12-Sep-2001 -- We traveled from our home in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 2,765 km (1,718 miles) to visit our daughter and her fiancé in London, Ontario, Canada. Our proposed "shortest" route took us through northern Michigan where we noticed that N46° W85° on the shores of Lake Michigan had not been done. U.S. Highway 2 passes right by the spot.
Twenty four hours earlier, shortly after the terrorist attack on the United States, we were lined up on the bridge at the Fort Francis, Ontario/International Falls, Minnesota border crossing wondering if we would even be allowed into the United States. CBC radio announced that all border crossings had been closed. The alternate route would be to backtrack and take the longer route through Canada along the north shores of the Lake Superior and Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. In the meantime we were moving at a snail's pace across the bridge with dozens of other vehicles. A half hour later, still on the bridge, it was announced on radio that border crossings WERE open. When it was our turn to cross, somber customs officials - one looking under the hood of our van, one looking in the side door, one in the back door going through luggage, and one questioning Alan - let us through. One official had a mirror to hold under vehicles to check for explosive materials or hidden items. The 80 minute delay seemed long but paled in comparison to the 25 km long vehicle backlogs and 12 hour waits at border crossings a couple of days later.
By the evening of September 11th there were rumors of rising gasoline prices and dwindling supplies. There were long line ups at every gas station. Although some prices rose a few cents there were no $5 per gallon prices in Michigan and they did not run out of gas. We were not stranded in some small Michigan town. We did make it to Ontario (a cousin intending to fly from England to meet us there on the 14th did not). We did get to the confluence site.
Highway 2 follows the north shore of Lake Michigan for a number of miles before reaching Interstate 75 which crosses the 8 km (5 mile) long suspension bridge over the Straits of Makinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Lake Michigan is situated completely within the United States. The other four Great Lakes are shared with Canada.
We discovered that the sandy beach near the confluence could be reached from a scenic overlook just off the highway. The overlook had a paved parking lot, picnic tables AND a stairway down the cliff to the beach. How convenient! The sandy windswept beach was wet after a recent rain storm. It was a beautiful peaceful place to walk - confluence hunting or not. Gulls were hunting for food along the edge of the surf. Waves were crashing in on shore. The sun felt warm as it broke through the clouds. It seemed far removed from the terror and devastation that had struck America the day before. A large ship passed in the distance on its way through the Great Lakes system and St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean. As we gazed out from the north shore, we realized that at the far end of Lake Michigan on the south shore, some 512km (318 miles) away was the city of Chicago, Illinois. A GREAT Lake indeed.
As expected the confluence was 318 meters from shore at the closest approach N46° 00' 07.3" W84° 59' 49.5". The confluence was situated 420 meters from the GPS reading in the photo N46° 00' 13.7" W 85° 00' 00.0". Neither one of us was willing to wade 318 meters out into the lake so we left this one as an attempt.