Saturday, August 31, 2013

St. Ignace, Grayling, Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes

We seem to have had so many activities and have moved a couple of times since my last blog post, I have to do a little catching up. But it’s made easier by the fact that Jan has posted a couple of times – check out her recent posts.

Our stay at the Moose Lodge in St. Ignace, at the southeast end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was fairly quiet. We were the only RVs there, except for one 5th wheel owned by a couple who spend the whole summer there. Everyone was friendly, and we enjoyed some kick-back time.


At only $10/night, with one 50 amp site (ours) and 30 amps at the others, with water and dump at the back of the lodge, it was a bargain. When we arrived it was just before lunch time, and a crew was inside the lodge kitchen finishing up several batches of freshly made traditional beef pasties. We each bought one, plenty to share between two people for a yummy lunch. (Actually, I think they’re rather bland, but I make mine yummy with a bit of salsa and Tabasco!)

We later learned that the Kewadin Casino, about 1/2 mile down the road, has 21 RV sites, all with 20/30/50 amps and water, and a dump station, for $10. An even better bargain! If we remember, next time we’re in this area we’ll go there. The area has more concrete, but there’s grass and a picnic table behind every site, and having 50 amps and water at the sites is a plus.


We enjoyed good weather, perfect for happy hour outdoors.


We were just across the freeway from Castle Rock, but we decided not to climb it.


We found a good (for this area) Mexican restaurant for dinner.


We visited the Mackinaw Bridge Museum and watched a video about how it was built. Unfortunately, this didn’t make me feel any better about driving over it. But I do appreciate all the hard work put into the project, and the few people who lost their lives in the process.


This was a photo op that couldn’t be missed.


If only the weather had been like this when we drove our RVs over the bridge a day later!


Unfortunately, it was not in the cards. Jan took the picture below while she and Bill were following us. You can just barely see our motorhome ahead. It was my turn to drive, of course! And the speed limit that day for RVs, trucks and trailers was 20 MPH. A 5-mile bridge takes a long time to pass over at 20 MPH! But at least the high winds weren’t bad enough to make the bridge swing. And the lightning didn’t strike close to us. And we were able to stay on the concrete lane and avoid the grated metal one. I was proud of myself for conquering my fear of high bridges and driving the motorhome over it, especially during such a wicked storm. Don said a ship passed underneath us while we were on the highest part of the bridge, but I didn’t look down. I kept my eyes closed the whole time. Winking smile

We all asked ourselves several times why we didn’t just wait a day to travel, but none of us had a good answer.

We’re now in Grayling, in the lower peninsula of Michigan, parked at Camp Grayling, on the Michigan National Guard Military Reservation at the foot of Lake Margrethe. We found a cute diner in town for dinner last night, with a huge collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia.



Jan wanted to have some ice cream, but she was too full after eating her dinner. I told her she should have started with the ice cream…life’s short, eat dessert first!


Coca-Cola stuff everywhere, in every corner of the diner.


Lots of Coca-Cola caps are in the giant Coca-Cola bottles.




I thought about buying Dennis Hill this T-shirt, but then I didn’t. But it’s the thought that counts, right Dennis?


Today we drove west to Traverse City to have a look around the Grand Traverse Bay. We ended up having breakfast-for-lunch at Round’s. The star marks the location in the state.



The SS State of Michigan was in dock. It’s part of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Click the link for more info.


Lots of people were enjoying the long weekend on the beach and in the water…


…including this two-masted schooner. It was pretty far out, so I brought it as close as I could with my digital zoom, then I cropped it to bring it closer, but it got a little fuzzy.


After lunch, we decided to continue west to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. At first, this scenic loop seemed to be just dense forest and one small covered bridge.


Then we got some nice views of Glen Lake.




And we found lots of people climbing up on the dunes.


But we didn’t get to see the dunes from the Lake Michigan side. We had to call it a day and head back home. On the way, we stopped at a wonderful outdoor market in Kalkaska.



Within an hour after arriving back at Camp Grayling, Don had a delicious spaghetti dinner on the table. And later, Jan made root beer floats for desert.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boats in Soo Locks and an International Visit

On Monday, we were lucky to catch an iron ore freighter going through the locks. I couldn’t find much info on the SS Philip R. Clarke, other than it was built for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of U.S. Steel. We arrived after the laker was already in the process of being lowered in the lock.


We watched as it reached the level of Lake Huron, 21 ft. below that of Lake Superior. The building with “Brix” on the side is stationary on the side of the lock, for reference.


At the same time, a Soo Locks tour boat was going the other direction in the MacArthur Lock, closer to us.


About 10 minutes later, it was ready to move upriver into Lake Superior.


The gates were opened…


…and the boat moved westward.


Later, we drove across the international bridge to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.


I hope someday this area will be renewed, as the site next to the river and locks could be quite beautiful.


We were welcomed, and encountered very friendly people in our exploration of this twin city.



The sense of humor of the sculptor is apparent in these fishermen! Note the videographer on the left.


I’m not sure what the significance is of this sculpture, but it seems artistic against the backdrop of the fountain, with the Michigan city’s Tower of History visible across the river.


Another thought-provoking sculpture, a bigger-than-life-size table and chairs.


And we learned a little about the artist. The quote reads, “Whenever I’m asked to identify my best work, or my favourite, my answer has always been the same – the next one.”


We could just barely make out our RVs across the river, and I got a little closer with my digital zoom.



We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to find out more about the city. Jan and Bill decided to clown around with a moose.


After a not-so-good lunch at a Chinese-Canadian restaurant, we returned to the U.S. side of the river just in time to see the huge laker Paul R. Tregurtha going downriver with its load of iron ore, only 3 days after we saw it going upriver empty.


More pleasure boats were on the river this day, too. Some like it slow and peaceful, some a lot faster and thrilling.


It seems the fishermen got lucky and caught something worth keeping.


The Ojibway seems to have had a rough time in a lock at some point.


It was chilly enough on this August evening to wear jackets.


While watching the action on the river, we enjoyed a pretty sunset. The perfect end of a wonderful visit to The Soo.