“Kids, have I ever told you about the time when I ended up on the roof of the Wexford County Historical Society Museum?”
“Ughh…Yes….like a hundred ti-”
“So there I was in Cadillac, Michigan…..”
Friday, July 28 (cont.)
I bid a fond adieu to Beardmore and its fishing snowman. What a nice place.
I set a goal for getting to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the day. I was eager to have a working phone again.
I didn’t get much good media on the day, but I enjoyed my drive. The area on the north side of Lake Superior is really hilly. Fun roads with good scenery.
There was lots of construction in Wawa, ON so I blew by the gas stations there. About 20 miles later, I stopped in to a ranger’s station and asked about the next place for gas: 130 kilometers!
I had to turn around to keep from running dry. The mistake cost me about an hour and also forced me to drive the same scenic stretch three times. I’ll surely make worse mistakes. 🙂
Annie was doing great. During this stretch she posted her 7th consecutive tank above 60 miles/gallon. The new chain and sprockets have really helped her efficiency. (As well as being off of freeways for awhile.)
The sun was starting to sink when I crossed back into the US. The canal between Lake Superior and Lake Huron has a series of locks that can raise or lower ships (even those of huge size) which are passing between the two lakes. There is 21 ft. difference between the elevation of the two lakes, which makes the canal a necessity.
I pushed on through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and found a place to set up just off of the interstate right as darkness was falling. I always struggle with my timing when I’m heading east. Sunsets just seem to sneak up on me. 🙂
I haven’t posted a sign update in a bit, so hear you go. Map:
Saturday, July 29
A lot on the agenda today: Stopping in to see my grandma’s cousin, checking off Cadillac (Verse 3, Line 4) and being hosted by strangers (not for long) in Grand Rapids. Route:
First was the Mackinaw bridge, which connects Michigan’s Upper Penninsula to the mitten-shaped part of the state. What a great view of two Great Lakes (Huron to the left, Michigan to the right).
I wound along the Lake Michigan coast before arriving at my relatives house near Williamsburg, MI. I was greeted my my grandma’s cousin Pete and his wife, Evie. Stopping there was sort of a last minute decision, but I was glad I did.
We spent a few hours just chatting and had a nice lunch. For a grand finale, Pete made me a chocolate soda. Suddenly, I was transported back to the 50s. What a treat!
They are both wonderful and wonderfully interesting. I was glad that I stopped. They offered to let me stay with them, but I unfortunately had more to do this day….Next trip!
Bring on Cadillac!
I had a couple of disadvantages. First, I had done almost no research about this place. I had no idea what I was going to do. Second, it was a Saturday so many of the potential places to help guide me would be closed.
I rode into downtown and walked around a bit. Even the library was closed. I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew a picture of Cadillac Lake was necessary, so I looped around it and found a good spot.
I continued driving around until I happened to pass the museum. It was just after 5pm, but there was still a sign out saying that they were open.
As I entered a couple were leaving the museum, thanking the guide for staying a little late for them. Since they were closing up, I decided I would just ask about potential picture spots then be on my way.
But then I met Richard.
Richard appreciates a good story.
I told him what I was doing and that I was interested in learning a bit more about Cadillac. He guided me into an adjacent room with lots of historical pieces and began telling me the fascinating stories about Cadillac’s history: Aggressive business decisions, battles between towns, strategic re-namings, gerrymandering, ladies smearing lard on rail road tracks….This place has quite a history.
I’m still not sure whether it was really that interesting, or whether Richard was just a ridiculously good story teller. Probably a bit of both. I learned that Richard had planned an ambitious trip, similar in scope to mine, though his method of travel was going to be a bicycle. He had sponsors ranging from the Milwaukee newspaper to the Schlitz beer company. A series of life events led him to scrubbing his plans, but that sense of adventure was still visible in his eyes.
His phone rang as I was telling him about my background. He stealthily removed it from his pocket, flipped it open, said, “I’m talking to a Physicist. Be home soon.” and returned it to his pocket. He executed this procedure without breaking his attentive eye contact. 🙂
I told him my next stop was to go to an overlook to try to get a panorama of the city. Almost immediately, he asked if I wanted to go on the roof of the museum. How could I say no?
First, we needed a ladder. I followed him down into the depths of the museum where their 1916 Acme truck was parked. A promotional photo of this truck helped inspire the “Beverly Hillbillies” method of transportation.
We went back upstairs and Richard took the ladder into the bathroom.
He climbed up and removed one of the ceiling tiles and disappeared into the attic. Where was I going?
Looking back down:
There was one more built in ladder before we reached the summit and came out into daylight. We sat and chatted briefly and just admired the view. It was an awesome place. Fortunately, I had parked Annie on the west side of the museum, making this spot the perfect photo op.
Richard was so generous to give me so much of his time. What a neat experience to get to meet him. He even offered me a place to stay at his house (yes, a third option for the night). I couldn’t have planned it any better!
I had a few more pictures I wanted. First, with the Shay Locomotive.
This thing is awesome. It is a smaller, all wheel drive locomotive; designed specifically for navigating the hills and curves of logging country.
I pushed Annie on the sidewalk for a bit to get my sign picture.
What an awesome time in Cadillac. 14 places down, 78 to go! It was time to head south to Grand Rapids and meet my hosts: Dan and Kelly.
In Anchorage, AK I stayed with my cousin, Matthew, and met his wife, Megan, for the first time. These awesome people:
Megan is from Michigan and shared my story with her parents. They contacted me through this blog and offered me a place to stay between Cadillac and Kalamazoo. Have you seen me turn down much hospitality thus far?
When the courts determine the punishment for a crime, one of the major determining factors is premeditation. Was it a crime of passion, a momentary lapse in judgement; or was it something that was carefully considered and well thought out? It’s a good thing that hospitality is not a crime. If so, Dan and Kelly would easily be convicted of premeditated hospitality, with intent to pamper. A serious charge! 🙂
Upon reaching their farm place west of town. I was overwhelmed with generosity before I even dropped my bags.
In my bedroom:
In my bathroom:
To take on the road:
I was nearly moved to tears. I almost felt like a celebrity (“almost” because Kelly had neglected to pick out all of the green M&M’s from the trail mix. I left very clear instructions….) 🙂
Maybe they forgot they were hosting a Nebraskan, as they made the audacious decision to feed me steak and sweet corn for supper. If these items were not top quality, a Nebraskan would know! 🙂 It was an awesome meal. The sweet corn was picked just a couple of hours earlier from their own field. There are few things better than that first bite of sweet corn in late summer.
Though we were strangers, it was really easy to get to know them. By the end of our first evening together, they already felt like family.
While I was focused I gettin’ The Mitten, The Mitten was busy givin’. How I could I have so many wonderful experiences and so much good food in such a short time? Sometimes being back in civilization isn’t all bad. 🙂