Thursday, May 27, 2010

Around the Great Lakes in 11 Days- Part 1

View Larger Map

I got started on this and realized it was waaaayyyy too long for a single post so I'm going to write it all now, but serve it up to you in three courses.

Part 1: Minneapolis to Toronto

We made a special trip over to Minneapolis to see Doc Watson in concert.  No pictures here (my camera isn't great in low light), but we had a good time, and I think it was worth the drive out of the way.  Doc plays pretty darn well for blind 87-year-old.  You could tell that, like Peter Yarrow*, he had come to the point in life where he was going to do and say exactly what he felt like doing or saying exactly when he felt like doing or saying it.  The concert got off track with some rambling stories and a few songs Doc hadn't practiced in the last 25 years and ended abruptly when he decided he was done playing, but all in all it was enjoyable.

The next day we undertook our longest drive, from Minneapolis, MN to Sault Ste. Marie, MI.   The scenery started out as farm land, merged into woodlands and lakes, and ended with a beautiful coastal view.

During the drive we listened to various audiobook and musical entertainments including a book on CD about Mozart, who I learned was just like every character ever played by Steve Carell, but good at music.

When we arrived in Soo and perused the hotel brochure library we decided to make a change in plans and spend the first part of the day at Mackinac Island and save the Soo Locks for later.

Mackinac Island was/is a resort island hanging out between Lakes Michigan and Huron.  Here's a picture of The Grand Hotel that sits on the top of the island, looking out over Lake Huron.

And a bird perched on the head of Father Marquette (is that ever not funny?) with Ft. Mackinac in the background.  We walked through the "town" part of the island and toured the fort before heading back into town.

We drove downtown and stopped at the Soo Locks, which allow boats to sail from Lake Superior to the other Great Lakes.  The water goes down

the water goes up.

And that's the Soo Locks.

It was about 3pm when we had our fill of the equivalent of watching a giant bathtub fill and drain and decided to start our drive toward Toronto.  This change of plans led us to one of the surprise highlights of the trip- our stay in Frankenmuth, MI.

Frankenmuth was a tiny little town outside of Saginaw, MI that had designated itself Michigan's Little Bavaria.  All of the downtown restaurants and shops and even our hotel were in a German style.  This could have been really cheezy, but somehow the town stays on the cute side of the cute/cheezy divide.

Here's the restaurant where we ate dinner when we stopped for the night.  I had fish as my meal, but Daniel deemed the German food served better than the German restaurant in Madison.

We spent our last night in the US and prepared for our first foray into the mysterious land up north: Canada.

*Who, after singing 3 new verses at the end of Puff the Magic Dragon said, "Yeah, I changed the ending.  I wrote that song.  I can change it if I want to," when we saw him play at Barnes and Noble last winter.