Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Old Friends, Christmas, the ER, Historic Village, Big City and The Ford - Wrapping Up Michigan

 June 28 - July 6, 2022
Frankenmuth - Belleville, Michigan

Another beautiful drive southeast across the middle of Michigan. It's been a while since we've driven an Interstate, and the 3.5 hours fly by. At 2:30 we're set up in the shade at Jellystone Park in Frankenmuth. Another great recommendation from Jim and Diana :-)

How did I forget to include the fate of the broken storage bin door in the last post??? Bill was able to get the door off the rig to access the utilities after much banging and some colorful verbalizations. A couple days later Jim was our hero when he had just the right tool (much less dramatic than a chain saw) so they could reconnect the door with the lock straightened out. Whew!! 

Back in Frankenmuth we have 30 amp FHUs on level dirt pads with smaller grass space. Picnic table and no fire rings. Even with the lovely trees, our satellite connects.

Skies threaten but bring only minimal rain.

The periodic overnight rain continues into the early morning with temps rising to 80 degrees. Laundry gets done, then a short trip into the little Bavarian-themed town. Chicken dinner at Zehnder's where we're served enough for a family of six! All very good.

A 160 year old tradition

The grounds are beautifully landscaped.

Just the beginning!

A very pretty downtown.

Lovely bells toll from the tower.

Bill reached out to a high school friend a couple days ago who lives in the area. Bob responds and confirms he and wife Cookie will come see us here. Woohoo! We last saw them when they were living near New Orleans, and are happy for the opportunity to catch up. 

They arrive at noon, Bill picks them up at the office where they pay to visit with us for six hours. I get it, but it's still a surprise when we've paid $72/night for the two of us. After visiting for a bit we're ready for a late lunch. Our first choice for pasties has no seating, there are no other restaurants in the River Plaza (there is lots of shopping), and our attempt at the inn down the street finds it closed between 2 and 4. We're not feeling the love! We end up at Poblanos for Mexican food. It's very good, although not quite the local experience we're looking for. Still, good company makes any meal a treat. Back to the RV where we have fun remembering the crazy times of our youth and getting caught up with the few years since we last saw each other. 

Bob, Cookie and Bill

We didn't see as much of the little town as planned, but getting to visit with our friends is time well spent. Bronner's Christmas Store is across the street from the park so we make a stop after checking out. This place is like every Christmas store you've ever been to, all together under one roof, then multiplied by 50! They also have Easter, Halloween and other decor, plus a beautiful selection of Winter and other villages. 

I was fortunate to shop on a slower day - there are at least 30 checkout lines available!

Whoville is one of many villages available - Hogwarts too!

Ornaments for everything you can think of - and dozens more you would never have thought of!

We missed Christmas in July by a week, but we're glad we visited this cute little Michigan town.

Back in California, Oliver, at six months, is challenging his palette: 

Avocado looks so good!

OMG! What devil mash is that??

Our first repeat location since leaving Trinidad, Colorado, in mid-April, we arrive at Wayne County Fairgrounds in the Detroit suburb of Belleville, Michigan. We were last here in August, 2018, for just one night. At that time we took a quick drive to the city to see the Lions NFL stadium, and then we moved on. I learned from several friends that I had made a big mistake by missing the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation! So we're back to remedy that oversight, and to see some more of Detroit. Again in a big city on a holiday weekend, and hoping it's not a repeat of Chicago! 

Our arrival day lunch at Bayou Grill is excellent - gator bites, jambalaya, fish, and bread pudding (huge pieces!) to go. Just like we enjoyed in the bayou!

Saturday is errands day for groceries, pedicures, dog groomer. 

It is also an evening of hanging out in the hallway of the local ER. If there is anything I find challenging in traveling it's healthcare. I'm still having issues with my throat after the fishbone incident a month ago. More annoying and worrisome than any pain or other problems. Still, one can't help but be concerned about more "serious" issues with something that "won't go away". Being in a large town seems like a good opportunity to have it looked at. The urgent care won't take out-of-state Medicare (? thought it was national), or my insurance, so I'm once again off to the ER. I'm expecting a packed nightmare waiting room being a holiday weekend. The reality is a lovely surprise as is the very short wait time "out there". Once I'm in the unit, on a gurney in the hallway, it's five hours of ER-101 as I'm privy to all the activity of the drama that is emergency medicine. 

5:00 PM ER waiting room - definitely a different experience.

You hear more than you want when in the middle of everything.

The arrival of a medivac trauma clears the deck.  A little eerie!

Ultimately they find nothing they can see in a CT scan (I'll always remember my first), or feel with their fingers. I'm so relieved the scan is negative for any growth that when they decide not to use a scope, I'm comfortable leaving and dealing with it when I get to Virginia next month (my insurance has doctors/specialists there) if it's still bothering me. Grateful I had remembered my Kindle, and able to communicate with Bill and the BFF on the cell phone, the time went pretty fast. Still, it's not on Trip Advisor's recommended things to do in the area.

A sky full of fireworks greets me on the way home, probably more than I would have seen otherwise :-)

We both sleep in on Sunday, and I head out under clear, sunny, and hot skies to visit Greenfield Village. I'm happy to find a parking spot close to the gate, but less so when I see that the village closes early for the July 4th celebration. I purchase a membership so we can both come back over the next two days to the village and the museum. 

Two stories of harvesting equipment in the Soybean Laboratory building. 

Pottery Shop with two massive clay pots found by Henry Ford in his travels and brought here.

Wheat field in agriculture area.

Many staff in historic clothing work to keep the village running and the visitors informed. 

I'm not sure why I find this so delightful - the books feel so happy, like they're celebrating getting off the shelf!

Back at the park many of our neighbors have moved out, and it's quiet all evening. Twisted Rooster for dinner - very good food!

After the first night we enjoy lots of space!

A bit intimidating having this over our table when ordering chicken!

After the fiasco that was Chicago on Memorial Day weekend, I'm anxious about crowds and chaos in Detroit and back at Greenwich Village on Monday, July 4. 

So I'm happy when we arrive at the village to find only a few cars in the parking lot, no line to get train tickets. Yay!

The train will take us around the perimeter where I confirm just how huge this place is! The train rattles and squeals so loudly that we don't hear most of what the conductor is explaining. We do hear where the key sites are that I don't want to miss so we continue around again and get off at the stop closest. At 92 degrees with 55% humidity it's very hot. 

Ackley Covered Bridge, built in 1832 in West Finley, Pennsylvania.

Our steam engine train entering the backside of the village. 

Edison's Fort Meyers laboratory where he worked with Ford and Firestone on finding the best plants to make rubber. Ford's V-8 engine was also designed in this building. Having been a Ford girl forever, it's fun to see all these "beginnings".

Sarah Jordan Boarding House, home to more than a dozen male employees at Edison's Menlo Park facility in the 1870s.

George Washington Carver cabin - built by Ford in 1942 to honor his friend and agricultural scientist. 
Edison's laboratory (replica) - amazing belt-driven machinery. 

Additional rooms in the laboratory include the telephone room, the chemistry lab upstairs, and other specialty areas. 

Jon Bennett Jewelry Shop from London (1846-1929) where giants Gog and Magog join Father Time and a Muse in chiming the bells every 15 minutes. 

Grimms Jewelry store built in 1885 on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. Henry Ford shopped here for parts for the watches he enjoyed repairing. 

I get a surge of nostalgia seeing these silk-wrapped pull wrings on the window blinds. We had them on all our sash windows when I was a little girl. 

One of the must-sees on my short list is the Wright's shop where they worked in Dayton, Ohio, from 1897 to 1908.

Prototype of the biplane wings that would carry the brothers above the ground in Kitty Hawk. Another great artifact I'm excited to experience. 

The Ford Home where Henry lived in its original location a few miles from here until he left to be a machinist in Detroit at 16. 

We take what I think is going to be a break, and turns out being the end of the day's visiting here. I have a few places on my list I want to see in the city and am delighted to find the streets nearly empty! Like they're supposed to be on a holiday :-))) 

I love this simple mural in an alley along Michigan Avenue.

Many classic buildings downtown.

Built by architect Wirt Rowland in 1929, the Guardian Building is stunning. 
Incredible window and door detail. 

Renaissance Center

A classic beauty.

Rosa Parks Transit Center

Grand Army of the Republic Building. Built in 1866 with joint funding from the GAR (a private organization of Union Army veterans) and the city of Detroit. It has served several purposes and today is for sale or lease at an undisclosed price. 

The castle-like structure was built by Julius Hess as an appropriate structure for GAR meetings and activities.

I have a few other places on my list that I soon learn are all in Greenfield Village (although they were listed as separate things to see online)! By now it's mid-afternoon and we're hungry. After a decent late lunch we decide to head back home. We still have one more day :-)

As expected the booms and bangs start at dark and continue until nearly 11 pm. At 2 am the thunder storm starts, and I feel for all the dogs and PTSD sufferers who were probably just calming down. We're so grateful that none of it affects Tessa. She doesn't even raise her head at any of it. 

Our last day to see what we made this stop for, and I'm glad it's an indoors experience. The rain stops about 4 am, and the forecast of 94 degrees with 90% humidity sounds horrible (it is!).

The Henry Ford makes an elegant first impression.

The first vehicle designed exclusively for use by a president. Nicknamed by President Franklin Roosevelt because he enjoyed being driven with the top down.

President Kennedy's limo. His last words were in answer to Nellie Connally sitting in the front seat who said "Mr President you can't say the people of Dallas don't love you." He said "No, you certainly can't."

10 years after the first McDonald's opened in 1955, hamburgers were still 15 cents. The first A&W opened in Lodi, CA, in 1919 - a drive-in I frequented when I lived there in the 1990s. 

There are several locomotives here (mind-blowing the size of what they've brought inside), but this snow-plower is my favorite.

The Goldenrod held the land speed record for 25 years after setting it in 1965.

Included in the exhibit on George Washington is his camping supplies - love the trunk that holds a fold out cot!

President Lincoln was assassinated while sitting in this chair. I'm surprised that it's a rocker, and that it sits so low to the ground given his height. 

The furniture exhibit covers many styles over many years by many designers. The most fun is listening to the young mother next to me, trying to make it interesting for her five year old daughter :-)

The favorite teenager-selfie spot by far!

Found in a farmer's field in Alabama, the VIN and the license plate found nearby prove this is the actual bus where Rosa Parks made history.

"Get up from there!" yelled the driver from this seat. She didn't.

Several trade shops are reproduced with amazing detail.

Everyone who knows me, knows I am not a math person. Much of this exhibit is way over my head (Bill gets it all).  This is also the most active space with many kids and adults playing with the interactive exhibits. 

A temporary exhibit "Disney Heroes and Villains", showcases the original costumes from movies and television. There are many Cinderellas here, but this one from the 2015 version, worn by Lily James, really says Cinderella to me.

Gorgeous Glass Slipper. Does not look comfortable for dancing.

One of my favorites - the three sisters of Hocus Pocus!

The magic carpetbag!! I hear so many songs in my head as I stand here.

Glenn Close really nailed Cruella DeVille in all her costumes for the movie 101 Dalmations
Hook from the television show Once Upon a Time. 

The Henry Ford lives up to all the promises, and I'm so glad we came back to the area to see it. I thought it would be larger, although it's plenty big! The village, on the other hand, is four times bigger than I thought, and I only saw half of it this time.

This stop is the end of our month in beautiful Michigan, Wednesday we're off to Ohio for a couple nights. 

Henry whipping up cake for his parents.

Reese and Penelope in picnic cuddles.


  1. Thanks for the tour of the Ford Museum, so amazing what he was able to collect. I want to visit for the sole purpose of viewing the Wright Brothers workshop and childhood home. I've been to those vacant lots in Dayton. If you find yourself in Dayton - the plane they flew at Kitty Hawk can be found at the Carillon.
    Always fun seeing the grands and their activities.

    1. The Ford and the adjacent village are so worth the visit! Kitty Hawk is one of our very favorite national parks so I'd really love to see the plane - Dayton is on the list now. Those grands keep us smiling.

    2. I have a 'Contact Me' on my blog, if you do make it to the Dayton area I can offer a few more points of interest. I've found no Mexican food!, if you do let me know!

  2. Lower Michigan and Ohio in July is . . .well HOT! You guys are real troopers to do the village and Detroit in the heat. So great to see both the museum and the village again.
    So many things gathered together. It boggles the mind. Love the pictures of Oliver, Henry, Reece and Penelope. But so sorry to hear you had to experience the ER. I hope it continues to be nothing. Where and when will you be in Virginia? Mid September perhaps?

    1. Hmmm - this is the first time I've ever been Anonymous on your blog - Sherry

  3. You guys are troopers enduring all that heat and humidity! Have you read Five Presidents written by Clint Hill who was the agent standing on the bumper of that car you pictured and the first to reach President Kennedy after he was shot, very good book. That's weird the urgent care would not take your Medicare!--so glad your experience in the ER wasn't too bad.

    1. Fortunately the heat and humidity has been broken up with nicer days in between. I'll have to check out the book! The urgent care made it sound like Medicare was a state benefit so I have to look into that. The ER had less people though :-)

    2. Medicare is a federal benefit (that we pay for), your supplemental policy might have been the issue?? We have an excellent insurance agent who keeps us on our toes making sure we have the supplemental policy that will travel with us.

  4. Wow, talk about history overload! There is so much to see in that area! We'll have to add some of those stops to our list. We could do without the heat and humidity though!

    1. I still missed a couple stops in Detroit after all that! One is the Labor Legacy sculpture downtown. The temps were pretty brutal so happy to be indoors from much of our exploring.

  5. So glad you did make your way back to see this museum. Just about the right size for me. We did skip the village. You certainly did justice to the Detroit area. Thanks for the tour of areas we didn't see. Sorry to hear you are still feeling the effects of the fish bone. But it is always good to know that there is nothing new growing there. Hope you turn the corner soon.
    Great photos of the grands!! They are so cute.

    1. I'm so happy we got to see this wonderful place!! Detroit has such wonderful blue collar history, it was interesting to see more of it. We do have some cute grands!!

  6. It’s Gay…thanks for the tour Jodee…places we never visited and probably won’t have a chance to now. I agree, finding doctors and places tat take insurance is a big hassle when traveling. Hope all is well soon.

    1. Glad you came along!! Doing better but still planning to check in with Kaiser in Virginia so far.

  7. A visit to the ER?? Nooooo. I'm so sorry that was part of your Michigan experience, but also very glad to hear that all is well. And I'm very glad that you visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village this time around. I just knew you would love it! We ended up spending two full days there, too, and had a great time. Somehow I missed that bookshelf with the books flying off the shelves...thanks for including that fun photo. As always, I love your delightful photos of your adorable grandkids.

    1. You were certainly right about loving it. If I lived anywhere nearby I'd be there all the time! Of course you love those quirky flying books - they were such a great combination of books and fun.

  8. That Ford museum is spectacular and you covered it so well. I am amazed by the places you find to visit. I need to put towns on my list instead of ignoring most of them.

    1. Visiting cities is so different from living there - see what you want and leave!

  9. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village were a staple for me growing up…seeing I lived two miles from there! Be sure to put the Rouge Factory tour on your list for next time. It’s not a very big building for all the stuff you get to see. Glad you had fun in Frankenmuth!

    1. I would have been there all the time!! Can't believe I missed the Rouge this time, we could have squeezed it in. Have to come back :-) Frankenmuth was another fun place, and made the perfect stop for that stretch.