Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday: Michigan Places That are Hard to Pronounce

We intended to be out the door at 7 this morning, but no one woke up before 6:30.

Originally, the plan was to go to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point and Sault Ste. Marie today. We thought we’d go to the Soo Locks first until it warmed up some and then head for the beach area, but after finishing the locks at 11:00, we decided to do Mackinac area instead and then spend a whole day later in the week at Whitefish Point et. al.

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie at 9:15 thanks to our able navigator, Pepper, who has commandeered the map and will not relinquish it. We get all sorts of helpful driving tips like, “The next road is a thick one with a shield on it!” and “Only 15 more miles to SALT STEE Marie.”

Viewing the locks is free, but subject to government search. Fortunately, we didn’t bring in with us any packages, bags, packs or firearms, so we didn’t require frisking. We checked in at the desk and found out the next big ship scheduled to traverse the locks was in half an hour, so we went up to the lookout platform and looked out at the locks. Then down the steps to kill 30 minutes. We looked at the fountain, the models of the locks, climbed on the big anchors, ran around the trees and generally frolicked. When we next climbed the platform, the ship was already entering the locks, but not in the nearest one. Bummer. It was an 850+ ft. cargo freighter downbound (headed from Lake Superior DOWN to Lake Huron). While we watched it creep at a snail’s pace into the lock, a snappy little tour boat zipped into the lock nearest us and in the time it took to get the big ship into the lock and drop it to the appropriate level, we also got to see the tour boat enter, rise and leave. Double the fun!
Watching the slow ship

Before the ship had completed it’s slow exit, we had had enough, so we crossed the street to buy fudge. We decided that since we’re in Da U.P. and since everyone in every town here feels entitled to cash in on the Mackinac Fudge bonanza, we might as well eat fudge every day. And twice on Mondays. We’re not going to Mackinac Island anyway (and who REALLY has the most authentic fudge?) so we’re not going to sweat the real stuff. We are not fudge snobs.

So we began in Sault Ste. Marie with Double Chocolate.

Having decided to now blow the rest of the day on ordinary tourist attractions, we headed south for St. Ignace. On the way, we held a contest to guess the length of the Mackinac Bridge. Pepper, with some help from Daisy, did not blindly guess, but used the scale on her map to research and come up with the correct suggestion of 5 miles. She won the extra piece of fudge (forgone by Rose Bud who said Double Chocolate was too boring to eat—correction from Rose Bud: “What I said, was, ‘Double Chocolate reminds me of chocolate cheese, which is disgusting!’”), which she thoughtfully shared with Daisy.

In St. Ignace, we promptly found a pasty place and ordered up 5 chicken pasties and one beef, which we took “to go.” We drove a few blocks to the Father Marquette Memorial and picnicked on the curb in the parking lot with a few hundred seagulls. There was actually only one until Rose Bud threw it one of her rutabagas. Within seconds every gull on the Great Lakes was circling over our heads. Who knew rutabaga was so popular amongst seagulls? The kids made sure to save plenty of scraps for when they were finished eating (because I declared a moratorium on ANY more feeding of the gulls until we were done. Who wants seagull poop on their picnic????) I seem to distinctly recall, from the 2006 East Coast trip that seagulls also like lunchmeat….
Pepper looks up with horror and Rose Bud protects herself with a styrofoam box from the thousands of seagulls descending on her rutabaga

The Pere Marquette Memorial was fairly boring, but we had studied him in depth in our American history studies, so why not visit one more place he stepped foot in?

Next we crossed the Mackinac Bridge, 5 miles long. The kids couldn’t understand why crossing the bridge in itself was a tourist attraction until they were on the bridge. It’s pretty cool with its suspension cables and cool breezes. Crossing it will set you back $3.50 each way.

Just off the bridge, on the Lower Michigan side, is Colonial Michilimackinac. Say that 10 times fast! We bought the family pass for $65 --about $15 more than the individual admission, but it gets us into 2 other sister-sites and is good until October. In case, you know, we come back. Actually, we DID go to the historic lighthouse next door (would have been an extra $25 or so) and if I can convince Mr. GT, we may go back another day to the Historic Mill site. Might as well get our money’s worth.

So Colonial Michilimackinac is cool! It’s on the site of the old French fort which then became the old British fort during the French and Indian War. They’ve been restoring the fort since 1959 and are still doing archeological digs there. We watched the digging for a while and asked lots of questions of one of the archeologists. Rose Bud remembered when we gridded out our sandbox back in 1st grade and she dug stuff up.

The kids LOVE this history restoration stuff and they explored every building (Daisy even likes to read the exhibits with me). We watched the musket firing demonstration, they got to participate in the reenactment of the landing of the voyageurs, wash laundry on a washboard, see how all the artifacts were discovered, eat cornbread and sourdough bread cooked on site and watch the cannon firing. Oh and dress up. There was lots of dressing up.
Acting in the voyageur reenactment (Pepper in blue hat, Daisy, Sunshine & BB carrying the 90 lb bale)
Soldiers of the Crown
It was very hands-on and very worth the price. We were here with Rose Bud when she was two and I think they’ve improved it quite a bit since then.

After CM, we went to the lighthouse next door, where Sunshine was too short to climb to the top. He and I waded in the Straits of Mackinac in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge.
Tiny Me and Tiny Sunshine wading in the Straits of Mackinac

After the lighthouse tour, we went in search of more fudge. MACKINAC fudge. Fortunately, we didn’t have to search far as there were two fudge places directly across the street from Colonial Michilimackinac. I stayed in the car and tried to connect to somebody’s free wi-fi while Mr. GT took the kids in to buy fudge. Couldn’t connect.

Finally, on the way out of town, Mr. GT made a wrong turn to the interstate (remember? The thick road with the shield?) and had to turn around in a parking lot. With wi-fi. So I made him stop while I quickly uploaded to the blog and downloaded my email.

BB and Sunshine slept all the way back (a little over an hour). When we got back, I warmed up the chicken tacos and Spanish rice I’d made last night and at 7 pm, we ate. (If you know us, you know that we are an eat-at -5 kind of family!)

And that was our day!

Sunset Bay, outside our cabin

No comments: