th celebration, which is always held on the 4th of July. Usually our firework display is totally awesome. This year, it seems they just lit off a series of finale, grouped together fireworks. There was not time to ooh and aah individual fireworks. The whole show was over in a hurry. I was able to get a few photos. The third photo shows downtown Grand Marais during the parade, which was better than normal with several floats. The last three photos show a wild rose and other pictures taken during a hike across the Grand Sable Dunes from Sable Lake to Lake Superior, and back.

Current Grand Marais Scenes November 2020

Given the crazy busy summer, I did not have much time to get out and go on adventures.  But I did get out at least a few times to get a few photos.  Of course, I always must include a Lake Superior sunset picture.

I also have to include some beach photos.  The three photos below were taken on a beach east of Grand Marais.

It is also imperative that I include a couple of photos from the Grand Sable Dunes.

When I was with friends east of town, we ventured down the beach to see part of a shipwreck.

When my son and his family were up visiting, we drove into the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  We hiked into the Au Sable lighthouse and stopped at the mouth of the Hurricane River.

The next photo was taken from town looking across the bay toward Lonesome Point, showing the break wall in the foreground.

The final two photos were taken in October after one of our early snowfalls.  A friend and I hiked through the school forest to the bluff over Lake Superior.  The erosion on the shoreline continues.  During the hike, my friend spotted the barred owl that was resting on a lower branch around 100 feet to the right of the trail.

Current Grand Marais Scenes May 2020

As many of you know, for the first time I decided to go to Florida for a few months this past winter to work on my golf game. After leaving Grand Marais, I visited both kids and their families for Christmas before heading to Panama City Beach. Shutting down my house in Grand Marais paid for renting the condo. Finally, after working on my game for over two months, I met my goal of shooting less than 100 shots for 18 holes two days before leaving Florida! Thanks to all my family and friends for supporting me during the two years of working on my golf swing! It was my first time golfing at Signal Hill, but I had a 95!

I arrived home in Grand Marais at the end of March. I knew there was still snow on the ground, but it was still weird to go from sunny weather with temperatures in the 80s to winter weather with temperatures in the teens! Here are photos of the snow at the museum, on the south side of my house, in front of a garage on Coast Guard Point, and in the woods on the national park’s cross-country ski trail.

After arriving home, I self-quarantined at home for three weeks. I did, however, spend time along the Lake Superior shoreline.

I also spent time hiking near Sable Lake as well as in the Grand Sable Dunes!

As the snow started to melt, the deer began hanging out in front of my house. Since I was in quarantine, it was nice to have company!

Slowly but surely the snow started to melt. I had amazing icicles hanging from my roof. Also, the water table is VERY high. There is flooding in low areas more than normal.

Current Grand Marais Scenes November 2019

Since I was so busy this year with the museum and rock show responsibilities, I not only did not get out on my usual number of adventures, but I also did not get to take many photos in the Grand Marais (and other) areas. Because I have not had many webpage updates this year, I will include pictures I have taken since the beginning of 2019. I did not take many, but there are a few.

First, I must include one of the pictures I took of the total lunar eclipse on February 20-21st. I used a tripod and zoom lens.

Last winter was one of the snowiest since I have lived in Grand Marais (moved here the summer of 1994). I had to put on snowshoes and roof rake at least a dozen times. It was a beautiful winter, though!

Spring seemed a long time coming since it took forever for all the snow to melt. It was welcomed by many of us Yoopers!

As spring eased into summer, for me it meant a return to the golf course. Even though I was crazy busy this summer, except for the period just before the rock show – I continued the pursuit of improving my golf game. Before I started my lessons at the end of the 2018 golf season, my highest handicap in the Newberry Country Club league was 26. With the help of my golf coach, I lowered it to a handicap of 20 in the league this year. However, when I was not under the pressure to perform in the league, I golfed much better. My goal was to beat 100 strokes in 18 holes. I almost did that matching 100 twice. However, on nine holes I broke 50 five different times. I need more practice in my pitching, chipping, and putting. Once I improve these parts of my game, I expect to break 100 stokes to be sure!

Fall started out busy with the rock show. Then I had to just finish out the museum hours at the end of September. Once the Mason show was done in October, I took a few deep breaths and regrouped. I finally was able to take the time to go on an epic Chapel Loop hike at the end of October. Several of these pictures are included here. The fall colors this year were delayed and spread out. It seemed like we had some reds early. The forests continued to explode with color through most of October.

Current Grand Marais Scenes December 2018

For lots of different reasons, this year I did not go out on as many adventures as was true in past years.  However, there is no problem in selecting several photographs I’ve taken since the last web page update.

Our fall in Grand Marais had bizarre weather.  In September, we had several days with temperatures in the 80s.  The fall color process had already begun but was slowed down a bit by the warm weather.  As a result, the color season lasted longer than normal.  Here are a few pictures I took on adventures in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Just has been true for the past several years, the number of high-wind events seems a lot higher than it used to be.  Here are a couple photos of big waves caused by a huge storm we had early fall.

Although winter is a bit slow to start, we have had at least a couple of storms with six inches or more.  But then warm weather significantly decreased the snow pack.  Below are some early winter photos.  The first in Lonesome Point, located on the northeast side of Grand Marais Bay.  Many of the apples (again this year) never dropped from the trees.  I love the way they catch snow.  The last two photos were taken at Sable Lake.  The first picture I took from the Overlook.  It shows an evergreen leaning over the first coating of ice.  The second shows my beloved sand dunes.

Current Grand Marais Scenes August 2018

This web page update covers from late April through the beginning of August.  We experienced a late winter storm in April, so there was still some ice hugging the Lake Superior shoreline.

While visiting Sable Falls with friends, we noticed a failed attempt by beavers to fall a tree.

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In the spring the deer are hungry.  When the snow starts melting in town and the grass shows through, the deer munch away.

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One of my favorite things about spring is the blooming of the trilliums.  My favorite spot to check out the trilliums is the trail between the Sable Visitor’s Center and Sable Falls.

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Once all the shore ice melts, it is always great to see the rocks along the shoreline.  This year we have more rocks on the beach than we have had for the last few years.

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One night this summer I walked out to the breakwall to enjoy the sunset.  Several people were fishing, others were walking the breakwall to enjoy the beautiful evening, and a freighter went by Grand Marais.

Although I have not gone on very many hikes this summer due to my busy schedule, I did go on one hike on the Masse Homestead trail in the PRNL.  The forest seemed healthy and happy.

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NOTE: More Grand Marais scenes are posted often on my blog at www.agatelady.blogspot.com and on my main personal Facebook page listed under Karen Ann Penegor Brzys.

I love taking photos in the Grand Marais area all times of the year, but I think I like winter photos the best. But the first photo included in this webpage update was taken on the south side of the Straits of Mackinac showing the blue ice. Apparently, blue ice rarely forms on the Great Lakes. The phenomenon is much more common on glaciers in Antarctica and the North Pole. It happens because of three processes. The first is that water absorbs the other non-blue colors of the spectrum. The second cause is the lack of bubbles in the ice, allowing the blue wavelengths to continue through the ice and not be scattered by the bubbles. The third factor is the ice thickness and density. All these conditions were perhaps the best locals in the straits area have seen in many, many years.

When people think about walking on the Grand Marais beach, most envision the summer beach. However, the winter beach can be VERY dynamic and beautiful.

My other favorite place to take winter photos is the Grand Sable Dunes in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’ve taken a few snowshoes in the dunes. This time of year you cannot drive to Sable Lake, so you have to park at the Sable Lake Visitors’ Center and snowshoe to Sable Lake. To get these photos, I snowshoed from Sable Lake, across the dunes to the Lake Superior bluff, and back.


I am not sure how much snow we have received this winter season, but we have to be getting close to 300 inches with this late winter/early spring dumping. Here is a photo I took on Coast Guard Point showing how high the snow piles up.

Perhaps the best winter event in Grand Marais is the UP 200 dogsled race, which takes place mid-February. The race teams start in Marquette and travel on well-marked trails to Grand Marais for a required rest period before returning to Marquette. This year the weather was perfect for the race!


NOTE: More Grand Marais scenes are posted often on my blog at www.agatelady.blogspot.com and on my main personal Facebook page listed under Karen Ann Penegor Brzys.

For this webpage update, I have selected some of my favorite pictures that I took in the Grand Marais area between August and November.

To begin here are a couple of fall photos. The first was taken from the Log Slide area looking toward Au Sable Point in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The second was taken during a hike on the White Birch interpretive trail above Twelve mile Beach Campground.


While at the Twelve Mile Beach Campground I also captured a sunset photo.


On another fall hike in the national park from the Log Slide to the Hurricane River, I captured this picture of the lighthouse.


The photo below was taken on the same hike. It shows the mouth of the Hurricane River looking west. Grand Island, located in Munising Bay, can be seen in the background.


This year we have had more high wind events than you can count. During one storm I drove east of town, hiked to the shoreline, and captured this image.


The third week of October we had some of the largest waves ever recorded on Lake Superior. One wave was 28.8 feet high, as measured at a buoy located north of Munising. As a result, the shoreline erosion was intense. There are sections of the beach that are no longer passable unless you walk in the water. At other points, the driftwood just piled up as can be seen in these two photos taken at First Creek, located just west of Woodland Park in Grand Marais.


We have had a couple of early snowfalls, but as of the end of November, all the snow has melted. Here are a couple of photos I took just after one of the early snowfalls.