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Food Pantry and Freighters

December 3, 2013

Michigan – Thursday, November 14

I used some points for a free stay at a motel last night, and that was the final motel stay of the journey – I’ll be with family for the rest of the Michigan week. I ended up in Sault Ste. Marie last night, which is the oldest city in the state, so I wanted to make a donation here. At first I thought I was going to make a donation to Sleepover 2013 – an overnight campout in cardboard boxes (that can be decorated!) to support the local Soup Kitchen Community Center. But I couldn’t find the place even though I drove up and down the street several times. I called them and explained I’d like to make a donation but I couldn’t find the right building, and after a bit of confusion, we realized I was talking to people at the food pantry in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario which is right across a bridge from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan! That must get confusing for people now and then – 2 towns with the same name right next to each other, but they’re  in different countries. I felt bad I couldn’t make a donation to them after all because it sounded like an interesting way to support the soup kitchen, but I needed my donation to stay in Michigan, and they understood. I then found the correct address for the correct food pantry in the correct country, and drove over there. I met one of the volunteers who was sorting food, and she introduced me to Lee Ann, the manager. It was fun to talk with Lee Ann – she showed me around and told me more about the food pantry – she started as a volunteer many years ago, and is now the manager, and they help hundreds of families.  She was very supportive of my journey and even gave me a little cooler with a coffee mug and a pen and a couple other things – I felt guilty getting gifts in return for a relatively small donation! It was an interesting stop, and then it was time to head out to do some walking.

Tula and I drove down by the Soo Locks and I got her out for a mile and a half walk along the outside of the park along the locks. There was a freighter in the lock closest to the park, and I felt I could almost reach out and touch it. There’s a 21 foot difference in the level of the lakes, and it’s fun to just watch the freighters rise out of the water. At first glance, the ship didn’t look as big as it was because the most visible part of it was the white “tower” where most of the activity seems to take place. And then as the freighter rose, I could see the massive bulk of the rest of it  – they’re soooo long. It’s a wonder they fit in the locks – there’s barely any room to spare on either side of the ship. It doesn’t take all that long for a ship to rise or fall, and then with a blast of the horn, they begin to glide out, with hardly any noise. It was a cold day and I put Tula back in the car, and then went inside the park right next to the locks. Since this was the off season, the visitor center was closed, but I still walked all around, and from one end of the lock system to the other, and watched a couple other freighters go through the locks. There are 4 locks and they can be used simultaneously.  I walked through the downtown area too, which was pretty quiet on a cold November day, and covered almost 3 more miles.

Then it was time to head south, and after a while I crossed the Mackinac Bridge back into the lower peninsula of Michigan, which I had left 440 days ago. I’ve crossed the Mackinac Bridge countless times, and I always admire the view!  Tula and I got out to walk by the lighthouse on the Mackinac City Historical Pathway along the shore. Then I walked another couple of miles in a very deserted Mackinac City. In the summer the town is literally crawling with shoulder-to-shoulder people and one can hardly drive a car down the street, but at this time of the year most of the shops were closed and only a couple restaurants and hotels were open. I’m pretty sure one of the ferries continues to make a daily run to Mackinac Island though. It still amazes me that these seasonal towns can stay alive with only the summer tourist season to support them.

Then I headed to Petoskey where I met up with my daughter Taryn and she led me to her new home – a cute little log cabin in Walloon Lake that she and her boyfriend Jared bought last summer. Taryn was just getting off work, and Jared had the day off, so he had a yummy venison dinner waiting, and we enjoyed the evening in the cozy cabin.

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