The Coyles -DNA-X #2 2012 A highway and fraternal twins…
The DNA-X crew heads west on the Trans Canada Highway, also known as Canada’s Main Street. Opened in 1962, this is one of the longest (over 4860 miles) national roads in the world but “highway” may not fit your traditional image. In fact it is mostly a two lane track with occasional passing lanes wandering through towns, shrinking to one lane in construction zones and sharing the tarmac with farm equipment, horse and carriage, bikes and wildlife. The road’s number designation changes with the provincial boundaries as does its condition as there is no “national” road funding so each province decides the budget for maintenance.
We turned off in the crossroads of the Great Lakes, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where the St. Mary’s river defines the border between Canada and the US. Here Lake Superior funnels into Lake Huron via the river and when settled by French fur trappers the “Sault” (rapids) could be heard 10 miles away. Today the river is tamed by a series of locks on both sides of the border. On the US side in Michigan’s Sault Ste. Marie, massive cargo ships some 1000 feet long pass through the busiest locks in the world. The twin cities are connected by the International Bridge that lights up at night with the corresponding national colors.
We stayed one night on each side of the border to experience the “twins” personality. Somehow the idea of twin cities always seems to invite discord and competition. Why not have different names to eliminate confusion? On the Canadian side we found a hotel along the river. A nice boardwalk provided access to the shallow rapids for fishing, strolling or hiking through an island park in the middle of the river. This is a great asset for this twin’s residents. On the US side a park along the locks provides a viewing stand for ship watchers to observe the locking process. Both cities had a relaxed, vintage atmosphere and the US side had a more touristy feel with an over abundance of souvenir shops. The down side here is the border. Many residents and visitors on either side of the border must sit in line daily to cross the river. What once was an easy process is now bogged down in procedure. Maybe we could follow Europe’s lead and eliminate border formalities for these twin cities and all along our shared boundary. Imagine!