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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Soo Locks and new plans

The weather hasn't exactly been cooperative since we've been here with cloudy, sometimes foggy and rain a large part of today. Yesterday we headed about 50 miles north to Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced soo saint marie) in a dense fog. The fog was so dense crossing the Mackinac Bridge we couldn't see over 20 foot in front of the truck, which was kinda spooky knowing we were 200 feet above the water but couldn't see it. We were there to check out the famous Soo Locks, which connect Lake Superior to lake Huron through a series of locks and canals.and to the rest of the lower Great Lakes. The fog didn't burn off until around 12:00 so we booked the 12:30 tour which lasted about 2 hours. We had already taken a locks tour on the Erie Canal, so we were familiar with the operation of the locks. The Soo Locks were built in the late 1800's and are on the  St. Mary's River. The current configuration consists of four parallel lock chambers, each running east to west; starting at the Michigan shoreline and moving north toward Ontario. There is a 21 foot differential from the higher lake level of Lake Superior to Lake Huron which enables the locks to operate without pumping water. The locks are closed from January through March when the Great Lakes are frozen over. The cost of the tour was $26.00 each with the captain of our boat providing a lot of educational and historical information about the locks.
              Today was pretty much a wash out for us, but we did manage a trip over to St. Ignace to see the sights of the historical town which is on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge. We also managed to do some pre-travel maintenace to the rig today since we're pulling out in the morning. Speaking of pulling out, there's been a change of plans from our earlier post. Us RVer's have a saying that our plans are set in Jello, meaning they're subject to change or movement, and that's what happened with us. Upon speaking to many helpful folks about our travel plans for the U P, we have decided to delay our journey into Wisconsin and instead travel into the middle and northwest corner of the UP (Upper Peninsula). So the plan now is to travel to Munising, Mi. tomorrow with our destination being the Wandering Wheels Camp Ground, where we will stay through September 8 and will then head into Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, which is considered by many to be the most picturesque part of Michigan.

This is the ship (boat?) that we took the tour of the Soo Locks.

Pier area where we boarded.

Here we have already entered the lock and the gates are closing.

The gates have closed and the water level is rising and will come all the way up to the dark spot on the walls. There is a visitors observation area above and to the right of this picture where folks who go to the Army Corps of Engineers facility can watch the operation of the locks.

International Bridge going from US to Canada at west  end of locks. 

Smaller lock on Canadian side headed back east.

Still in Canadian lock. You can clearly see the water level differential above and below the lock.

Water level has equalized and gates are opened.

Noticed this Wal Mart on Canadian side.

Edison Electric power generating plant adjacent to Soo Locks Tour Pier. The building is a quarter mile long.

North bound on Mackinac Bridge.

Here you can clearly see where the two inner lanes of the bridge are a steel grate. It's spooky driving on the grate because you can feel the vehicle move around a little, almost like being on ice. The bridge speed limit is 45mph for normal vehicles and 20mph for loaded trucks.  Not looking forward to pulling the camper across it tomorrow.

Toll Both on north end of bridge. Car or small truck toll is $4.00. I'm sure it will be more for us tomorrow when we pull the rig across.

Floor of building showing outline of Great Lakes in Bridge Observation Park on north end of bridge.

Taken from Bridge Observation Park.

I just can't help myself!

We saw this truck in casino parking lot and thought it was funny.

Old Dodge camper across the road from our site.

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