Working Port

Our pace is considerably slower today. In addition to sleeping in, we came back to the hotel this afternoon to relax before heading over to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for an authentic Italian dinner.

Our day was spent learning about and experience the Soo Locks. We had the opportunity to watch two boats go through the locks. This in itself is quite impressive and reminded me of the working docks in Duluth.

We also went to Clyde’s Drive-Inn, which is located on the outskirts of town along on the water. Their burgers are delicious but extremely greasy. (This might be partially to blame for why we’re taking an afternoon rest). Sitting at the old school counter, watching the ships come in, it quickly became apparent this is a working town that hasn’t seen the tourism boom (and financial benefit) Duluth gets. If anything, this part of Sault Ste. Marie is authentic.

The downside to today is the shopping in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. The street of “gift shops” could also be called t-shirt and tacky tourism central. This alone would not be entirely irritating. What is, though, is the fact that every shop has the same set of hoodies, t-shirts, and random knick knacks that have absolutely nothing to do with Canada. The one exception to this rule is Fudge Du Locks. The complimentary Rocky Road Fudge was still warm when handed to us. I’m usually not a huge fudge person but this was exceptionally delicious, as was the fresh made saltwater taffy I ended up buying before leaving. One cheesy shop did catch my attention by having dog hats on display. It was $5 well spent 🙂

  

Photography wise I don’t have much to post today so I thought I’d take a few minutes to download photos from my other camera. This one tends to focus on the “candids” my husband is quickly growing tired of. To me, it is these photos that memories are made of. Tomorrow we begin the “rustic” end of our journey. I hope to keep posting but if not, expect some updates when I return to internet coverage.

 

 

Moose Capital of the World…

The sun is in full force today. With it, the bugs. More specifically, lots of hungry mosquitoes. Despite this, we forge ahead. Our first stop is the Seney National Wildlife Refuge where we encounter a variety of animals floating about the marsh. Eagle nests, baby geese, swans, and plenty of unidentified birds flutter around us as we wind along the unpaved road. At one point we let our puppy out to run full speed ahead. She loves the warm weather and open trail. All is well as long as we are moving. We pause to soak in the view and the infamous buzzing instantly becomes like a bad surround sound system. It is time to move on.

Our second stop for the day takes us to Newberry, Michigan where we enjoy a self-guided tour of an old CCC Logging Camp. In addition, the camp now features a variety of artifacts from that time period, including a museum of chainsaws. Suddenly, Steve thinks the $5 entry fee is the steal of the decade!

It is here we learn two things—first off,  Newberry is the Moose Capital of the World. Second, the main route to our next stop is under road construction. It turns out the road construction isn’t an issue. And, even though we never actually see a moose in the Moose Capital of the World, it makes for some fun souvenirs… including a sledding moose for our Christmas tree.

The drive to Tahquemenon Falls takes us down a windy, deserted paved road filled with garage sales that clearly are a weekly affair. Finally, we reach the entrance of the park. What a contrast. It is like the Disneyworld of northern Michigan. The packed parking lot reminds me of  Gooseberry Falls on on a fall weekend. Better yet, (or worse if you are going for an authentic hiking experience) a brewery sits within the park along with multiple cheesy gift shops. I cannot help but smile. A cold brew sounds good about now and I love a good, funny t-shirt.

It turns out staff isn’t expecting such a large crowd this Memorial Day weekend. The waitress apologizes at least a half dozen times for the obnoxiously long wait. It is after 2 pm and the lunch crowd is massive. The Lumberjack Lager settles our stomach until the fresh whitefish arrives. It is worth the wait. Then, a short ¾ of a mile hike to the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi (minus Niagara Falls of course). It is a spectacular view.

For those wondering how a brewery ends up in a state park, it turns out long ago a man used to canoe upstream to see the falls. A time came when he was finally able to buy all of the land around the falls. Eventually, he sold the land to the state with the condition that there always be at least a short hike to the falls so that its beauty is maintained. I’m guessing he somehow worked the brewery into the deal as well… I’m not minding this arrangement today at all.

After hiking the lower falls, we continue heading north for our last major stop of the day—the Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point. It doesn’t disappoint. The artifacts are authentic, including the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald. Growing up in Duluth, I always heard about the great ship and the “lake that never gives up her dead.” After touring the museum and outbuildings, we go by the lighthouse and over to the lake so Joey can get a drink from the big lake and stretch her legs.

As we climb over the observation deck, we are met with a graveyard of driftwood, endless calm blue water, abandoned pilings, a great lakes vessel, and an infinite number of skipping rocks. This is the Lake  Superior I love.

The tour book hinted at multiple moose sightings in the Moose Capital of the World. What it overlooked was the great sighting of all—A little slice of Heaven, right here on Earth.