August 22, 2016


“I’m at the age where I’ve got to prove that I’m just as good as I never was.”  Rex Harrison

Carol writes:  At Cheboygan we had reached the northern most point in our travels this year.  As luck would have it, our dear friends from Colorado Springs, Bob and Corrie, were in Michigan for a family event.  They gave us a call and we arranged to meet up in Cheboygan.  Lots of fun catching up! 

Hats off to Corrie for meeting up with us on the road twice this summer!


Al had discovered a nice little golf course campground in Hillman, Michigan, not far from the city of Alpena on the coast of Lake Huron where we had plans to explore some of the old shipwrecks that have been remarkably  preserved in the cold waters of Lake Huron. 

We took a glass-bottom boat tour out into the waters of Thunder Bay at NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  It was interesting to view shipwrecks, both from the top deck

and also through six glass-bottom portholes on the lower deck.

The Great Lakes became one of the world’s busiest waterways for the better part of the 20th century; an unfortunate result was a century of shipwrecks, each with a sad story to tell that became an important part of our marine heritage.


Our next stop on the shore of Lake Huron was at Sterling State Park, just outside of Monroe, Michigan.  I had been looking forward to this visit for the better part of the past year because Monroe was where I would have two full weeks to visit with my brother and his wife in nearby Toledo.  We decide to make it a day together and see a bit of Detroit, Michigan’s largest city.

As the new millennium began, Detroit began to experience unprecedented job losses, mainly in the once-booming automotive industry.  As a terrible recession gripped much of our country, racial conflict and rapid demographic changes only added to Detroit’s misery.  In recent years, however, with the rescue of the automobile industry, the city has embarked on an ever-so-slow revitalization.  We found the river walk area along the Detroit River, dominated by the seven interconnected skyscrapers of the Renaissance Center, to be quite beautiful, 

and my brother an excellent tour guide.

The shot from inside the General Motors tower looking across the Detroit River into Windsor, Canada, was irresistible.

The four of us took turns getting arty shots beneath the soaring towers of the Renaissance Center, the world headquarters of General Motors.

From its point of dominance at the Renaissance Center, there is no doubt that Detroit remains America’s Motor City!

For more great views of downtown Detroit, we took the nearly 3-mile automated single-track Detroit People Mover.  We liked it so much we stayed on for two loops around the city. 

By then, we had worked out the framing for the humorous photo of the day.

As longtime Colorado Avalanche hockey fans, it was a little painful riding by the home of the Detroit Red Wings, although I have to admit Detroit has every reason to be proud of one of the greatest who ever played the game.

I think the city fathers made a wise decision when Greektown Casino was included as one of the stops along the People Mover.  I admit we all ended up making a small contribution to the local economy, but we sure had lots of fun encouraging each other at the penny slots.

There is probably no other minor league sports team that has endeared itself with the American public more than the Toledo Mud Hens, one of the most iconic of all the minor league teams, thanks to numerous references to this team by lovable Max Klinger on the TV series “MASH.”  Both Al and I have always wanted to go to a Mud Hens game, and now we had our chance with two of our favorite people.

The small-town ballpark atmosphere was cozy and comfortable, with the backdrop of a lovely Toledo skyline on this late summer evening in August.

Internet Photo
The Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant is king among Toledo industries.  Toledo is where Jeeps have been assembled since the 1940s.  Our tow vehicle is a Jeep Cherokee and so we felt right at home on the construction-crazy streets of Toledo.  When I say construction, I mean rampant street repair of every type—including major interstate traffic realignments everywhere—making the streets a driving nightmare!  We frequently found ourselves putting on our signal to be let in.  Surprisingly, we were often shown mercy by the locals… which we had noticed were not exactly conservative drivers.  Could it be that some of that mercy was shown to us because we were driving a Jeep?

In southeastern Michigan, one of the most highly recommended tourist destinations is “The Henry Ford Museum” in Dearborn.  We had been warned to allow a very long day to see everything in this world-class museum plus adjacent Greenfield Village.

The wow factor of the museum got into high gear right out of the starting gate with a fascinating display of presidential cars…

the Reagan car,

the car that President Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated,

and the Eisenhower car.

There was a remarkable collection of some of the first cars ever invented,  

in addition to some rare and exotic models like the 1931 Duesenberg,

and some spectacular failures like the Edsel, named after Henry Ford’s only son.

This museum clearly illustrated that Henry Ford was a colossal collector.  There were two exhibits that especially caught my eye: 

the rocking chair that Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was assassinated

and the actual “Rosa Parks bus” where she refused to give up her seat.  The Rosa Parks exhibit actually gave me goosebumps when I went inside to reflect for a few minutes.

Some exhibits speak all by themselves, with no words needed…

The giant Henry Ford Museum had interesting exhibits at every turn, such as…

George Washington’s folding camp bed,

and the futuristic 1946 Dymaxion House that never caught on.

By now we had spent half a day in the museum, and we needed to speed it up for the rest of the afternoon so that we would have enough time for a walk through Greenfield Village, the outdoor part of the museum where you can visit actual historic structures and buildings that were acquired by Henry Ford and moved to their present location.  There was

Henry Ford’s boyhood home and

most fascinating of all, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory with Edison’s chair sitting hauntingly in the aisle where he last sat in it.

It required 5 miles of walking and took us till closing to experience the best that The Henry Ford Museum had to offer.  Even so, I could return for another full day’s visit and be fascinated all over again by all that I had missed.

We were well into our 2-week stay in Monroe when we fully realized the importance of a very historic battlefield within biking distance from our campground.

We found an exquisite colony of American lotus flowers along the River Raisin Heritage Trail in the shallow waters bordering the Detroit Edison Power Plant.

River Raisin National Battlefield Park 
preserves and commemorates two pivotal battles in the War of 1812.  In short, based on the outcome of the battles at this Frenchtown site, the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have remained a part of our country and did not become part of Canada.

Whew!  This completes the fifth blog about our busy summer in Michigan.  I could think of no better finale than spending quality time with family, but now it was time to head on down to my childhood home in Mt. Healthy, Ohio, where I looked forward to reconnecting with dear friends at my 50th high school reunion.

“Words are easy, like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find.”  William Shakespeare

1 comment:

  1. Henry Ford Museum looked fascinating. Who knew there were all those other exhibits to see?