We’ve been traveling with our friends, the Wests and the Waltmans and the big thing in Ely is to enjoy the wilderness experience. While the girls stayed behind, the boys charted a guide and a small motorized boat and off fishing in the boundary waters they went. They had to carry their boat over a couple of portages and that was pretty arduous for the old geezers, however, they were hoping for rewards at the end.
They caught just enough fish for a delicious shore lunch and some sides provided by the guide but had no luck catching anything worth bringing back, so back at the ranch we ended up having burgers in the evening.
What I later learned was that John was having chest pains radiating down his left arm since he underwent strenuous activity, the pain although managed with nitroglycerin pills, would just not go away. We ended up leaving early the following day and drove to St. Cloud where he was seen and immediately taken in for a cardiac catherization. After incredibly speedy medical care, he now has 4 cardiac stents, but most importantly he has now used up all of his 9 lives.
After recuperating from the procedure we continued our trip, however rather gingerly. We are on our way to Sturgis, SD with stops at Wall and Mitchell.
Front row: Richard Waltman, me and Linda West
Back row: Bonnie Waltman, Walter West and John
Going to Mackinac Island was pretty exciting as it has a quaint, charming, historic and pre-automobile ambiance dating all the way back to 1898. You need to travel either by foot power, either walking or peddling or you can choose to use horse-drawn carriages.
The Waltmans and we opted to take our bicycles on the ferry and once docked right on Haldimand Bay, adjoined to Main Street. Main Street is a bustling business district filled with hotels, restaurants, souvenir stores and tons of fudge shops. We rode our bikes to the Arch Rock and thought we could not make it, as the roads are pretty steep. Once there, we were amazed at how pretty the views were. Through the rock formation you may view the incredibly blue waters of the Straits of Mackinac.
We opted to ride the road around the island which is Highway M-185, the only state highway where cars are banned. This road is eight miles in circumference and takes you past the Arch Rock and provides fabulous views of the Strait.
While driving around the island, one of the most striking visuals is how clean and clear the water was, albeit very cold. Since we had not been in any body of water for a long time, so we opted to at least dip our toes on this one.
Along the shoreline, we saw many cairns of various sizes.
When we completed our ride around the island, Bonnie and I visited the Grand Hotel.
We had much fun here and it was time to leave and since there were many things left undone, we will return.
Bonnie and Rich and Linda and Walter joined us in our journey to Sault Saint Marie, (pronounced Soo St. Marie) so we could see huge vessels pass through the Soo locks. This was an experience that cannot be seen anywhere else in the US. I believe they are in the process of building yet another set of locks to accommodate even larger ships than they do now.
This particular vessel has only inches on either side to pass through the lock.
When we got our fill of watching the locks and umpteen number of vessels, we continued on to Taquamenon Falls.
While at Tahquamenon Falls we hiked to the lower falls and then took a tour on the Toonerville Trolley, which is a train ride that took you to the Taq River where you would board a large double decker boat for a several hour trip up the river, viewing occasional wildlife, if lucky, to view the upper falls. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the viewing platform was not functional and thus we were only able to see the falls from behind. This was rather disappointing and had we been told, we certainly would have opted for a different adventure. Oh well, lesson learned.
We also drove to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point. We learned about the many ships that have sunk in the Great Lakes but especially about the mysterious shipwreck of SS Fitzgerald back in 1975. Her 200 lb. brass bell was recovered and sits in the museum.
Back at the campsite however, each evening the mosquitoes anxiously awaited our return from our activities so they could have their dinner. I have never seen more vicious creatures. If they could organize, they could literally take us for a flight!
We continued our journey to Munising, home of Pictured Rocks. We took the sunset tour on Lake Superior to see these rock formations and it totally gave us the wow factor.
While in Munising, we decided to visit Marquette. The Marquette downtown area is very artsy.
Beautiful tree – real or fake?
St. Peter’s Cathedral
We visited Miner’s Falls
Gary Young, Shelly, Lois Sposita, Joe Sposita and us.
What caught my eye, was that I was never exposed to this type of segregation and to actually see it displayed was thought provoking.
Below is the actual bus where Rosa Parks made her point. Actually, she was seated on the right side in the middle between the front and the back, not the back of the bus as is commonly stated.
We made a quick visit to Motown.
We made reservations at Traverse City and met up with six other couples. Bonnie and Rich Waltman, Linda and Walter West, Ann and Ron Parish, Linda and Tommy Sexton, Mary and Doug Sloan and Linda and Joe Shibalt, with whom we had recently spent time at the Goshen rally. Also, we were happily surprised that as soon as we arrived our friends, Mary Frye and Rick Gnich, from Torrey Oaks, who happen to live in Traverse City, connected with us. Two of the couples, Bonnie and Rich Waltman and Linda and Walter West (bless their hearts) decided to accompany us on our UP adventure.
While in Traverse City we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an incredible sweep of towering dunes on the western shore of Leelanau. My friend Bonnie and I amazingly were able to climb only one of the dunes. It happened to be the coldest day of our stay and also the windiest so while the rest of the crowd remained in their vehicles, up the dune we went – weenees. Notice the tremendous slopes of Sleeping Bear Dunes and it turned out to be a tremendous workout. No wonder people told us it would take us a few hours to climb the dunes.
We drove up to the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula all the way up to Northport and visited the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and Museum, stopped along the way at various spots, such as the villages of Glen Arbor and Leelanau and picked up some yummy fudge at Suttons Bay on our way back to Traverse City.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse
The following day we also drove to the northernmost point of the Old Mission Peninsula, referred to simply as the Peninsula by the locals, and on its tip is the Old Mission Lighthouse, which also happens to sit on the 45th parallel. We stopped at the Old Mission General Store which originally was a fur trading post back in the 1840’s and now carries a bit of everything.
The 114 foot Schooner Manitou cruises Grand Traverse Bay.
We had made plans to meet Mary and Rick at their beautiful home for a fabulous homemade breakfast made by Mary. After we caught up, we left to visit yet another couple we befriended at Torrey Oaks, Edie and Steve Hindman, who are likewise traveling the country and happened to be in nearby Petoskey. Wouldn’t you know, as luck has it, our truck broke down and again, we had to call Good Sam Roadside Assist and had to get towed to the nearest dealer, this time for a broken belt. Unfortunately, because a part had to be ordered, we had no transportation for a few days and so we missed catching up with them.
The cherry trees were in bloom and the Annual National Cherry Festival in Traverse City was in full swing during our stay. We visited Cherry Republic, a store where you could find from cherry wine to cherry pie and everything cherry in between (no joke). On July 4th, also our 30th wedding anniversary, we went to a great airshow provided by the Thunderbirds on the shores of Traverse Bay and since John bought us a new Nikon camera, I began using it right away.
This guy was actually standing on the plane.
We had a wonderful time in Traverse City and will definitely return.
All the rooms of the French Lick Resort face the lobby, which is just grandiose and definitely has a Roman flair to its decor. (Bummer – The picture of the four of us showcasing the dome on the background was just too dark to post). Its gardens are beautiful and the golf course, designed and named after Pete Dye is spectacular. This course is atop the highest points in Indiana and offers beautiful views of the countryside.
When we left Mitchell, we drove to Goshen where we stayed for at least two weeks. Goshen and nearby Elkhart are two cities in Indiana, probably also known as RV country. Almost every RV manufacturer is housed in one of these two cities, so you could probably find anything and everything related to the rv’ing industry.
Heartland, the manufacturer of our RV, held its national rally at the Goshen Fairgrounds. We enjoyed full hookups, which means, water, 50 amp electric and sewer connection. We also got to see many old friends and make many new ones. What we didn’t bargain for was the incessant rain and mud thereafter. According the campground management, our site, unfortunately, happened to be one of the worst in the park, so they mulched it for us so that at the very least we could go in and out of the RV. We had the opportunity to tour the factory and see for ourselves how our homes on wheels are put together.
We later visited the RVMH Hall of Fame Museum and was amazed at how far the industry has come.
We took a drive out to Shipshewana, which is truly Amish Country. We visited a grocery store called Yoders and was amazed at their meat and cheese selection. The meat was very fresh and of course, the cheese??? Oh my!!! I should’ve been born a mouse. We ventured through their bulk store. Almost EVERYTHING is packaged in see thru bags, all labeled, weighed and priced. Just so not Publix. The entire store was decorated with old fashioned toy riding cars and trikes. That was really cool to see.
Before we left Goshen, we had an independent suspension system installed on the RV, along with disc brakes, bigger tires, and replaced our king mattress with a new Denver mattress.
Our next stop, Michigan.
We have been sending postcards to our respective mothers so they too can travel vicariously along with us, as neither have access to the internet. I really needed to go to the post office and didn’t want to drive across the river to downtown St. Louis so we decided to go just down the street to the nearest post office located in East St. Louis. Upon entering I immediately realized this was not your typical post office. It had 2″ thick bullet proof glass on the counter separating the customers from the postal workers with small openings similar to those of some banks for small transactions with a voice and listening amplifier. It also had an interesting passthrough access for large parcels. Since I also had a box to mail to Ashley, I had to use the large passthrough. I had to lift the thick bullet proof hatch and once the package was placed inside it, shut the hatch close and lock it. Only then would the postal worker unlock his hatch and open it to access the package. He then retrieved the package and locked his hatch back up. To provide me with a receipt, he then again unlocked the hatch, lifted the glass door, placed the receipt inside and proceeded to again relock his hatch. Only then, was I able to unlock the outside door hatch and gain access to the receipt. There was no possibility of ever having both panels opened simultaneously at any given moment. Flashback – it reminded me of tv episodes where attorneys and detectives move throughout jails whereby only one door opens and the door behind shuts with a very loud clang. Once I completed my transaction, we left quickly and uneventfully, but with a serious thoughts on our minds of how dangerous East St. Louis must be. It’s the first post office I have ever visited with this type of security feature.
On one of the many rainy days, we opted to take the train to visit the Gateway Arch and walked from the station to the Arch following clearly marked painted directions on the sidewalks. Now those are truly moron instructions, but so appreciated!
The Arch is the nation’s tallest monument standing at 630 feet in the air and made completely from stainless steel. We took a journey to the top of the Arch and experienced unforgettable views of St. Louis and of the Mississippi River.
As we were walking toward the Arch, we wondered how many lives it had taken, only to learn that 0 lives were lost during the two years it took to build this project and it made us feel proud of the fact that it was built completely union.
A view of an actual tram used to climb the Arch
Going up feels like an elevator until it begins its curved ascent and descent, then it just feels like a ferris wheel without the wobbling.
View of the entrance to the top of the Arch
5 seats to a tram
While downtown, we stopped at the Old Courthouse which serves as the centerpiece of downtown St. Louis. This was the courthouse where Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom from slavery and where Virginia Minor fought for women’s right to vote.
The detail of the architecture is magnificent.
Courtroom where the Minor decision was made (Women’s right to vote)
Later in the week we visited Ballpark Village and Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play with Pat and Mary Kellett. We were treated like royalty and sat in club seats at the Champions Club, where we were fed endless amounts of food and drink.
We also visited the Vine, a Middle Eastern Restaurant in St. Louis which is owned by our friends, Tina and Isaam El-Khatib. It was wonderful seeing Tina and “Sam” as he is referred to by his friends, and their three lovely children. I had the best hummus ever (I even learned to make it myself), labna with bread, which is akin to yogurt, kibbeh, veggie grape leaves, fallafel and lamb chops.
Veggie grape leaves
We also visited the City Museum, which is a hands on jungle gym/play area constructed primarily with repurposed architectural and industrial material. Kids and kids at heart (albeit they better be nimble and not quite as round if you follow my thoughts) climb in and crawl through a maze of tunnels making for a really fun experience.
Several days later we again met up with Pat and Mary Kelley at a really cool bar called Fast Eddie’s for lunch. Fast Eddie’s claim to fame is to have really cheap food and really cold beer and both claims were true. The bar was huge and it was packed. Not an empty seat was available when we arrived and it stayed packed for the duration of time were there. Live bands play all time, people dance and of course, it’s extremely loud. No one under 21 is allowed (chronologically of course).
Looking for John, can you find him?
I absolutely loved St. Charles and would return on a dime (but sorry, not in the Springtime).
Next on our horizon – Indiana.
There we met up with Ken and Renee Diaz, her cousin Rachel and husband, Curt. We originally met Ken and Renee in Key West last October during our stay in the Keys. They are Nascar fans and so it made the experience much for fun for us.
Below is a rooftop shot from RV parking spot. Ken and Renee’s Motorhome was the brown one right next to the blue tent with the two cars parked in front, so we were actually pretty close to them.
John, me, Curt, Rachel, Renee and Ken in the Infield
The day after the race everyone was trying to get out, but there were more RVs stuck in the mud, than those who successfully got out. I was incredibly surprised that considering our weight, we were able to get out without any mud or tire spinning. We had no mud in the fenders either. Yeaaa!!!!
Afterwards we decided to stay in Peculiar, a small nearby town, so we could tour the area.
We were aware that the area was under tornado watches, so when we arrived at the campground I asked the attendant what we should do in the event of a warning. He just laughed and said they did not have a shelter in the campground. So when I inquired further and told him that we were obviously not from the area and really wanted to know what to do, he hesitated and told me that tornados were actually fun. Huh? He then pointed to the south side of the campground and informed me that there was a ravine behind the trees and that we would see a rock wall as it used to be a quarry. He said that if we needed to go somewhere that we could go into the ravine, stand against the rocks and that we would not feel any wind there, or perhaps if we preferred we could drive to the nearest shelter which was about 1 mile away. REALLY? Fortunately, we had no warnings, and all was well. I would imagine you get used to living with watches
Last year, while wintering at Torrey Oaks in Florida, John bought me a rather gently used set of ladies’ golf clubs and since our friends, Cindy and Steve’s driving range was within a mile of the Peculiar campground, literally on the same road, we both took golf lessons and decided to hit balls as often as we could. I apparently got so excited that on one of my swings the club left my hands and just flew backward only to get stuck above the garage door on the front of the building. Oops, fortunately, no one was behind me or they would have gotten seriously injured. I think in the future I might have to install a small lanyard to each of my clubs, “just in case”. Darn, I just can’t seem to find the picture. Oh well.
While in Peculiar we also connected with our friends, Gary and Sherry Davis, who also live nearby. We went out to dinner and had fabulous bar-b-que meals in various establishments. Since they had never been to the Harry Truman Presidential Library, we all decided to visit together.
President Harry S. Truman
If you look carefully, you might be able to see the US emblem embossed onto the carpet. My how things have changed!
Our friends Gary and Sherry had the good fortune of securing tickets to the Royals v. Yankees baseball game. The seats were incredible. We had a lot of fun watching the game, especially since the Royals won (sorry Yankees fans). We even got to watch fireworks after the game.
Ugly sky but no rain!
We really enjoyed our stay in Kansas City but it was time to continue our journey so on to St. Louis we went.
We hiked the small trails and came across Bear Cave Trail, which was rather intriguing. We walked around, over, through and over these gigantic rocks, formed by tremendous forces of wind and water.
The “Eye of the Needle”
My imagination runs away from me. What do you see? I see the face of a cat.
The most popular trail in the park was Cedar Falls Trail, however, we both knew that if we went down we would also have to come up and since the ranger considered it to be a strenuous hike, we opted to just do the overlook. Cedar Falls cascades more than 90 feet to the canyon floor.
As we were driving around, a deer literally just jumped over the road right in front of us, naturally getting Jackson very excited. The deer, who probably was aware that Jackson was secured in the truck or perhaps it was just waiting for its mate, stopped and turned to look at us, as if posing for a picture. Soon after, a second deer caught up to the first one and off they both went deep into the woods.
Driving back, we drove though Havana and noticed its population of only 375. Oh my, it must be true! All the people are now in Miami!
Do you see a ship?
We had lunch at the veranda of the Basin Park Hotel, built in 1905.
We took a tram tour of the small town and were taken to the Crescent Hotel, which is known as the most haunted hotel in America, built in the 1800’s. There is aparently about 8 spirits floating around.
From the hotel’s rooftop though you have a beautiful view of Eureka Springs and far in the distance, if you look carefully you can see the Christ of the Ozarks sculpture above the treetops.
I really enjoyed Eureka Springs, AR and vowed to return and next time, stay longer! Next stop …. Kansas City here we come.