Monday, 27 June 2011

Manitowoc, Wisconsin - There's no place like home

We've travelled to our fifth state by badger ... the Steamship Badger, that is!

The SS Badger car ferry plies the 4-hour, 60-mile crossing of Lake Michigan. She's one of the world's few coal-fired steamships still in operation and officially designated a US "national treasure". It's fair to say she's a bit like myself ... built for functionality and lacking elegant lines! Nonetheless, we had a wonderful voyage and even wangled a photo with the Captain!

It was difficult to drag myself away from my uncle’s house in Warren and from the cosy company of family. The house was like a little slice of Scotland. Jimmy Shand played in the background, prints of the Highlands adorned the walls, there were smiling faces and flashes of tartan in family photographs and we laughed at my uncle’s stories of the old days. All these little things were reminders of Scotland … reminders that, no matter how far away you are, there’s no place like home.

We had a surprisingly pleasant cycle away from the environs of Detroit along quiet residential streets then along bicycle trails through woodlands and beside lakes, detouring into the attractive college town of Rochester for coffee. All across the States disused railway lines have been turned into bicycle trails in an initiative called “Rails to Trails”. They make for very pleasant pedalling, though in the lost world of these little green corridors you often end up not having a scoobie where you are! It took us six days to cycle across the state of Michigan through woodlands, farmland, pleasant rural towns and some wild weather! When one storm engulfed us, a farmer gave us shelter in his barn with the dairy herd but the next storm caught us out in the open and in a few minutes we were drookit.

On a muggy day when the temperature soared to 90 degrees and the humidity was high enough to give me painful chaffing in the environs of my butt, we cycled to Sleepy Hollow State Park and pitched our tents. In the evening the warden came round to tell everyone that Shiawassee County had been placed on “tornado alert”. We left our tents pitched but packed up all our kit so we could dash to the safety of the toilet block should a tornado strike. That night an almighty thunder and lightning storm raged and our tents were battered by torrential rain. But there was no tornado. I suppose if I was whisked away by a tornado, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, all I needed to do to return to Scotland was to click my heels and say “there’s no place like home … there’s no place like home”.

New photos on Flickr.


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