by Brad Herzog
07 Aug 2014
Maybe the best way to start a summary of our visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is to begin at the beginning. According to some anonymous scribe from the U.P. (and embracing local dialect and lingo), the following is “Da Creation of Da Upper Peninsula”:
In the beginning dere was nuttin’.
Den on da FIRST Day, God created da U.P. On da SECOND day, He created da partridge, da deer, da bear, da fish, and da ducks. On da THIRD day, He said, “Let dere by Yoopers to roam da Upper Peninsula.”
On da FOURTH day, God created da udder world down below. On da FIFTH day, He said, “Let dere be trolls to live in da udder world down below.” On da SIXTH day, He created da bridge, so da trolls would have a way to get to heaven.
God saw it was good, and on da SEVENTH day, He went huntin’.
Well, here’s my troll’s version of a trip to the U.P. It started with a trip over that bridge, the remarkable, 5-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, with Lake Michigan on one side of us and Lake Huron on the other.
First stop: Sault Ste. Marie, the uppermost U.P., a stone’s throw from Canada, and famous for another man-made wonder—the Soo Locks. It’s one of the world’s busiest lock systems, operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week and completing over 7,000 lockages during the 42-week-long navigation season. More than 11,000 vessels carrying some 90 million tons of cargo pass through the locks each year, some of them as much as 1,000 feet long.
We happened to time our arrival perfectly—nearly matching the arrival of a massive Dutch cargo ship called the Fortunagracht. Along with scores of other viewers, we watched a fascinating marvel of engineering that allows vessels to traverse the 21-foot drop in elevation of the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.