Traveling the U.S.A – Chapter 10 – Michigan Mishaps!

Today is day 88 of our trip.  Way back on day 75, we left Shipshewana, Indiana early to drive about 1/2 hour away to Sturgis, Michigan, where there is a Ford truck dealer who was going to do our RV oil change and also do the recall work on it.  When we arrived in Georgia, way back on day 40, we received our mail from Arizona.  There as a recall notice on the chassis of our RV, made by Ford Motor Company.  The recall literally told us not to drive more than five miles because when Ford produced the chassis, they accidentally only put 4-1/2 quarts of lubricant in the real axle, instead of 9 quarts!  Yikes!  Don’t drive it?  We have a long way to go!

Dennis first called a Ford truck dealer in Atlanta to see if they could take us in.  We were told that we would be the 18th RV in line, and it would be least 2 weeks before they could see us, and that was just to look at it, not repair it.  Then he called a Ford truck dealer in Charlotte, NC since we were going to be there in a couple weeks.  If we had to, we could cancel the trips to Savannah and Myrtle Beach, and go directly to Charlotte and they could take care of us, even if it took a couple weeks.  The dealer didn’t have the parts needed for the recall, and since we had already driven from Arizona without a problem, he suggested we keep going.  While still in Arizona, Dennis had made an appointment for an oil change at a truck dealer in Sturgis, Michigan, so he called the Sturgis truck dealership, and was told they would have the recall parts ready for when we arrived.  Since we had already driven thousands of miles, we felt pretty confident we could make it there (which we did)!

We dropped off the RV, and proceeded to find a place for breakfast.  Dennis found a quaint little barber shop next to the diner, so he stopped in for a haircut.  As we left, we had to go around the block to get to our road, and discovered this awesome neighborhood.  Some of the homes were in need of love, but they had amazing bones.

I loved this little barber shop and all the stuff, but especially the dog. Do you see him?

We picked up our RV, hooked up the car, and headed out toward Traverse City, MI.  About 10 minutes into the drive, Dennis noticed that one of the sensors wasn’t working on the RV.  He immediately called the dealership and they asked us to return.  An hour later, and a free repair, we were on our way.  As we got within 30 miles of our destination, disaster struck.  Cars started honking at us, and Dennis opened his window, and was told we had a flat tire.  We were on a highway with narrow shoulders, and there was no room to pull off.  We were near an exit, so Dennis slowed his driving and got off the exit.  We pulled into a parking lot, and got out of the RV to assess the damage.  

We would know if we had a flat on the RV, because we have a bluetooth tire pressure system on the RV, and all was fine with the RV tires.  The biggest worry is that we damaged the rim, driving to get off the highway.  We were shocked to see the tire, or should I say, to not see any tire.  The rim, though was fine.  We also noticed that it took out some wiring, so we were not sure what we had as far as back lights.  Now it was time to change the tire. Dennis got the tire changed, and we headed for our destination, hoping to arrive while still daylight so that we could hook up the RV connections, and also assess what to do with the Jeep.

My hero! By the way, he did not change a tire with a wrench, although it did help turning the Jack handle!

Dennis took it to a Jeep dealer the next morning, who seemed rather disinterested in the problem, so he proceeded to Costco, where he changed all the tires to a brand he trusted.  He also ordered bluetooth tire pressure gauges for the Jeep that would connect the RV system he had.  These would have to be delivered to our cousin’s home when we arrived in the Chicago area the following week.  Our tail light of the car worked fine.

We took a drive along the coast of Lake Superior, looking for lighthouses.  We were not very successful.  We did find a state park that had a lighthouse.  I’m sorry, State of Michigan, but $9.00 to enter the park (which was quite small), and another $5.00 per person to enter the lighthouse museum seems like a ripoff.  To me it should be part of the entrance fee to the park.  Anyway, we chose not to go inside the lighthouse.  The views were nice enough to take some great photos. 

We didn’t stay long, partially because we were really hungry, not having a real meal that day at all.  We made our way back and stopped at a restaurant for a dinner of trout from Lake Michigan. We also got great photos of the homes and surrounding area of Traverse City, Michigan.

The other challenge was the tail lights on the towed Jeep.  The car’s lights (front and back) worked fine when driving on its own, but when connected to the RV, the wiring for the RV to control the tail lights did not work on the right side thanks to the tire that blew out—it ripped the wires that run from the tow vehicle to the RV.  

Solution:  the local Tractor Supply Company, had magnetic lights.  Dennis picked them up and attached them to the top of the jeep and put the wires into the hitch on the RV (don’t ask me for the technical description).  Lights working we were on our way.

We had a short drive to Mackinaw City, Michigan.  Our RV is parked at a campground right on Lake Huron.  We were so happy to know that every Friday night there is a large fireworks display over the lake.  We walked up to the the lake and enjoyed the show.

Who knew there were still full service gas stations in this country?
These two young men had to stand on ladders to clean our windshield. I asked them to smile for the photo!
We didn’t eat there, but I loved the building and the sign, so I had to take its picture!
A playground on the beach of Lake Huron at our RV park.
Someone must be brave enough to kayak on this huge lake.
The lights of the Mackinac Bridge at night.
That girl is on a swing–not sitting on the water!

The following day was supposed to be spent on Mackinac Island.  Okay, time for a spelling lesson:  You may have noticed that I said we stayed at Mackinaw City, and then we were to go the Mackinac Island.  There is no spelling error.  They are both pronounced, “Mac-in-aw.”  The spelling with a “C” is how the French, who were on the Island, spelled it, but the Indians named it, and it was spelled with a “W.”  Lesson over.

We weren’t sure we were going to see the island since we woke up to pouring rain.  About 3:00 p.m., the rain subsided, and we decided that since it was our last day, we better try to see the place.  We got on a 4:00 p.m. ferry and made our way there.  

People talk about Mackinac Island all the the time.  “You should go there.”  “You must see the Grand Hotel.”  “You must take a bike ride.”  “You must buy fudge.”

Here is my take on Mackinac Island:  

  1. It is pretty.  If I were younger, I might take a bike ride.  I haven’t been on a bike since my early twenties, and in my early 70’s I don’t think it is time to try that again.  You can bring your own bike on the ferry, or you can rent one when you get there.  I think seeing the island on a bicycle is probably the best way to see it. (No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island other than a fire truck and an ambulance).
  2. If you love shopping, there are tons of little shops to browse.  I am not a shopper, but I did go into the shops to find specific items.  I am a trip Christmas ornament person—gotta find that ornament for the attraction I visited.  And, yes, we bought fudge—we had to—we were told to do so!
  3. The Grand Hotel.  It is huge.  What made it famous was the movie, “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, made in 1980.  Since Dennis had been neither to Mackinac Island nor had seen the movie, I found a copy at a thrift store on or trip.  I thought it was time to watch it again before we arrived in Michigan.  This was like a favorite movie, and when I ask people, I get so many people who said they loved that movie, as I had.  Well, sorry to say, that movie doesn’t translate well into 2021.  As we watched it, we kept commenting how the lead character played by Christopher Reeve would today be considered some crazy stalker.  Like, eww, really?  The grand hotel didn’t have that beautiful entrance we saw in the movie.  It didn’t look the same.  It became famous because of a crazy stalker movie!  Haha!  Kind of ruined it for us!
  4. Because we do not ride bicycles, we chose to take a horse drawn wagon tour.  Fortunately, the wagons we rode in, along with about 20 other people were covered, because just as we arrived on the island, a big dark cloud came overhead and started to dump a lot of rain on us.  Half way through the tour, the rain stopped all together.  Your tour is only as good as your tour guide.  The first guide was really good.  Half way in the tour, they drop you off at this building.  As my dad would say, “sucker trap.”  There were a few antique carriages to look at, but on the tour they told you about their “amazing donuts” you should taste.  We didn’t want a donut snack, so we just looked at the carriages, and then walked out to get our carriage ride back.  Of course, there is no ride until they get even more people together.  Apparently those people wanted the tasty donuts.  The second tour guide was terrible.  He didn’t speak clearly, and only wanted to tell us what he wanted us to see and to tell his favorite funny jokes (which, by the way, weren’t really funny).  He took us through the historic areas, and we could have learned so much more.  Regardless, it was a nice ride around the island, or the part of the island that is public. Had one been on bike, I am sure they could go through the beautiful neighborhoods.

All and all, I am glad we can say we were there.  It was not my favorite place, but it was pretty.  We went to a few shops after the tour, found a place for some dinner, and headed back because we were leaving the next morning, driving over the huge bridge to the upper peninsula and down the east side of Wisconsin.

A few photos of the Mackinac Bridge which spans 4.995 miles!

One comment

  1. It sounds as though you’ve had enough vehicle trouble to last the rest of the trip, and I hope that is the case. My experience traveling through the western part of the US is about 50 years out of date, but when my family used to drive there, you could spend hours without seeing another car. Daunting.

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