Thursday, August 22, 2019

Cedarville and Sault Ste. Marie

Water has been a big part of our summer adventure this year. We are now at a little RV park in Cedarville Michigan, located on a small bay of Lake Huron.

We can see the water from our rig and have enjoyed the reflected color of sunset on its mirror-like surface.

The ducks are all done raising their families, and seem to be just hanging out and enjoying the summer too. Speaking of the season, the weather has been delightful, 70s in the afternoons and "sleeping cool" at night.

I have never noticed this kind of water flowers before, but they made an interesting design in the sunset reflection.

Amazingly, this was the actual color of the water, in the opposite direction from the sunset. 

Going back a few days, we rounded the top of Lake Superior, and returned to the USA at Sault Sainte Marie. We stayed at the Soo Locks RV park for four nights.

The above picture was taken from a boat on the Saint Mary's River. Although we were not backed up against the river, we had a clear view of it from our dining table windows. We also took our chairs  riverside, and joined the other campers watching the giant lake  freighters and ocean-going ships go by, as they made their way between Lake Huron and Lake Superior using the Soo Locks.

There is a great observation deck next to the Visitor Center that overlooks the two American Locks. Lake Superior is 21 feet higher than Lake Huron, and before the locks were built, the river boiled over a massive rapids as it went from one lake to the other. Now the water is controlled by the locks, leaving only smaller rapids on one side. We watched as a very long freighter entered from the Lake Superior side, then was then lowered to the Lake Huron level by letting water out of the lock.

This is part of the same ship. I was unable to capture all of it in one image because it was one of the 1000+ foot long ships.

[From Craig] The neat thing about locks is that they never have to pump water.  If the water in the lock is low and they want it to be high, they just let water in from the high side.  If the water in the lock is high and they want it to be low, they just let water out on the low side.

In addition to watching the ships from the RV Park and the Visitor Center, we took the Soo Locks Boat Tour. 

It is aways interesting to hear about the history and the various buildings along a water front.

The Cloverland Hydroelectric building was fascinating.

The repeated images of lighthouses in the stonework were great.

One of the smaller boats we saw was this little red tug. Craig and I remembered  a children's book we had both enjoyed as children.

Our tour included a trip through the locks. We went upriver through one of the American locks.

No toll or other charge is made to any boat going through the locks.

After coming through the lock the tour went a little way upriver, under the International Bridge, and into Canadian waters.

The three main ingredients for steel production are limestone (the large white pile), coal, and taconite (a pellet of refined iron ore)  are all brought in by ships to this Canadian steel mill and to other mills in Michigan and Indiana. 

I would love to see the inside workings of one of these mills, but this trip was just included a short view from the river.

The urban areas on both sides of the river are called Sault Sainte Marie. The population on the Canadian side is 75K. The population on the American side is around 13K. The difference is due to the lack of business and industry on the American side. We observed numerous empty buildings.

All of the large freighters come through the American locks because the older Canadian lock is too small. It are used by pleasure boats and smaller commercial vessels.

Our tour came through the Canadian locks on the return to the Lake Huron side where we started.

As with the picture of the ship in the lock taken when we were at the Visitor Center, it was difficult to get a picture of the really long ships as they passed our campground. 

This was one of the much smaller ones. More than 20 ships, large and small, go through the locks every day. When camping riverside, you don't have to wait very long for the next one to glide by. We will be returning to Sault Sainte Marie after going down to see Mackinaw Island, and I'm sure I will be taking more ship pictures then.

We saw some Cranes in a field on Wednesday. I am including a picture of this one in memory of a dear friend and fellow blogger, Judy Bell.

I am feeling very sad.

Tuesday I learned she had passed away over the weekend. Judy hung up her RV keys a few years back and has been living full time at Jojoba Hills. I do not know the details of her passing, but I do know she had some health issues in the last few years.

Judy was an inspiration to me. She traveled solo, and volunteered at wildlife reserves throughout the country. She was an honest and down-to-earth lady, and a wonderful photographer. 

I will never take a bird picture without thoughts of Judy's excellent work which she posted on her blog Travels with Emma.

May her spirit roam free and soar with the birds she so loved.

I will miss you Judy. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Last Stop on Canadian side of Lake Superior

We have enjoyed the beautiful scenery on the North Shore of Lake Superior as well as the pleasantly cool temperatures.

We stayed at the Wild Rose RV park by Batchawana Bay for three nights. It is not the prettiest RV park, but with full hook ups and a low cost it served us well. Never mind the fact that the water pressure was so low it seemed to just dribble out of the faucet!

One of our Ontario friends reccomended we have dinner at the Salzburger Hof restaurant on the Bay. We don't eat out very often, but do enjoy something special from time to time. The Hof specializes in German home cooking, particularly Schnitzel. It was very nice.

After dinner we took a walk around the grounds to look at the lake.

It was a beautiful evening.

This summer, the later sunsets seem to surprise us.

The light doesn't even start to fade until quite late.

A postcard-perfect place to have an evening campfire.

I was so full after the big German dinner that I wanted to just sit and enjoy the view. I think the temperatures were in the 70s, and there was no wind or mosquitos.

As we went back to our car we passed a line of short, but very wide fir trees. This place is sure to fatten up everything!

The next day we sought out a few sights listed on the map of the Wild Rose RV park as local highlights.

All of the shoreline beaches we had seen up to now had been quite rocky, or at least covered in very course sand. Pancake Beach was long and sandy. Earlier in our travels we had been told that Lake Superior was about two feet higher now than last year. 

Next we went to find Batchawana Falls.

Most of our view was through the trees.  It was a good falls.

The river gorge was beautiful as well.

The information we had indicated that the falls were 7 Km up a rough road. 

It was written that we could expect a bumpy ride.

At first it was not bad, and the forest on either side was pretty.

We went through several muddy water holes that were almost dried up and we could easily keep one wheel on dry gravel.

Then the rocks and pot holes got bigger and bigger. We said to each other: "This is why we have the Jeep!" And I was very glad it has good strong grab bars to hold onto.

That day we also went to Chippawa Falls, but didn't climb the path up to them because I was wearing rubber beach shoes. Ever since my fall in Alaska, and the resulting shoulder injury, I have been far more cautious. Must be part of getting old! 

We went back on Wednesday, but I was still not comfortable with the rock climbing. Craig took this picture of the lower falls after climbing rocks that I could not.

I saw something Tuesday, August 13, that I have been keeping my eye out for: the first signs of fall color. We will be in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, aka the UP, until late September, and then possibly take a swing into Wisconsin's Door County known for its beautiful fall color. I hope we are not too early, but I guess if we are, we can just camp there a little longer. 

Although we have to get our Alfa's annual service done in either Salt Lake City or Phoenix, and Craig has some major dental work to look forward to in Los Algodones, Mexico, we are in no rush to get back to California. Getting there by Thanksgiving time would be nice!

Gotta love this life!

Bilbo Baggins: "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost"

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Wawa, a very short post.

What can you say about a 28 foot tall goose? 

It graces the lawn of the Wawa Ontario Visitor Center. There are two other large geese in town as well.  One sits atop a motel roof and the other is at the general store.  

I also loved the Gitchee Gumees seen around town. These three are at the Visitors Center. Gitchee Gumee is the spirit of Lake Superior.

Other than visiting a couple of waterfalls, we did not find much to see or do in Wawa. The weather has been wonderfully cool, and after all that is why we came up this way. Its nice to be able to just kick back and relax. 

Craig downloaded Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha and over several nights read it aloud.  "By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water ..."

I had never heard or read the entire thing. Have you?

Saturday, August 10, 2019


I try to find something "fun" wherever we go.

Well, I try... I'm not sure this little Voyageur is quite happy with this load, although they each were responsible for quite a bit of cargo in their canoes!

Merikay rides a canoe with a stiff Voyageur in a Nipigon Park

Nipigon is sometimes called the high spot on the Lake Superior Circle Tour, but we did not find it to be all that exciting. It is just a small lake town struggling from decades long downturns in fishing, logging and iron ore mining. It did have a small gold rush but, like in many other places it petered out without leaving great prosperity behind. 

 River from park trail
However, Nipigon was a peaceful place. It did have a nice little harbor park which we visited.

As we were walking along the river, we saw a half dozen preteen boys bicycle up the trail to a river bridge and floating dock and just jump in for a swim. Delightfully unsupervised on a nice summer day! I bet they didn't have to be home until dinner.

The sign said "Danger"and No "Trespassing", 
but it didn't say 
"No Swimming".

The Visitor Center lady recommended the Observation tower overlooking the large bridge over the Nipigon River.

Lake Nipigon is about an hour north of where we were staying. A drive up to the town of Beardmore to see it, had also been suggested, so on our second day we packed a lunch and took the Jeep for a run.

The day was sunny with a cool but brisk breeze.

This enormous fishing snowman greets drivers coming north on Hwy 11. Next to him is a big sign that says "Beardmore, Gateway to Lake Nipigon".

Makes you smile, Eh!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sailing in Thunder Bay on Lake Superior

This is my second post from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Check out my post about Fort William if you missed it.

Collect experiences, not stuff!

Shopping is not my "thing." Although I always look through the park gift shops, I almost never buy souvenirs. I might purchase an occasional book, pair of socks, or t-shirt, but not much else.

On the other hand, we are always ready to try a walking tour, train ride or boat trip.

This time it was a short sail in the harbor at Thunder Bay. Superior Sails offers a variety of "tours" ranging from the 90 minute harbor cruise, to all day excursions around the islands and even a high-speed ride in a Zodiac

We went on the 40' sailboat named FRODO. I think it would comfortably carry four or at the most six people for an all day sail. We were told the boat's owner had sailed it across the Atlantic with his wife.

For our 90 minute sail, it carried 12, including the captain. Except for the three people on the front deck, who had to move from side to side when the sail was shifted, we all had seats but were unable to move around to take pictures. It looks crowded, but it didn't feel uncomfortable. Only one other lady and I took up the offer of wearing a lifejacket. Apparently they are not required in Canada like they are in the USA. Lifejackets for all were aboard, but stowed in a cabinet below deck. 

We motored from the dock and the sails went up.

The weather was just about perfect, warm with a medium wind. 

We sailed past the old harbor light house. It is automated now, but in earlier times the keeper lived out there.

In the picture above, you can see the difference in the wave action beyond the breakwater. They were only two foot swells. but we did feel the difference. 

There was a large freighter anchored and waiting for its turn at the docks.

We could tell it was empty by how high it was riding. Our captain refered to it as a "Salty" meaning it was an ocean-going ship as opposed to one that stayed in the Great Lakes.

We sailed right up to it.

We were told that there were very few crew onboard, and that pink boat suspended off the stern is the escape boat. Totally enclosed, it has enough supplies to last for a couple of weeks at sea.

These people looked like they were having a very nice day sailing.

All in all it was a nice experience. Another "Agate" in my memory box.