Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Day 9 - Saturday June 18 2016

Weather: 68 degrees, sunny.  We packed up, ready to leave at 6:00 am.  We all got in the car except Gwen - it was 5:55 am and she thought David was coming back in for 3 remaining bags so she sat on bed and watched TV.  A few minutes later she came out, car was running and we all had our seatbelts on.  She finally came out and said "Were ya'll going to let me know it was time?"  It is good to start the morning with a chuckle.  I drove for the first hour and we stopped in Peru, Indiana at BP/McDonalds on US-31 for fuel and food.  Of course a bus full of kids also stopped there.  Van and humans full, we headed towards Indianapolis.  We soon passed by the old Grissom AFB (now a reserve base) in Bunker Hill/Peru.  Indiana is pretty flat with a lot of farms and agriculture - corn and wheat.  We made it through Indianapolis by 9:30 am and stopped at a Speedway for a bathroom break.  I felt pretty and used the Women's restroom (actually the Men's was Out of Order).  We changed drivers and picked up I-65 south towards Louisville. We stopped in Bowling Green for lunch at Cracker Barrel, filled up with gas.  David turned in wrong lot and had to go around to get to gas station (we nicknamed him Go-Round Coulson on this trip, especially because of the number of times he had to go-round Notre Dame to find the Basilica).  I found some signs along the way - who knew there was a Shelbyville and Franklin in Indiana and I thought Kokomo was in the Keys.  I also took a pic of a support structure for a simple overpass - never saw one of those either.  We got home around 3:00 pm, tired but blessed for a fun and safe trip.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 8 - Friday June 17 2016

Weather:  68 degrees, sunny.  We slept in, had breakfast, loaded up and started the treasure hunt (some lighthouses are like geo-caching - you really have to search).  We found 3 lighthouses in Muskegon (Muskegon South Pierhead and Breakwater lighthouses and a third with green/white stripes).  We lucked out and also saw the ferry coming in from Milwaukee to Muskegon and got a pic of one lighthouse and ferry).  Out next lighthouse was in Grand Haven (Pier Inner and Outer).  We found the lighthouses marking the inlet from Lake Michigan into Grand River.  It was a beautiful area with 2 red lighthouses.  We moved on and headed to Holland, MI, a city that is heavy with Dutch influence.  Debbie Buckley - US-31 had 2 of your favorite eateries side by side (Culvers and Jimmy Johns).  We were going too fast to get a pic for you.  We did some shopping on 8th Ave and Central Ave had lunch get at at Irish Pub (what happened to Dutch restaurants?) called The Curragh.  We left downtown and backtracked to DeKlomp wooden shoe factory and watched a demonstration of how the wooden shoes are made on lathes over 80 years old.  Next door was Veldheer's tulip farm - not any bulbs right now - spring is over.  They do get their bulbs from the Netherlands and Gwen and Patsy picked up a catalog for next year.  Full of knowledge about why Dutch wear wooden shoes, we headed south on US-31/I-196 toward South Bend, IN where we unpacked one more time after visiting Notre Dame campus and eating dinner.  A funny story from dinner: when we got out of the car at Olive Garden, we were laughing at how trashy David and Gwen's van had become - if anyone ever looked in they would think we were homeless and living out of the van.  We went in to eat.   David had a set of keys plus I had a set of keys in my back pocket.  Sometime during dinner (probably me) I moved in my chair and opened the rear hatch of the van.  What a surprise when we came out of Olive Garden and the van's rear hatch was wide open for the whole world to see how trashy inside the van was.  Luckily no one stole anything as iPads, cameras, luggage was all sitting there for the taking.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 7 - Thursday June 16 2016

Weather: 58 degrees Overcast.  I got a cart from downstairs and packed up the 700 lbs of luggage and rolled down to the lobby.  I did not know where David parked so I walked out in parking lot and found the van.  I drove it up to hotel lobby to load up.  David had already loaded some of his luggage and when he came out another door with the last piece of his luggage, he could not find the van.  A few minutes later he walked back to the lobby, thinking the van had been stolen or he was losing his mind.  You have to remember when David and Gwen say meet in lobby at 7:00 am that means with luggage loaded and ready to drive off.  We checked out of hotel at 7:00 am bypassing the mediocre free breakfast and headed South I-75 for 4 miles and then picked up Hwy 31 southwest towards Petoskey, MI.  In Petoskey we stopped and took a pic of the Pierhead lighthouse.  We stopped at 8:30 am for breakfast at the Flap Jack Family Restaurant in Charlevoix - what a beautiful little town Charlevoix is.  We headed to Traverse City to see more windmills (Traverse is the cherry capital of the US and along the way there were groves and groves of cherry trees with mom and pop stands selling cherry pies, fresh cherries and cherry concentrate).  In Traverse City we turned onto M-37 out onto a peninsula.  We followed M-37 for 18 miles to the Old Mission lighthouse.  The Old Mission lighthouse is on the 45th Parallel, exactly half way between North Pole and Equator.  As a side note, every square foot of the peninsula that was not a home or barn was covered with cherry trees, vineyards or wineries.  We have noticed many barns have a large painted emblem on the end.  These are called barn quilts and there are quilt barn trails you can follow to "complete your quilt".  Wonder if they have these in the south? We were also looking for Petoskey stones.   We made out way to Manistee, had lunch at the House of Flavors and the found the 2 lighthouses in Manistee.  The Breakwaters was under repair so could not see much.  We headed back on Hwy 31 and headed towards Mears, MI to see if we could get some dune buggies to ride the Sand Dunes at Silver Lake near Ludington.  We rented 2 dune buggies from Silver Lake Dune Buggies.  Running the dunes was a lot of fun.  I got stuck first try up a long hill, burying the back tires.  They taught us to get out of the buggy, dig out behind tires and push buggy backwards.  We got out but buggy rolled down hill with me running beside it steering.  It was not pretty, but we climbed in and were on our way.  David did the same thing, but Gwen got out and walked up the hill (see how lonely she looks on top of hill by herself).  A 4-wheel drive pickup came by and pulled David out.  We loaded up the buggies and checked them in.  Back in van we headed south on 31 to find White River lighthouse in Whitehall.  We arrived at the hotel in Tuskegon after 7:00 pm so ordered pizza, blogged and went to bed.  Tomorrow is a slower-paced day through Holland and down to South Bend IN.

Day 6 - Wednesday June 15 2016

Weather: 58 degrees with 90% chance of rain by noon.  We had breakfast at 7:30 am in hotel and left for Sault Ste. Marie, MI at 8:30 where we took a boat ride through the SooLocks.  The locks connect Lake Huron with Lake Superior.  Lake Huron is about 30 feet lower than Lake Superior so you use the locks to raise your boat to the Lake Superior elevation or lower your boat if you are going from Lake Superior to Lake Huron.  I tried to take several pictures to show the height of the boat as we were raised.   The tour took about 2.5 hours as it goes through the locks (both ways) under the bridge than connects United States and Canada.  After the tour we drove the 55 miles back to Mackinac City where it was raining.  Since we had our matching jackets from Mackinac Island we visited Mackinac Bridge museum and then went shopping nearby.  We headed back to hotel for a couple of hours before heading to dinner at Darrow's for some Great Lakes whitefish.  Tomorrow we turn south looking for lighthouses and quaint little towns along Lake Michigan.