Friday, July 25, 2014

Mackinac Island, MI July 23, 2014

Today we were off to visit and ride the perimeter of Mackinac Island on our bikes. We boarded the ferry with our bikes at 9 am for our adventure that we were assured would be an adventure back into time. Mackinac, while spelled 'ac' is pronounced 'aw'.

Eleven thousand years ago, aboriginal natives saw this island with its high bluffs, thought it looked like a large reptile and called it mis-la-mack-in-naw, which meant Big Turtle. They traveled to fish on the island and buried their dead in the island's caves.  The white man first saw the island in 1634 and by 1671 Jesuit Jacques Marquette was preaching to the Indians, and fur trading quickly followed.  The British acquired the island by treaty after the French and Indian war.  By 1780, the British had erected Fort Mackinac.  Following the American Revolution, the Americans obtained the fort by treaty in 1796.  Problems with the British sparked the war of 1812, which was fought in three theaters, one being Fort Mackinac.  The British came by surprise to the north end of Mackinac Island and forced the Americans to surrender Fort Mackinac in the first engagement of that conflict.  In 1814, the Americans attempted unsuccessfully to regain control of Fort Mackinac.  Then, through treaty once again (following the war of 1812), America would occupy, for the last time, Fort Mackinac in July of 1815.  Fort Mackinac would remain an active American Fort until 1875, when it was designated as Americas second National Park.  Congress closed the fort and this National park in 1895 and turn it over to the state of Michigan.  Michigan then created their first state park originating from this fort.  Mackinac State Park today, encompasses 74 % of the total area of Mackinac Island.  Mackinac has a large tourist industry and less than 500 year round residents.

On our trip over to the Island we were treated to a trip under the Mackinac Bridge.  The suspension portion of this bridge, spanning 8614 feet , is the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world.  The entire bridge is 26,372 feet.  The deck of this bridge can sway as much as 35 feet (in the middle) in high winds which is why the deck is built from steel grates in order to allow wind passage, relieving some of the wind induced sway.  Traveling over this deck with our fifth wheel (looking down through the grates) was a little ominous.  Traveling under the deck, on the ferry to the island, was not near as bad.

One of the most unique things about Mackinac island is that no motor vehicles are allowed.  People are shuffled about the island via horse drawn carriages or they either walk or ride a bicycle.  There are horse drawn carriages everywhere, some with people, some with luggage, others with island supplies.  In town, there is actually a lot of traffic, even if it is horse drawn traffic.

The island is also home to the Grand hotel.  The Grand Hotel which opened in 1887, has a rich history, including being the movie set for the movie 'Somewhere in Time', and being a vacation spot for various US presidents as well as other well know people though out the years.  More on the hotel's rich history can be found at: The Grand Hotel

Round Island Light house, seen from the island, began operation in 1896.  She stayed in operation until shortly after Round Island Passage lighthouse was brought into operation in 1948. 

As one walks around Mackinac island, there is a certain charm to all of the horse drawn carriages attending to the hustle and bustle of daily town life.  We made our way through the carriage filled town, stopping first at Fort Mackinac.  Fort Mackinac was like no other fort that we have visited to date.  This fort had its own small city.  There was a small school building, an infirmary building, a bar/club as well as the normal barracks, commissary and officer quarters.  While there we saw the rifle demonstration, with the firing of original Springfield Model 1873 rifles.

Next we were on our bikes to do the 8 mile trip around the island.  It was a beautiful day with beautiful views of the waters as we rode along the coastline.  We got to the bottom of Arch rock  and climbed the stairs (15 stories up) to the top of the Arch.  When reaching the top, how sweet it was to see, the marriage proposal of someone.  Someone had made a very large heart in the lake waters with stone and had written, also using stones, Alex will you marry me.  Sweet, and it could only be discerned when at the top of the Arch.  As we continued our ride around the island we enjoyed seeing all the cairns (manmade stacks of stones).  While cairns are normally used for navigational purposes (to mark trails) here we are told that people who ride this trail stop not to build an entire cairn themselves, but to add one rock to an existing cairn to maintain the cairns as winds and storms erode them. 

After our ride around the island, we stopped to have a nice lunch in the old style town before boarding the ferry to return to the mainland.  Our visit to the island, especially with our bikes, made for a very lovely day.

On the mainland side we also visited 2 more light houses- Old Mackinac Point Old Mackinac Point LH and also Mc Gulpin Point Mc Gulpin LH lighthouses.

Approaching the Mackinac bridge by ship
The view from under the Mackinac bridge
The Grand Hotel
Round Island Lighthouse
View of Mackinac island taken from Fort Mackinac
Rifle Demonstration at Fort Mackinac
Fort Mackinac Barracks
Officer Stone Quarters
Arch Rock taken topside
Arch Rock taken bottom side
Shoreline view from bike ride
Shoreline Cairns
Old Mackinac Lighthouse
Mc Gulpin Point Lighthouse


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sault Ste Marie, MI July 22, 2014

Today we were off to see the Soo locks at Sault Ste Marie, MI.  We were on a bit of a tight schedule as our Tiger Boy is still not eating well and we needed to get back for a late afternoon vet appointment.

The Soo locks, sometimes spelled Sault Locks, are a set of parallel locks, along the St. Mary's river, that provide safe passage between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.  Water rapids fall 21 feet from Lake Superior to Lake Huron and without the locks, passage by large ships would not be possible.

The locks are owned and maintained by the US Army Corp of Engineers.   They provide free passage to over 10,000 ships annually from April - December.  Weather conditions prevent passage January - March.  The locks were first opened in 1855 and have undergone several expansions and renovations since.

The pictures within are of the MacArthur Lock.  This lock is 800 feet long and 80 feet wide.  We watched the Birchglen, from Canada, as she traveled into this lock and was then lowered 21 feet before continuing her journey through Lake Huron.  The Birchglen ship is 730 feet long and 75 feet wide.  There was not a whole lot of extra room to spare for her in the lock.  The lock journey begins with the lower lake gate closed and the upper lake gate open.  In this position the lock water level is that of the upper lake.  Once the ship is moved into position in the lock, the upper lock gate is closed and the ship is tied off.  Valves are then opened that allow 15 million gallons of water to flow out of the lock.  The ship lowers as the water level of the lock lowers until the ship has lowered the 21 feet (level of the lower lake).  All is done by gravity, no matter which direction a ship is traveling through the lock.  Simple yet still amazing to watch.  While all this takes place (minutes) a ship crew member quickly goes to shore to pick up laundry and the mail for all the crew.  Never having watched a lock system in action, we found this interesting and informative as too was the nearby information center.  From there we headed to Karl's cafĂ© for lunch.

We had  a great young man as a waiter, Charlie.  Bob jokingly said to Charlie, so the Charlie's Crab Cake Panini is your creation, right?  And young Charlie told us well yes, and then gave us a tour through their menu of each creation (by a family member) and what relation each one of those family members was to him.....Paula's spicy chicken, Lily's Caprese etc.  It really was sort of fun and Charlie was so nice.  Teri had here first pasty- a Michigan upper peninsula tradition- and enjoyed it.  A Pasty is sort of a pot pie, well, without the pot.  Charlie, our waiter, was nice to tell us we had pronounced it right and said only about 10 percent of the customers do.  For those interested, here is an interesting read on the history and legend concerning the pasty.Pasty

We made it back in time to get Tiger Boy to the vet.  We are giving him B-12 shots to try and stimulate his appetite.  He seems to feel well, he just is not eating much.  Today we are going to head out to get his old food as he is not found of this no grains, no fish stuff (Ohio vet prescribed) and the MI vet thinks that it is safe to put him back on his old food.  Keeping our fingers crossed as we so enjoy him sharing our travels with us.

The Canadian Birchglen enters the MacArthur Lock
Note the Birchglen's deck height compared to the dock height
The Birchglen is in position and the gates (left, center are closing)
The water has flowed out of the lock
and the Birchglen is now 21 feet lower
than when she entered the lock (note
that her deck is now below the dock height).
The Birchglen begins to leave the Lock into
Lake Huron (21 feet below Lake Superior).
The lock is empty now.  The lock would be ready to receive
a ship coming from Lake Huron, however, it appears
that the next ship is coming from Lake Superior as water
is being allowed to flow back into the lock, to bring
the water level back up to the Lake Superior water level.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Port Huron, MI July 19, 2014

We were off for a day trip to Port Huron.  Port Huron, is the County seat of St. Clair, MI county.  The city lies at the southern end of Lake Huron and is the most eastern point of land in Michigan.  Across the shores one sees Point Edward, Ontario, Canada.

Our first stop was to see the Knowlton Ice Museum.  Mickey (Norman) Knowlton with his wife spent over 40 years traveling the nation, collecting just about anything you can imagine from the Ice industry. The ice harvest industry flourished from the early 1800's-early 1900's.  The museum had a wonderful video with real footage from the early 1900's when ice was harvested from great lakes and packed in sawdust and shipped by rail and by boat as far as India.  Sort of an amazing feat when you watch and think about it.  We met the granddaughter of Mickey (Mickey sadly had died, at age 95, one week earlier).  She had so many stories to tell of her grandfather, his life and his passions.  It was a heartfelt and informative visit.  This museum, which started out as a hobby for Mickey, is one of the largest collections of ice tools and implements in the country.  A short history of the museum can be read here:Knowlton Ice Museum

While in Port Huron, we also went to see Fort Gratiot Lighthouse which was constructed in 1829.  It was the first lighthouse in the state of Michigan.  The lighthouse is still active and it is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the state of Michigan.

Our new cuisine enjoyment in Port Huron was fried dill pickles with maple syrup.  We were surprised by the interesting taste the maple syrup provided and would have them again.

Ice Box
Various Ice Tools
Cost of ice
Grocery store ice box
Ice plows for harvesting
Ice cube maker
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dearborn, Michigan July 17, 2014

Estate matters (our part) have been completed and we are back on the road again on our grand adventures.  And how very good that feels.

While we are camping in St. Clair, MI, we drove to Dearborn, MI for the day.  So much to see that we had to choose.  We choose the Ford F-150 assembly plant and the Henry Ford museum.  Both were great.  The engineer in us (the two of us) so loved to see the assembly plant.  Not to mention we drive a Ford truck, though a F-250 Diesel.

The assembly plant was amazing (sorry no pics allowed of the assembly area).  There is a truck that goes out the door every 60 seconds throughout each 10 hour shift equating to 1200 trucks/day.  Each truck travels on a 'skillet'.  This skillet, travels down the line, and the skillets are matched back to back after the windshield installation, to allow workers to walk around the vehicle as it progresses.  Each skillet also has the ability to lift the truck body at the appropriate work height for the worker.  Our favorite station was probably the laser guided robotic windshield installer (60 sec. like all other stations).  The assembly line worked like clock work and was an amazing thing to watch.  While we are sorry there are no pictures of this, it really is an amazing tour.  There were a few Ford Automobiles on display at the Ford F-150 plant.  We were allowed to snap a few pictures of these. Ford Model T 1931 -  60 MPH and $630 to purchase.    Next was the 1932 Ford V-8 Victoria, 1932.  And then there was the Ford 1965 Mustang...for sure an American classic.

Next up was the Henry Ford Museum.  This museum was originally know as the Edison Institute and was established in 1929.  This museum is a real gem and we were pleasantly surprised with all it had to offer. 

We began our museum venture in the automobile area.  There were so many vehicles, and we picked a few to share.

The 1899 Duryea Trap.  The driver used  a control stick to shift. accelerate and steer.  Unfortunately the passengers sat back to back, making conversation difficult.

The Steven Duryea model U 1908 was quick and responsive with its 35 horse power engine.

The 1906 Rapid Bus was the ancestor to the airport shuttle.  It shuttled passengers between railroads and hotels and was rapid for the day, traveling up to 15 MPH.

'On the Road' with Charles Kuralt was a show that went on America's back roads, covering the stories of people across the US.  The show ran an impressive 27 years and went through a total of six motorhomes.  One of the six motorhomes, 1975 FMC Motorhome is on display at this museum.

Fred Duesenberg set out to build an automobile masterpiece.  The Duesenbergs had an impressive 265 HP that could push this car to speeds of 118 MPH.  Only 481 total Model J's were ever built and no two were alike.  Each coach was built by independent coachbuilders, crafted to each individual buyer's specifications.

The 1937 Cord 812 was the first front wheel drive production car in the United States.  Although front wheel drive production cars became popular in many other countries, it would be1966 with the introduction of the Oldsmobile Toronado before Americans would build a production front wheel drive car again.

While the Duesenburg was rare, the 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale in this museum is one of only six Royales ever built.  They are valued at over 20 million each and seeing one up close is a real treat.

The 1962 Mustang I Roadster was a concept car.  While it shared few design lines of the ultimate production vehicle, the Mustang name was retained.  Personally, I prefer the lines of this concept car.

After many revisions to the 1949 Volkswagen Transporter, offered in Germany, the Volkswagen Westfalia was introduced in the United States in 1959.  This compact 'camping box' would have a great production run through 2003.

Several Past Presidential vehicles are on display at this museum.  We included pictures of the President Kennedy 1961 Lincoln that he was assassinated in and also the 1950 Lincoln used by President Eisenhower.

Next up we had the opportunity to sit in the actual seat, on the actual bus where Rosa Park's changed the world on December 1, 1955.  Park's act of defiance, not willing to give up her seat, after a stop picked up another white passenger, set off a huge bus boycott and was a major milestone in the Civil Rights movement.  The Montgomery Bus boycott lasted an impressive 13 months with huge financial and business impacts.

MC Donald's original Golden Arches....what's not to love?

The 1952 Oscar Mayer Weinermobile- Little Oscar piloted this vehicle visiting stores, orphanages and children's hospitals as well as participating in parades and festivals.  Today, there are several Weinermobiles modeled after this 1952 version.

Our last picture to share in this blog is the actual chair that President Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot in the Ford's Theater, Washington D.C. on April 14, 1865.

The Ford Museum housed so much more, there were antique generators that took up whole roomfuls, furniture styles from various decades, a Dymaxion house to tour (worth looking at) Dymaxion House as well as air and water vehicles.  The list is too long to include all.  It was a long, fun day and a great historical experience.

1929 Ford Model A
 1932 Ford V-8 Victoria
1965 Ford Mustang
1899 Duyrea Trap
1908 Steven Duryea Model U
 1906 Rapid Bus
 1975 FMC Motor Coach From 'On the Road'
 1931 Duesenberg Model J
 1937 Cord 812
1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale
1962 Mustang I Roadster
1959 Volkswagen Westfalia
 President Kennedy Assassination Car  1961 Lincoln
President Eisenhower Car 1950 Lincoln
Rosa Parks Bus
McDonald's Hamburger Sign
 1952 Wienermobile
Chair Lincoln was sitting in when Assassinated


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cleveland, Ohio June14, 2014 - July 14, 2014

We are spending a month in Ohio helping with settling Bob's Dad's affairs.  We took a day off from this task and headed to downtown Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lies on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH.  Created in 1983, it covers the early influences of Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Folk and Country in the creation of Rock and Roll music.  There is very wide coverage in song selections (earphones throughout the museum) as well as memorabilia galore.

The museum is as much about the audio and the videos as it is about the memorabilia.  We have included a few pictures of the memorabilia to provide a flavor of this museum.

The Beatles flyer, wow, to see the Beatles for $3, would that not have been sweet.  John Lennon's actual St. Peppers Outfit was a treat to see as was several of his guitars. 

The Janis Joplin Porsche was in its time a common sight along the Beverly Hills streets.  Fans would often leave notes under the windshield wipers.

We included the beautiful Bass Guitar owned by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, mainly because it is just so beautiful.  It is a 1975 Alembic Series II Eight String Bass Guitar.

The Fender Stratocaster Neck with Custom Boogie Body owned by Joe Perry of Aerosmith we found interesting.  Even though Joe Perry plays right handed this guitar features a neck from a left handed guitar.  This gave the impression that the guitar was being played upside down.

Prior to joining the Doors Robby Krieger studied the Flamingo Guitar, and the Sarod and Sitar-two Indian Classical Instruments.   While this Sitar was owned by Robby Krieger of the Doors, the Sitar would be introduced to Rock and Roll by George Harrison- the Beatles and later followed by Brian Jones-The Rolling Stones.

Family affairs are progressing and we are planning to be back to our normal travels in mid-July.

Beatles Concert Flyer-Like those ticket prices!
 John Lennon St. Pepper's Outfit-1967
John Lennon Acoustic Guitar
Janis Joplin Porsche
1965 356c Cabriolet
1975 Alembic Series II Eight String Bass Guitar
Owned by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin
 Fender Stratocaster Neck with Custom Boogie Body
Owned by Joe Perry-Aerosmith
Sitar owned and played by Robby Krieger-the Doors.