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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

It’s been awhile since I posted, and while I do have a huge backlog of subjects, today’s is a really recent jaunt Sam and I took over to Sault Ste. Marie.

Also known as “the Sault” (or, even just the Soo) to Michiganders, Sault Ste. Marie is a neat old town that feels far from its age (which happens to be hmmm, more than 300, since it was founded in the 1660s. Maybe 350-something years old.) The stunning stretch of history of the town is always there, just behind and beneath the new developments and updates.

We go there once in a while for business, and always look forward to finding new, cool things — because that’s what happens every time we go!

The Soo Locks as seen from the air. The shoreline view is pretty good, too.

It’s a maritime town, centered on the St. Marys River and the Soo Locks that allow Great Lakes freighters to pass between lakes Superior and Huron. (You shouldn’t need three guesses to decipher how the town got it’s name.) It has a Canadian sister city on the other side of the river; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, which is much bigger.

The locks are a big draw, and there’s no doubt it’s pretty cool to watch the giant ore carriers pass through. There’s a phone number to call for a shipping schedule to maximize your chances of catching the show here. Or, if you have some time to kill, there’s Karl’s Cuisine restaurant overlooking the locks. Although it’s nestled next to a mini golf course and sports tourist-friendly decor, make no mistake; the chef is talented and committed to using local ingredients and foods, and it’s well worth stopping.

In the past, we’ve also enjoyed eating at Antlers, which also is by the river and has come under new ownership in recent years. The wild game lasagna is always a favorite.

But this time, it had to be Clyde’s Drive-In, which, like all great drive-ins, opened in the 1940s. Unlike many, it’s stuck around thanks to a loyal following, and burgers and fries raised to perfection. They hand-make the burger patties, use plenty of malt in their malts, and you won’t ever get a soggy or underdone fry or onion ring at Clyde’s. The small burger shack overlooks the ferry to Sugar Island, a little hamlet on the islands in the middle of the St. Mary’s River, and isn’t the easiest to find, but worth the effort.

Clyde's Drive-In. And yes, there is curbside service if you want it!

Speaking of Sugar Island, we also found an awesome new store on this visit to the Sault. It’s called Island Books and Crafts, just opened in the winter, and it’s named that because owner Les Townsend is a Sugar Islander born and bred. He’s also a fun guy to talk to, and knows quite a bit about the store’s home, a huge building on the corner of East Portage Avenue and Ashmun Street that was formerly the Sault Savings Bank. Some of the original bank marble still graces the entry. You’ll find plenty of books there, alongside the work of dozens of area crafters and artists, from handmade jewelry to pine-needle-and-agate woven baskets to gorgeous hand carved wood furniture.

I look forward to going back to the Sault and finding new things each time — It’s at the least a great day trip for U.P. residents (or for northern L.P. residents), but there’s more to do and see than you can ever do in a day, which is what makes it so much fun to keep coming back.

Where are your favorite stores and restaurants in Sault Ste. Marie? What do you look forward to doing or visiting there?

 

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So I know that this is the third post in a row about Chicago attractions, and I have a whole bunch of restaurant posts coming up from various parts of Michigan and Illinois, so I’m sure it’s not very good blog structure to do them all in great clumps like this. But this one is written, and those aren’t, so I’m gonna post this one 🙂

Who’s been to Medieval Times before? Show of hands!

Yeah, it’s awesome, right? We have been going down to Chicago for years and hadn’t gone to the Medieval Times in Schaumburg, which was a shame.

The Medieval Times castle in Schaumburg, Illinois. It's actually much bigger than it looks here.

To be fair, both Sam and I had been to Medieval Times elsewhere, as has my sister Jen (high school orchestra trip to Florida…ahh, good times.)

Anyway, that leaves among our merry band Shaylyn and Andrea who hadn’t been, and both really wanted to. So on this trip, we decided it really was about time we experience this as a group. Besides, everything is more fun with a 9-year-old.

It turned out we didn’t need Shaylyn to invoke a childlike sense of roleplay and wonder at Medieval Times. We sat in the red knight’s section, which was fortunate, because he ended up being the total badass champion. We cheered him on with many shouts, screams, cheers and boos and hisses for his opponents. We even led a toast to our knight, and waved his flags and pennants around wildly.

The key really was entering into the spirit of the thing, cheering for our knight and suspending disbelief for awhile to enjoy the storyline and the feats of equestrian showmanship on display.

We had an awesome server, who said his name was Jelly. Sam took on the role of lord of the table quite readily, calling out for Jelly in a booming voice and hamming it up with medieval-inspired quips throughout the fighting. What fun!

A Medieval Times photo of the "Lord Chancellor," or announcer. I didn't get any good photos during the show; they're all dark and hard to see. But I am pretty sure this is the same guy.

As for the rest of us, we were hoarse from cheering on our knight at the end of the night, and pleasantly full with what was actually a decent meal for being served to hundreds of people at once. They’ve really got the particulars down at that place. Of course, you have to eat it all with your hands, but there are plenty of napkins.

For the more macabre-inclined among us, they also have a medieval torture gallery off the main hall, but it cost extra, and we didn’t feel great about taking Shaylyn through it anyway, so we opted out.

All in all, a worthwhile experience, and—I forgot to mention—we got a great buy one admission, get one free deal on the tickets, which is actually what put it on our radar for this trip in the first place.

If you can get a price break on the tickets, it becomes a pretty good deal, but for medieval enthusiasts or if you have kids who are really into knights or medieval stuff, it’s probably worth the admission whenever you go.

So, what was your Medieval Times experience like? Were you as delighted as we were? Which Medieval Times did you go to? If you haven’t been, are you interested?

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