Traveling by hybrid along the north shore of Lake Superior in winter enraptured my octogenarian husband and me.  How many more thrills and memories would a young family on a summer vacation get?  Here are the nine keys:

1. Travel the 700 miles from east to west. The two-lane velvety ribbon winds between spectacular vistas, second only to the Pacific Coastal Highway. Don’t turn your back on the mountains!

2. Be in Sault (meaning Falls) Ste. Marie, MI for the annual Engineers’ Day at the ‘Soo’ Locks.

Aerial picture of the Soo Locks between Lake S...

On Jun. 29 admission to a world of miraculous technology will be free from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. You may walk out beside the big ships being lifted or lowered to connect Lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes. The four locks handle more traffic than any comparable system in the world.

http://www.saultstemarie.com/soo-locks-engineers-day-june-29,-2012-313/A

3. Cross the International Bridge and visit attractions in Sault Ste. Marie, ON, such as the heritage waterfront hangar, where you may sit in the pilot’s seat of a bush plane. Turn west on the Trans-Canada Highway (#17), longest national highway in the world.

4. Start to roll over the low, undulating rock plain of the Precambrian (Canadian) Shield. It’s the oldest, most stable, bedrock in the world. It extends from the Arctic archipelago  south to Wisconsin and New York, and from Labrador up to the Northwest Territories.  Deposits of gold, silver, nickel, cobalt, copper, zinc and iron ore lie underneath. Lake Superior, largest freshwater lake in the world, is on your left. On your right are sheer rock cliffs. Mountains as high as the Himalayas stood here eons ago. Ice scoured the area, leaving behind rivers, lakes, streams and ponds.

Pictographs at Lake Superior Provincial Park, ...

5. Camp on a reserved site at the Agawa Bay campsite in Lake Superior Provincial Park, 90 minutes from the ‘Soo’. The pebble beach is one of the finest in the world. Rocks 2.5 billion years old are twisted and hardened, like candy, into bands in the cliffs. Ancient Ojibwa pictographs drawn in red ochre depict creatures and warfare.  http://www.lakesuperiorpark.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=4&Itemid=92

6. After you've been to Wawa (meaning Goose) follow the highway inland through the dense, magnificent forest.  It is very isolated, except for multitudes of birds and animals. Yellow caution signs remind you moose reign supreme. A male might weigh up to 900 pounds and a collision could be fatal. Refuel in White River, at a gas station that appears in the nick of time. The owner will fill up your tank while his wife washes your windshield.

7. Drive at night near Marathon to reach a motel -- but you may be startled, as we were. A line of high power wires began humming along beside us, like an honor guard. Suddenly a mass of brilliant lights almost blinded us on the right. It was the Barrick and Newmont gold mines. These rival companies in the world of high finance nestle like neighbors in the bush!

8. Let beautiful Thunder Bay touch your heart and complete your tour. At the Visitor Center on a hilltop as you drive in, a guide will direct you to what interests you. We liked:

a)      The Terry Fox statue honoring the 15-year-old who had one leg amputated, due to cancer. His dream of running all the way across Canada to raise awareness ended here.

b)      The Sleeping Giant, a supernatural peninsula you see as you look down on the breathtaking view of Lake Superior.

c)        Hoito, a century-old, Finnish restaurant. Go there to experience another age, another culture and excellent food. Weigh yourself  on the antique scales at the door on your way in and out. Then pay.

9. As the sun sets in splendor over the lake,  drive home via Pigeon Point border crossing and I-35 south to Duluth.

www.margaretvirany.com

Excerpt from Margaret Kell Virany's upcoming book about driving around America in a hybrid at age 80, to be released  July 18/13