Monday, July 26, 2010

Lower Michigan

The RV park where we stayed Wed night was on a golf course.  It was really pretty and inexpensive, but hardly anyone was there.  We played horseshoes and a golf ball toss game, then turned in for the night.

Our trip down through Michigan on Thursday was uneventful except for all the construction.  We are finding that it is everywhere.  Many of the roads are in terrible condition so the work is certainly needed, and the weather conditions require that most work be done during the summer months, but it seems like every road we are on either needs to be repaired or is being repaired.

We set up camp at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Belleville, MI.  It is a suburb southwest of Detroit and has the closest RV park available to the Ford Museum.  The weather was fine on Thursday but it was obvious that they had received a lot of rain.  The forecast was for more and it started in the evening.  We had serious thunderstorms and torrential rain most of the night and on Friday.  It was bad enough that we decide to just stay put and not try to go anywhere. 

Saturday morning we woke to flooded fairgrounds but the weather was only partly cloudy, so we went to the Ford Museum in Dearborn.  All three of us really enjoyed it.  It was much more interesting than we expected.  Of course there were cars, cars and more cars, but there was also much more.  My favorite part was the section with all the power equipment from the early days of the industrial revolution.  Some of it was huge.  The biggest piece of equipment was the actual steam powered electric generator that provided power for Ford’s first assembly plant.  Even Dom and Dianna were impressed.

We also spent a good deal of time in the aircraft exhibits, looking at early RV’s, presidential limousines (including the one JFK was killed in), assembly line exhibits (including one where Dom helped assemble a Model T), early farm equipment (including a New Holland hay baler with the bench seat on the side exactly like the one Dale and I rode on when we were kids) and much more.  It was more than I expected it to be and I would recommend it to anyone.

We originally planned to leave Sunday to move further east but it rained all night Saturday again.  We awoke to an even more flooded fairground.  I did not feel like standing in two inches of water to hook up the trailer so we decided to stay another night.  The forecast for Monday was for clear skies.  Staying put gave us an opportunity to do some route and schedule planning.  We normally don’t do that too far in advance, but the next couple weeks are going to be hectic so some planning is in order.

There are a couple things that we are experiencing here in the east that we are not accustomed to.  First is the lack of RV parks, and particularly the kind we normally stay in.  Most of the places here are more what we describe as campgrounds or resorts.  They cater mostly to families and are designed as destinations where a family can spend an entire weekend or vacation.  They try to provide all kinds of things for people to do instead of just a place to park for the night.  They often do not have good interior roads and site design, or electrical and septic infrastructure for modern RV’s.  And most of all, they tend to be very expensive compared to what we are able to find in the south and west.

The other thing we are dealing with here is toll roads.  There are very few of them out west and in the south, and they are easy to avoid if you want to.  In the east it is not so easy.  If we were driving a car it might not be a big deal but most toll roads and bridges charge based on the number of axles.  We have 5 axles, the same as an 18 wheeler.  If we had been in a car the toll for the Mackinaw Bridge would have been $4.00 instead of the $22.50 we had to pay.  I checked the cost of the Ohio Turnpike, New York Thruway and the Massachusetts Turnpike,  all of which would be the easiest routes.  The costs mean that we will need to avoid all of them.  For example, just to use the New York Thruway from Rochester to the Massachusetts state line would cost us about $70 in tolls.  That’s a trip of about 250 miles.

Given the cost of tolls we have set our GPS to avoid toll roads.  As a result we finally left the Detroit area yesterday morning and headed east on US highways as we left Michigan and headed into Ohio.  Although we had to slow down through all the towns along the way, most of the larger places had bypasses around them so it wasn’t too bad.  When we got to the Cleveland area we were able to join I-90 for the rest of the run to Conneaut, OH where we spent the night. Today we will drive to Western NY where we plan to visit Dale’s family and see some sights for a few days.


  1. Ah, yes, those roads in the east. But the places are much closer to each other than they are here. Winter weather does things to the roads, almost as bad as in Alaska, and we had lived here long enough when we went there that we had forgotten how miserable detours and bypasses and just going through construction areas can be. You relearn in a hurry!

  2. Toll roads are evil, but here's the way to avoid those fees. When we were in San Francisco a couple weeks ago, we didn't realize the Golden Gate Bridge is toll southbound. The first time we drove across we somehow got into the fast pass lane and drove right through the toll gate. (We promised Glenda if she gets a ticket in the mail, we will split it with her.)

    Why is the car JFK was in when he was shot in the Ford Museum?

  3. Dale came for dinner and stayed until 9:30 or so. We had a nice visit. Tomorrow we plan to go to Niagara Falls and then have dinner at Dale and Jen's place.

    I'm not sure about JFK's car but some of the other Ford based presidential limousines were leased to the federal government by Ford. They were returned when they were no longer needed and replaced by something else. The car was actually used for eight more years subsequent to Kennedy's assassination by Johnson and Nixon.

  4. Doesn't sound like you're going to be able to do any hiking and/or geocaching with Dale in the short time you'll be there.