While listening to one of my favorite people on one of my favorite podcasts (Mayim Bialik and Freakonomics, respectively), I was moved by every word she relayed to her listeners.
Mayim discovered that our lives are hyphenated (e.g.: Catherine Olivia Spader, 1993-20??). She asked us, “What will you do with your hyphen?” My jaw dropped. It’s never been explained so simply.
Life isn’t a dress rehearsal: this is our one chance to do something amazing. Although 2020 has been the most challenging year of my life – and has been for many others – I’m going to focus on exploring sights unseen, as well as the true passions of “my hyphen.”
So dad and I spent Friday evening hanging out in downtown Sault Ste. Marie (“Soo Saint Marie”) and had an awesome hiking adventure at Tahquamenon Falls on Saturday: what else could we possibly fit into our weekend in the upper peninsula? Well, we certainly couldn’t leave Michigan’s oldest, historic town without taking a tour of the locks themselves. On Sunday, August 23rd, that’s exactly what we did…
If you don’t live in Michigan, you may not even know about this engineering technology; as a born and raised Michigander, this is something I couldn’t live without seeing!
Sault Ste. Marie sits between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, bordering Ontario, Canada. There’s actually a 21-foot difference in height here on the St. Mary’s Rivers, which makes the Soo Locks so incredible.
These are two parallel locks permitting ships to carry iron ore and other materials between Lake Superior and the rest of the lower Great Lakes. The locks are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have been around since 1855.
My dad has always been intrigued by ships. His great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in Michigan (and if you didn’t already know this, we’re very proud of our lakes here!). We loved learning more about the locks but our all-time favorite part was actually going through them! We headed west toward Lake Superior first (which raised us 21 feet). You couldn’t even feel the movement of being lifted. The only indicator was watching the wall disappear and seeing ongoing spectators.
After about an hour or so, we looped around through the Canadian locks and headed toward the dock. Although the Canadian locks were not nearly as large or as well-operated, they were cute nonetheless!
My dad and I had an amazing time on two and a half hour tour. It was the perfect way to end our time in Sault Ste. Marie. I was sad when we got to the car, but I highly recommend visiting, taking this tour and spending a weekend with someone you love (it’s good for the soul!) 🙂
The evening of Friday, August 21st was relaxing: dad and I watched some ships pass through the Soo Locks and enjoyed some adult beverages across the street 🙂 As we were spending some long-overdue quality time together, we were planning on what to do the next day.
We headed back to the hotel relatively early (because we both like being in bed before midnight) and discussed our next day’s plan as we watched 100 Days Wild on Discovery.
“Hey Cate, did you and Juan visit Tahquamenon Falls last weekend?”
Why, yes we did! Although Juan, Linley and I enjoyed some epic views at the falls, we didn’t see both sets of falls, nor did we do much hiking there.
My dad and I decided that we would do the full eight-mile hike, which connects the Upper and Lower Falls through some rougher terrain. We enjoyed some crepes at a lovely place near the hotel, and arrived at Tahquamenon State Park around 9:30/10. Neither of us visited the Lower Falls in our lifetime, so that’s where we started.
The Lower Falls are very different from other falls I’ve seen in the upper peninsula; there are a series of smaller drops and there’s even a plateau that visitors enjoy for swimming! My dad and I had the opportunity of great viewing sports since we arrived before 10am.
Enough pictures, more hiking… this hike would easily take about two and a half hours one-way. Let me say it was well worth it! I didn’t take any photos during our venture to the Upper Falls because my dad and I were either chatting, soaking in the scenery, losing our breath when hiking uphill, nearly tripping over tree roots, or a combination of all the above! It was worth it once we hit the Upper Falls.
The two of us visited the pavilion for some tacos and rest (one of us needed to rest more than the other!). Dad made friends with a squirrel who befriended him during lunch, but we had to part ways and head back the other way. We already knew what to expect but were somehow just as excited to walk the other way.
As dad and I jammed out to his Bob Seger, Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel playlist on speaker, we survived another two and a half hour hike! We might have been a little more sore, but this was the perfect time to take pictures of the trail and to rinse my feet from all the mud (yes, I wore yoga sandals on this hike… don’t judge me!). We returned to the car around 3/3:30, making this a total of nine miles and about a six-hour adventure!
Our evening consisted of watching more freighters, enjoying a nice dinner with some whiskey sours, and peanut butter chocolate ice cream, as well as a great night’s sleep!
The truth is that I’ve been struggling to write posts of my daddy-daughter weekend due to some extended and immediate family drama. I’m beyond grateful to have had a wonderful weekend with my dad last month 🙂
Juan, Linley and I returned from our adventure up north on Monday, August 17. I knew that my dad was planning a daddy-daughter weekend for later in the month, but I didn’t know any specifics. Coincidentally, he texted me that Monday evening, asking if I had any desire to return to the upper peninsula (to which I of course said yes!). I’ve only been across the Mighty Mac Bridge – splitting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas – four times in my life, and two of them were last month. Although I visited the U.P. two weekends in a row, the quality time with my dad was entirely different.
We left around noon and headed north toward Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie). This is the oldest town in the Midwest and is famous for its locks. These locks are an obligatory Michigander destination because this engineering raises and lowers ships between Lake Superior and Lake Huron (there is an approximate 21-foot discrepancy in water elevation here!). Visiting the locks was not only something my dad and I had never experienced, but important to him due to his heritage. My dad’s great, great grandfather was one of the first freighter captains in the state, who transported iron ore and other materials for construction within the Midwest and northeast.
Since we arrived in town later on Friday, August 21, we walked around, ate at an Irish pub and enjoyed watching the ships at the local park!
Last Monday, the three of us headed home from our amazing weekend in Michigan’s upper peninsula. We had to swing by Tahquamenon Falls on our way home – Juan and I have never been there and couldn’t leave without seeing ‘em!
Tahquamenon Falls are known as the “root beer falls” because of the copper color from the vegetation decay and acidity in the water (which makes the river look like black tea). Don’t let this scare you though; the water is completely safe and clean 😌 The views are even better once you get closer…
We were only able to see the Upper falls due to time constraints and how crowded the park became after noon. The Upper falls are the third largest falls on this side of the country, and it was great for my little family to finally experience them together 😌
While this concludes my posts of our family weekend away, I was surprised with another adventure in the upper peninsula last weekend. Stay tuned, stay safe and wear your mask!
Our last evening at Pictured Rocks was by far my favorite. After some epic hiking, we returned to Lake Superior Beach to enjoy our final sunset and some good night’s sleep. Juan and Linley needed a quick nap in the Jeep when we arrived, so I re-explored where Linley was digging around the day prior. I was drawn into the creek and the way the light was reflecting off the water.
I went back to the car to wake Juan and Lin up from their nap, and we settled in to enjoy the sunset. We didn’t take many photos because we were living in the moment, but it was a wonderful way to end our time on Lake Superior!
I can’t wait for my next adventure with my little family 😊
During our long weekend in Michigan’s upper peninsula, we couldn’t stop at one or two falls; we had to find more! Our favorite falls at Pictured Rocks were Sable Falls, which can be found on the eastern-most region of the lakeshore. Although there were some gnarly mosquitoes on this trail, the views were worth it; I hope you think so, too 😌
Stay safe, wear your mask and make sure to pack bug spray! – Cate
Another dog-friendly activity we participated in during our time at Pictured Rocks was visiting the Au Sable Light Station. There was a nice trail between this point and our next attraction that called for some great views – and photos!
The three of us relaxed and had some Gatorade (Lin did not…) as the waves below us crashed into the cliffs. No photos can truly capture upper Michigan’s beauty, but they can always capture Lin’s attitude(s)…
“First they’re sour,”
then they’re sweet!”
After our snacks, we hit the trail and headed East for great views of the dunes. To Juan’s and my surprise, we didn’t even realize the upper peninsula even had dunes to explore!
One main viewing point was along the log slide trail, where they literally slide logs to freighter ships. We didn’t dare go all the way down because it took people (even hyper children and cross fitters) over an hour to climb back up! The views were worth the trek though.
After a (shockingly!) restful night’s sleep in the Jeep, we hit the beach for a morning walk. Lin and I were the first ones there, and we allowed Juan to get s’more beauty sleep.
There was a small creek flowing into Lake Superior that Lin and I wanted to explore (and by ‘explore,’ I mean dig around in for hours!). We obviously had Juan on photography-duty!
Watching Lin dig, sniff and mark his turf in and around the creek was thoroughly entertaining! Juan and I walked and sat with him for about two hours while he went on this little adventure. If only we could see the world through our pup’s eyes…
…and no day at the beach is complete without a nap!