In the Land of Da Yoopers

I got stuck on the Ontario side of Sault Ste. Marie for longer than I wanted to but it rained and I was averse to riding in the rain again after my awful eight hour drenching a few days prior.

So one last shot of Sault Ste. Marie Ontario. There was this chalkboard on Queen St. that started “Before I die I want to…” then anyone could write whatever they wanted in chalk. I passed by this a few times and it changed every day so I took this photo one day. There’s everything from “smoke crack” to “save a life” to “punch Trump in the face.” What a great concept.

It was still drizzling when I pedaled over the Sault Ste. Marie International bridge. I got stuck behind dozens of vehicles waiting to get through immigration. But I finally made it back into the USA with no problems. The immigration guy was amazed, as most people are, that I bicycled from Miami.

Once I arrived I soon realized I was in the land of da Yoopers.

Yooper: noun Yoop·er \yü-per\
Definition:   A native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

If you are curious about Yoopers, you can google it and find out more about them. Or click here.

Back in the USA, I am unable to escape more of Donald Trump’s twaddle. I was blissfully ignorant of world events for a couple weeks there. Now I can’t escape the news. But it is good to be back in Michigan. It has been four years since our last family reunion and my last time in Copper Harbor. As shown in the map below, the western part of Upper Peninsula is the only region in the U.S. where Finnish Americans (light green) form the plurality.

I happened to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie, MI on the one day–the last Friday in June–where they shut down the locks and allow the public to tour the area for the day.

The locks are required because Lake Superior is 21 feet higher than Lake Huron, and this causes a series of rapids on the St. Marys river (“Sault Ste. Marie” means “the rapids of Saint Mary” in old French). Early fur traders had to portage their canoes around the rapids, but as cargo increased the concept of a lock system was developed. The first locks were created in 1798 and they have been expanded and used continuously since 1855.

Here is one empty lock and a southbound ship passing through the other. You can the international bridge that I rode on in the background.

A northbound ship waiting to pass through.

A sketch of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

The day the locks were open to the public you could walk across the big doors.

The locks from the Tower museum showing a ship passing through.

A model of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior in a storm in 1975 with all 29 crew members.

After the locks I visited the hydroelectric power station. It was built in 1902 and consists of 74 water turbine powered generators that rotate at 180 rpm and generate up to 30 megawatts of electricity. About 13.5 million gallons of water per minute flows through the turbines at max flow.

The intake ports to the hydro plant.

It was actually pretty interesting and I got a free hot dog.

The cloudy, drizzly weather continued so I decided to stay a couple days in the Michigan side of Sault Ste. Marie. I visited the Valley Camp ship museum which is housed inside a retired Great Lakes Freighter.

Here is a shot of all the knots a sailer was expected to know back in the day. Crazy.

There was an exhibit about the Edmund Fitzgerald, including one of the lifeboats that was recovered from the wreck.

The Fitzgerald was one of hundreds of ships lost in the Great Lakes over the centuries. Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot inspired popular interest in the vessel with his 1976 ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Well after 5 days of resting, sightseeing and tinkering with my bike, the weather is set to improve tomorrow so I will get back to pedaling. I still have plenty of time so it will be easy going for the next couple weeks.

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