Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lake Superior Circle Tour -- Day 18

We woke up, ate breakfast, took one last walk to the beach at Batchawana Bay, and got in the car to go back to our homeland.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, there was a large bilboard-sized sign that announced we were only 45 minutes away from traffic lights, cement and all the other unpleasantness we had completely forgotten we'd been living free of for the past few days. Well, that was a shocker. Then I REALLY didn't want to leave.

But we had to. :(

Much to my surprise, the leaves were starting to turn. Here we were, lakeside, in the third week of August, and the maples were starting to show their blazing red colors already. I guess the lack of water and the unusually warm temperatures had a huge impact on the land. It was nice to see the colors, but it was also very sad. They were a full month early.

We drove south, and sure enough, all the tell-tale signs of "civilization" caught up to us. We were delayed with construction, traffic, and the usual abundance of converging roads, making me question if we were actually on the right road every couple blocks. We did not stop in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario except at the duty-free shop on the border. Instead, we blasted straight through to the border. Or, well, the bridge.

The bridge over the Soo Locks is quite high in order to accommodate the height of the enormous ships that pass through the locks. When we crossed over this bridge the last time we did the Circle Tour, it was night time and I couldn't see enough to be scared. This time -- whole different story.

There was a surprising amount of traffic leading to the US for an early Tuesday afternoon, and we inched across the scary bridge. Then, as if my own country sought to betray me, a truck from the US side came flying up the bridge, lights flashing, and stopped at the center, halting traffic in both directions. We were about the fourth car back from this interruption of flow, and we were trapped at the very height of the bridge for what seemed like an eternity. I still have no idea what those guys were doing because it appeared they just got out of their truck blocking both lanes, and walked over to the sidewalk to chat for a half-hour. Meanwhile, I'm shaking and gripping the steering wheel, begging them through clenched teeth to let me through. HUGE ore ships were passing beneath us, and the design was such that you could see through the bridge below your car. GAH!

Finally we got through, and once again, the border people were nice as pie and let us back into the country without so much as a second glace. Whew! Not that I had anything to hide. Just that I have had such negative experiences with the mean border people before.

Back on US soil! In one of my favorite places, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Now, what to do with all this Canadian money, which they pretty much will have nothing to do with in the US. Funny how the reciprocal attitude is so different.

We checked into our room at the Long Ships Motel and decided to do some shopping! Yay, gift shops!

Surprisingly, I didn't buy anything.

We did, however, stop in the ice cream shop, and after an eternity of trying to decide what to get, ordered a banana split to share. Only, they were out of bananas. Huh? They offered to give us a banana split without the banana or we could come back in an hour, when they would have time to go to the store to get more bananas. We opted for a banana-less split, which was still quite good. For B.E.'s coffee break, we drove over to a pier, east of the locks and watched some folks fishing. I was so exhausted and felt so yucky that B.E. put a towel up on my window to block the sun and told me to take a nap. I did. For about two hours! When I finally awoke, it was dinner time, and much to our shock, most of the downtown restaurants were closed or closing. Without knowing much of the area well, I drove as far as I thought the town went and we settled on Hungry Howie's Pizza, which we brought back to the room.

It was a pleasant day in Soo, MI, and it felt good to be back in my own country. I looked forward to having jelly on my toast and a fountain Coke again. And maybe, just maybe, there'd be more color as we finished the last leg of the trip.

(Sorry, no pictures from this day.)

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