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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jen & Jim's Wedding

Beth's niece Jennifer's pending marriage was the reason for choosing Michigan as our early summer trip.

They picked a perfect day for a wedding and the ceremony, at Jefferson Beach Marina, was nicely done and enjoyed by all.  After a pause for photos, everyone was invited to board the motor vessel Infinity for a celebratory cruise and luncheon.  The charter and catering company did a great job making it a special and fun afternoon for everyone aboard.

Here are a few as we cruise along the shore of Lake Saint Clair and the Detroit River. For those that only hear about the Detroit area on the news, you may be surprised at the affluence and beauty of the area.

Cruising by the Detroit Yacht Club

Detroit Skyline

This is the steamship Saint Claire, one of the old steam powered boats that ran from Detroit to the Boblo Amusement Park on Bois Blanc Island for 81 years. Back in the 1980's I was fortunate to ride it out and back feeling the pulse of the pistons and enjoying the sound of the steam whistle. Work is currently underway to restore the vessel to working condition. More info at BobloBoat.

A couple of big Lakers like this one passed us entering the Detroit River. They carry ore from the upper peninsula to Dearborn for steel that becomes automobiles.

Beth and her sisters Paula and Judy.

The Fried girls and their extended families

Noah met a couple of young ladies that had attended the NC School of Science and Math. What are the chances of that?

Jen & Jim got a turn at the helm

Our Captain with the happy couple

Even a photo of the Haskell family

More pictures are on Flickr at this link: Jen and Jim's Wedding

Thank you Jen and Jim for inviting us to share in your wonderful day!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ferry to USA - Just Don't Do It

Today is the day we say thank you and goodbye to Canada. We'll be back for another visit if you'll have us.
Off an on rain showers had Lake Huron looking a little hazy. It was hard to find the horizon before a boat came by.

The folks at the Sarnia visitor’s center were very friendly. After telling us about good spots for a picnic lunch, they brought us, and Monty the Moose, outside to pose for a 150th birthday photo. 

We enjoyed lunch under the bluewater bridge connecting Sarnia, Ontario with Port Huron, Michigan. There is a nice park along the river with bike trails, statues, and food trucks.

The staff at the visitor's center talked us into trying poutines for lunch.

Poutines are fresh french fries and cheese curds topped with bacon and covered with gravy. My arteries may never forgive me.

Traffic was backed up past the exit to the bridge so Beth called a ferry company who said there is no waiting and they take RV's all the time. The drive south along the Ontario side of the Saint Claire river took us past industrial and chemical complexes.

We crossed from Sombra, Ontario to Marine City, Michigan on a tiny ferry with a disconcerting starboard list. We had tried to board an earlier ferry but the bicycle rack scraped on the boarding ramp. They suggested we wait for the smaller ferry as it sits lower in the water and is easier to board. 

The scrapes on the deck should have served as a warning.

The Blue Water Ferry crossing was quick and short with only one other vehicle and a foot passenger sharing the ride.

Upon arriving in Marine City, we hung up going down the ramp. The ferry attendant then changed the level of the ferry ramp making it safer to disembark. As soon as we were on land, we pulled aside and let the other car go ahead of us to customs.  Our sewer cap was dislodged and there was some "dripage" going on. Not wanting to keep the four border agents waiting, Beth reseated our plumbing and we drove in for inspection. The agents were polite, thorough, and we were quickly on our way. 

The ferry crossing saves time compared to the long lines at the Bluewater or Ambassador Bridges, but we can't recommend it for Sprinter Van based RV's. Upon closer inspection, the fiberglass was gouged on both running boards and the sewer pipe support was bent so that the grey water valve couldn't fully close. The ferry boarding sign states "Not Responsible for Undercarriage Damage." In retrospect we should have turned around and driven back to the bridge rather than board the ferry.  We've taken lots of ferries; in New York, Delaware, Alabama, and Quebec with never a problem before this. The boarding ramps on this route aren't suitable for RV's like ours and the company should let people know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Canada's Prettiest Town

Departed Owen Sound and headed southwest. Found a Canadian Tire along the way who had multiple sizes of DEF at reasonable prices.

Port Elgin marina was a convenient lunch stop. The town is having a festival and some streets are closed off. A Nonsuch is nestled in with other sailboats in the harbor. 

Didn't stick around for the narrow gauge tourist train ride. It was tempting since they depart from an ice cream shop.

We do want to stop in Goderich as it is billed as "Canada's Prettiest Town."

We will leave that to others to judge, since we haven't (yet) been to all the towns in Canada! They do have a very attractive library, something high on our list.

And a bakery that has been making pastries in the same brick oven for over 135 years.

The livery stables have been converted to a community theatre.

And the historic Railroad Station is now a restaurant. Built in 1907 it was located at the base of the cliff, facing the tracks. In 2013 the structure was moved to this location and turned so it faced the lake.

Couldn't resist a photo of svIntuition by the telegraph sign in the station parking lot.

A cliff separates most of the town from Lake Huron. Pleasure boats are nestled in a nicely protected marina.

Big ships visit to service the...

..."world's largest" salt mine jutting out into Lake Huron. Tons of salt ship from here to all over Ontario, Quebec, and nearby US states to help keep roads clear of ice each winter.

A bit of drama resolved safely. A couple of kids lost their ball in the concrete walled shipping channel and one dove in to retrieve it. Fortunately there was no boating traffic and he returned to shore safely. 

Our last stop in town was to see the lighthouse. Maps didn't really show where to go, probably because it is in an upscale residential neighborhood. We found it anyway and parked for a few minutes in a spot guarded by old canons.

The lighthouse was very basic, but perched high on a bluff for good visibility for ships navigating Lake Huron.

We can see why Michigan boaters often set sail for this pretty little town on the lake. It would be easy to spend several days investigating more of the area and tasting all the different pastries at Culbert's.

With a wedding to attend and waistlines to protect, we moved on and camped for the night at Pine Lake Campground for 50.00. It was a clean campground, with many full time residents and lots available for purchase.  Little to no privacy, but fine (but a little pricey) for an overnight stop.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Owen Sound

Owen Sound has a delightful city park and campground. We spent a quiet night in a pull through spot beside this stone laundry building. Two streams run through the campground. The site with electric and water was 37.29. We highly recommend it as a central spot from which you can explore the area without needing to drive.

The day dawned with a bright sky and no sign or rain. Starting out at 58° we donned fleece to find the boardwalk to Weaver's Creek Falls rumored to be right here in Harrison Park. 

Sure enough, the falls were here as advertised.
On the way back down, we spotted a mother duck who had all of her ducklings drying out on a rock. 

Returned and decided to renew our site for another night.

With our spot secured, we hiked 3 km to Inglis Falls, through an arboretum then back up and down the Niagara Escarpment. Warming to the low seventies, the weather was perfect for being outside. 

Here’s the view from the top...

...and after hiking around to a viewpoint of the main falls.

The trail is actually a part of the longer, Bruce Trail stretching from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.

The river looks completely different downstream.

And a dairy farm is on the route.

Fixed lunch then rode our bikes into town. 

Visitor's Center is in an old RR station with displays on local history, the RR's that no longer comes to town, and the ships that still do. 

This is the winter home of the Chi-Cheemaun that we saw servicing Manitoulin Island. Learned that it translates to "Big Canoe" in Ojibway. At 364 feet long with a capacity of 600 passengers and 150 vehicles it is probably bigger than the Ojibway pictured a canoe could ever be.

Couldn't resist looking at the old Canadian National observation car 

and caboose.

Rode a riverfront bike path down to a marina park then walked through downtown and visited some galleries. 

An artists co-op was in an old clothing store and had a rope system that delivered payment and change to a balcony office. I asked about it and was told it was originally water powered, then switched to electric motors. We splurged on some new wooden toaster tongs. 

Beth was disappointed that the yarn shop wasn't open.

The town is very active and people were happy to tell us where to go and what to do. Definitely worth a return trip!

Back at our campground we found a section of the park with a collection of peafowl. You can also rent canoes and paddleboat in the park. This town is full of surprises.

We'll close today with a few more photos of colorful park residents.

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