Mo & Terry Smedley


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White River to Sault Ste. Marie, Soo Locks

We started the day with a visit to White River's "Winnie the Pooh Park".   Captain Colebourn bought the bear cub he named "Winnie" while passing through White River in 1914 - full details are in the pictures below.  On our drive South from White River to Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Soo Saint Marie, or usually referred as just "The Soo"), we stopped briefly in Wawa to check out a gigantic goose (see pictures).  After lunch on the Canadian side, we made a quick crossing to Michigan, where we enjoyed a two-hour cruise through the Soo locks.   We returned from our cruise just in time to enjoy a "Concert in the Park" right across from our hotel, featuring a high school steel drum band (terrific!).

Tomorrow we're off to explore the car-free Mackinac Island, a little further South in Michigan.  While we won't cross the magnificent Mackinac bridge (that is almost four miles long!), we'll have a great view of it from the Island.

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We were in White River just a few days before this year's "Festival".  Here's the official story of how Winnie came from White River. It seems that every town in Canada has beautiful flowers or gardens on display. Mo and Pooh Bear.
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World's Largest Canada Goose, on display at Wawa, Ontario (no kidding - that's the name of the town!) I enjoy interesting signs.  Mo spotted this one in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Outdoor sculpture in Sault Ste. Marie - sorry I cut off the top of the fishing pole! Another piece of the whimsical outdoor sculpture.
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Canadian towns have such wonderful flowers and gardens - and more outdoor sculpture. A tent pavilion for summer concerts, and Mo found a moose.  Remember the moose.... On our Soo lock cruise, we traveled upstream on the St. Mary's River that connects (Great) Lakes Superior and Huron.  This shows the bridge that connects Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. We cruised past the Algoma Steelworks on the Canadian side.
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This flame burns off excess hydrocarbons produced during the coking process.  It's a pretty insignificant part of the steelmaking process, but it was fun to look at. One of three giant blast furnaces at the steel mill.  I remember watching one of these behemoths at work in the Bethlehem Steel films that Dad used to bring home. The entrance to the Canadian locks on the Lake Superior side. Just interesting - a "scare away" owl on a light fixture at the locks.
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The locks provide a lift of about 21 feet.  This is looking at the "filled" lock through to the Lake Huron side.  This is similar to the lift provided at Seattle's Ballard Locks (20.6 feet at mean low tide). Mo spotted this.  I can't think of any better demonstration of the refraction of light in water.  All the steps are evenly spaced, but those underwater clearly appear closer together. With the water drained out of the locks, the doors open and we sail out on the Lake Huron side.  The locks use no pumps - the water is fed and drained entirely by gravity. This is the hydroelectric powerhouse on the Michigan side.  It's about 1/4 mile long!
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I warned you to remember the moose.  We passed it again on our cruise. Here's the high school steel drum band performing in the park surrounding the locks. Most of the performers were really concentrating on their music. With the locks in the background, we were treated to views of several giant freighters inching slowly out of the locks as the band performed.
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This enormous ore carrier is the 1000 foot (that's three and a third football fields!) SS James R. Barker.  For reference, that's 281 feet longer than the Edmund Fitzgerald.