Friday, August 17, 2012

Final Couple of days at the Soo

On Wednesday we left DA PAD early for us and gassed up DA TOAD at $4.03/gal.  We have heard the high prices for gasoline in Michigan is because of a gas line leak coming from Canada. We couldn’t believe that we would be paying more for gasoline here than they are paying in Fresno, California.  We were taking a day trip  to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, Michigan.  This is about 1 1/2 hours around Whitefish Bay to the very tip of Whitefish Point. 

On our way we stopped at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.  There are currently 28 lighthouses around Lake Superior. This is a beautifully restored lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s home.



We took a walk down to the beach along a wooden boardwalk. We found the stones along the beach so interesting.  There were waves like on the ocean and even sand like along the Atlantic and Pacific beaches, but rocks?  They extend way out into the Lake and there are many rock walls utilizing these abundant rocks.  If you look closely in the wave at the left you can see these rocks.



We continued on Lakeshore Drive through Paradise on to Whitefish Point Lighthouse and  Shipwreck Museum.  This was Lake Superior’s first lighthouse authorized by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861.  There are five separate buildings that comprise this museum, but we could only visit 4. Our first visit was to the light keeper's station and home.

P1070984We saw an excellent movie on the Edmund Fitzgerald that brought tears to many eyes including mine.  We then walked over to the Whitefish Point USCG Lifeboat Station.  We were fortunate to arrive just as the Historical Society staff person began his talk on these incredible Coast Guard surfmen.  Before there was anyway to know if a ship had run aground or was in trouble electronically, these men walked the shore listening and looking for those ships and men in trouble.  This was in the worst kinds of weather: –60 degrees, 30 foot waves, rain, fog, sleet and snow.  There was a Lifeboat station every 10 miles around the lake.  Every 2 hours 2 men would start in opposite directions, meet the next station’s surfman, exchange marker coins to verify they had walked the entire coast, then return to their station.  This was done all night and all day if the visibility was bad.   If they spotted a ship in trouble they would fire a flare and 8 Coast Guard would launch this kink of boat and row up to 5 miles to rescue the seamen.  If the water was too rough they would run down the beach in this wagon, shoot a canon with a rope to the ship, secure a line between the beach and the ship and haul each seaman in a sling back to the beach.  They saved over 10,000 seamen in the time the Coast Guard served Lake Superior.

The Shipwreck Museum was our next stop.  There were many ships that have been researched by the Shipwreck Society featured in this museum. 




The most well know sinking was that of the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975. The song by Gordon Lightfoot was a history lesson about the perils of sailors on Lake Superior, that the Chippewa Indians called “Gitche Gumee”. There remains today a mystery as to why the “Fitz” sank. 

We had seen the Anderson come through the Soo Locks just days before and the Captain of our Tour boat told us about Captain Cooper who was still at the helm of the Anderson.  So when we saw this information in the museum we were even happier to have seen the Anderson.





In 1995 the families of the lost “Fitz” crew asked that the bell of the “Fitz” be brought up and put on display as a memorial to their lost loved ones.  Another bell with all the names of the sailors engraved on it was lowered in the original bell’s place.  This is the original bell of the Edmund Fitzgerald.



We started back to Sault Ste. Marie and stopped for a picnic on the beach, called the Shallows.  Leftover Elks Fried Chicken, cold slaw, peanut butter celery, apple juice and a little of the Fudge that we bought at the Museum Store. There were kids that were walking out at least 1/4 mile and were still not up to their knees.  I didn’t get any pictures because our camera was having ‘problems’.  We will be heading to Costco soon to hopefully resolve that.

When we got back to the Soo Locks, we took our chairs to the park and an amazing concert. 


Thursday, my birthday, we went to dinner at Karl’s Cuisine. it was perfect, a window seat, maple planked white fish, pecan rice, a delicious medley of vegetables, bread stick and raspberry chocolate cheesecake & raspberry chocolate port for desert.  Tom had sirloin steak, potatoes with mushroom gravy, vegetables and we shared desert.


Today we planned on leaving the Elks in Sault Ste. Marie.  Last night the wind blew and blew. The topper awning over our bed slide flapped and flopped all night.  When we tried to get the slide closed this morning the wind just inflated it like a giant balloon.  Tom began the job of removing the roller and fabric.  Easier said than done as the wind was gusting 35+ mph.  Tom thought he was going to be blown off the ladder a couple of times. He was up and down many times getting tools and moving the ladder from one end of the slide to the other.  After bandaging his bleeding fingers and checking the scuffs of his shins from the ladder, the work was finally done. The awning was stored in the bay and the slide was retracted.  We made a quick trip to Clyde’s Drive-In just down the street with the best fish sandwich I ever had and Tom’s favorite hamburger and onion rings.


We were pretty sad to leave this very special town.  We will be back… don’t know when, but this is definitely an area we want to spend more time.


The wind was pretty strong until we got over the Mackinac Bridge. Pictures do not do justice to how high and long this bridge is.  We were only allowed to drive 20 mph in the right lane only with at least 500 feet behind another truck. Fortunately it was very lightly traveled on this windy day.


We are staying tonight at the Moose Lodge in Cadillac, MI.  We had their ‘all you can eat’ fish dinner at the Moose.  Again, delicious!  Tomorrow we head south and hope to get to Elkhart and our Nick and Terry Russell fix.  I have to put in a plug for Nick’s new book, Crazy Days in Big Lake.  I downloaded it to my Droid and in the cloud to read on my computer and it is hard to put down.  It’s so funny!!!  Another winner for Nick.

One last picture.  Call me crazy, but I take a picture of our bed after I make it EVERY day.  Most of the time I make the bed around Pansy.  So I’ll say good night from Tom, Barbara and Pansy.


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