Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Midwest Adventure Day 3: Grand Rapids, MI to Oshkosh, WI

We planned to start-out bright and early. We got up in time, packed-up in time and actually were able to drive off in time. Wow, that's a first! That was until Jen saw the Babies R Us sign and realized we forgot ALL the breastmilk, including the big 12oz from this morning... OK, so let's double-back and get the milk, right? Right! Guess not, since the VV's are in California and with them returning on Tuesday we locked the house and kept the key inside since nobody else needed to be there before the VV's returned. So, there we were. Ready to head-out, sleepy son in the back, but no food for him... Oops.

Jen remembered two people that might have another key and after the 2nd call we actually were able to reach someone with another key! Hallelujah! With a 40 minute delay we turned onto M-131 heading north towards the Upper Peninsula with a planned stop in Mackinaw City for some good 'ol fudge! Our boy kept on sleeping until about 20 before Mackinaw and the drive north was nice, smooth and surprisingly light on traffic.

Since our boy was asleep for most of the ride we didn't stop and were getting pretty hungry so a stop at BK was in order. Daniel got his veggies while mommy and daddy feasted on some steamed items called burgers. They were actually not too bad... ;-) The lady at BK actually was able to give us directions to one of the best fudge places in town, so the BK experience was doubly good.

Niels is a chocolate fan, so you would think a good piece of fudge would be on his radar-screen, right? Wrong. Dutchies are goofy. Fudge is made out of chocolate, but somehow he's more of a solid chocolate fan. Anyway, meeting me opened up a lot of new doors for him including discovering some taste buds he didn't know he has. He actually liked some of the fudge, so we both a nice assortment for the remainder of the trip and made our way towards the Mackinaw Bridge.

I was never a fan of heights and looking at the bridge those feelings were quickly re-affirmed. It didn't help that the two center lanes were NOT paved, but steel grates. Looking straight ahead worked for me. Niels, however, was marveling at the water colors that resembled a blue more like Caribbean blue than the dark blue you'd expect from a lake in northern Michigan. That was not the only surprise the Mackinaw Strait has in store for us...

Apparently, the MDOT that manages the Bridge is a little old-fashioned. They do not take credit cards or have an electronic payment option like EZ-Pass or I-Pass. Even more troubling is the fact that they don't tell you this until you actually cross the bridge and can't return. The only option is to pull-over and pay inside the building (where you CAN pay with a credit card) but besides the $3 tolls they now charge you an additional $2.50. Well, in the grand scheme of the trip that might be nothing, but at the time my easy-going hubbie was pretty PO'd and it earned the bridge a nice comment card. Not that we have even the slightest sliver of hope that it would change anything, but at least we told them...

Anyway, the 'Welcome to the Upper Peninsula' sign lost a bit of its appeal at that time, but we made it to the northern-most part of our trip and Daniel was asleep again. The next few hours we filled with pretty lake-vistas, lots of green, lots of rural scenery and a nice relaxing drive. The first bit of real civilization was the town of Escanaba (in the daylight this time) which we had at about 6pm just in time for dinner. And with this being the Mid-West that means... CULVERS!!

Culvers is burger joint that uses real butter and their claim to fame is the butter burgers and their custard. The slogan is 'Get Culverized' and we actually 'culverized' Daniel a bit by letting him taste some milkshake (but only 3 licks... must... not... spoil... the... kid. ;-)

The remainder of the trip is actually SOUTH to Wisconsin which doesn't happen a lot... At about 7pm we entered the territory of the cheese heads and made our way to Green Bay to start my time-warp since I haven't been to this area in 10 years! We stopped for some pictures at Lambeau Field and drove to De Pere where I was a hall director at St Norbert College. We even shot a little video at the location where I met Brett Favre. Hey, I'm a football fan, so shoot me... ;-)

After a quick phone call to our final destination (Oshkosh, WI) we made our way over there but not before a quick stop at another Mid-West institution called 'Shopko'. Erin, it's a lot like Meijer... After striking-out on finding some Packer-gear we drove south through the Fox Cities continuing my time-warp and at 9pm we were finally done for today and able to meet our host for the next 36 hours, Mark, again.

We unpacked, put Daniel to bed and talked for a bit before we called it a night.

  • forgot the milk!
  • long driving day
  • Daniel's a champ
  • Mackinaw fudge!
  • not a fan of the bridge
  • Culvers!
  • Lambeau Field
  • St. Norbert College
  • Mark

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