Who We Are

We sold our home in June, 2007, and spent the next 7 1/2 years traveling full time in a Cross Roads Fifth Wheel. (We had been traveling during our summers for several years before going full time.) We loved the full-time lifestyle! Each summer we spent a month or two volunteering in State Parks, first in Indiana at McCormick's Creek State Park, near our family, then in later years as the grandchildren got older, at the Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico. We spent 6 months each winter at Cactus Gardens RV Resort in Yuma, AZ, where I worked mornings in the park office. The remaining months were spent on the road, seeing this great country of ours. Our favorite places are our National Parks. Anita loved photography and the freedom of digital photography, taking sometimes hundreds of photos in a day. We hiked as much as our legs will allow. We also really enjoyed square and round dancing as we travel across country, and meeting all the wonderful people who dance and/or travel.

But as in all things, there comes a time for change, and we decided it was time to create roots once more. In the fall of 2014, we purchased a home in Cactus Gardens, and in the spring of 2015, sold the 5th wheel. Anita also retired in the spring. We will continue to travel each summer, but for a shorter period of time. We hope to continue blogging about those trips, but it will obviously be on a more limited basis than in the past.

Please explore our past posts if you are interested in traveling this great country. You'll find an index in the left column. We hope you enjoy our blog, and appreciate all comments

Friday, August 7, 2009

Soo Locks at Sault Ste Marie and Museum Ship Valley Camp











The St Marys River drops 21 feet from Lake Superior to Lakes Huron and Michigan.  The only water connection between Lake Superior and the other lakes, the natural barrier of the rapids made it necessary for the construction of the locks.  Canada built the first lock in the late 1700’s.  That lock was destroyed in the War of 1812.  The first lock on the U.S. side was constructed in 1853. 


The locks have been rebuilt and enlarged many times since to accommodate the increase of freighter size, some now 1000 feet long.


IMG_4194As many as 11,000 vessels pass through the locks annually.  We were told now, though, due to the poor economy, as few as 6 – 8 may traverse the locks daily.  With that in mind, we were fortunate indeed, to ascend to the top of the observation deck just as a large freighter, the Alpena, entered the area.


Boat rides through the locks are available, and just prior to the Alpena entering, a tour boat entered the locks, as did a coast guard boat.


The tour boat looks fairly large, until you see how little of the locks it occupies.


The Alpena seems huge coming into the locks, then the loudspeaker announces that it is 500 feet long.  That’s only half as long as some of the ships which use the center lock.  Some of these vessels enter the locks with as little as one and a half foot clearance on each side.  We learned later that radar equipment helps the captain steer into the lock.





IMG_4230bThe Alpena must seem huge to the tourists, bearing down on them.  Workers on the dock secure the Alpena in place.  IMG_4227 The water is raised 21 feet before the upper gates open, allowing the vessels to continue into Lake Superior.

Here the gates are opening, and the boats prepare to leave the lock.

Gates opening


After lunch, we browsed the street fair on Main Street.


We then decided to tour the Museum Ship Valley Camp.2009-08-07 - MI, Sault Ste Marie - Museum Ship Valley Camp-59

The Museum Ship Valley Camp at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan is the World’s Largest Maritime Museum housed in a Great Lakes Freighter, the Valley Camp.

Much of the ship has been kept as it was when in use.  The cargo holds, once bearing loads of coal, iron ore, and limestone, now house more than 100 exhibits showcasing maritime memories, shipwrecks, lighthouses and local history.  One exhibit relates the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975, taking its crew along.

We toured the holds and the engine room, then went up on the upper deck to see the pilot house and walk the length of the ship, peeking into the galley, dining room and living quarters of the officers and seamen.  Then it was down into the depths of the ship where there are four 1200 gallon aquariums, holding fish varieties common to the Great Lakes.

For a look at our photos from the ship: slideshow start

For a closer look at the freighter, Alpena, CLICK HERE for website.  For more on the Locks, and their operation, CLICK HERE.

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