Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Architectural salvage, glimpse's of Cleveland, and Geneva state park

We had planned on stopping in the Ypsilanti, a small town just east of Ann Arbor and west of Detroit. There was a fantastic looking (by it's webpage) architectural salvage shop there and also several antique shops.
We found our way back to the highway from the Bay City Recreation Area, passing a lodefunct business with our initials on it. We actually saw several businesses with our initials and the majority were defunct. We'll take a note never to name anything D & J.  Hwy. 75 morphs into Hwy. 23 here and becomes just another ugly cement major thoroughfare through a heavily populated area. Nothing quaint about driving this route, just traffic, beat up roads, and a lot of on and off ramps. There was a major construction project (It's summer, when isn't there?) going on just north of Saginaw, and we were forced to take a detour around the much narrower, much more congested 675 which bypasses the city to the west.
Driving was a crappy affair since we timed our arrival amid the morning crush and commuters as they are oft times known to be were complete jerks; weaving in and out of traffic, tail gating, changing lanes without signalling, and all in all acting as if they were the only ones on the road. It takes a great deal of defensive driving to make sure you get from point A to point B in one piece. I can't tell you the number of times we avoided a major catastrophe by just paying attention to what was going on around us, trying to keep up proper following distance from the vehicle in front of us, and always expecting the unexpected. Having traveled thousands of miles on this trip we can affirm that motorists are capable of anything, and there is no end to the amount of unbelievably dangerous maneuvers they can perform.
We safely made our way through Saginaw and Flint and arrived in Ypsilanti in one piece. We stopped off at a Starbucks just off the freeway (yippee the first one we'd seen for weeks) and got a couple of double Americanos and pecan scones, and then found Ypsilanti's little downtown core.
 "Materials Unlimited" was everything we were hoping for. Tons of beautiful lighting, fantastic metalwork, and one of a kind finds. There were hundreds of items to look at, it was like an Architectural museum, and we spent close to an hour going through the three floors. If given the chance (and budget) we would have bought a bunch of stuff and crammed our RV full of high end Architectural treasures. But since an average price on say an Arts and Crafts era hanging light fixture was around three thousand dollars it made it much easier to just enjoy spending time looking and dreaming.
We really enjoyed ourselves getting the chance to see so many wonderful pieces in one location. We talked with the manager of the shop before leaving and let him know how great the business was and how much we appreciated the amount of work they put into it. We told him we were from the Portland area and he was quite aware of the quality of  the architectural salvage and restoration businesses in our area. We ducked into a couple of other antique shops up the street and then had a snack and took off for what looked to be a big dose of
interstate driving as we headed towards Toledo and Cleveland. This would prove to be the most hectic driving since leaving Portland, and with the toll roads and construction would make for long day behind the wheel. It took us a good forty minutes to work our way through the Toledo area where we had to switch from Highway 23 to Interstate 90 which was a toll road. There were several do-overs as we found ourselves lost amidst Toledo's suburbs, and after several failed efforts cut short by detours and road closures we were finally on the toll road heading towards Cleveland. Lots and lots of traffic, poorly kept roads, coned-off lane closures, and numerous semi-trucks equals one good time. Soothing it was not, but Jerani none the less napped for a good portion of the trip. I sang to myself, a whole litany of songs that I only know a quarter of the lyrics to but none the less would have made the original performers jealous. Jerani doesn't really like me to flaunt my vocal talents (I think the richness of my tone intimidates her a little...) so this was a good chance to perform in front of completely unconscious audience. Just the same I wowed them.
Jerani started to stir just before we hit Cleveland proper. Now the turnpike signage around Cleveland does everything it can to discourage trucks and larger vehicles from taking these narrow curving roads which abound with traffic. Of course not one of the trucks pay a bit of attention to these warning signs so the highway soon resembled something out of Road Warrior.

As you approach the downtown area things get tighter and tighter, sometimes comically so, and we started to run into hilarious signs like the one begging motorists to slow down from 60mph to 35mph on a freeway so as not to flip your car over on the startlingly under engineered hairpin corners. Good stuff.
Good times had by all. This was a little wake up call that we weren't in "Kansas anymore Toto". This was big boy driving, and I must say we made it through with flying colors although I think Max was a little stressed as this picture clearly shows. Poor thing, so much pressure on him to keep us all safe and headed in the right direction. He definitely wears it on his sleeve.

Ten or fifteen miles east of Cleveland we exited off of Interstate 90 and onto Hwy. 20 heading towards Erie, Pennsylvania. We paid our toll and found ourselves on a much sleepier road with a lot less traffic. Time to exhale a little. We spotted a State Park on our map not too far ahead named Geneva State Park located just outside the little town of Geneva, Ohio, not far from the Pennsylvania border. We pulled off the highway and drove into the type of cute little city where you could expect to find Ozzie and Harriot living.

About three miles out of town down a little country road sits Geneva State Park. Located right on Lake Erie this is a pretty park with large and private campsites. Unfortunately when you arrive at 3:45 in the afternoon every one of those large sites are taken. Panic stricken, with no other back-up plan we asked if there was anyplace they might squeeze us in and low and behold they did.

They actually set aside five or six spots smack dab in the middle of the field just off the entrance to the park. Not too aesthetically pleasing, but a site none the less. We greedily snatched it up and fifteen or twenty minutes later all of the overflow sites around us were taken too. Now the park was officially "FULL". Whew, that was a close one. It was fairly hot out so we put up the awning for the first time on the trip. We went out and sat at the picnic table with Max and Erley and drank a lemon-drop. While we enjoyed our drinks we watched what looked to be a Amish family (although they were driving a minivan and not a horse and buggy) of about eight or nine set up camp. The woman and four daughters each wore bonnets and the man and his three sons all wore classic old style pants with suspenders. They all helped to set up a huge old army style tent and then after the mother collected clothing from everyone in the party off she went with two of the daughters to presumably do laundry leaving the men folk and younger girls to tend the fire and start on preparing dinner. Wow, it made our traveling circus seem absolutely laid-back in comparison. After our drinks we opened all the windows, started the fan and tucked Erley in for a nap. We leashed Max up and headed off in the direction of Lake Erie and found a nice wooded trail just across from us.
We followed the path which meandered through some woods and came out on the shores of Lake Erie.
We have now officially seen four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and now Erie) with plans to see the fifth as we head up through New York. We didn't really figure this into the trip itinerary but stumbled into it as our route took shape. It was just now that we figured it out though, and it's kind of a neat accomplishment. It was around four thirty in the late afternoon and still warm down near the lake.
These lakes are so massive it's kind of ridiculous to call them by that name, I mean they are huge. It's definitely like going to the beach, just a Midwest landlocked version. We threw sticks for Max who had a great time swimming, took a video of Max and I playing on a large cement block which jutted out into the water, and more or less did all the activities one would do at an ocean beach.

After our fun in the sun we headed back up to the (er...campsite...field) and got to work cooking the baby-back pork ribs we bought at the Farmer's Market the day before. We cooked them on an elevated circular rack in our convection oven and it took about twenty minutes. Since we were in the overflow sites we didn't have power, so we ran the generator which seems to be running flawlessly. It's amazing how brown, juicy, and tender the ribs get in a convection oven. If you asked someone how we cooked them they would NEVER guess it was a convection oven. We had made some boiled new potatoes and corn on the cob to go with the ribs and sat down to a mini feast from our tight little kitchen. You can make pretty amazing food in the Pleasure Way if you put your mind to it, and this was one of the best meals so far.

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