Agawa Canyon train traveling near Lake Superior
Agawa Canyon train with Lake Superior to the left

The trip that turned into a real sneezathon

| The hard-core of the old gang had such a wonderful time in Albuquerque on our Super Bowl trip that someone decided we should do another trip this summer. Touring the locks at Sault Ste Marie and riding the scenic Agawa Canyon tour train seemed like good ideas. So, shortly after the 4th of July we headed north and east.

My own air trip was to Grand Rapids via Dallas; from Grand Rapids Bob, Carolyn and I would drive to "Soo." Jim and Angela, on the other hand, decided they would fly to Soo (the US Soo) via Detroit and would rent a car. And thus did we all converge on the Soo.

Day 1 - Soo Locks Tour

The locks connect Lake Superior with the other Great Lakes through a system of canals, and eventually with the St Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Superior is much higher than the others, so the locks enable boats to go from one to the other.

Soo Locks tour boat
One of the Soo Locks tour boats — interestingly all the tour boats are on the US side of the locks

Our hotel was in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, while all the Soo Locks tours depart from Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. So we had to drive back across the international bridge, this time through an infestation of yellow fly-like bugs that simply filled the air. I don't know what they were, but I suspect they were an immature stage of something. Interestingly, the swarms were confined to just a certain area of the bridge!

We hopped on a Soo Locks tour boat for a ride through and around the locks. It was a beautiful day, and it was very enjoyable just to cruise about on the lakes. An ocean-going freighter went through the locks at the same time we did (but in opposite directions and in a different lock). It was amazing to see how they secure the boats/ships are going through so they don't get out of control with the raising/lowering of the water.

Day 2 - The Agawa Canyon Tour Train

The following day, Sunday, was our train excursion. Thanks to astute travel planning, we stayed in a hotel right across the street from the train station, so all we had to do that morning was walk across the street and board the train.

On our way to the train
To the train. (L-R) Carolyn, Angela, Jim (taking picture), and Bob

Apart from location, location, location for the hotel, it turned out to have a very good restaurant where we enjoyed a couple of fine dinners in addition to breakfasts.

The train trip is quite fun and in the fall, when the leaves turn, it would be spectacular. But the reality is that you can't see much from the train. Both sides of the track are lined with thick trees, so what you see is really lots of trees, except for the occasional break when a pristine lake is visible or when the train passes over a high bridge offering a view of the river below. It really doesn't go all that far and ends at a small park in the middle of nowhere where you have a couple of hours to explore. It's a nice park with picnic areas, several hiking trails, a river, and multiple waterfalls.

Day 3 - Bushplane Museum

After checking out of our hotel, Bob, Carolyn, and I went to the Bushplane Museum, using tickets that Jim and Angela bought but not been able to use. It's called a museum, but in fact the people who run it actually work on these old planes and have several that are in flying condition.

You do get an appreciation of the derring-do required of pilots to venture out into the wilderness, often in a float plane, with a bare-bones flying machine.

Day 3 - Drive back to Grand Rapids

A treat for me was stopping by the lakeside cottage of Carolyn's family. A big deck hangs quite literally over the lakeshore.

Now for the unpleasantries

Hardly had we arrived in Sault Ste Marie but I began to sneeze and my nose began to run. The first day, the locks tour, it wasn't too bad, but by the next day my throat was sore and I was running a fever. That night, when the train returned to Sault St Marie, I was absolutely miserable. I walked to the Walmart and bought one of every cold remedy that wasn't under lock and key (it was Sunday night and most of the store was closed).

To make a long story short, I spent several days in bed, and it took more than a month to shake this cold. Sadly, Carolyn caught the same cold, probably from me, and she and I commiserated with each other for weeks. Do you still have it? When is it going to end?

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Last updated on May 11, 2016

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