Sunday, June 15, 2014

The next time someone suggests driving the length of Michigan say "no".

Straits State Park was really quite nice. We liked just about everything about it and even sort of enjoyed the strange little private tiled showering stalls. Now keep in mind that you had to loiter outside them like some sort of pervert to snag the next opening, but other than that once locked safely inside it felt a little more secure than in a big open room with a flimsy mildewed plastic curtain between you and whomever else decided to stroll in. Freshly showered Jerani made pancakes for us which is always a treat, especially when you're not sure what your next meal is going to be, and we were off.
We backtracked our way back through the little maze of ramps leading up to the toll booth for the Mackinac Bridge and started across.
This huge bridge, lovingly referred to as "Big Mac" or "Mighty Mac" in these parts, is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world, and the fourth largest in the United States. The difference between Big Mac and the other suspension bridges though is that it has the longest length of suspension between spans of any of them. This means that you get more loose bridge hanging suspended between those big towery things than on any other bridge on earth. In other words this is one big tall scary bridge to drive over. And guess what? It's REALLY narrow too! Almost comically so when you throw in the fact that the entire bridge was under CONSTRUCTION! Yep, they coned off half the already narrow little lanes and reduced this bridge to a two lane death match between you and the oncoming semi's roaring up the other side.
All the while the wind is blowing and whether or not it's true you feel as if you can feel the bridge swaying underneath you, and toss in the fact that at the high point you are driving 200 feet above the water and you make for a "OH MY GOD! driving experience.
Sometimes you find yourself driving under conditions that are so ridiculous you just have to laugh, but of course you are too scared to do any such thing. This was one of those times.
View from the center of the bridge.

We finally arrived at the other end of this suspended horror and started our way down Hwy 75 towards who knows where. It's pretty easy not to have a solid plan when you've never visited an area before. Does it really matter what destination you decide on when you have absolutely no idea what lays ahead? So we pointed the RV south and followed 75 towards Detroit many many miles away, but by no means our final destination. I mean Detroit, really?!
There's not a lot to focus on while driving this route. This was one of the largest highways we had been on in quite some time and it took a little while to get used to three and four lanes when you've been traveling two lane back-roads; but like riding a bike you once again get the hang of passing tractor trailers while traveling at 65mph. This is an area of small undulating hills with larger farms set off in the distance, but for the most part you can see little if anything from the highway. Just kind of boring, getting from point (A) to point (B). But I guess you can't always have the Grand Canyon or the Alps outside your window as you travel, but it would sure be nice.
We exited Hwy. 75 onto 23 heading towards the town of Standish and traveling down towards the Saginaw Bay and Bay City. Our online research showed that there was a really large antique mall in Bay City and we were also bored with traveling on the interstate. On the outskirts of Saginaw we spotted "Jay's Farm Market and Country Meats" which looked interesting. Man what a find! Great produce, but on top of that it had a WONDERFUL meat department. Now remember I'm a butcher, so I know a nice meat department and quality meats when I see them and this was the real deal. We hadn't seen a great deal of great meats passing through all the little northern towns so we were giddy like kids in a er...meat department. We stocked up, buying some babyback pork ribs, a couple of steaks, and some great looking jerky and pepperoni sticks which were made in-house. Also some fruit and corn on the cob and malted milk balls. We carried all of our bounty out to the RV and then it took another twenty minutes or so trying to wedge everything into our already stuffed mini-fridge and freezer. With our booty successfully stowed away, we headed back out happily munching on Bing cherries and tearing at cheesy peperoni sticks. (We kicked ourselves later for not having purchased a hundred pounds of these, they were GREAT!)





















As we neared Bay City we caught a glimpse of some of the industries that have failed and been abandoned which are so common closer to Detroit. Coming from the west coast where everything is all pretty new and prosperous its weird to see huge building complexes that are just boarded up and rotting away. Spooky and kinda sad.
Arriving in Bay City we were happily surprised to find it so nice. We don't mean to sound snobby, but when you think about the outlying areas surrounding Detroit it's hard to imagine this bustling little town with it's nice restaurants, shops, and boardwalk along the Saginaw River.
We took a nice walk with Max along the riverfront, and the Antique Shop we had wanted to visit was located just down the road so after we put max away we opened up all the windows and started up the "Fantastic Fan" so that the animals would be comfortable and we walked a couple of blocks down to Bay Antiques.
The antique shop was huge, four stories huge. We found a couple of smalls and it was fun just perusing the wares. We reached burn out on the third floor and didn't see everything they had to offer, but when you've seen as many antique shops as we have you kind of get a feel as to if there's going to be anything worth seeing or not so we pulled the plug feeling pretty safe that we weren't missing out on the find of a lifetime. Jerani headed back towards the RV and I ducked into a classic little turn of the century style candy shop that unfortunately as we were to find out later might still be selling candy from the turn of the century. (The chocolate had that grey hue of old candy, and the nuts I bought tasted stale.)
We started heading south trying to find a way out of Bay City but frustratingly kept running into road construction and detours. After three or four aborted attempts we found ourselves back tracking out the same way we had come entering the city. We had thought we'd make it down towards Saginaw or Bridgeport but we were heading in the wrong direction. We had remembered seeing a State Recreation sign when we first arrived in Bay City so Jerani looked it up on our GPS and we were only a mile away. The decision had been made for us, we would be staying at the "Bay City State Recreation Area" for the evening.
Now let's get this straight right now, Bay City State Recreation Area's campground wasn't the sort of place we'd choose to stay at if we had any sort of choice, but beggars can't be choosers and we needed a place to park our rig. This was the sort of place where kids run screaming past your campsite (or through it) on there way to (gag) the swing set set up right in the middle of the campground. You open the door to the RV and you can see EVERY person in EVERY camp site. This is the sort of place that makes us question what it is we are doing.
We found some semi-secluded woods between our site and Saginaw Bay and we walked the animals until the bugs started eating us alive. Erley LOVED it. He just loves the woods and hunting for chipmunks. We retired early so we could pretend we weren't really staying here. We tried to watch a dvd but the Canadian Audio Visual system that came with the Pleasure Way has to be the worst system on earth. It's not intuitive in any way shape or form. Everything you'd learned about operating remote controls and stereo systems from birth until right before you use this system you can throw out the window because it's like learning a whole new language. We are two fairly intelligent people who have used more than our share of electronic equipment and yet neither of us could start the dvd without either not getting sound, skipping ahead three or four chapters in the movie, or just filling the tv screen with scrambled statically fuzz. In the end Jerani (I just can't take it anymore...) usually figures out a way to get it to work (always something different of course) but by the time we finally get to watch the movie we're both in such bad moods it's hard to enjoy it. None the less we watched a "Game of Thrones" chapter and had some snacks and drowned out the sounds of the great unwashed just outside the thin walls of our little abode.
Later a family with about 6 kids pulled in right next to us and spent the next 2 hours setting up their "campsite". Built a fire and proceeded to fill our surrounding area with choking smoke. Ah the joys of camping...

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