Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sault Ste Marie

Odometer  32233
Trip miles  83 miles

Bright sunshine greats us this morning, and the winds are light out of the west.  The temperature is predicted to be 67 degrees today, a big improvement over the last couple of days.  Today we travel from Mackinaw City on the tip of the Michigan Lower Peninsula across the Mackinac Bridge and into the Michigan Upper Peninsula.
Directly across the bridge is the small town of St. Ignace, and we get off  Interstate 75 there to trundle through town in our land yacht, even though to head north again we have to get back on the Interstate for a short distance.  St. Ignace is the quintessential small maritime town with a great hometown feel.  We snap some photos of the harbor and the downtown, but we are heading for Sault Ste Marie, and we want to get there with time to explore, so we push on.
The wind picked up as the day warmed up, soon we had a 12 to 15 mph wind gusting at the left front of the bas.  Thanks to the good manners of this bus I was not bothered all that much- but I'm sure our fuel mileage suffered for it.
I'm not sure why, but I was expecting the terrain to be somewhat mountainous, instead what we found was
roads that run straight as a string over nearly flat terrain.  Some of the areas on either side of the road were almost what you could call swampy.  Don't misunderstand me, this area is beautiful, the hardwoods were just starting to leaf out, and in another week -Wow!  We had a great day for this trip too.  The sky was blue, the roads were smooth and wide and EMPTY!  Just the way we like them.  Set the cruise for 55 and zone out on the scenery.  We dropped off the interstate onto M134 and headed east to the small town of Cedarville.  There is a nice boat basin there for sports boats and there is the Great Lakes Boat Building School.  We parked in the Supermarket parking lot and had a light lunch, before trundling through the town in the bus. My curiousity satisfied, we turned onto M129 and headed north toward Sault Ste Marie, which is where we took the photo above.

At the end of a very pleasant 1 hour drive, we arrived in Sault Ste Marie and found the City owned Aune~Osborne RV park.  We arrived on the very first day of the season and we are one of 3 campers here in this park of 99 sites.  The 15th is a magical day in the UP- not many RV parks are open until then- one reason we stayed an extra day in Mackinaw City.
We have an excellent spot on the Saint Mary's river just a half mile down river from the Soo Locks!

Speaking of the locks, as soon as we were set-up we jumped in the car and headed into town and to the Soo Locks Corps of Engineers park.
We arrived at the locks just in tome to see the Cedarglen leaving the locks and heading downstream.

There are 4 locks on the US side of the river and one on the Canadian side.  The first lock was built here in 1700 on the Canadian side of the river, and it wasn't until 1853 that a private party built locks on the US side, and those were turned over to the State of Michigan in 1855.  In 1881 the locks were transferred to the US Army Corp of Engineers.  Through a series of upgrades the locks have become the system we see here today.  The Poe lock is the only one of the four currently long enough for the newest 1000 foot long  freighters.
The locks are all controlled from the tower shown in the picture above, everything works at the push of a button, but it still takes about an hour to pass a large freighter.

We also visited the museum on a ship called the Valley Camp Museum after the ship that houses it.
 The Valley Camp was built in 1917 to haul ore across the Great Lakes for National Steel.  When her keel was laid her name was the Louis W Hill.  The ship was purchased by Republic Steel in 1959 from Wilson Marine Transit who had  renamed her the Valley Camp.  The ship's engines were fueled by coal and that
 is what finally doomed her to the scrapyard.  In 1968 she was purchased for $10,000 for use as a museum.  The whole ship is open to the public, and a large part of the cargo hold has been turned into displays showing the early days of shipping on the lakes. She sure looks good for a 96 year old ship.

I especially liked this display of 1000 foot long ships built in from 1972 to 1981.
 At the far left of the array is a model of the Valley Camp that we are on, at 550 feet she is dwarfed by the newer 1000 footers.
I especially love how on this trip, we see things in one area of the country that later tie in with an event or display in another part of the country.  As an example, some parts of these ships were built in the ship yards we saw in Pascagoula, Mississippi when we came through there last February.
And this display of a Kahlenberg 5 cylinder diesel came out of a Corps of Engineers Tug the Owen M Frederick in 1981 when she was reconditioned.  Remember the Kahlenberg engines that I talked about powering the fishing tugs in my South Haven, MI blog.
 These engines ran on crude oil- amazing.

Here is a look aft on the windy main deck of the Valley Camp.  I took way too many photos- safe to say I enjoyed the museum very much.

The bridge of this freighter surprised me a lot

For one thing this bridge was a LOT smaller than a modern-day bridge would be- the other thing was the wood frame windows with conventional wood sashes like a house of that era- including the glass puttied into the frames!

We returned to our home on wheels at 5 PM tired and hungry- but what a day!
As we ate dinner, we got to watch the Polsteam power slowly down river in front of our hi-resolution windshield.  Gotta love this condo we have.

Our day was capped by this beautiful sunset over Soo Locks.

We are off tomorrow to see Whitefish Point light houseand museum and on to Newberry for the night.

Your Travelling Friends

Joan and Jeff

Bridge of VC

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