Tuesday, February 28, 2006

06-18 Sault Ste Marie Michigan to Bruce Peninsula Canada

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Ontario Canada
Bruce Peninsula
Lake Huron

I left my hometown of Houghton Michigan with a bit of sadness. But the road was calling me on and I traveled across the U.P. once again and headed for Sault Ste Marie. It is a very active set of locks that connect Lake Huron and Lake Superior. Of course I had to take a ride on the Hiawatha. A tour boat that goes through the locks. Quite a cool way to experience the rising and lowering of the locks first hand. The U.S. has the largest locks which are used by all of the large ships and did you know the service is free! The U.S. doesn’t collect a cent for operating and maintaining the locks which were built by the Army Corp of Engineers. Hmmmm. Not a cent.

The U.S. side is a small town of only about 30,000 max. The Canadian side is very active with industries and a population of over 150,000. The Canadian side is much more active because of their ability to have iron ore processing plants and other industries that our country has limited due to the heavy pollution standards imposed by our country.

The Canadian side even takes heavy advantage of the hydro power in the area. The U.S. side has one hydro power plant and the large original Edison Power plant sits idle and unused. Of course that could have something to do with the fact that Edison built D.C. power plants instead of A.C. power. Quickly making his plant obsolete.

I also had to get my trucks front end aligned. After having that done, I discovered that that was only part of the problem, as another tire on my truck had problems with excessive wear and a bulge in the tire. With two new tires and the alignment, I’m back to driving a well running truck.


It was exciting crossing the bridge in Sault Ste Marie into Canada. No problem. It took all of about 5 minutes going through customs and I was on my way, traveling along Kings Highway 17 on my way to Manitoulin Island and the ferry Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe) that would take me to Bruce Peninsula. What fun. This is the first time I’ve traveled with my truck and camper on a ferry. Cost about $175.00 Canadian for a two hour ride. But it saved me a couple hundred miles going around to the peninsula.

It doesn’t take long to realize gas prices are higher (purchase at gas bars) , food prices are higher and I wasn’t able to use my debit card to get any Canadian currency. Oh well. So far the credit cards can be used to purchase most everything except small items along the way. Which I’m basically doing without at this point. The only other problem being, that I was unable to call Direct TV to have my service turned back on. I had had it put on hold until I got my satellite dish back and didn’t need it until I reached Canada. Unfortunately, Direct TV will not permit me to even call them from Canada to reinstate my service. So I’ll just wait until I’m back in the states.

The best thing about being on the Bruce Peninsular is that I’m visiting the Lakeshore Rainbow Rv Campground and my friends Chip, Bill and Ray. I of course met them while at the campground in Florida this past winter. They sure know how to welcome a guy. With pizza the first night as I came in rather late in the evening. The ferry ride having taken much longer than I expected. Then a great steak BBQ the following night. Good conversation, a little beer and wine, great views of Lake Huron, right from the second floor deck of the main store/game room/check-in/house. We’re also on the 45 parallel line. Exactly half way between the equator and the north pole.

And what storms come across Lake Huron! Whew! Luckily, the campsites are well protected from those fierce lighting and thunder storms by a row of evergreens. Looking down the short road to the office, it looked like the rain was coming horizontal. It even blew over their flag poles out front! What excitement! Haven’t see a thunderstorm like that in ages.

Chip and I took a trip down to check on his home and visit his mom in Orangeville Ontario. Along the way we stopped at their famous TIM HORTONS. A coffee shop where I ordered a caramel cappuccino and a blueberry fritter. Thanks Chip, now I’m addicted to caramel cappuccino’s and cigarettes! Well not really, Chip is a heavy smoker so I think I had a pack or two of smokes on our drive down back. Air out the camper!

Meeting his mom, Dorothy, was a treat. A true Canadian who still lives in the brick home the family built years ago. Filled with wonderful sleek modern furniture from the 60’s in the formal living room with paneling everywhere and big plushy sofa’s and chairs with a country floral pattern in the family room. Many of the cabinets hand made and painted bright cheery turquoise blue in the kitchen along with the other pine cabinets. They have one of the few swimming pools in the area as well. Chip and his father owned an electrical company in town.

The roads and towns throughout Ontario are all on a large grid pattern. The Queens Highways being the larger highways and the Kings highways being the smaller roads. Straight roads going north/south and east/west with wide gravel shoulders passing through miles of farm land with family names printed across the barns, many are Mennonite farms, always painted in green. We passed a Mennonite family ,the women with bright bonnets on their heads, driving their “going to visit” black buggy. We drove past a large wind farm. Where all the wind powered windmills were lined up along the hills, collecting free renewable power for the area. No pollution and the windmills are a true piece of art on the landscape.

Ontario’s northern region is called cottage country and that’s where all the city folk have their second homes, cottages. So every weekend they migrate like Canadian geese north to their cottages. I’m staying on the Bruce Peninsula which has many hiking trails, great country roads to ride my bike and many rock and sandy beaches to cool off with a dip in Lake Huron or the Georgian Bay.

The Canadian geese are practicing their line formations in anticipation of their flights down south for the winter. And the squirrels and chipmunks are gathering bedding for winter. All indications that it could be an early and cold winter this year.

My time ends on Bruce Peninsula. Once again I’m filled with warm thoughts of my visit with my friends Chip, Ray and Bill and all the great seasonal campers at Chip’s park. Evenings and dinner on the second floor deck overlooking Lake Huron. The feel of a strong breeze off the lake, chilly, yet the sun feels warm. The sound of the wind through the cedar trees. The crispness of everything. Whitney, Chip’s dog, a real guard dog, who’s decided she likes me. Sitting at my feet, leaning against my leg, looking up at me with a smile on her face. Wagging her tail. Friends.

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