Port Huron, MI — March 21, 2020
Are you tired of sitting around the house? Practicing social distancing does not require complete isolation indoors. Michigan offers so much in the way of sightseeing, a day trip is a great way to break up the boredom.
Pack a lunch, fill up the car and head out. Take advantage of the low gas prices and see a new part of our state or revisit a favored landmark. Today’s trip, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.
From Fenton, the trip to Port Huron is an 85-mile drive. Traveling north on Highway 23 and east on I-69, the total time is less than 90 minutes. Traveling through rolling farmland outside of Flint the speed-limit increases to 75 mph.
The interstate ends with an option to continue into Canada or exit to the waterfront of Port Huron. Under the approach way to the Blue Water Bridge is a riverside park.
Blue Water Bridge
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation. “The Blue Water Bridge is a major international crossing over the St. Clair River at the southern end of Lake Huron. Located between Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward, Ontario connecting both Interstate 94 and Interstate 69 with Highway 402 it is one of the fastest links between the Midwest and Ontario as well as the Northeast United States.”
“The Blue Water Bridge crossing is a large complex consisting of toll and inspection plazas on each side of the border where you pay for your crossing and interact with the inspection agencies such as Immigration or Customs.”
“The crossing consists of two unique spans, the original Blue Water Bridge, opened in 1938 and renovated in 1999, is a three-lane westbound bridge. The second Blue Water Bridge, which carries three lanes of eastbound traffic, is an impressive modern bridge opened in 1997. State-of-the-art facilities make the Blue Water Bridge crossing one of the smoothest and most modern crossings in the world.”
The Blue Water
Water flowing out of Lake Huron and down the St. Clair River between the port cities of Sarnia and Port Huron carries a distinctive blue/turquoise color. From which the bridge between the two cities gets its name.
Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains. The blue in Lake Huron is sediment brought to the surface when strong winds churn the lake. … The winds stir the water, pulling quartz sand and silt from the lake bottom to the surface.
At the riverfront park, you can stand next to the fast-flowing water, watch the vehicle traffic going over the bridge and the boat traffic passing underneath. Waves crash on the seawalls and seagulls perch on the handrails along the walkway.
The International Flag Plaza hosts both the American and Canadian flags. Stroll between the monuments on the grounds and check out the waterside views.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Just north of the mouth of the river is the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the first lighthouse installed on Lake Huron. Originally built in 1825, it is Michigan’s oldest surviving lighthouse.
Behind the lighthouse is a small beach with access to the lake where you can dip your toes in the water. Depending on the time of the year, temperatures vary between freezing and 70° F.
If you time your visit right, you might catch a shipping vessel passing the lighthouse and under the bridge heading downriver to Detroit. FleetMon offers a ship tracking application, see their website for details.
The entire area is accessible by car with available parking offering good views of the bridge and river, no need to exit your vehicle. Crowds are generally slim and it is easy to avoid interpersonal contact if you choose to get out and walk around the park.
Spending a day out an about is a sure cure for the shut-in blues. Be safe and enjoy the day-trip experience.