Tuesday, August 19, 2008


By the time I woke up and called the auto shop at 10AM, they had fixed it! Same broken wire as on the PA Tpke in April, and I was outta town by 11:30AM. According to Google directions , I might just make it to Muskegon by 4PM, so I skipped breakfast and lunch and tore up through Michigan. I rationalized keeping maintaining 75-80 mph just for this day, vowing to keep the speed down through the rest of the trip to keep the engine heat down. I did indeed pull into the Lake Express Ferry terminal at 4:15. No room on the boat - or on either daytime boat Wednesday! Apparently reservations are required. (Of course, if I'd made a reservation, it would have been for Monday, which I missed in any case). So the only option was to book a crossing on the 11PM ferry, and cross the lake in the dark. I had read that the fare was $80 and decided to go for it, a one-time experience. Oh, but that's just for the human, it's another $90 for the vehicle. The $170 is about what I'd have spent driving down around the lake via Chicago, so I paid it and put it out of my mind.

Now I had 6 hours to kill in Muskegon. A tour through the "downtown" area revealed a ghost town - around 5PM, the streets were totally empty. Old factories with broken windows were evidence of the changes of the past few decades. You see the same thing in many towns across the USA. People live outside of town now, and don't drive to town when the suburbs are covered in more convenient malls.

The ferry clerk had recommended Dockers seafood restaurant, near the lake, so I checked it out, starving after no food all day. It confirmed that the higher the price, the smaller the portion - tiny piles of food in large elegant plates must establish them as "fancy" to some, but I wished I'd found a Greek diner. And the grilled salmon was covered in barbecue sauce (called "barbecue glaze" by the waitress). Unheard of! Dockers is in a condominium development, surrounded by many identical houses, overlooking an inlet with many yachts. Awful food in a totally alien environment, surrounded by khaki shorts and alligator T-shirts (or the modern equivalent - do they make those any more?).

The 80-mile crossing in the dark wasn't so null and void - the nearly full moon made a beautiful reflection on the water, and the catamaran-type ferry sped along at a good clip. I thought it was a 90-minute trip (11PM-12:30AM), but there's a timezone change, so it was actually a 2-1/2-hour trip. The iPhone came through again - googling "Day's Inn Milwaukee" located one 5 miles west of town, one tap of the finger to call them. Totally different from last year's "get-into-town, find Starbuck's for internet access to find motels" procedure.

I hear the Caddy water pump showed up at Michelle's house in Mpls, so I'm hoping the bad one will last till I make that 5-hour drive tomorrow, and I can get it replaced Thursday.

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