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.