Jul 282011

We awoke to rain yesterday morning, and it continued to come down steadily as we checked our favorite daily blogs, answered a few e-mails, and checked the news on the internet to see who we’re at war with this week, how bad the deficit is today, and if we’ve won the war on drugs. No good news there, so we decided that we probably should stop procrastinating, and just go ahead and get ready to hit the road.

We got lucky, and the rain stopped while we pulled out of our campsite at the Ojibwa Casino and got the Explorer hooked up, did a light check, and started driving east on State Route 28. A few minutes after we started out, it began raining again, and kept up most of the day. But Miss Terry was still able to get a few good pictures along the way, including these cattails we saw alongside the road.

For the first part of our trip, we followed the Lake Superior shore, where there were several pullouts and viewpoints.

Lake beach

If anybody ever told you Michigan was flat, they lied. We went up and down several pretty steep hills. They were nothing compared to the Rocky Mountains we crossed a week or so ago, but I sure wouldn’t want to tackle them in the wintertime!

Hills in UP 2

SR 28 downhill

There was a fair amount of traffic, including quite a few RVs.

Motorhome in UP

Going through one little town, we spotted this mobile sauna that you can rent. What a clever idea!

Portable sauna

 We wanted to stop at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but it was raining hard when we came through Munising, so we decided that would have to wait for another time. We poked along until we got to Interstate 75, and took it north a few miles to Sault Ste Marie, often called simply Soo City.

There are two exits to get off the highway in Sault Ste Marie, so of course, I chose the wrong one, depositing us downtown, where there was a lot of traffic and road construction, and the street we needed to take was closed. After a little trial and error, we managed to find our destination, arriving at the Elks lodge about 3 p.m., with 155 miles behind us for the day.

The Elks lodge has four RV sites with 30/50 amp electric, water, and cable TV. The RV sites are on a little spit of land overlooking the St Marys River, a mile or two from the famous Soo Locks, where some 10,000 ships a year pass through on their way between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. Here is the view out our front window, with Canada just across the river. There is both a wide angle and a zoom shot.

View out front

Looking to Canadian side 3

To put things in perspective, here is an Army Corps of Engineers aerial view of the Soo Locks, looking east. We are parked on the right side, about where the yellow mark is in this photo.

Soo Locks aerial view 2

Ship watching is a favorite pastime around here, and we have a perfect spot to see them as they go by. During the afternoon and evening, five or six huge freighters went past, including the American Spirit, making its way toward the locks. Launched in 1978, the 1,000 foot long ship can carry 62,400 tons of cargo.

American Spirit 2

American Spirit bow

American Spirit stern

There are two other motorhomes parked here with us, though one is supposed to be pulling out today. Here are some of our other neighbors. And these Canadian geese are who supply the poo I mentioned above. A lot of poo! Do you have any idea how much a flock of geese can poop? I do, because it’s all over the place. I don’t think I’ll be walking around barefoot much while we’re here!

Geese 2

Once we were parked and hooked up, we ran out to get a bite to eat, stopped at WalMart for a few things, and came home to watch the ships and small pleasure craft go past. And to swat mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes! It didn’t take us long to decide to retreat inside, and watch the passing nautical parade from the comfort of our Winnebago.

We’ll be here a few days, exploring the local sights before we head south for Terry’s doctor appointment in Traverse City next week. Several readers have suggested we cross into Canada for some sightseeing, but we don’t have passports, and we won’t have enough time to see everything on this side of the border that we’d like to get to. 

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Nick Russell

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  17 Responses to “Soo, Poo, & Skeeters Too”

  1. I always thought of Michigan as just run down industrial cities until I read your last two blogs. The Upper Peninsula is beautiful! It has moved very high up on my Bucket List when I start my own RV adventures next year.

  2. Nick, it is “Canada Geese” not “Canadian”, they are not citizens.

  3. Hey Nick, I know that you don’t offer sponsorship recommendations for Elk’s membership in Elkhart (due to the high initiation fees), but are you going to be offering it in Celina this year?

    Some of those Elk’s lodges you’ve stayed at look a whole lot better than some of the RV parks that I’ve been to!

  4. Hi Nick,
    I’ve been following you since picking up a Gypsy Journal last year at the Hershey RV show. In response to another comment, we are working our first workamper job, and newbie full-timers, here in Michigan. We too never thought of Michigan as anything other than Detroit, but boy, were we wrong! Its a beautiful and varied state, and we are very happy that we have had this summer to explore it. I highly recommend Michigan as a state for plenty of exploration and relaxation.

  5. Nick, you are right about the goose poo. We were volunteering at Bonneville Dam, and the parking lot at the Visitor Center was a favorite place for the geese to spend the night. A guest came in the VC and asked if we had elk in the area. I said I had never seen them. He said they have been all over the parking lot and pooped a lot. I tried to tell him it was goose. He told me I was wrong, a goose was a little bird and could never poop that much. I just grinned.

  6. Nice article Nick. I enjoyed reading about your new experiences in the U.P.

    We have been long-time Michigan residents. My Dad leased property near Seney when we were growing up. He hauled an old trailer up there and spent his vacation time, two weeks, there every year. We’ve spent a lot of time up there since we have taking to RVing too.

    FYI, We have always referred to Sault Ste. Marie as “The Soo.”

  7. Nick, Keep an eye out for the two fox that are often down by the water and by the lodge when people feed them.

  8. Nick if you have time you would really enjoy a side trip to Taquamenon Falls. the cruise to the upper falls is a great eagle watching trip and the walkway behind the falling water is a memory forever. The lower falls is a set of 3-4 foot cataracts and the upper is a legitimate large waterfall in the red stained water of the Taquamenon River.

  9. You guys are at one of our favorite places. The food at the lodge was very good (especially the fish fry) when we were there and if the Farmer’s Market downtown is going on it was great.

  10. Just what I want to read about with my morning coffee, goose shit! Gross 🙁
    Couldn’t you find anything else to write about?

  11. I have been following your excellent blog for about 5 months now and I really like it. You have a wonderful writing style and always make me feel like I’m right there seeing everything with you. I also ordered your Big Lake mystery from Amazon and as an avide mystery reader, I was thrilled with it. I hope we see more like that from you.
    But I must ask why you travel so far and so fast? We would need an entire year to see the Oregon coast and you covered it in what, a month? Then you were only in Washington a week or two. Now you’re all the way across the country in Michigan, but say you’ll only be in Soo City for a few days. Why? You miss so much that way. We spent 63 days in the UP two years ago and still didn’t get to see everything there is up there. This is not a criticism (well may it is, I guess), but don’t you get tired and don’t you realize how much you miss along the way?

  12. Rick – I talked to the Celina Elks two years ago, and they didn’t seem too interested in working with us. I’ll see if I can set something up, but make no guarantees.

    John M. – Really? Goose poop is all you got from today’s blog? Nothing about the Upper Peninsula’s beauty? Nothing about our arrival in Sault Ste Marie? Nothing about our excellent view? Nothing about the locks, or the big ships that go through here? You focused on goose poop? Maybe you just have a crappy outlook on life today?

    Margaret – I’m glad you enjoy my blogs and Big Lake. I am working on a sequel now. As for our travel schedule, please keep in mind that we are not retired. We are working RVers, and our readers want to read about a variety of places. So we have to move around a lot to find new and different stories to share. We also hold two rallies a year, and they take a lot of work that requires us to get to the region where they are being held, ahead of time. Mix all that in with a constant case of hitch itch, and that is what keeps us on the move so much. The good news is that we can (and do) return to some places to see and write about even more.

  13. We spent time at Soo last summer. Camped right on the river and watched those great boats move by. We must have lucked out cause no mosquitos while we were there. Enjoy.

  14. That makes sense, Nick. I guess I never looked at it that way. If you spent months in one place and only had that to write about, people would complain, I’m sure.

  15. Nick, we love the Soo also. I believe the casino there also has a 30 amp electric only campground that is free for three days if you have a players card. They also have an excellent buffet.

  16. I will be heading to the Soo are his fall and enjoyed reading about it. Great pictures,too! I dont believe you about the goose poop however and think you should have backed up your statements with a picture for me and John. 🙂

  17. Was really surprised at the people that don’t realize what a beautiful state
    Michigan is. Sure we have some closed factories but blame that on outsourcing
    to foreign countries and the economy. But “If you seek a pleasant
    peninsula look about you”.
    You are now heading to one of the most beautiful areas of our State – the
    Traverse City area and the peninsulas there and the coast along Lake
    Michigan to name just a few.
    Come on up folks – we are “Pure Michigan”

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