Sunday, July 8, 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 3

Sudbury, Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

We managed to get some sleep, but it wasn't enough. So what did the hotel offer in return for booking us into a room they shouldn't have booked us into? One free breakfast. Yup. Though there were two adults (kids stay and eat free), they offered us one free breakfast for a lack of sleep. Unacceptable. We packed up and loaded the van. I stopped by the front desk and politely told the staff that I am not paying for last nights stay due to the circumstances and that the room offered was subpar. The manager was called up and reversed the charge. No apology. No nothing.

I don't understand why it seems that the level of service at Holiday Inn hotels differs from Holiday Inn Select or Holiday Inn Express hotels. It seems you get better service and amenities from the latter two than the Holiday Inn. I'll be sending an email to Intercontinental Hotels Group when we arrive back home.

Headed out to the Discovery Earth attraction. This is the location of the Big Nickel. When I last visited this place back in the early 80s, there was not much to the attraction other than the Big Nickel and few other things at ground level. Now there is a building with several galleries, a theatre and an underground mine.

The boys were in awe of the big nickel. Corbin wanted to take it with him and buy lots of stuff. He wanted to touch it, so I lifted him and he managed to get the bottom of it. Jeremy used the umbrella to touch it.

Inside, we checked in and booked a 10:30 am visit to the mine. While waiting to descend, there is a control room where kids (and adults) can talk to people in the mine, control a camera and control a digging machine. There is also a playground where kids can play with 'iron ore' bits (foam).

Eventually, we were called into the Miner's Dry - the room where Miners change into their work clothes. We entered the large glass elevator and were given a visual history of mining through an interactive film.

With our hard hats on, we walked into the tunnels, which are about seven stories below ground. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and made sure that everyone could see what was being talked about. Corbin obsessed about the tour guide's light, so he let Corbin hold it. The mine is divided into several sections and illustrates the evolution of mining over the past 100 years. The first section is a mine from the late 1880s, followed by the 1940s and finally the modern mine.

Corbin and Jeremy volunteered to insert 'dynamite' into blast holes and we were asked to go around a corner and stand on wooden platform. Then there was a blast and some shaking. In the modern part of the mine, we visited the lunch room aka the safe room. Then it was back to the elevator. The tour was about an hour long.

Tina and Corbin spent some time in the gift shop, where Corbin purchased some big nickels and gems. We walked over to the Earth Gallery where you can pan for gold, check out some minerals and learn about the history of the Sudbury basin. It was good way to get the day going, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed the place.

Saying goodbye to Sudbury,we headed out on Highway 17 to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Traffic was good and the weather was cloudy and sunny - not a bad day for driving. We stopped in Espanola for some KFC. Just past Bruce Mines, we pulled over at rest stop to stretch our legs, eat some food and use the facilities. After, about 3 or so hours of driving, we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

US Customs was backed up - it took about 30 minutes to get to the booth, where no problems were encountered. The Holiday Inn Express in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is located at the first interchange on I75 when you enter the US. We checked in and Tina headed over to the McDonald's beside the hotel to grab some food.

Posted by Adam

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