The last week of August my sister, Mary Lou, and I took a trip to Sault Ste. Marie (the Soo) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
My thoughts went back to about the same time ten years ago when we were camping at the Soo.
In August of 2001 my husband Bert and I, my sister Mary Lou and her husband Dan and my brother Jim and his wife Mary were all at the Soo on a camping trip. We were able to view the Soo Locks without a lot of security and just walk into the area off the street.
We left the Soo and drove into Canada by just showing our driver's license and didn't have to have a passport or a special driver's license. We traveled through Sault Ste. Marie in Canada and over to Pancake Bay and camped there for several days then headed back home to Michigan.
On September 1 we once again got into our motor home and met Mary Lou and Dan at a campground in Elkhart Indiana on a long planned trip to California where we would spend some time with our brother Dan.
On September 10 after a beautiful drive in Utah we camped at Slick Rock Campground in Moab Utah.
When I woke up the morning of September 11 I turned on the radio before I got up to listen to the news and the weather for a short time. They were saying that a plane had hit one of the twin towers in New York and it was thought to be a commuter plane. When I got dressed and went outside Dan and several people were talking. I went up to them and asked had they heard about a commuter plane hitting one of the twin towers. Dan said, "Hell no that was terrorists not a commuter plane."
I didn't have a cell phone then but my sister did. We talked about what to do and decided to continue on with our trip. Mary Lou said she was turning off her cell phone because she knew that our 87-year-old mother would be calling. We both had walkie-talkies in our motor homes so we could communicate. We both listened to our radios and talked back and forth about what had happened. When we reached our next destination in Ely Nevada we got the motor homes hooked up and and got settled. I then called my daughter Laura. She said that Grandma had called her several times wanting to know if she had heard from me. She told Laura, "When you hear from your mother you tell those girls they are to come home." Mary Lou did call our mother and assured her we were okay and saw no reason why we should go back to Michigan. The campground had an area with a large TV so we watched the replays of the devastation for awhile.
There are two thoughts that stand out in my mind besides the enormity and terrible tragedy of that day and the days following. Since we were camping when we sat out around a campfire at night we talked about how quiet it was with no planes flying over head. The second thing that I won't ever forget was when we were driving on a freeway I looked up and on a hill above us was a man standing in the bed of his truck waving the American flag at all the vehicles that were passing by. That so touched my heart and still to this day it is still an emotional remembrance.
Now back to the Soo.
The Soo Locks are managed by the U..S. Army, Corps of Engineers. The Soo Locks allow freighters, barges, tugboats and other vessels to traverse the 21-foot-drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. They are the busiest in the world and important for transporting all sorts of goods. They were also of a great concern for their safety after the 9/11 attack and tight security was put in place.
When we were there two years ago there was a fence that enclosed the Soo Locks and the two or three gates where you could enter the area had security guards that would check anything you were bringing into the area such as a purse or even a stroller and diaper bag.
This year when Mary Lou and I walked into the locks area there was no one at the gate but I noticed a huge fence that was surrounding the Locks.
We talked to a security guard and he said the fence was there to prevent anyone from getting into the Locks area. There were also cameras all over the area that no one could see as well as sensors that would detect if anyone would somehow get into the area where the Locks are.
So much has happened since that fateful day and security is of the utmost importance to many areas where we never gave it too much thought before.
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