Saturday, April 26, 2008
lover of the north, the weather, the island
if you know me at all, you know what i'm all about. and what interests me. what i like. if i were to go to college again (or at this point to get my master's) it would be in some form of meteorology. i'm ALL about the weather.
however, the only other thing that interests me as much as the weather (if not more) is the U.P. of michigan, the straits of mackinac, mackinac island, ships & sailing around lake michigan/lake huron and finally, the mighty mac, which is the 5 mile long longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere.
so when i turned on the weather channel tonight to a show called "weather ventures" to find the guy talking of nothing other than the weather around the straits of mackinac, i almost keeled over. i turned on the tv to see what appeared to be my backyard. (this picture was the one shown on my tv tonight! kinda weird seeing your backyard on tv, eh?!) it was actually a video shot of the round island lighthouse from the backside of the mackinac island library; one of my most favorite spots on the island.
(for anyone who hasn't seen my messy room, i've basically wallpapered it with sailing charts of the mackinac island area, the straits, and the les cheneaux islands. i've sailed to mackinac once in 1995 from the cedarville area (michigan). i could live there. anywhere in the U.P. live on a sailboat docked, moored in the harbour, or in a cabin by the water. i could never sail enough. (hence the name of my blog...)
so with my little eyeballs GLUED to the tv, i watched a show about mackinac island, the straits & great lakes, and the weather that i had never seen before. LOVED IT. i'm inspired now to watch my "making of the bridge" dvd i got last year while on the island. did you know the bridge is 200 feet above the water? the bridge supports are also amazing--they go down twenty stories into the bedrock. (which is mostly limestone.) did you know that when the winds exceed 60mph they close the bridge? did you know there are 42,000 miles of cable holding up the bridge...if it were all stretched out, it would go around the earth 1.5 times! if there's anyone too scared to drive across the bridge the mackinac bridge authority will take your car across for you. if winds get up to or exceed 100mph, the bridge can sway (very gradually) up to 25 feet in the middle! there are metal grates that make up the inside lanes of the bridge to allow for the wind to pass through so that the bridge doesn't have to withstand more than it is able. the fun fact of the day is this: as the expansion joints move , they sing! any civil engineers out there would know what this means...
only one car has ever blown off the bridge and only one airplane has ever crashed into it. (it can be very WINDY and lighter cars are a bit of a threat...many trucks and campers have been blown over on their sides, but to my knowledge, only one car has ever been blown OFF the actual bridge structure.) as for the airplane, as i learned more tonight, the fog in the area can be INCREDIBLY dense during certain seasons which makes the bridge supports VERY hard to see. although the road part of the bridge is 200 feet above the water, i believe i heard the tops of the towers are 500 feet up. you can see the problem.
mackinac island has only about 400 residents year-round but can have 15,000 or more people on the island at any one time (workers/visitors/etc.) during the summer.
the great lakes makes up one fifth of our world's fresh water. the chicago to mackinac freshwater sailing regatta is the LONGEST freshwater regatta in the WHOLE WORLD! this year marks the ONE HUNDREDTH chicago to mackinac race. HOW AMAZING. i would give ANYTHING to be crew on someone's boat for this race!!!!!!!
in the northern great lakes, the visibility underwater can be up to 100 feet!!! (btw, i drank water out of lake huron while brushing my teeth in the lake off the starboard side of our sailboat, the Dawn Treader, and i was ok! but i wouldn't recommend drinking a LOT of water out of any of the great lakes--especially lakes erie & michigan...) and one thing i left out about mackinac island is that the ONLY highway in the state of MICHIGAN that does not allow cars is on mackinac island. only horses and bikes!
okay...so now i've likely bored prolly most anyone reading this. but if you've gotten this far at least you know a bit more about the state just to the north of indiana! and that i'm a LOVER of the northern great lakes, the mackinac straits, and weather!