Monday, July 13, 2009

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

After the farewell coffee & donuts, we went into town to do laundry and grocery shopping and then continued our trip. We drove through the village of Mackinaw City. Reminded us of all the other summer towns we’ve seen. Then we crossed the Straights of Mackinac which join Lake Michigan with Lake Huron. This part of Michigan is called the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) Stopped at the Bridge View Park for lunch then continued on to Sault Ste. Marie and the Aune-Osborn city campground. We got a site directly on the St. Mary’s River. The Soo Locks which connect Lake Superior with Lake Huron are on the St. Mary’s River which is the only water connection between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. We sat outside and watched the huge ships heading to & from the locks.


We went to the Soo Locks Visitor Center. A very educational facility. There were exhibits about the Great Lakes, the history of Great Lakes shipping and the history of the Soo Locks. Unfortunately, there were no ships scheduled to transit the locks this morning. We saw the ships yesterday as they passed right behing our campsite and saw the locks to day, but did not see a ship in the locks as we had hoped.
The locks are needed because there is a 21’ difference in elevation between Lake Superior and lower lakes. The first of the locks was built in 1855. Prior to that, it was necessary to portage boats and cargo around the St. Mary’s River rapids. The street name even today, is Portage Road. Today there are four locks. The locks can handle the biggest ships that use the Lakes; those just over 1,000’ long. The largest lock is the Poe Lock. It’s 1,200’ long and 110’ wide making it the biggest lock in the world. More than 11,000 vessels, carrying up to 90 million tons of cargo pass through the locks each year. Most cargo is iron ore, coal, grain or stone(mostly limestone). The depth of the water is a minimum of 25.5’.
About mid-morning, we continued our trip through the U.P. Drove to the Monocle Lake Campground in the Hiawatha National Forest a few miles west of Brimley. “Monocle Lake is located on the famous Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway featuring breathtaking views of Lake Superior’s south shore.” Our campsite is just across the roadway from the lake. There is a trail Carol could use to get to the wildlife viewing area. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Let Gopher off her leash. She had a great time running around, swimming and chasing a stick. It’s very windy today; sunny but windy. On our drive we saw windmills on the Canada side of the lake. Passed through a Chippewa Indian Reservation with the requisite casino. This one had a regular RV park. They had a good crowd.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Escapee Rally, Cheboygan, MI

Wednesday through Saturday.
44 rigs showed up at the Rally.
Each day at 4:00 there is a social hour. It’s a chance to meet the other people attending the rally. On Thursday, we drove around the area stopping at Aloha & Cheboygan State Parks and a wonderful City park located right on Lake Huron. Had lunch, went walking out on the breakwater and took Gopher swimming. A warm & sunny day. At the City park, we were talking to some locals. They said around here you need to take full advantage of days like this because they don’t have very many.
Friday: Mostly enjoyed our friends company today. There was a pizza party for dinner then games. Carol played Farkel with a group.
The more Escapees we meet, the more fascinating the entire culture of “Full Timers” becomes. People talk about how long they have been full-timing. 5 years, 10, 15. One fellow is 93 years old; another couple is in their mid-eighties. One lady is about 90. She and her husband full-timed together for a very long time. When he passed away, she continued by herself for another ten years. Now she travels with her “baby” brother who must be in his mid-80’s. By the looks of the RV’s and the appearance of the people, some are quite wealthy and some are just getting by. Such things don’t seem to make any difference with this group. We have never met more friendly & outgoing people. Carol thoroughly enjoys the company of the other women. Maybe it’s because of her disability, or perhaps that’s just the way they are, but they have welcomed Carol like an old friend. These SKP Rally’s are one of the highlights of the trip.

On Friday & Saturday morning there was a pancake breakfast. My job was to mix the batter for the guy who did the cooking. Saturday night was the Pot Luck Supper. We made brownies and a key lime pie plus heated up some frozen burritos we were trying to get rid of. In the evening, Carol played Farkel with her friends.