Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Northern Michigan

Norhtern Michigan

They played our song and H’s travel lust could not resist! “On The Road Again, Going Places That We’ve Never Been”! There are still a few places in Michigan that we have not been and this trip we chalked off a few more. “Making Music With Our Friends”! (R&N are family but good friends too!) Thursday, May 10th, the condo was loaded, the truck’s gas tank was full and the new big screen Magellan GPS was mounted to the dash with the Gilmore Car Museum in tiny Hickory Corners, as our first destination for the coming week of adventure. Hickory Corners, NE of Kalamazoo, may be just a pinprick on the Michigan map but the car museum scored a big bulls eye for our memories! Their brochure said that nestled on 90 landscaped acres were a 1930’s Shell Gas Station, an authentic 1941 diner, a Franklin auto dealership from Los Angeles that had been disassembled then rebuilt at the museum and over 10 restored historic barns filled with over 200 extraordinary vehicles spanning over 100 years. It did not lie!! It did not disappoint! Lush deep green grass accented the dark red barns that were trimmed in glistening white. The inside of each building was glowing with perfectly polished chrome on each immaculately restored vintage vehicle whose deep hued vibrant colors far exceeded ANY of today’s car show quality. From the ceiling, at appropriate angles to best show off each and every prized vehicle were spotlights aimed at every available inch of metal, glass and supple leather. There were Pierce Arrows, Cadillacs and Lasalles, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, famous stock cars, Corvettes and Mustangs, a Tucker and a 1946 Stout which none of us had ever heard of. Of course, close to my heart was the 57 Chevy Belair, fuel injected, Carmel colored, convertible! Vintage motorcycles had their own building, as did the huge collection of children’s pedal cars and toys, which even included the movie set from the Disney film “Gnome Mobile”! What a hoot! There was even a display of a Conestoga Wagon Camping Trailer being pulled by a 1930’s vehicle. When our minds were totally crazed from the overload to our senses, our own wagon train pulled back onto the black top and headed towards Grand Rapids and the Woodchip Campground. Heading farther north on Friday, thru Grand Rapids and Newaygo, we reached our next GPS destination – Mesick and the Northern Exposure Campground where we once again circled the wagons and parked them for the next couple of nights. The campground is twenty miles west of Cadillac on the dammed up Manistee River and was originally built by Consumer Power Co. Since we were in the middle of the Manistee National Forest, and both of H’s previous power toys were allowed to explore and climb the rough terrain, this Big Blue Ox had to show that he could accomplish the same feat! For being such a BIG boy (next to the Zuki he is!), he did very well! Thru the puddles and thru the deep sand, H and R were checking out all that he and his gauges could do - - gauges to say what the sideways tilt of the truck was or how steep of an angle the rutted sandy hill was!! Check the picture - H made some of those big holes in that steeper than it looks hill! This May was the 53rd Annual Mushroom Festival in Mesick! And it did not rain on the parade this time! We girls got to shop the Flea Market AND the Craft Show while the boys wandered and did their own thing. Fresh baked Pasties made by the local Masonic Hall folks were as good as ever! It’s too bad the parade did not seem as organized as it has been in the past and both the Mud Bogg and Horse Pulls were hid from free loader viewers like us. We didn’t want to pay the price to go see them so we returned to camp for some kick back and relax time. Sunday morning, we hitched up our wagons and headed out. Both GPS’s were leading us down country roads and thru small towns, one of which is Kaleva, which is known for it’s Bottle House that was built in 1941 out of 60,000 pop bottles from the local bottle factory! The Finnish gentleman that owned the bottle company and built the house died before he and his family could move into it. West thru Manistee and then down to Ludington for our next Port of Call! We had to check out the two mammoth ferry boats, the Badger and the Spartan that were still moored there while being prepared for the busy summer of transporting folks and their vehicles across the vast blue Lake Michigan to the shores of Wisconsin on the other side. Whispering Surf is another Passport America campground just north of Pentwater and has a lovely wooden boardwalk that leads thru the pine forest to also lovely Bass Lake. From Pentwater, it is a short drive down to Silver Lake Sand Dunes! You have all seen the pictures from Previous Michigan Blogs of the Zuki and the Jeep Liberty up on top of test hill so don’t be so surprised to know that H just HAD to do the same with BB Ox!!! Of course, his first attempt ended about 3/4th of the way up. Duh – after backing back down the hill, H pushed the 4-wheel drive button and the next attempt was just an easy walk from the bottom of the hill to the top where we perched for the whole world to see! A thorough tour of the park followed with much gauge and gadget checking – you know how boys and their toys are! Back out of the park, the bouncy soft tires were once again filled with fresh air and off we went on firm, road worthy tires. R&N had to head home on Tuesday morning so our joint travels came to an end. But not us! H and I meandered another few days down along the beautiful Lake Michigan coastline. We stopped at all the scenic towns – Montague, Whitehall, and in Muskegon we stayed over at the Fisherman Landing for the night using the Passport America again. Further down the coast, Grand Haven was also gearing up for the upcoming tourist season and Holland was just about out of tulips but the ladies did say that the festival this year was a good one! Our busy day concluded with a quick tour of Benton Harbor and St Joe and an overnight stop in Dune Lake Campground just outside of town. “LAKE” is a bit misleading since it’s really just an overgrown pond surrounded by sandy mounds. The grass was also overgrown and a few more trees need to be removed so rigs can navigate the narrow roads easier. By the summer season – it’ll be all ship-shape, no doubt! So, we’re home again. The grass is green and mowed. The garden is planted. Laundry is done and is back out in the condo. Bring on the next trip! You are invited to come along with us!