All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Pleasant Penninsula: Sault Ste. Marie

Mackinaw Bridge

One of the surprising perks of dating someone who's from out-of-state is that the landscapes of our childhoods are entirely different. He grew up on the Mississippi in a family that spent that summer vacations taking epic road trips across the American West. I grew up in Michigan camping on the Great Lakes. The most epic journey of my youth was hiking the dunes around Sleeping Bear. However, since we're both in the Pleasant Peninsula right now, I've been showing him around several of my childhood haunts and as he sees these places for the first time, I get the chance to rediscover some things I'd taken for granted.

Ship going through the Locks

Over the Fourth of July this summer, we went camping up in the UP (that's the Upper Peninsula) and visited several places I hadn't been to since I was a kid. Now the Upper Peninsula is sort of a funny place. It constitutes about a third of the state, but to be honest, I usually forget it's there. Most of it is Hiawatha National Forest, and the few cities up there are separated by vast stretches of pine-covered hills. In short, it's the sort of place people move to when they want to get away from other people.

But in the summer, if you're looking for some incredible scenery in a spot that's a bit off the beaten path, northern Michigan is the place to go.

Ship going through the Locks

Our first stop was the city of Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced "Soo Saint Marie"), which is located on the US/Canadian border on the canal that ships must navigate to get between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Due to the 21-foot drop between Superior and Huron, there's a system of locks in the canal large enough to accommodate the over 10,000 vessels and 86 million tons of cargo that pass between the lakes every year.

At Sault Ste Marie

Next to the locks is a gorgeous park where Stride and I loafed around in the sun while we watched the ships.

Fountain by the Locks


The downtown of Sault Ste. Marie has a few kitschy shops and a couple interesting art galleries, but other than that, there isn't much else to do, so we entertained ourselves with a rousing round of mini-golf. In spite of a few runaway balls, we did pretty well and ended up tying -- which I take as further proof of our seamless teamwork.


Whenever I travel, I like to keep my eyes open for amusing signs -- some defy logic, some are charmingly susceptible to misreading, and some, like this, reflect our culture's ever-waning common sense. I suggest this experiment: Let's get rid of all the signs like this and see what happens. If someone wants to sit on this dilapidated rail fence perched precariously over a ten-foot drop into a 200-Flushes Blue mini-golf pond, let 'em! What's the worst that could happen?

Stupid Sign

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