Michigan, Part II

the soo locks

We took a boat tour of the Soo Locks while in Michigan. They are on the St. Mary River between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. They bypass the rapids of the river which drops 21′.
One of the many large ships that use these locks.
These tug boats are sometimes used to help ships get through the locks.
Approaching the two parallel locks. They were originally opened in 1855 and are still in service! More than 10,000 ships pass through these locks during the shipping season each year. The season lasts usually from April through December. They are named after the two cities Sault Ste Marie in Canada and Michigan. (The “Soo” name is shortened and anglicized from Sault)
As we approach the lock gates open.
Once inside the lock you can see how big they are. Each lock is 1200′ long, 110′ wide and 39′ deep. When originally built they were 800′ long and 100′ wide but were rebuilt in 1968 to accommodate the much larger ships. They’ve been maintained and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers since 1896!
We entered the locks from Lake Huron so once the gates were secured they flooded the lock to raise us up 21′ to the level of Lake Michigan. That process took less than 15 minutes!
They keep the ships tied on both sides so it stays centered in the lock.
Once at the same level as Lake Michigan, they open that end of the lock so we can proceed. It’s an amazing thing to watch and pretty cool to be on a boat in the locks!
This was a large cargo ship going the other way in the parallel lock.
This is huge rolls of steel ready to be shipped on the Canadian side.
Steel mills on the Canadian side.
After our short tour of Lake Michigan we returned to the locks to get back to Lake Huron.
That’s Lake Huron on the other side of the lock, 21′ lower. That’s Canada on your left, Michigan on your right.
If you look closely, you can see we have a few visitors in our lock; ducks!
Luckily they were smart enough to stay out of the way of the huge steel gates when they opened!
We are back down on Lake Huron. Here comes another ship towards the locks, this is a busy place!
Near the locks, there is also a large hydro electric plant that uses the river for power.

the henry ford museum in dearborn

Since we were so close I had to see the Ford Museum in Dearborn! As it turns out, it’s so huge we spent two days there! There’s the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village and the Rouge Ford Plant Tour where you see the F-150 in production.
This is the main lobby of the visitors center where they have a few of their most iconic cars on display plus a rolling chassis and drive train for the Ford F-150 Raptor.
Ford F-150 chassis
1923 Model A Ford
The F-150 Raptor
1949 Ford 2 door Sedan
There is such an extensive collection of different types of transportation here it’s mind boggling! From trains to automobiles of all types and aircraft! This old steam engine was huge! I could barely get back far enough to get a side view even with an 18mm wide angle!
Here’s the sideview; that’s all just the engine!
There was a pretty cool model train layout in front of it too!
Right next to the antique trains was this Bonneville Salt Flats race car.
This was an old engine used to plow the snow so trains could get through in winter.
Another much smaller steam engine.
I tried out the driver’s seat!
Hmmmm, I wonder which thing starts this sucker!
One of Ford’s flops over the years. Now worth lots of money because so few were made!
The first Bluebird school bus.
1960’s Desoto convertible I think.
They also had several presidential limousines on display. This was FDR’s 1939 Lincoln convertible.
This was the limousine that President John F. Kennedy was in when he was assassinated. After that tragedy they rebuilt it with a bulletproof top; too little too late!
Notice the grab handle on the truck and the step on the side for the Secret Service?
A little cheerier picture of their 1950’s diner with a few unique cars of the era .
This was an experimental concept car. The goal was to design a car that would carry 4 people and get at least 100MPG.
And, even though it’s a GM product, they showcased this 1961 Corvair.
A 1956 Volkswagen Beetle. My parents bought two of these in early 1956. They traded in my dad’s 1955 Ford station wagon and bought a 1955 and a 1956 beetle. Probably the first two in North Canton, Ohio!
Not everything was cars. Here is the 1975 FMC motorhome Charles Kuralt used in his “On The Road” with Charles Kuralt show.
A 1960’s VW Van camper. I don’t believe they called them Westfalia yet then.
This is a 1949 Airstream travel trailer. They don’t look much different now!
One of the first campers built. This was built around 1912-1920 for the most adventurous ones! Not exactly “Glamping”!
One for all my Jeep and off road friends; it had pretty humble (and i’m sure uncomfortable) beginnings!
And a REAL Jeep!
Ford’s latest race car with the original GT40 in the background.
One example of the Wright Brothers original products; the bicycle.
besides automobiles they had quite a collection of airplanes. Including of course the famous Ford TriMotor!
A comparison of the size of the Ford TriMotor to a modern airliner.
The luxurious cabin of the Ford TriMotor! Yes, Rattan seats and no seatbelts! FAA approved I’m sure!
This was in Greenfield Village which is adjacent to the museum. it’s a complete village where the employees farm, run households and go about their daily chores as they would have in the early 1900’s. Very interesting to see!
Herding the sheep.
An old steam driven farm tractor. Steel wheels and no suspension; rough riding I’ll bet!
They had the Wright Brothers original bicycle shop from Dayton, Ohio where they developed their infamous airplane.
Their homemade wind tunnel where they experimented with different shapes of wings.
The beginnings of their plane. Notice all the power tools in the shop run off of belts to a single motor.
Henry Fords original Ford plant where he hand built the first Model T’s
This is the 15 millionth Model T, all built here! That’s a cut-away of the very simple engine used in the Model T in the foreground.
Edison’s shop where he developed his many inventions, notice the Edison light bulbs!
They had a pottery shop where the employees made all sorts of pottery just as they would have back then; and pretty much how it’s still done today!
The glass shop.
We even got to ride in an original Model T like this one. It was actually pretty comfortable! Pretty slow, but better than a horse carriage!
Armington & Son’s Machine Shop
Notice here again all the machines are run off a single engine via a belt and pulley system.
The village church with beautiful landscaping.
One of the cool things that the Henry Ford Museum sponsors is the Henry Ford Charter High School. Here’s a statue of Henry Ford and a student commemorating that.
On the second day we visited the Ford Rouge Plant where the F150 is assembled. Obviously no cameras were allowed on the tour but I got these few shots of the outside showing the paint plant in the distance where the bodies are assembled and painted,
The green you see is plants installed to insulate the plant and act as air cleaners at the same time.
Even the fumes from the paint plant are captured and used as fuel to run the plant; genius!
The parking lot across the road is where employees who don’t drive Fords have to park; at least that’s what our guide told us! The plant tour was amazing. Lots of robots used in both assembly and inspections along the way. They average one completed truck off the line every 53 seconds! It takes approximately 20 hours to build one truck.

Michigan, Part I

While visiting Michigan we stayed in St. Ignace at Tiki RV and Campground in the UP (Upper Peninsula). We had a beautiful pull through site with a view of the lake in the distance.
Our view for the week.
Our first day we spent exploring the beautiful area.
A small lighthouse marking the harbor here.
We crossed over the Mackinac Bridge to the Lower Peninsula and Mackinaw City. By the way, we learned “Mackinac” and “Mackinaw” are both pronounced MACKINAW! Very odd!
A closer look at one of the two towers suspending the bridge.
A couple of shots of this majestic bridge from the Mackinaw City side.
This is a pretty cool bridge! Building started in 1954 and completed in 1957. It spans almost 5 miles!
We visited the Ice Breaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum in the Lower Peninsula. It was fascinating!
It was launched in 1944 and was known as “The Queen of the Great Lakes”. It served as the only ice breaker keeping the shipping channels open until it was decommissioned in 2006. It was later replaced by a smaller ship, but according to the docents we spoke with who served on her the new ship isn’t as capable as the USCGC 83. She is 290′ long, over 5000 tons and has 6 diesel engines with a total of 10,000 HP!
We thought Reeve would like this: it looks like it’s made up of Legos!
One of the 6 massive diesel engines.
Here’s a look at the workings of the engines. Quite impressive for the 1940’s!
Their ship’s motto.
Some of the crews quarters; cozy! When they were deployed in the early fall they stayed out clearing the shipping channel until late spring; that was 6 to 8 months.
This is the massive winch they used to tow huge cargo ships as needed.

mill creek discovery park

Another trip to the Lower Peninsula we went to see the Mill Creek Discovery Park where we saw how the lumber mills worked back then. Here the docent shows us one of the axes they used to cut logs into rectangles before sawing them into planks.
This was the apparatus they used to saw the logs into planks before the invention of the water powered sawmill. Very labor intensive and slow! The docent got this girl from the audience to assist him.
Next we saw the newer more “modern” water driven saw mill. It used a pond dammed up from the creek for power to drive it’s water wheels. All the gears and workings were made of wood! The wooden trough you see in the foreground of this picture feeds the water wheels from the pond.
Here the docent is demonstrating the workings of the saw. The water wheels drive the system of gears and levers (all wood) to reciprocate the vertical saw blade as well as move the log through it to cut the boards. Still slow by today’s methods but light years better than the old two man saws!
The water wheels in action. One to power the saw blade and one to move the logs through the blade.

boat trip to mackinac island

We took a ferry day trip to explore Mackinac Island. We rode in style; a Cadillac!
We got a special treat on our way to the island. The ferry went over to and under the Mackinac Bridge which doesn’t happen all the time. It’s depends on the weather. What a great way to see it up close! Look at that massive cement block anchoring one of the ends of the suspension cables.
Those towers look much taller from down on the water!
As we went under, you can see that the two inner lanes are open expanded metal. A little spooky to drive on, but I’m guessing they are there to help with wind sway and/or weight?
On our way to Mackinac Island!
A lighthouse coming into the harbor at the island.
Here’s a view of the Grand Hotel on the island with the town down below.
We’ve arrived! Now to explore.
There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island, so the only choices of transportation are horses, carriages, bicycles or walking. This is their trash truck.
This is a carriage from the Grand Hotel. Pretty fancy!
We of course took a carriage ride tour of the island. The drivers are very connected to their horse teams. They know them all by name and know all their moods. The horses only work 4 hours a day, it doesn’t seem very long but the island is pretty hilly so they work hard for those 4 hours.
We got to see ours switched out; it was like a NASCAR pit stop! They did it all in less than a minute!
Jan loved all the flower baskets and flower beds around town.
Bright vibrant colors everywhere! Even these Adirondack chairs!
Interesting sculpture!
A grand view of the Grand Hotel!
The smaller wagons just needed one horse.
Near the hotel and Surry shopping area they had a display of the Butterflies of Mackinac, very beautiful!
Our carriage for the afternoon was larger, so we had a three horse team.
They took us to the other side of the island which was beautiful. There was this military cemetery in the wooded area.
Beautiful shaded pathway.
The path we took was on a path above the beach on the back side of the island. One of the stops we made was for pictures and exploring Arche Rock.
The view was breath taking from up there!
Some great views from above the town too!
One of the many beautiful homes on the island! We learned that there are only 500 full time residents on the island. Everyone else works and lives there seasonally.
Here are a few more pictures from in town. A very magical town for sure!
Great day, on our way back to the mainland.
It was a quicker trip home; the captain kicked the jet boat into high gear!

Stay tuned for Michigan, Part II………


tilleda falls campground

Jan found this nice small family run campground. We were set up right on the pond with a great view and a waterfall for the week!
This was our site. Very green with a small sand beach right behind us!
A fabulous view from our dining area window.
A view looking back across the pond toward our site and the beach. On the left you can see the top of the dam and waterfall; it’s kind of a zero edge pond!
A view from below the falls. That’s our rig in the background.
Beautiful little creek don’t you think?
Downstream past the rapids, very tranquil!
We arrived just before the 4th of July weekend. The park was packed with campers; here’s our row on Sunday afternoon, EMPTY!! We had the place to ourselves the rest of the week.

oshkosh, wisconsin eaa aviation museum

For my birthday we went to see the EAA Aviation Museum. Jan arranged for Melissa and Jeff Drescher (friends we worked with at Santee Lakes) to meet us at a restaurant for lunch. It totally surprised me! They live in Milwaukee now, but I wasn’t expecting to see them! Had a great time catching up.
As you can see from this shot, the museum is quite extensive.
This is a replica of the Wright Brothers historic plane.
This is a plane used by S.C. Johnson to travel the world looking for carnauba which he developed into wax, still used today! And this was in 1935!
This is a map of the route they traveled.
An array of the products he came up with using the wax.
Here is an example of the many “flying cars” developed over the years.
There was of course displays of Lindbergh’s historic flight.
There was a section dedicated to air racing and the stunt flyers.
There was even a display of Lego planes!
Throughout the museum they had original nose art from the war planes of WWII. Many were pretty interesting, some a bit risqué!
A bit risqué, but it was obviously on a twin engine war plane!
This “Fat Man”, the atomic bomb dropped in WWII (obviously not THE bomb but a replica!)
Here is an early example of a sea plane.
They also had experimental and research planes there.
Is that a famous War hero?!?
This was an interesting plane and project. They helped the whooping cranes in their migration using this ultralight in 2004!
The pilot wore the suit to diguise being a human and they used whooping crane puppets too!
One last risqué nose art!


This is a photo Jan took on our drive to Minnesota. The yellow flowering pants were everywhere for miles!

minneapolis/st. paul

We stopped in Minneapolis to visit our good friends, Manny and Carmen, whom we met 3 years ago on a boat tour of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho. We had fun then, so knew we’d have a great time with them here! Carmen cooked us a wonderful Puerto Rican meal.
Manny drove us all over the area showing us the sights. This was Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park.
We also visited the Guthrie Center in Minneapolis where we had a great view of the city. It’s a live music and entertainment theatre. It has a beautiful, welcoming interior.
The General Mills Gold Medal Flower plant in downtown Minneapolis.
Across the river is the Pillsbury’s Best Flour plant in downtown St. Paul. Apparently Minneapolis wasn’t big enough for two competing flour companies!
Another bridge between Minneapolis on this side of the river and St. Paul on the other.
I saw this in one of the parks and thought it was funny.
Carmen resting in the park. Great day touring the city!

the spam museum?/ austin, minnesota

We couldn’t visit Minnesota without visiting the Spam Museum!
Reserved parking for Spam Fans!
There were lots of displays and memorabilia from the beginning of the company to present day.
There was a lot of information about Spam during WWII.
All through the museum you could see this conveyor above you with 780 cans of Spam on it!
Meet Sir Can-a-Lot!
They even had a motorcycle that runs on bacon grease!
Some of the huge array of Spam memorabilia.
There was even this huge Spam RC Rocket!
Of course we couldn’t leave without stocking up with SPAM! I got a case of 12 different varieties plus a can of Portuguese Sausage Spam that wasn’t included in the case.

Colorado Part 3- Colorado Springs & Sterling

We spent 9 days in Colorado Springs staying at our favorite place, at the Air Force FamCamp. We pulled into our site and look at our neighbors! TWINS! (We’re the ones on the left in case you couldn’t tell us apart!
While we were there visiting family we got an afternoon with Aneka. We had a drink at the Broadmoor. Fun day! We saw her a few times while there but unfortunately weren’t there for her debut as a Pikes Peak Rangerette at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo; Maybe next summer, can’t wait!
Aneka enjoying her Mocktail.
Since we missed the rodeo, here are a few pictures from her mom, Kristin. We can’t wait to see her there next summer!
Aneka and her proud papa Rich!
Aneka in action, waving to the crowd at full speed! This photo is from the official photographer at the event.
We got to go see Rich and his band, RetroWave. Unfortunately it was pouring down rain so it was indoors, but still a great time!
Here’s a better pic actually showing Rich!

on to sterling……

We got our favorite spot at North Sterling State Park looking towards the reservoir. We loved spending time with our good friends Steve and Mary Bergman but were having so much fun we forgot to take any pictures!
We loved this campground, lots of space between sites!

Colorado Part 2, Family Time in Palisade

This was our campsite for the week. Right on the Colorado River (although about 100′ above on a cliff)
This was our view!
Before Bryce and family arrived we went into town and they were having a motorcycle show.
An old Harley with sidecar.

colorado national monument

We took a day to explore Colorado National Monument. I’d never heard of it, it’s just up the road a bit from Palisade where we were staying.
There is some pretty impressive scenery here! This shot was looking straight down to the bottom of the canyon. I’m not sure what possessed me to take this shot; anything for a good picture I guess!
Some of these formations defy gravity!
And if you look closely, there’s ferocious wildlife!
This one looks like a chimney
Despite the barren appearance, it was pretty green.
Some very interesting rock layers everywhere you look!
There were several of these brilliant pink cactus flowers in bloom; quite a contrast!

family time in and around palisade

Bryce and crew stayed nearby at a cool farm Airbnb. They were in a nice house shared by Bryce, Laura, Reeve and Laura’s sister Monica and her husband Benjer and their two kids, Autumn and West. This is the pond by their place where the kids enjoyed exploring and finding small frogs.
They had plenty of room to run and play!

riggs hill dinosaur excavation site

While we were there we all went on a hike to see Riggs Hill, a dinosaur excavation site.
Here are the kids standing with a casting of one of the bones discovered here.
It was a fun hike, but not always easy and level!
The view from the top was pretty good though.
Photo evidence that Reeve and Autumn made it to the top!

fruita dinosaur museum

After Riggs Hill we went to Fruita and visited the Dinosaur Museum there. Here’s Laura getting into the whole experience!
The displays here are obviously not real but very realistic! This one spit every so often!
This one was a bit too realistic for some!
Who are you looking at?!?
This was more Reeve and Autumn’s taste!
I saw this at the gift shop and thought it was pretty funny!

pool time

After all day exploring we returned to our campground where they all enjoyed a cool time in the pool.
Of course complete with Super Soaker fights!
While there, Bryce discovered this Alpaca Farm nearby. It turned out to be very interesting!
The Alpacas had been recently sheared obviously!
If you look closely they have very large front teeth!
The process of taking their fur and spinning it into threads and then yarn is pretty interesting too. This is the wool after it’s been cleaned but before it is spun into threads.
One of the many machines they use.
Here are some of the many products they make.
This is their guard dog. He looks pretty docile but the guy who gave us the tour said he’s all work, don’t go near him! He once took out a mountain lion who tried to get to the Alpaca!
The Alpaca Shack! I thought it was nice of these 3 to pose for this shot!
After the Alpaca Farm we stopped at a winery for lunch.
While in Palisade Bryce and Laura treated us to a great seafood Paella dinner in town.
While driving around Palisade Jan spotted this B&B that had a beautiful Rose garden all set up for weddings and other occasions.
The house next door was quite beautiful too!

Back in Colorado!

mesa verde national park

The cliff dwellings here are amazing. How they got up there was quite a feat! There were no stairs, just climb up!
As you can see the terrain is quite rugged!
This was the visitors path to view the ruins close up; I chose to just get my pictures using my 300mm telephoto lens from the top!
Some beautiful succulents here.
The view went on for miles!
Of course I have a picture of a dead tree!

durango/silverton train ride

While staying near Mesa Verde we took a day trip over to Durango to ride the steam train from Durango to Silverton
The scenery along the way was spectacular! I got this shot of our train since we were in the next to last car.
Here’s a cool shot of the engine on a trestle.
A few places the cuts in the rock cliffs were a bit tight!
Some swollen rivers along the way; the spring melt isn’t quite over yet and it’s late May! Here the train is at one of it’s two stops along the way to refill water. These old steam engines used a lot of water heated by a lot of coal! The people you see here are hikers they dropped off; they will hike the rest of the way to Silverton!
On our way again!
We chose the First Class car; not plush by today’s standards but pretty comfortable.
As we got closer to Silverton you can see that the snow is still not melted quite yet. The Aspen trees do have their leaves producing this dramatic difference from their light green leave and the dark green of the pines.
Arriving in Silverton.
Some desperadoes chased the train for a bit!
This is the train station at Silverton; it makes you feel as if your transported back to old western times!
We had lunch at The Lone Spur Cafe inside the Grand Imperial Hotel. A beautiful old bar and restaurant!
A gorgeous had carved old western bar!
While we ate lunch we were entertained by Lacey Black with some great piano music. She’s been doing this since a young girl. We had to get a couple of her CDs!
Need some boots?
Beware of the Moose!
…And the bear!
Back to the train for the return trip.
What’s left of an old mine.
A waterfall from the spring melt.

Part 2 Grand Canyon plus Winslow & Sedona

A couple of pics from our day exploring Winslow. The iconic corner! You can see the reflection of the girl in the flatbed Ford!
Jan and me hanging on “The Corner”! As you can tell, it was a bit brisk!
Sedona was a beautiful place too. The red rocks and greenery were a stunning contrast!
If you looked closely there were other vibrant colors in the cactus flowers!

The Grand Canyon, Part 2

Further out on the eastern end of the south rim is Yaki Point. Do you notice the small flat rock on top of this large outcropping?
This is a closeup of that rock. Apparently put there as a memorial for someone. My guess is maybe they tried and failed to jump across to the outcropping?!? According to the dates they would have been 18!
My pictures wouldn’t be complete without at least one dead/dying tree!
The expansiveness of the Grand Canyon is just amazing!
And the Colorado River continues to etch its way through it!
This out cropping looks like it could topple off any day!
Our last stop was the Desert Watchtower.
The view from there was stunning as well!
While we were staying in Williams we visited our good friends Kevin and Wendy. They shared this picture of them at the Grand Canyon. They had gone while we were there!

Williams & the Grand Canyon

While visiting the Grand Canyon we stayed in Williams, Arizona. Its a cool little town to visit and its right on old Route 66.
Lots of references to Route 66 and the bygone days of hot rods and laid back cities!
Some pretty cool murals around town too.
Nice sunsets at our campground!
They had these cool arches at the entrances to town on Route 66.
It was much colder than normal for the end of May! We even got this surprise rain/hail/snow storm!
Surprise storm; then it all melted away by the next day!
While staying in Williams, we took the Grand Canyon Train Tour which starts in downtown Williams. Its a 63 mile, 4 hour ride from Williams to the Grand Canyon.
This was our car. We opted for first class, which gave us more comfortable seats in an enclosed car.
While we waited to depart they put on this old west show for us. Hokey but pretty entertaining!
Complete with gunfights of course!
Three of the cast with their “victim” (in the baseball hat) from the audience.
Then off we went for our train ride!
Lots of cool scenery along the way, including some Elk grazing near the tracks!
The train dropped us off right at the lodge. This was the beautiful massive fireplace at the lodge.
The day of our train excursion there was quite a bit of cold rain and fog around. It obscured our views a bit but also added some to the pictures.
On our return trip our train was stopped and we were “robbed” aka tips!
A couple of days later we went back and got some of the same pictures when it was a bit clearer.
This rock looks like it’ll just slide off anytime!
They put these markers along the rim path telling you the age of the spot where you’re standing!
It’s a LONG way down!
It was kind of cloudy but I thought they just added drama to the scene!
I was glad to have my 300 mm zoom lens; I got close ups of the river without the grueling trip down into the canyon!
So many layers of different colors and textures!
This is a shot of the trail leading down into the canyon. They say its 2 hours down but much longer coming back up! If you look close you can see the people on the path!
I overheard a guide say this rock outcropping was supposed to look like a rubber ducky; Jan thought it looked more like an eagle’s head .
The expanse of the canyon is mind boggling!
In this picture do you see the red circle? That’s the Colorado River and those are river rafts on the shore. They must be taking a rest from their trip down the river!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Grand Canyon Adventure……..

First Stop- Arizona (mid April)

On our trip from San Diego going towards the Grand Canyon we stopped for a few days in Lake Havisu City to visit with our friends there. They took us out on the lake to see the sights which, of course, included the London Bridge.
It was a beautiful warm day! So welcomed after a cold wet winter in San Diego!
Apparently a good day to defy death too!
There were many of these spots on shore to camp. vault toilets, picnic shelter, fire ring and all.
There were of course lots of boats and other modes of transportation on the lake!
All kinds, shapes and sizes of watercraft!
Safety First- Dog’s got to have a life vest!
And of course the obligatory party barge!