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Northern Michigan and Ontario

bulletThursday 2nd November
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Thursday 2nd November

We woke to a dull day, but still good weather.   It was hard to say goodbye as Lisa appeared to enjoy our company and we certainly enjoyed hers, but we had to get moving to see more of this lovely countryside.   We had breakfast at McDonalds, then Tracy handed me her AAA book and asked me to find places of interest in Upper Michigan - me - the hopeless navigator?  I was really puzzled for a while, but then discovered the reason why nothing seemed to match up - the ordinances were not matching for me.   There I was looking up the places in the AAA book and trying to look up the ordinances in the big map book I'd been looking at previously.   And that's not all folks - I was reading the Wisconsin part of the book and checking the ordinances in the map book of Michigan.  No wonder they didn't match.  Pretty stupid, but then I never did claim to be a good navigator!      We travelled through very flat country where there was lots of corn grown.   We then decided to leave the main road to see the Michigan State Firemen's Memorial near Roscommon - quite an impressive monument - as David was really interested in it.   We then passed through more rugged country and crossed the 48th parallel.   Stopped at The Cross in the Woods at Indian River then on into Mackinaw for a view of the bridge spanning the two lakes - Michigan on the left and Huron on the right.   For lunch we had the local specialty - pasties. These were different to the ones we get at home and served very differently.   They were in foam boxes, like Macca's or Hungry Jacks, with coleslaw!  As I said, different. We watched the black squirrels hopping around as we ate our lunch.  They were everywhere.   Then it was time to cross the HUGE suspension bridge - 5 miles long.    It amused us when we saw a sign to the "World Famous Mystery Spot, open rain or shine" and it was closed!  As we drove along the shores of Lake Michigan, we entered the Hiawatha State forest.   We stopped at Epaforte to have a look at Lake Michigan with the lovely sky over it.   It was a lovely afternoon as we drove through heavily wooded areas, the sun was shining through the trees and it looked wonderful.     We came to Lake Superior and stopped at Whitefish Township to go down to the banks of the Lake Superior as we wanted to 'touch on' all five lakes over the next few days.   The sunset was absolutely glorious - a beautiful sky.  I kept ooing and ahhing over it.   We booked in to the Best Western Motel at the American Sault St Marie (pronounced "Soo Saint Marie") and then went for dinner at The Antlers, a "back woods" restaurant with heads and bodies of animals on the walls and a canoe hanging from the ceiling.   Quite interesting.   It was a delicious, sensibly sized meal.    We then went back and watched telly, including 'E.R." Tracy then went for a swim, but I chickened out after lowering myself in and finding it wasn't very warm.

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Friday 3rd November

We had breakfast at the hotel (included in our tariff) then drove to Soo Locks, where we were lucky enough to watch a 1,000ft. container ship go through.    The information lady there was wonderful, so informative.  She wrote down all the information on a pamphlet for us.  It was very interesting.   It's a huge lock system.   We then crossed over the bridge between the two countries, went through formalities and crossed back into Canada to the Canadian Sault St Marie.    We drove out into the Ontario countryside, through wooded areas.  Stopped in Blind River on the banks of Lake Huron and bought sandwiches for lunch from our friend Tim Horton.   Tracy and I needed to stop at the Algona Trading Post in the middle of nowhere - poor old David.   We girls are bad together.   It was a great place and not so commercialised as a lot of places.   The sky was beautiful - lovely blue with very pretty clouds.    We crossed lots of rivers - water and pine trees everywhere.  We were running very late and realised that we were not going to make Toronto as we had planned - oh well.   Stopped at Parry Sound which was a very pretty place and we climbed the old fire-watch tower for lovely views over the bay and islands.  The gateway to the tower was locked so David forced our entry by pushing the turnstile the wrong way.  We were scare we would hear sirens but none came so we enjoyed the views which was worth the risk.   There were little islands everywhere.  We would have loved to have stopped there and probably should have, but you can't win them all.   The sky was a lovely soft blue and pink as we drove on and there were great views of lakes.   It was a very beautiful part of the countryside.  We crossed into Mohawk territory and even though I didn't hear any cries, I could imagine the Indians having been in this territory.   It was very dark and the roads were extremely busy so we pulled in to a town called Barrie, which we expected to be a small place, but it wasn't.  Barrie wasn't much of a place, but our motel room was comfortable and that's what you look for.   We had dinner at our friend Tim's once again.   He came in very handy at times.     

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Saturday 4th November

We had a cooked breakfast at the motel and headed out for Toronto, back to where we'd come from a week before.    Gosh, we'd done a lot in a week!   We stopped at the Information Centre where the girl speaking to us was so lovely and helpful.   She gave us a few good tips.    It was a cloudy day, but fine.    We drove to the outskirts of the city and parked in a large shopping centre car park from where we caught the subway into the city, as advised by our information lass.   The train was very clean, as were the stations. The trains looked new, as did the stations further out.  They have obviously made a big effort to make them comfortable for commuters.   We then left the station, wandered along the streets to the CN Tower, the tallest in the world, where we queued up for quite a while for tickets.   On the way we saw a fibreglass moose dressed as a Canadian mountie.   These were similar to the cows in Calgary.  After our wait, we went up to the observation deck where the views were quite good, but then on up to the Sky Pod from where the views were amazing.   We were not just looking out, but looking down through sloped glass as well.   It made it so much better.  Tracy lay on the glass floor, but I wasn't game.  Actually after we had lunch I summoned up courage, but there were too many people there at that time.    Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.   Our lunch consisted of one plate of nachos with three forks - we'd learnt our lesson by this time.   The view was fantastic, looking out over Lake Ontario.   After this we walked through underground shopping malls for what seemed miles.   We had a look at the grand Canadian Pacific York Hotel.  These Canadian Pacific hotels really are magnificent.   We then caught the subway back to our car and headed out.   On the way Tracy threw me her mobile phone and I phoned through to find a room with a view - hopefully.  I 'lucked out' as the Marriott Hotel had one room left overlooking both Falls.    Once again, what luck.    The view was amazing.  We went to the Falls 23 years ago, but I'd forgotten just how magnificent they are.   The water powering over them is awe-inspiring, and the wonderful blue colour is worth seeing.    It was a great hotel but as soon as I walked in I could smell smoke in our room.  We had a choice of changing rooms to a room without the Falls view, but were we going to give up our view?   Never!    They brought up a machine to clear the air for us and reduced the price so no complaints from us, although the smoke was still annoying to me.   "Fusspot!" I was told.    The view was really wonderful.  We loved the Falls with white lights but they took them through every colour of the rainbow and some of the colours were a bit much.   Red water?     We then drove to the main 'drag' and what a 'drag'!   I've never seen anything more garish and horrible.    There seems to be an obsession with anything haunted, monsterish and garish in this place.    Nevertheless we found ourselves a lovely little restaurant called "Hard Times" where David and I both had ribs for the first time.   Absolutely delicious, but huge.   I thought my lemonade must be laced when I saw a train going down the main street, but when we went out we saw that the track really does go down the main street!  The place was unbelievable.  We drove to have a close-up look at the falls in the night lights.    Fantastic.    It would be so easy to slip over a fence and go over the falls.  They are almost hypnotic.    When we got back to our room, we put on the TV and who should be playing ice hockey but the Calgary Flames so we watched that.  I blew out before the finish, but found out later that they drew the game.

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