Great Lakes Road Trip Day 15: Michigan’s thumb

It’s time for a change of pace. Up to now we have been driving towards destinations: Wooster, Cleveland, Niagara, Toronto, Detroit. The drives themselves have been a means to an end and the cities we’ve been visiting have been the highpoints. But now, as we head up into rural Michigan, it will be the journeys that we start to relish.

Today’s takes in the “thumb” (so called because if you hold up your left hand it looks like lower Michigan, and hey: we’re driving around the thumb).


This takes us up the shoreline of Lake Huron, which we first glimpsed crossing over from Canada. And on this route, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the lakeside views. This has to be the most picturesque lake yet, not just for the scenery but also for the forested avenues we drive down, the hundreds of lakeside cottages that line the route, the small towns that are straight out of the 1950s, and the dozens of garage sales, yard sales, and driveway sales that make the M25 (yes, really) a thriving marketplace. It’s like Michigan’s car boot bonanza.

We stop off several times, enjoying Pointe aux Barques in particular. Here stands one of Michigan’s many lighthouses (they’re really important: some estimates reckon there are up to 10,000 wrecked ships in the Great Lakes!).

And as luck would have it, a little bit further down the road, we find the Caseville Cheeseburger Festival in full swing. We’d heard about this last night when a delightful lady in Nemo’s bar in Detroit told us about it. Well, you have to partake, don’t you? So we grabbed a $3 burger along with the hundreds of locals who had found their way to the tiny village.


It’s been a great day – and we’ve been kept company by bikers all along the route (perhaps they fancied a cheeseburger).


Towards evening we finally make it to Bay City, our stop for the night, to find a great riverview from our hotel window, and a lovely sunset approaching.


Great Lakes Road Trip days 13-14: Detroit

We’d been told that the drive from Toronto to Detroit was fairly bland. That was a bit unfair – the countryside is very pretty, if not spectacular (Karen reckons that Dominic’s bar is quite low: he grew up in Lincolnshire). En route, we stopped off for lunch in London (crossing the Thames River on the way), and came back into the US through Sarnia to avoid the queues (that paid off: we drove straight up to the barrier). Here we encountered our fourth lake: Lake Huron, with beautiful blue waters. We’ve left Lake Ontario and Lake Erie behind us now. Onwards, to Lake Huron and in a few days, Lake Superior.



First, it’s time to enjoy the delights of Detroit. No mistaking what this city is famous for.


So we visit the Ford Motor Museum. Wow. Make sure you have about three and a half weeks at your disposal. This is a colossal attraction, with far more to do than you can fit into one day.

We decide to throw all our eggs into one basket, and head to one of the attractions – Greenfield Village, a sort of historical theme park from the 19th century. There aren’t any rides, exactly; though you can ride in a Model T Ford, on a steam train and in a horse-drawn buggy. we didn’t because it cost an extra $16 each.

Who knew that Henry Ford lived next door to H. J. Heinz, down the street from Orville and Wilbur Wright, and round the corner from Thomas Edison? But he did: their houses are all here to prove it.

It’s a strange place; quite endearing but odd at the same time – perhaps in the same way that any theme park is. But the village was full of village people, reenacting ordinary life eating dinner, playing ball, strolling down the streets, and driving more Model T cars than you’ve ever seen in one place. Among the highlights were a historical baseball game, chatting to the actors/residents, and we also found a theatre with a Cole Porter event followed by a Broadway show. Karen couldn’t believe her luck (sarcasm is the lowest form of wit). Dominic was, as always, super chuffed to hear some Rodgers and Hart numbers – who woulda thunked it.

You could choose to dine 1850s style, but we opted for a more modest afternoon tea situated in a beautiful garden that we thought our friend Maricar would like very much.


On another note, Karen was very amused by the Doctor’s house. Suffering with the odd bout of constipation, especially after flying, the name of the elixir for regulating stool movements seemed very apt (it’s the first barrel below). Karen will now be shouting this at appropriate points 🙂

On our way back into town we take in some of the striking 1930s architecture – especially that of the now-abandoned Michigan Central Station.

Back at the ranch we took advantage of happy hour and plotted our evening’s entertainment – we can go to a punk rock night (possibly), an Italian followed by some jazz (maybe), or hang out at the hotel and be amused by a 1988 high-school reunion event (oh yes!). We are thinking that we could possibly blag our way in to this – we are after all about the right age, and…who knows how people change over 30 years. There are always going to be those couple of people who you never remember – and what fun we could have…