Monday, August 25, 2014

Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Sault Saint Marie

Hello again! We just got back from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and I thought that if I didn't post right away I might never get around to it, a fact that has been thoroughly proven over the past few months. Ha!

The U.P. has a distinct regional identity and well-preserved natural beauty that we have been eager to explore since moving to Wisconsin. What a week to remember--who knew that in the heart of the Midwest lies such a treasure? It's part East Coast beach town, part National Forest wilderness, and part quirky tourist-friendly small town America. We LOVED it!

We started off our trip the way we start all of our camping trips: leaving later than expected and setting up camp in the dark. We brought along the camp food staples like brats and dogs, grilled pizza, walking tacos, spaghetti, and lots of pancakes and eggs! We tried the super-sized marshmallows for the first time and decided we're not fans. Go classic with the s'mores.  
Camp chores earn your keep!
After staying in Hiawatha National Forest for a night, we settled down in a hotel for a couple nights to sandwich Sunday, so we'd be clean for church! Of course the pool and hot tub were hits. Lots of capture the flag and races. Max loves to swim and often tells me, "Mom. Look at me the whole time!"
Sunday we attended the Sault Saint Marie, MI branch. Our five kids almost tripled the size of the Primary (from 3 to 8!). The members gave excellent lessons and talks, and afterwards they invited us to their Potluck Sunday. We grabbed some food from the van to contribute and talked with the branch members for an hour or so. What a blessing to be part of a worldwide faith family--we loved our Sunday there!
We crossed the border into Ontario that afternoon and walked along the boardwalk and talked.
Here's sweet Michael peering over St. Mary's River. At BYU they called this the "LTL"--Loose Tie Look, inevitable condition post-church Sunday.
The next morning we boarded a Soo Locks Tour boat. It was Adam's 5th birthday, and I told the ticket lady about his birthday as I faced the sign reading "Ages 4 and under: FREE." I thought that she would smile and say that birthday boys could ride for free. She didn't say that, and I was out $9 for his fare. Later my family members pointed out that Adam was born at 5 p.m. and since our tour was at 11 a.m., he was technically still age 4 and FREE. But the $9 had been spent and the ticket issued and I had to apologize to the family for spending good trip money with no respect for birth times. If I were a ticket salesperson, I would have smiled and given the nearly-5-year-old a hearty handshake, a free fare, and a piece of gum. I don't think it would put me out of business! I also think that if I were in the tour business I would go around giving away free fares until I ceased to make a profit, so maybe it is good that I'm not in that line of work.
We went through the locks twice. The speed at which the locks fill amazed us--we could feel ourselves being lifted up or lowered down. People stood on observation decks on land to witness the locks in operation while we enjoyed our up-close view from the boat! Here is the MacArthur lock:
The beautifully blue water looks Caribbean, just about 20 degrees F colder! Still, I wish we could have jumped in and enjoyed the lock as a private swimming pool for a while. You could see clear to the bottom.
We thought it funny that so many businesses spelled "Sault" as "Soo" and that people referred to the twin cities of Sault Saint Marie, MI and Sault Saint Marie, ON as "Soo Michigan" and "Soo Ontario."
We loved the Soo and our memories of the pretty city, including the century-old Edison Sault Hydroelectric Plant:
Ticket to Ride will be so much cooler now.

1 comment:

liz said...

I've loved reading about your travels -- you guys are so ambitious! I have an aunt, uncle, and cousins in Soo Ontario, but have never been there! Now I think we should plan a trip to that part of the country. What a lovely time you had.