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June 8th 2018
Published: June 8th 2018
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Sleepy Hollow State Park, Lainesburg, Michigan

We left Ohio yesterday. We spent more than two weeks there in two different locations. We explored four National Parks - Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Dayton Aviation Heritage and Hopewell Culture National Historical Parks, and, of course, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. So that’s four bucket list items to cross off. And Joan adequately staged her rebellion with an exploration of the city of Dayton’s Art Institute and a bicycle ride down the Simon Kenton Trail. I suspect we are done now with Ohio, although we might pass through it someday to or from another section of the country.

Our next Great Lakes state is Michigan. We spent part of a day here earlier when we drove up the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, but this time we will be spending a good chunk of time exploring what this state has to offer. There are four bucket list items here, two National Lakeshores, an Historical Park, and another National Park. Joan also has a couple of rebellion items planned for this state, although we are going to need to do something different for the bicycle ride.

Michigan has two sections to it. What they call Lower Michigan is shaped like a mitten and sits between Lake Michigan on the west and Lake Huron on the East. We are on the way to our first bucket list item which is on the northeastern shore of Lake Michigan. (We should be there tonight.). Then we travel up and over one of the world’s most famous bridges that connects Lower Michigan with Upper Michigan. We will be spending a day near that bridge. In Upper Michigan, which is really a long peninsula sitting between Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron, we have two stops. And, finally, we will be taking a long boat ride to spend three nights at an island in the middle of Lake Superior. Given everything we have to do, we will be in this state more than a couple of weeks.

Yesterday was a travel day. Even with Joan’s restricted movements, we managed to break camp fairly well and left only about an hour later than normal. I’m worried a bit that she is trying too hard to compensate for her right arm being in a sling. The last thing we need is for her shoulder not to heal up right. So I’m constantly asking her if she should really be doing this or that. And, of course, that annoys her. I guess her sister, Val, told her that Rougier women don’t give up, so Joan is really trying hard to keep up her end of the chores. I just hope that she isn’t trying too hard. Anyway, at the moment, at least, the trip is continuing.

We headed north out of Grafton on local roads into the western suburbs of Cleveland. There we caught the Ohio Turnpike (Interstates 80/90) and barreled west until we were out of the metropolitan commotion. (That is a toll road but I didn’t know that as I entered it and ended up paying about $4 to go maybe 30 miles.). Eventually, though, we got off and headed further north to catch a green-dot route that weaved around the coast of Lake Erie - Route 2 I think it was. That was a pleasant drive with views of Sandusky Bay and a spectacular bridge. After a couple of hours, we reached Toledo and managed to loop around that city without any incident - although I still don’t like driving bigger cities with the trailer. Then we headed north into Michigan.

Getting hungry for lunch, and after some bickering over where we were, Joan found us a highly rated restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor and firmly announced that we were eating lunch there. I choked a bit, but decided that navigating the trailer through the downtown streets of a mid-sized city was going to be easier than arguing with Joan. So down into the heart of Ann Arbor we went. I should think that we presented a very interesting sight towing a trailer through congested and small streets of downtown.

There are, of course, parking garages downtown. And this being in-between semesters at the university, there were literally hundreds of open spaces. But one cannot drive an 11-foot tall trailer, nor a car with two bicycles on top, into a parking garage. So where do I put this thing in downtown Ann Arbor? As we proceeded down Main Street, the GPS announced that the Jolly Pumpkin was there on our right - you know, ‘You have reached your destination!’ But there is no parking lot and clearly no empty spaces on the street. So I decided to see if any of the side streets had options and turned down the next street. Another block up was an empty lot with a few cars parked on it. It apparently used to be a parking lot, but now there was a sign on it saying it was condemned for new development. So the toll machines had been ripped out. Clearly, it wasn’t supposed to be used, but hey!, we’re from out-of-town and its always better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? So I drove the rig into the driveway and threaded through broken chunks of pavement, backed the rig up and aimed it so I could get back out of the lot, and bingo - we had a parking spot. Probably not a legal one, but a spot nonetheless. I was prepared for a ticket of some kind, but figured maybe they’d see the situation and go easy on us.

The food at Jolly Pumpkin was really worth it. It is also a brewery and they offer a selection of their beers that they call ‘sour beers’. We did a tasting and it was a different kind of beer, but had a pleasant aftertaste, different from the bitterness of most hoppy beers. In the end, though, I ordered some cherry cider, and Joan had a cherry porter - Michigan is known for its cherries! As a starter, we ordered their truffle fries which were cooked perfectly, dusted with a truffle-flavored salt and served with a garlic aioli. Very good. Joan had a great looking salad and I had a patty melt with special bacon and a terrific muenster cheese. We left very satisfied and highly recommend this place - although maybe not with an RV.

Getting back to the rig, I didn’t find a ticket and proceeded, carefully, out of the lot, taking up the entire street to make the turn. Then we proceeded out of town, and towards Lansing. At this point it is approaching 5:00 pm and we are both very tired. Joan found us a state park north of Lansing a few miles, and so we decided to spend the night here. If this is a sign of what the Michigan State Park system looks like, we are going to be happy campers. We have at least two more campgrounds in the State Park system and so we bought an annual pass. If they all have the facilities this one does, and are as pretty, we will be just fine over the next couple of weeks.

That’s the story. We moved about 250 miles west and north. We have another 200 to cover today, and I need to wrap this up and get moving. Tonight, we should be at our first Michigan park.

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