Kent and Carol - Mobile travel blog

One Wing of Bronner's Christmas Store, Frankenmuth, MI

Arch Rock, Mackinac Island

Coast of Mackinac Island

660 ft. long porch of The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

Horse drawn taxi and Mackinac Bridge in background.

Shopping District, Mackinac Island

Grand Hotel from Ferry, leaving Mackinac Island

Agawa Canyon Train

Coast Guard Boat leaving Soo Lock. Freighter ready to enter lock.

Huge Freighter entering Soo Lock

Huge Freighter leaving lock. Notice water level is high now.

On Tour Boat in the Canadian Lock

Lock gates opening now water level at St Mary's River level.

Wednesday, August 8th we drove about two hours north of the Detroit area to Frankenmuth, MI. It is known for Bavarian architecture, food and shopping and for Bronner’s, the Worlds largest Christmas store. We were here about six years ago but decided to visit it again. We were in Frankenmuth for four days and it rained for two of those days but that was not a problem because everything we were going to do was indoors. We did some shopping and then spent a day at Bronner’s, which has everything dealing with Christmas, so large you need a map to get around the store. They have a tree ornament section that goes on forever and contains an ornament for any interest, hobby, pet, occupation or country of the World. We also eat at two Frankenmuth restaurants that specialize in Chicken Dinners. You cannot go away from these establishments hungry because they serve so many side dishes along with the chicken, mashed potatoes and dressing.

We left Frankenmuth on Monday (13th) and drove about three and a half hours north to Mackinaw City, which is at the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Nearby is the five-mile long Mackinac Bridge that connects Lower Michigan to Upper Michigan. Off of the coast of Mackinaw City, sitting in Lake Huron, is Mackinac Island. (Note: there is a different spelling between the city and the island and the bridge, but all pronounced the ‘aw’ sound) Tuesday, Carol and I took the ferry to Mackinac Island, which takes about fifteen minutes. It was foggy that morning but that burnt off quickly and turned into a beautiful day. Mackinac Island is a unique place because they do not allow any vehicle traffic, only bicycle, horse or foot traffic. Horse carts deliver the luggage going to any of the 20+ hotels or boxes of merchandise delivered to the stores. As soon as we got off the ferry we took a carriage tour of the island. It starts with a two-horse carriage that holds about 12 people and small enough to allow the horses to make it up the hills to Surrey Hills Museum and Butterfly Conservatory. After looking around there for a while, we took the second half of the carriage tour via a carriage pulled by three horses and a cart that holds 35 people. This carriage took us by the Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, the Governor’s Mansion (summer house) and then we asked the cart driver to drop us off at the opulent Grand Hotel. Since it was lunchtime, we decided to eat the grand buffet at the hotel. Anybody that does not have a room at the hotel is charged $10 to enter the hotel plus the price of the buffet. What a deal, right? It was a great buffet with many choices of food and desserts. After lunch we sat in a rocking chair on the 660-foot long porch with a great view of Huron Lake and Mackinac Bridge. We then took a horse dawn taxi back down to the shopping district and harbor of the island. We did a little looking around but did not buy their famous Fudge and then caught the ferry back to the mainland. One afternoon I did a little Geocaching that took me to several area parks and sea worthy memorials. I probably would have not gone to these locations if it weren’t for the GPS sending me there.

Friday, August 17, we drove the RV across the long and tall Mackinac Bridge and about an hour north to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. We parked in the Soo Locks Campgrounds, which is on the shore of the St. Mary’s River and across the river is Ontario, Canada. Sault Ste. Marie (for short called The Soo) sits at the junction of Lake Superior and the St Mary’s River. Lake Superior is about 21 feet higher in elevation than the St. Mary’s River so locks are necessary to raise or lower cargo ships from the lake to the river. The Corps of Engineers operates four locks at this location so that they can have ships going up while others are going down. The St. Mary’s River then flows into Lake Huron so cargo ships could cruise from the Atlantic Ocean, via the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, and travel as far west as Duluth, Minnesota. There are 14 locks if the ship took that whole trip. From our RV parking spot we can see huge freighters slowly making there way toward the entrance of the locks, which has been interesting to watch. About a mile and a half west of the RV Park is the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center and viewing stands overlooking the locks, so I spent a couple days visiting there. I also spent a couple hours one afternoon doing some geocaching.

Sunday the 19th was our 45th anniversary, so we eat out at a restaurant. Monday the 20th was my birthday, so to celebrate we did something different, we rode a train. That morning we got up early, according to Carol and left the RV by 7:00 am to drive across the International Bridge into Canada. I didn’t know how backed up the border would be, but we arrived at the train station by 7:20 am for an 8:00 am departure. The Algoma Central Railway takes you into Canada about 114 miles to the Agawa Canyon. There they stop for about an hour and a half to eat lunch and explore the canyon. You then return back to the train station about 6:00 pm, so it is a full day trip. One thing I thought was neat about this trip was that each coach car on the train had several TV monitors that were connected to a camera in the locomotive. You could see the view down the track where the train was going. They also used these monitors to tell and show what sights to look for, with some historical pictures also.

Wednesday, while at the Soo, we took a two-hour cruise on the Soo Locks Boat Tour. This passenger boat takes you up through one of the huge U.S. freighter locks, past a Canadian Steel plant and then back through the smaller Canadian boat lock, down the St. Mary’s River a short distance and back to the homeport.

We are leaving the Soo on Friday the 24th and heading south but I am not sure where yet. The next destination we need to be at is Celina, Indiana by Sunday, September 1st, for the Gypsy Journal RV Rally.

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