Friday, June 22, 2018

Lake Superior Circle Tour-Day 6 , 7 & 8 to Munising, Michigan and Home

We had a nice hotel breakfast, packed up our luggage and left for the border.  Canada was nice, but I was looking forward to getting back in the United States.  In many parts of Canada we didn't have any cell service.  For most of my life, I wasn't connected all the time to family and friends, but now it feels really strange not to be able to contact someone.  Our cell phone costs for international calls are expensive.  Calls are $0.99 a minute, texts cost to send and receive plus you pay for each MB.  Fortunately  Verizon has a travel pass for $5 per day to use your own plan.  I also usually used the wifi in the motels so I only had to pay $10 extra and that was because I got a couple text messages coming in.   In case of an emergency, Canada did have wifi and pay phones available at some of the travel centers.

I hadn't seen a functioning pay phone for a long time.

We started out using our GPS to find our way to the border, but it did not follow the actual signs.  We decided to trust the signs instead.  We ended up going around the block a couple times before we figured out where to turn.  We could see where we needed to go but didn't figure out how to get there at first.

When we were finally going the right way, it was pretty easy although the American border patrol  was not nearly as friendly as the Canadians when we entered Canada from Minnesota.  They make you feel like you are smuggling and being dishonest when there is no reason to feel that way.

We entered the United States into Michigan.  We had seen the big ships go through the Soo locks a few times before so we continued on.  If you haven't seen it, it is pretty amazing.  We had arranged to meet my sister and her husband at Tahquamenon Falls.   We had been there before, but they had not.  We were there in the fall, and it was beautiful.  This time was nice but not nearly as pretty.  I highly recommend visiting in the fall.

The great part was seeing my sister and her husband.  We hadn't seen them for almost a year.  After leaving the falls we found a local restaurant for lunch.  Three of us ate the local faire, pasties.  Then we all headed to Munising, Michigan.  We were staying there for two nights to see the sights and have time to visit.  Dinner was at The Dogpatch Restaurant which had a Li'l Abner motif.

We headed for bed anticipating day 2 in Munising.

In the morning we went over to the docks.  We had purchased tickets to take the Pictured Rocks boat trip.  It is a two hour trip on Lake Superior to see the Pictured Rocks up close.

It was a cloudy day but at least it wasn't raining.   Pictured Rocks is a United States National Lakeshore on the Lake Superior shore.  It was the first National lakeshore.  It has fifteen miles of sandstone cliffs, rock formations, waterfalls, caves and some sandy beach areas that can mostly be seen from the water.  The different minerals in the stone gives it different colors.  The iron shows red, manganese is black, limonite is yellow, copper is green and others.  The pictures we have seen in books and online were brilliant like the pictures in this free book we received from the motel.

Though the formations were amazing, the colors weren't this bright.  Maybe if it were a very sunny warm day and if I would have used my good camera, I could have gotten a better result although cell phone cameras do a pretty good job now days.  It was still worth the trip, and I'm so glad we could see them.  I took so many photos that I couldn't include all of them.  This is just a sampling.

If you look carefully, you can see a small pile of snow in the cave. 

One of the interesting sights was a huge lone tree appearing to grow out of a rock spire.  At one time the spire was connected to the mainland and the tree root ran horizontally.  Through erosion the rock fell away leaving the root crossing the gap and giving the tree life.  If you look closely the root can be seen on the left side of the picture.

The sun came out for a short time so we could see the beautiful aqua colored water. 
The East Channel lighthouse built in 1868.
It was lunchtime by the time the cruise was finished.  We still hadn't had any freshly caught Lake Superior whitefish.  We found a food truck serving the fish and walked over for lunch.  It was very good.

The day went fast.  We had a little altercation with Big Foot, but we resolved our differences and moved on.  

We took a little sightseeing ride, visited some more and finished out the day.  In the morning, we said our goodbyes and headed for home.  Hopefully it won't be so long until we see my sister and brother in law again.

We still had one more Circle Tour stamp to pick up in Marquette, Michigan.  The travel center was in downtown Marquette so we found a parking space and walked to it.  We couldn't believe it.  It was CLOSED.  We were one stamp away from getting our certificate.  I took a picture of the sign and submitted it anyway.  In a short time, we got the certificate anyway.

We left on a Sunday and returned home on the next Sunday.  We put on over 1500 miles and saw so many interesting and beautiful sights.  I have wanted to make this trip for a long time and finally we were able.  Another thing to check off our bucket list.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lake Superior Circle Tour-Day 5 to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada

Wawa, Ontario to Sault Sainte Marie was about 146 miles so we had all day to enjoy the drive.  Our first stop  was a place I was looking forward to.  It was the Agawa Pictographs.  It is a group of Indian rock paintings that are hundreds of years old.  They can be seen on a cliff towering above Lake Superior.  The hike is short but rather wet, rocky and steep.  We entered the park and made our way to the beginning of the trail.  There was a park fee for this.  It was self service so I went to fill out the registration and pay the fee.  There on the board were two things that got my attention.  The first notice said that there was a rock slide that was blocking some of the trail.  The other notice said there was a bear sighted in the area and to proceed with caution.  Even with those two pieces of information we were trying to decide if it was worth it.  Then a lady came over to us and said to be really careful if we do the trail because in order to get a good view of the pictographs we would have to walk out on a narrow ledge of some sort.  I know we had recently walked the long suspension bridge but it had a lot of safety features built in.  It looked scary but was relatively safe.  In this case we were not about to take our life in our hands just to see some pictures on the side of a cliff.  She said the best way to see them was from the water, and we obviously didn't have a boat so that was out.  I went on the internet and saw them just fine.  Most of the photos have a copyright so I can't show them on this blog.  They would have been nice to see, but that's how it is sometimes.  We took a photo of the boat launch and were on our way.

I can't say which leg of our journey was the most beautiful.  It was all gorgeous.  The road was curvy and went up and down hills.  I can see how building this highway was a huge undertaking.  Apparently this section of the highway was one of the most difficult.

At times it looked like we were going to drive off the edge of the earth.  
Notice how all the signs are also written in French.

Before we knew it we were at the next stop.  We needed a break and there was a wayside park at Chippewa Falls.  This is not the Chippewa Falls we are familiar with as Wisconsinites.  In fact, it is the exact middle of the Trans Canadian Highway.

There was another plaque that describes how Dr. Perry E. Doolittle was one of the first people to identify the need for a Trans-Canada Highway.  He was one of the first Canadians to have a car and in 1925 took his car and drove across Canada.  When there was no road he used railway wheels which were fitted to his car and he travelled the rail tracks.  Over 500 miles of his journey were travelled this way.  Even though he was the "Father of the Trans-Canada Highway", he died thirty years before it was officially opened.

Can you imagine traveling all the distance in a Model T Ford?  It's hard enough on a good highway in a modern car.

Chippewa Falls is a small falls compared to the huge falls we have already seen, but it fun to walk to the top and look down.  The pink granite at the falls is so hard it won't erode as quickly as some other rock types can.

You can see the remnants of log jams from days gone by.

Canada uses solar energy.  We saw big solar panels sitting out in fields.  Even this wayside park was lit with solar panels.  Each yard light was powered by a solar panel.  It seems like a very good idea to me.

It was supposed to be a 45 minute drive to Sault Ste Marie.  It ended to be a little longer because of road construction. Just before we got to Sault Ste Marie we had another unfortunate happening.  A big semi passed us by and kicked up some rocks.  A couple hit the windshield and cracked it.  A rear fender bender and now a cracked windshield.  Hopefully they both will be easily fixed.

Before we knew it, we were seeing signs of a metropolitan area.  We were entering Sault Ste Marie.  I didn't realize how large the Canadian city was.  It has close to 80,000 people compared to a much smaller Sault Ste Marie on the Michigan side.  Since we would be crossing over into the United States early the next morning, we did a little sightseeing.  We went to the canal and happened to see a couple of the tour boats go through the locks.

We saw the boats at the top of the bridge. 
In a few minutes we could see the doors start to open. 
And there they were. 

We went to eat and spent the last of our Canadian money.   Then we settled in for our last night in Canada.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Lake Superior Circle Tour-Day 4 to Wawa, Ontario, Canada

Leaving the B & B and continuing on our journey was a beautiful drive.  There are so many gorgeous lakes and forests.  Every 25 or 30 miles we saw a Moose crossing sign.  Most of them said night danger, but I was hoping to see one.   I carefully looked for a moose along the shore of every lake we passed.    I didn't see one moose.  In fact, I didn't see any eagles either.  I see them all the time around our area, but I thought I would see more in Canada.

Our first stop on our fourth day was Terrace Bay.  It was the stop for our fourth stamp.  Nearby was Aguasabon Falls.  The falls are part of a hydroelectric power plant which has been operating since 1948.  Kakabeka Falls, which we saw yesterday began producing power in 1906.  The Aquasabon generating station can produce enough power for 45,000 homes.

We left Aquasabon Falls and continued to White River.  There was more beautiful scenery along the way.

When we arrived in White River it looked like it was pre-tourist season.  None of the planters were filled with flowers, and the park was overgrown with weeds.  It appeared that spring had barely arrived.  The photos we had seen of this town had it all decked out.  They celebrate a Winnie the Pooh festival every summer, but it doesn't happen until the third week in August so I guess they have time to clean up.  As the story goes, an Army veterinarian named Lt. Harry Colebourn was assigned to take care of Army horses.  These horses arrived by steam train on August 24, 1914.  He noticed an orphaned black bear cub for sale on the train platform  He bought the 6 month old bear cub for $20.  He formed a bond with the bear and named her Winnipeg after his home town.  He called her Winnie for short.  Winnie became Harry's pet.  When Harry was called to England, Winnie went along.  She went to live in the London zoo when Harry was sent to serve in France.  Winnie was very tame and gentle.  She was the most popular animal in the zoo.  Five years later Harry gave Winnie to the zoo permanently.  She lived for 20 years.  The author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne loved visiting the bear.  In 1926 A.A. Milne wrote the famous children's book Winnie the Pooh based on Harry Colebourn's black bear named Winnie.  We read that if you see a black bear in the area it is probably a descendent of Winnie.  From now on, the black bear we saw near Rossport, Ontario, Canada will also be called Winnie.

Entrance sign to the park
In 1992 this sculpture was donated to the community of White River.

We left White River and arrived in Wawa, Ontario in the early afternoon.  We couldn't get into our motel room for a couple hours, so we spent time looking around.  We went to the Wawa tourist information center for our fifth stamp.  There was a lot to look at there.  It was informational as well as having beautiful views.

There is a big Wild Goose statue at the tourist center.  The famous Wawa goose looks out over the Trans Canada Highway.  Wawa was probably named after an Ojibway name for goose.  The name for snow goose was wewe and the name for "clear water springs" was wawagonk.  At some point they came up with Wawa.  There was a time when the community tried to change the name, but it wasn't successful.

It wasn't until 1960 that the final link of the Lake Superior section of the Trans Canada Highway opened.  Early people traveled by railroad or steamship, then a rough road was cut but it was difficult to travel on.  I imagine the highway opening was very welcomed and opened up the area.

After visiting the travel center, we still had time to fill.  I had seen a lot of waterfalls, but we decided to see another.  It was the Scenic High Falls of the Magpie river.  We followed the signs and had to travel about 1.5 miles on a gravel road.  It had rained before we got there so the potholes were filled with water.  By the time we arrived, our car was really dirty.  You couldn't even see the damage from our fender bender a couple days earlier.

The area near Wawa and probably this whole area north of Lake Superior was based on the natural resources available.  Animal fur, fish, iron, gold and logging.  Workers would log out the forests and float the logs down the rivers.  Sometimes the logs would jam at the dams and waterfalls.  Even now you can see piles of old logs accumulated nearby.

The last place we visited before we settled in for the evening was Young's General Store.  Needless to say, I didn't use the restroom (or washroom as the Canadians call it).  I had seen enough of disgusting facilities along the waysides.  I love nature and the outdoors, but I'm an indoor plumbing kind of girl.

I did see my first moose at this general store.  It was not alive, but it is probably the closest I will ever get to one.

After a bite to eat, we finally settled in for the night.  In the morning we ate breakfast at an interesting restaurant.  We met some people who were from North Carolina.  They had driven to Vancouver and were heading across Canada to New Hampshire.  They had put on more than 7000 miles so far.  It made our little trip kind of puny.  That was a huge undertaking I wouldn't have been up to.

We are off to Sault Ste Marie-Canada.