Archive for the ‘Sault Sainte Marie’ Category

Mysterious Michigan

August 16, 2009

Part of the fun of a camping vacation is the road trip.  We left Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario to hit the open road in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.  Feel free to conjure images of the romantic American road trip.  The reality is, we waited in line at the border for half an hour, but THEN we hit the open road in Michigan.

It’s a beautiful part of the country.  Often, I find that border areas are a bit scruffy but northern Michigan was immediately picturesque.

We were on our way to Cheboygan to meet up with friends at a cottage but we were a few hours ahead of everyone else, so we had some time to kill.  What to do?  What to do?  The Mystery Spot, of course!

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If you’ve ever driven though this part of Michigan, you will have seen the signs by the highway enticing you to visit the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace.  Twelve miles, 7 miles, 5 miles to the Mystery Spot, but what is it?  It’s a question that has plagued Duncan since his family took a road trip through the area when he was young.  It’s touted as Michigan’s No. 1 unusual attraction; whatever that means.

I thought long and hard about whether or not I should divulge the details of the Mystery Spot.  In the end, I have decided that it’s not my place to ruin the surprise.  Someday, you may pass that way and wonder to yourself, ‘What in the world is the Mystery Spot?  I simply must know.  I need to stretch my legs anyway.’  You’ll follow the signs and you’ll discover it for yourself.  Who am I to steal that special occasion away from you and your family?

I will let you know that the Mystery Spot is, indeed, a bona-fide tourist trap.  It’s a little silly and a lot kitschy and as long as you go into it with that understanding, you will not be disappointed.

DSC01212 cropThe other highlight of our road trip, that day, was the journey over the Mackinac Bridge.  It’s the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere and the third longest suspension bridge in the world.  Let’s hear it, ooooOOOOoooo.  Well, whether or not you’re impressed by 50 year old feats of engineering, the bridge itself is beautiful and boasts a very impressive view.

Our road trip ended at a cottage near Cheboygan.  There were a number of us staying there so we set the trailer up in the driveway as a sleeping annex.  That’s what I’ve decided to call it anyway.  It saved us having to sleep on an air mattress and it gave everyone a little extra room.  I’ll blog about our stay in the Cheboygan area in the next post.  I have a feeling one or two of you may be waiting for it.

KO-eh!

August 13, 2009

I knew the minute we arrived, that I was going to like the KOA in Sault Sainte Marie.  I can never put my finger on what makes a first impression, but something about the place made me feel instantly safe, welcome and comfortable.

KOA in Sault Sainte Marie

KOA in Sault Sainte Marie

The KOA chain is like the McDonald’s of campgrounds in that you can expect uniformity in the standards and amenities at each location.  If you enjoy your stay at one KOA, it’s a good bet that you’ll enjoy others.  We saw that a number of campers arriving in Sault Sainte Marie, from great distances away, had chosen the KOA.  I assume because they knew what to expect.  I’ve been to McDonald’s on four continents and I can tell you that a Big Mac is a Big Mac the world over.  It’s the same deal with KOA, and there’s comfort in that certainty.

The grounds at the Sault Sainte Marie KOA are kept immaculately.  The hedges are trimmed and the gardens are blooming.  There’s a playground for little kids, and a playground for bigger kids and a playground for dogs.  For a small fee you can have a round of mini-golf.  They have a big screen TV in a shelter on the patio where campers can gather together and watch whatever event-TV may be happening that day; the big game, the big news story, the Michael Jackson funeral, whatever.  The store on the grounds is well stocked with camping essentials and souvenirs.  They have free wi-fi, hallelujah and some sites have cable TV hook-ups.

A Little Nervous to Begin With

A Little Nervous to Begin With

The amenity Liam liked most of all, was the heated swimming pool.  He went in with Daddy, to keep him safe, and gradually became more confident in the water.  It’s fantastic to have access to a campground pool.  I hope Liam will become comfortable with the water while he’s young.  Maybe he won’t be the water sissy I turned out to be.

The sites at the KOA aren’t big like you’d expect at a provincial park, but I would consider them big enough to be comfortable and, since the campground wasn’t at capacity, the campers were spread out enough to give us plenty of space and privacy.

We had a lot of fun in THE SOO and our trip was made better by having a comfortable jumping off point like the KOA.  I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

THE SOO

August 11, 2009

It turns out that there’s plenty to do in THE SOO and we had no trouble filling our day there.

Whitefish Bay

Whitefish Bay

We started our day off by taking a drive because I had never seen Lake Superior.  We knew that the Edmund Fitzgerald would have “made Whitefish Bay if they’d put 15 more miles behind her” so we decided that was as good a place as any to stop and have a look.  As it happens the legend does indeed live “on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee”.  There, I’m done impressing you with my vast knowledge of Gordon Lightfoot ballads.

After a quick lunch at THE SOO mall we headed off to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.  It’s a nice little museum with lots of different planes and interactive displays.  We got to see one of the planes Uncle Ian flies.  Liam loves all modes of transportation, so he loved this museum.  It was a bit too exciting in fact and he ended up taking over many of the interactive displays by force.  He behaved rather badly all-in-all and put a bit of a damper on things for us.

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We went to THE SOO locks because so many people had told us that it’s the thing to do when you go to THE SOO.  We watched the big tour boat go through.  Duncan found it interesting, but Liam and I lost interest.  Is it possible that I have the attention span of a two year old?

Trading Post in THE SOO

Trading Post in THE SOO

A must see for me was the Trading Post.  I just love trading posts; they’re so quirky and weird.  I didn’t find anything to buy…oh wait, that’s a lie.  I got ice cream.  I was allowed.  I was on vacation and you’re not going to make me feel guilty about it!  It was worth the stop if for no other reason than a photo op with the angry moose.

That's One Angry Moose

That's One Angry Moose

We had Italian food for dinner.  Duncan doesn’t like Italian food because he doesn’t like tomatoes, or pasta and that all but rules out the cuisine completely.  The reason we decided to have Italian food was that there isn’t really any other kind of food in THE SOO.  Unless you want a chain restaurant you will find that you’re pretty well limited to Italian eateries.  I didn’t mind.  I love Italian food and very rarely get to have it because of the above mentioned preferences of my darling husband.  I don’t remember the name of the place we ended up going, but apparently you can land a helicopter in the parking lot.  They know because it’s happened.

The conclusion I have drawn, from my one full day in Sault Sainte Marie, is that it’s a neat little city with plenty of things to see and do.  There’s more to do there if we pass that way again. I’d love to take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train in the autumn.  I’m sure we’ll be back again sometime.

Introducing François-The Road trip Coureur Des Bois

August 1, 2009

It’s August 1st and we’re wearing long pants and sweaters!  What’s up with this?

The drive to Sault Sainte Marie was decent.  The weather was good.  We didn’t get caught in any significant traffic.  Liam became impatient on occasion, but wasn’t too bad.  I brought a few new toys along, to entertain him on the drive.  At Nicole’s suggestion, I gift wrapped them to make it a bigger deal.  I took it a step further though, and invented the legendary character François-The Road Trip Coureur Des Bois who comes with presents for little children that are well behaved on long car rides.  Liam bought into it hook, line and sinker.  Why wouldn’t he?  There are so many other outlandish characters that come under cover of darkness, sneak into the house and leave him toys and candy.  To him it seems plausible that there is a dishevelled French Canadian fur trader, monitoring his behaviour and rewarding his patience.

Bonjour Liam! Je m appelle François.  Es tu un bon petit garçon?

Bonjour Liam! Je m appelle François. Es tu un bon petit garçon?

In spite of all our attempts, though, by the time we were passing through Ironbridge Liam had, had enough.  We stopped to let him stretch his legs at the Visitors Centre where there was a huge wood carving of Paul Bunyan.  We told Liam it was François-The Road Trip Coureur Des Bois and that he says to smarten up or no more road trip presents.  He now has a face to put with the name.

We’re in THE SOO now, staying at the KOA.  I like this campground.  It’s very friendly and welcoming, with lots of activities.  I’ll get into it in further detail later.  Right now I’m off to explore THE SOO.  See you all later!

Hands Up, Who’s Been to THE SOO?

July 29, 2009

I was told I took a trip down Boring Lane with the last post.  Sorry about that.

This week we’re preparing for a big trip.  We’re leaving on Friday for a week, heading up to Sault Sainte Marie (THE SOO) then over to Michigan and back home via Frankenmuth and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.

We’re getting organized.  We have our passports; even the dog has her paperwork in order.  My concerns for the trip are all clustered into the first couple of days.  It’s a 10 hour car ride to THE SOO and we have to keep Liam happy during the journey.  The dog will be fine.  She’s an amazing traveller.  Once we’re in THE SOO we have to entertain ourselves for two days.  What is there to do in THE SOO?  I’m trying to convince Duncan that we should go bear spotting at the garbage dump, but so far he’s not going for it.  If there’s anybody out there in the blogosphere who’s been to Sault Sainte Marie and has suggestions for family friendly fun, I’m totally open.

I also need advice from parents.  How do I entertain a two year old on a ten hour car trip?  I need some ammunition to throw at him when he starts to melt down.

OK everybody, it’s over to you.  Your advice could make or break this trip.  Come on, help a Mutha out!