August, 2018 – Sault St Marie, Michigan

The trip to Sault St Marie was straight east along Michigan 28 through deep forests of the spruce-pine forests that we have learned are typical of the Upper Peninsula.  As has been the case for the last three weeks, there are very few small towns along the highway, so there is little to break up the drive.  It was not far to our next location on the shores of Lake Superior which took just over an hour to drive.  Our new location was Bay Mills Resort and Casino, which has a nice RV Park just across the highway from the casino, restaurant, and hotel.  This was our first time actually camping at a casino, so, as expected, we visited there more than once during the week.  There is not much good to say about the campground as it was essentially a large grassy field that was little better than a parking lot in terms of room.  However, all of the sites are pull through making access very easy and had full hookups.  In fact, the free WiFi and cable TV were amazing with over 100 channels which made Kal very happy since we have not had reliable TV for the past two weeks. No trees in our part of the campground, so there was no shade but since we got more clouds and rain during the week then sunshine that was no real problem.  We choose a site that was away from the casino and since the sites on either side were out of service, we had plenty of room and a nice view of Lake Superior.  Since most of the week was spent on getting ready for our family to join us in St. Ignace, we had very little else planned for the week.

On Tuesday we headed into Sault St Marie to make an appointment at the Soo Ford Dealership to get the oil changed.  Since they could not do the work until first thing Thursday morning, we had the whole day to explore Sault St Marie.  After going to the store and setting up our medication at Walgreens, we headed to the Soo Locks.  Once there we found a neat museum on the Lake Huron side of the locks.  The Museum Ship Valley Camp is an actually 525 foot freighter that transported many products, most primarily iron ore and coal, from the mines on Lake Superior to Detroit from 1917 to 1966.  It is the best preserved example of the heyday of shipping on the Great Lakes and is essentially unmodified since it was built.  All of the cabins are laid out as if the crew still lived in them and the coal fired steam engines are worth looking at, even if I don’t understand what I am seeing.  The massive cargo holds have been converted into extensive museum space that covers a number of topics relating to the Great Lakes freighting industry.  This includes artifacts from numerous ships showing the history of changing technology in ships and instrumentation, some of the hundreds of shipwrecks over the years, and the history of the Soo Locks.  The most notable exhibit is the last days of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank with all hands during a storm in November, 1975.  This was the last of the major shipwrecks on the Great Lakes and inspired many songs and art work including the iconic song by Gordon Lightfoot.  They have one of the two recovered lifeboats that washed up on the beach near the wreck.  While this was all interesting, I enjoyed the history of the Soo Locks, which began as a 1.6 mile canal that bypassed the rapids on the St Marys River with two locks to raise and lower ships a total of 11 feet.  Today the locks are a series of 4 locks ranging in length from 800 feet to 1350 feet, which were built in 1896, 1914, 1919, and 1943 to accommodate the increasing size and frequency of the freighters.  Freighter traffic has greatly reduced with the closing of most of the copper and iron mines on Lake Superior and today only two of the locks are being used.  For anyone interested in the freighting history this is a must see museum.

The rest of the week we spent essentially at the campground.  I did take the truck in early Thursday morning to get the oil changed and Kal did go to the store a couple of times.  Other than that, we stayed put.  We spent the week cleaning the RV and getting ready for the family to come together next week.  Of course this left us a lot of free time, which Kal spent the majority enjoying old movies on TCM.  We did go the casino multiple times starting on Tuesday afternoon.  We did very well to begin with winning over $50 the first day.  We went back on Thursday afternoon and came out another $20 ahead.  Encouraged by this we went again on Friday and came out $2 ahead.  This was not as exciting, but since we had yet to spend anything at the casino we went back on Saturday once again.  This proved to be one time too many as we lost nearly $40.  However, this still meant we came out ahead for the week, which is very unusual for us.

On Sunday afternoon, we headed to the airport south of Sault St Marie to pick up our daughter Jenny, who was flying in from Orlando.  We had a very enjoyable evening with her before packing up the RV and heading south to St Ignace to meet up with the rest of the family.

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