From St. Ignace we headed north to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Our plan was to see the falls that evening, see the Shipwreck Museum the next morning, then head for Sault Ste. Marie and the Canadian Border. When we got to the campground it was packed, and there were kids and pumpkins everywhere! Turns out we stumbled into the annual Tahquamenon Falls Fall Festival. We missed the chili cook-off and pumpkin carving contest, but we were just in time for trick or treating. We decided the falls could wait. We had 45 minutes to come up with a costume for Bridger and find some Halloween candy to give away!
The state park is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Luckily the convenience store just up the road had some Halloween candy, I’m sure in anticipation of campers like us. Now we just had to figure out a costume. No problem! We recently bought a couple of faux bearskin rugs for the boys’ room after complaints of cold feet. Two bearskin rugs, Sam’s leather longline, and one pair of Uggs later, we had a caveman! Did I mention I’m the queen of homemade Halloween costumes? Brian created a weapon based on Bridger’s sketches and we were all set! Carson and I stayed in camp to carve a jack-o-lantern and pass out candy while Brian and Bridger went hunting and gathering. It was so much fun. People had gone all-out to decorate their campers and campsites. Everybody was totally into it and the kids had a blast!
The next morning we made it to the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. It’s a small, privately owned museum dedicated to the many shipwrecks on and near the Point. It houses a 3rd degree Fresnel lens and information and artifacts from many of the discovered shipwrecks, including the bell recovered from the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s an amazing little museum. One of the most dramatic exhibits was about Surfmen of the U.S. Life Saving Service, a group of first responders I had never even heard of. They were forerunners of the Coast Guard, basically lifeguards on steroids. It’s a fascinating history— if you get a chance, you should look it up.
We finally made it to Sault Ste. Marie, or the Soo as the locals call it. As with everywhere else in the U.P. we spent more time there than expected. When we got to the Soo Locks the first morning there were no vessels scheduled to pass through until evening. We decided we couldn’t leave without seeing the locks in action. So we learned all about the locks at the visitor’s center, met a bookstore owner who shared some local history with us, caught up on the laundry, made a visit to Grooves music store for new guitar strings, then back to the locks. We watched the Cason J. Callaway, up-bound to Lake Superior, pass through. It was worth the wait. Those freighters are just awesome and watching them go through the Soo Locks is pretty unforgettable.
*On a side note: Remember the freighter we watched load up and put out in Marquette? Turns out there was a reason that thing looked so huge. It was the Paul R. Tregurtha, the biggest laker on the Great Lakes! It’s 1013 ft long and 105 ft wide. The widest of the Soo Locks is 110 ft. It must be exciting to watch the massive Tregurtha squeeze through!
After the Callaway, Brian and I checked out the Soo Brewing Co, a great little brewery with a real feeling of community. No TVs, no kitsch, just conversation and conviviality. The owner introduced us to Skittles, an English pub game that’s addictive. So much fun!
We had a great time in the U.P., and we fell in love with Lake Superior but we really did have to leave! So, on to… Canada! Headin’ across the border to get some french fries and gravy…
More soon, eh?