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Log of the family ship Boyd's Buick
August 22, 1990On it's long and pleasant voyage to the upper parts of the lower 48 - Northern Michigan, excluding most of the Upper Peninsula.
Day 1, Wednesday, August 15:
We left about 9:50 ahead of schedule and were proud of it.
Got to Detroit and promptly headed across the river via the tunnel ("the kids like tunnels" we agreed). It was very cloudy and threatened rain the whole time we were in Windsor. We didn't have anything planned to do, so we immediately stopped at the Visitor's Center and received a very sketchy map and very vague description of several local attractions.
We headed for a park on the river bank, and the kids started into a full scale war. The interdictive action taken by the parents resulted in retaliation by the son on the father and a skirmish erupted that father promptly quelled, with son pouting in the back seat while the rest stopped at the park and looked across the river at the motor city sky line. Son didn't miss much.
We did pass the Hiram Walker allied vintners and decided that it would be interesting to see (at least from the outside, the children were in no mood for a museum tour) the Hiram Walker mansion that was near by.
Now remember that the map was sketchy. We spent far more time than it was worth looking for the mansion, although we were quite impressed (even son was beginning to get over the pout) with the magnificence of the place once we found it. Being placed in an otherwise just nice residential neighborhood added to the impressiveness of the place.
Next we headed for another river bank park which was advertised in the literature to have an old steam locomotive on display. The locomotive had some historical significance to Windsor which escapes me now. But dad likes steam machines (always has) and unilaterally decided this was the best attraction available, plus it was near the Ambassador Bridge that would take us back state-side.
The Park was nice, although I was disappointed that the loco was enclosed in a 12 foot chainlink fence. On display? Yes. Available to climb on? No. Disappointment.
We did get to see a large ore freighter heading up the river at a good clip, and may have even gotten a picture. We also saw a railroad barge tied up for loading or unloading and learned how rail cars can be ferried across water.
Once back across the river, the quest for lodging was on. We headed across Michigan Highway which goes through Dearborn, the home of Greenfield Village. Mother had a motel all picked out which we soon found out had no vacancy like most others in Dearborn. After many stops and left turns in very heavy traffic, we did find a seemingly nice place with a pool and a very reasonable rate.
Dad heads for Kentucky Fried Chicken while the corps heads for the pool. Dinner goes well in the motel room. During showers, we notice severe banging in or on the wall next to our room. Also, the toilet is plugged up. We make a call to the desk, they check out the noise, find no indication, and offer us a new room which we accept. Before we can get moved, the kids are in bed and asleep, the noise has stopped, and the toilet is running slowly. We decide the noise is from hot water running for our own showers and decide to stay put, making the management's day.
None, only looking forward to Greenfield village. Well, I am impressed with the money that the Hiram Walker family had. Got it through entrepreneurship.
Day 2 - Thursday August 15.
Greenfield village. The long awaited visit that would excite the kids and their mother about machines, science, and Americana. As we park in the parking lot I discover that no one but me is real excited about going. I console myself that they will be as we experience it. Foreboding: Alex is cranky.
The cost at like Twenty some dollars seems high, but I'm sure that it will be worth it.
As we begin our tour, John is not in the least interested and Alex is in a terrible mood. His mother is faced with managing him. I am able to get Laura to act interested in a steam driven grist mill. Small skirmishes occur about what to see next and how soon to get a snack. Of course the troops lobby strongly for the snack. We see the Wright's bicycle shop (John is interested in the fact that the Wrights ran a bicycle shop), Henry Ford's first factory, Henry's garage/lab where he built his first car, Henry and Edsle's machine shop, a millinery shop, and Henry's boyhood home. The animals there were some relief for the kids.
Finally, in the midst of Edison's Menlo Park lab, a compromise is struck. Dad will go ahead and scope out the remainder of the park while the troops head for lemonade. I enjoy many different displays and finally meet up with the core of the unit who is much refreshed and ready to see a few more sights. It seems to have been a very successful compromise.
We walk past many different buildings, Laura being interested in several allows Dad to take on a quick tour of them. We eventually spend 15 or 20 minutes on the village square playing old fashioned games.
As we move on, Dad again gets Laura to act interested in the Detroit Electric Light Co.'s generating plant, (which Dad has a much better appreciation for than when he was a boy). Mom and the troops head for the gift shop, and Dad walks through one last huge machine shop.
At the gift shop, I relieve Mom of the Alex watch and take Alex out to see the steam train pull into the station, empty the clinker box, and oil the engine, and pull out. Both Alex and I enjoy this sight.
At last we are on our way to Frankenmuth, and invent the "short" lunch by stopping at a fruit stand.
We arrive at Bronners, do the tour, and look for dinner. Deciding that the Frankenmuth way to do dinner is a chicken dinner at Bavarian Inn. Family style chicken dinners are the specialty, the kids decide they want shrimp. This costs us extra and they don't get ice cream with theirs. Not a big deal, but just one more aggravation on top of all the others.
Finally we arrive at TriTerrace Motel with a pool. This is well north of Bay City which was our evening-fall goal so we are pleased to have made this distance. And, being able to crash at a motel is a welcome relief. I let Alex set on my lap in the driver's seat while we wait for Mom to register us at the motel. When she comes back to the car and gets in, I let Alex "drive" around to the room. When the car comes up to stop at the room the driver's door flys open and I grab it and exclaim, "Well who opened that door?!" Alex replies, "Ahyex did." We all break into uproriuos laughter.
There's a pool there, so Dad does Alex's shower while the rest go swimming. When Alex is asleep, Dad goes out swimming with John, and Mom and Laura come in for Laura's shower.
We strike new sleeping arrangements that are the beginning of a revelation for Dad. They are for Dad and John to sleep together, Mom and Laura to sleep together, and Alex can have his own cot. It turns out that sleeping with John is more like wrestling. He thrashes, he steals covers, he flails his arms (elbowed me in the forehead once, narrowly missing my eye). None of this is intentional, but rest robbing and dangerous just the same.
Day 3, Friday
Our travel planner or AAA book told us (or at least Mom) about the Call of the Wild Museum, and family fun park in Gaylord that included a go-cart track, krazy car ride and kiddy car ride. The museum was not of interest but Mom wanted the kids to ride the go-cart and/or krazy car. I was against it reasoning that vacations are for doing things that you could not otherwise do at home - taking in the attractions in other words. But Mom says its ok to have fun on vacation too, so we stopped for the rides. Well, they were a big success. John had fun and now Mom wants him to some day have a go cart.
The only problem with the stop was that there was a miniature golf course there that John, Laura and Mom wanted to play, but Alex and Dad weren't too interested in. We decided to postpone playing until we got to Traverse City were Dad and Alex could find something else to do.
Back on the road, and we were soon in Mackinaw City. We decided that we would not go to Mackinac Island, or tour Fort Michilimackinac, but we would tour the Welcome, a 18th century British Naval vessel. We drove around the coast in town looking for where the ship was docked with no success. We stopped at the fort's ticket office and learned that the Welcome was in drydock because it had been damaged the year before.
So, the only thing left to do was have lunch at McD's. That out of the way, we headed across the bridge to Sault Ste. Marie.
At the "Soo", we took the lock tour. We saw several large freighters going through the locks, and a Coast Guard Cutter.
After the lock tour, we crossed the "International Highway Bridge" (real creative name huh?) to Sault Ste. Marie Canada. We had dinner at a pizza/Italian place and Connie and I both asked about the Thursday special. The waitress informed us that it was only available on Thursday, and "this is Friday". We felt good that we had lost track of the days.
We found lodging at the LaFrance Motel which had a pool and the room had a second bedroom which was nice for putting Alex to bed. The motel was pretty old. I would guess circa 1950 or perhaps earlier, although it had been maintained very well. There was no air conditioning or telephone. The air conditioning wasn't needed and probably seldom is in Sault Ste. Marie, but the phone would have been nice. We enjoyed our stay and inadvertently left Alex's stuffed doggie. A call from Traverse city got it headed back home.
Mother is very susceptible to John having a go cart or dirt bike. Now I am struggling with the idea.
Day 4, Saturday
Our first adventure for the day would be a tour of the Valley Camp, a vintage 1917 freighter (begun construction in 1917 and taken out of service in 1967). On the way to the ship, it began to rain. And it rained, and it rained and it rained. This would be the forecast for the remainder of the vacation.
The Valley Camp was coal fired, and driven by a reciprocating steam engine. We did get to walk by the engine, although we didn't get to see the firing front of the boilers. The boilers were converted to powered stoking around 1940. The steering was steam servo driven and we got a close look at that.
In the valley camp, they have three very large aquariums with lake fish (trout, bass etc.) This was the main attraction for John. They had just dumped a bunch of live small minnows in the tanks for feeding, and spilled some down through the deck that the aquariums were on down to the bottom of the vessel. When we toured that lower level, John found these minnows in a small puddle on the floor of the ship. He wanted, and even cried to take them home.
Once through the Valley Camp (our clothes were damp and our shoes were soaked. We dried shoes and socks all day under the car heater) we set off to Traverse City. We took a route down the coast that would have been a very scenic trip were it not for the fog. We couldn't see the water from the Mackinaw Bridge, and we couldn't see Traverse Bay even when the road was right at the beach's edge.
In Traverse City, we immediately set about trying to find a motel. For a while, it seemed as if everything was booked up. There are a large number of large hotels and motels, but everything was booked up. One wasn't but the rooms available wouldn't accommodate 5 people. Eventually we did find a nice motel at a reasonable rate. Mom, John, and Laura went for a quick swim - quick because the water was so blasted cold, and Alex and Dad crashed.
Then we all watched a movie while Mom went to a mall. When she returned and the movie was over, we went to dinner.
After dinner, back at the motel, we got ready for bed and then watched "Indiana Jones: The Last Campaign". We enjoyed this.
Love to see this steam engine in operation. The ship is very old - started in 1917. Extreme segregation between officers and crew dinning facilities. John is very interested in fish.
Don't understand what the attraction is for Traverse City. Doesn't seem to be all that much there, yet there were a lot of folks there for the weekend.
We enjoyed watching the movies as much as anything. I guess just finding something the whole family enjoys is the key to having a good time as a family (profound huh?)
Day 5, Sunday
We went to breakfast and were impressed at how few people there were there. If so many people are spending the weekend in Traverse City, where are they all eating?
Headed over to the Sleeping Bear Dune park. Again, rain. But it did let up long enough for me and John and Laura to take a short hike on one the trails in the dunes, and then drive over to the "Dune Climb", and the whole family climb up a huge dune. Dad got to carry Alex most of the way. He wasn't interested in being carried or in walking. He just wanted his mamma to hold him. But, Dad got to while he cried and screamed for Mamma.
After the Dune climb, we started looking for food, and heading for the life saving station museum at Glen Haven? Surprisingly, there were no food facilities (admittedly it was a very small community, but they seemed to be missing a good opportunity with all the traffic to the life saving museum. Perhaps there were legal implications to being in the National Park.
The life saving museum was very interesting and gave me and Laura a good understanding of why they existed, how they operated, and why they went out of existence. What are the reasons you ask? They came into being about the turn of the century because of the increasing shipping traffic on the great lakes and the increasing loss of life due to ship wrecks. The ships often sailed close to land for navigational reasons and so when the weather came up, they were often disabled relatively close to land where the life saving stations could be of assistance. The ships were reliant on the life saving stations being able to visibly spot the failing ship, and either fire a line to the ship or row out to the ship.
As ships improved, and the ships' size increased and their numbers decreased, the frequency of trouble decreased. Also, as navigation improved, ships stayed out away from land making the land based life saving stations less effective. Then, with the increase of coast guard ships on the great lakes and the improvement of air craft, the ability to rescue ships and crews in deep water was improved. So, numerous reasons led to the inactivation of the life saving stations around 1940. It would seem, based on the timing, that the war played a part in this, however I'm not clear on how.
We didn't want to go inside to a nice restaurant, because of Alex's condition, and the weather was so disagreeable that we ate lunch in the car from a little dairy stand.
Back at the hotel, Dad and Alex crashed, while John, Laura and Mom went to play miniature golf, and visit the local native animals zoo. This turned out to be a big hit.
After dinner, we went for a ride out the bay peninsula to the light house at the tip. We all enjoyed this.
The kids had a great time playing miniature golf, and John learned a lot and really enjoyed the zoo. He is really interested in wildlife.
We enjoyed the dunes because they were unusual and we got to get out and walk.
I enjoyed the life saving museum because it was the actual place, facility and equipment, not reproductions, and explained how they came into existence, what they did, and why they went out of existence.
Day 6, Monday
We decided not to go to Manitou Island because of the cost, and because it would be mostly walking in sand. If Alex weren't along that would not be so bad, but it would be a real task to carry him everywhere.
We got up, had breakfast, and went to the Music Box, a museum of music automation. Dad enjoyed it, the rest weren't too interested at first although it got better as time went on and we were all in relatively good spirits by the time we left.
Next we headed South for Mac's Dune Rides in Mears. Stopped at McD's for a milkshake so that Alex could get his nap. It was about a two hour drive to Mears and Mac's. The dune rides turned out to be a good time, and a good contrast to what we experienced walking on the dunes at Sleeping Bear.
After the dunes, we went to Muskegon and found a motel for the night. After dinner, now becoming a standard, Alex and Dad stayed in the room and got ready for bed while the rest went to the indoor heated pool!
Even though we were more tired than ever, and the sights were really less interesting, we seemed to be getting into a groove that allowed us to be fairly happy with whatever came our way.
Day 7, Tuesday, August 21
The dawning of this day saw me with a new perspective on John's sleeping habits. During the night, he had repeatedly pulled the covers off of me and I had pulled them back. At the last occurance of this John got mad, and sat up in bed and said, "I know, I'm going to sleep at this end of the bed," and laid down with his head at the foot of the bed. I told him to turn around as I wasn't about to sleep with his feet in my face. Having his feet near my face could be very dangerous the way he thrashes at night. When I told him to turn around, he got out of bed and went to the cot that Alex was sleeping on and was next to our bed. As he climbed into the cot, he said, "I'm shoving you out Laura." I grabbed Alex and put him in bed with me and told John to lay down there and be quiet, relieved that I would have someone at least smaller if not more docile to sleep with.
I lay there that night infuriated thinking of how I would punish John in order to teach him to have respect for other people. I decided I would lecture him and then punish him heavily for all the comotion he caused. As I awoke in the morning John got up and went to the bathroom. When he came out, he came back to my bed and seeing Alex there asked ernestly, "Oh, where do I sleep?" I said sternly, "Over there," pointing to the cot.
Connie was awake and I asked her if she had taken in all the comotion during the night. She said no, so I filled her in on what went on and on my intentions for John's punishment. She said she doubted that he was awake and aware of what he was doing.
When John awoke again, I asked him if he knew why he was sleeping in the cot and he said, "Because you told me to." I asked him if he remebered flipping around in the bed and he said, "No." I was realizing that he wasn't awake during the comotion. I swallowed frustration as I realized I wasn't going to be able to punish him and get any retaliation for his annoying me so. Once that was over, morning began.
Breakfast in the hotel. This is the way Laura likes to do it. I'm not sure of the reason but that's what she likes. I guess I have to admit it is more convenient.
We packed up and headed for Holland to see the wooden shoe delft factory, and possibly the Dutch island. It rained the whole way there, letting up slightly for us to go into the wooden shoe and delft factory. These turned out to be a large gift shop with windows looking into where people were working on this pottery and wooden shoe crafts. They were on a very small scale. Only slightly in a production mode - nearly still a craft mode.
Next to the Dutch island in Holland. There we saw some wooden shoe dancers, a scale model of a Dutch village including many canals running through the town. Alex was in a really foul mood when we arrived so Dad took him in the stroller and walked around while Mom, Laura, and John went through the Post building. Fortunately the rain had stopped so that Dad and Alex could be outside and not disrupting everyone else's time.
We eventually met over at the windmill, an authentic one that was moved to Holland in 1967. The last one to be removed from the Netherlands because laws were passed forbidding their removal.
We got a tour of the whole thing from bottom to top and everyone behaved on the tour. John even seemed mildly interested.
Next we meandered over to the old carousel for a few laps on it. It was an old hand made job brought over from the Netherlands. I was about 60 years old and really pretty crudely made. The kids had a good time riding it though. Right next at the carousel, there were some farm animals on display; chickens, goats, a lamb. The kids liked seeing them, and then a quick walk-through of a little but well filled and maintained greenhouse, and we were on our way home.