Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Times Square

Once we had settled in, we headed off in search of food, which we found at the Carnegie Deli. If you pay $15 for a hot pastrami it is only fitting that it is piled this high! Some place else we found cheesecake, and then we wandered into Times Square. Which as most people realize is not a square. Nor was it empty, quiet, or dark. Eventually Devon headed back to the room - why waste a perfectly good wall-mounted flat-screen TV - and M&I went to Promises, Promises.

57th Street

It was easy enough to find our way into Manhattan, drop M&D at the door, and then drive a few blocks to the parking garage. The hard part was having to take the rocket box off the car and somehow load it and all its contents inside the car so that the car itself would fit in the garage. So much for not looking like a flustered tourist. At least we wouldn't have to think about it for three days.

Our hotel was on 57th Street, between 6th and 7th, just two blocks south of Central Park and practically across from Carnegie Hall. The room was actually a suite, so D got his own room and his own TV. Not bad for a relatively inexpensive place. We were on the 8th floor, looking out the back (north) side, so not much of a view. The subway is close and Norma's is just across the street.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


We sped through Michigan, stopping briefly to walk around the University of Michigan and to visit a beach I wanted to see between Toledo and Sandusky. The restaurant we wanted to check out in Sandusky was closed and we ate in some generic family place with a sundae bar near the freeway. Despite D's urging, we didn't swing by Cedar Point for an evening of roller coasters.

We spent Day 7 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I insisted on a detour through Pittsburgh, since I like the city - history, rivers, recollection of nationals with D in 2004. D still begrudges the place for the Steelers' performance in the 2006 Superbowl. We drove through quickly - with lunch in the University area at the Original Hot Dog Shop (one of many places we tried from the Stern's Road Food book, which traveled in the library with all the AAA guides).

We made it to Valley Forge to visit Cousin Ann (M's side) that evening - after dinner at the King of Prussia Mall (largest mall in the east??). The next morning we drove into the City of Brotherly Love, found a perfect parking place, stood in line to see the Liberty Bell, and headed for New Jersey.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Straits of Mackinac

D got the driver's seat for the drive across the bridge. Wasn't this featured in his 2nd grade science fair project?

There's something about the Upper Peninsula that made me think we were in Canada, or at least that crossing the bridge was a return to the lower 48. We drove into Mackinaw City to find Dad coffee and wound up with a glazed donut D could have hung around his neck (at the Mackinaw Bakery, I think).

Yesterday and today included lyrics from three songs on my Road Songs playlist:

-- The searchers all said they'd have made Whitefish Bay if they'd put 15 more miles behind her (Gordon Lightfoot).
We'd have made Whitefish Bay if we'd put 80 more miles behind us last night and it hadn't gotten dark.

-- Took a bead on the northern plains and just laid that power on. 12 hours out of Mackinaw City, I stopped at a bar to have a brew (Bob Seger). He must have been going the other direction - 12 hours would be Grand Forks - there's a Starbucks there, although I guess that's not what he meant.

-- It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw. I've gone to look for America (Simon and Garfunkle). Four days from Saginaw - could be just about anywhere. We were counting cars on the New Jersey turnpike in two.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Grand Marais

We followed the back road up to Grand Marais and the Grand Sable dunes. I was afraid we'd run out of daylight, or find the missing bugs, but as it turned out there was time to hike down to the falls and to drive out to the dunes and the bugs never showed up. D ran (slid?) down the bluff (they call it the log chute, based on its historic use) and had the beach and Lake Superior all to himself for ten minutes before he started the long slog back up. M & I stayed on top.

We had dinner at the Lake Superior Brewing Company before climbing back into the car and leaving Lake Superior for the not quite so great lakes to the south.

Pictured Rocks

I expected the bugs would keep us from Pictured Rocks, but as it turned out the gray weather was a bigger obstacle. I suspect that clear skies and sunshine do wonders for this place - turning the waters blue and lighting up the rocks. The coastline itself is spectacular and reminded me in many ways of the beaches on Georgian Bay near Tobermory - although these beaches are sandy, not cobble.

We drove out to Miner's Castle and to the beach just around the corner (where M & D sat in car while I went out to the beach). I was blown away by the lack of flies and mosquitoes - I had expected a war zone.

I need to come back someday in late spring or early fall with more time and a kayak!


Despite clear weather inland, the lake was still covered with fog when we got back to it in Marquette. The city is fixing up its old industrial waterfront and looks like its doing its best to keep the old buildings. I liked the old ore loading pier (blue skies and a blue lake would have made a better backdrop). We had lunch at a little beach just north of town, where D & I tossed the frisbee and Michele talked with Bev on the phone.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


We dropped into Duluth to find Lake Superior blanketed with fog - which made for cool temperatures but lessened the dramatic impact of reaching the world's largest lake. We drove through downtown, then to the beach and the waterfront. Unfortunately, no large ore carriers or other ships were scheduled to go through the cut for a couple more hours, so we grabbed a snack and headed on. The northern edge of Wisconsin went quickly and we ended up in Ironwood, Michigan, for night #4.

Lake Itasca

We (and a small horde of other tourists) watched the Mississippi River flow out of Lake Itasca and wind its way down towards Bemidji, as it started its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico where it will mix with crude oil to create a chemically and politically complex soup.

I doubt my family appreciates physical geography and plumbing quite the way I do, so the fact that we started Day 4 in the Red River watershed (Hudson Bay), spent the middle of the day at the headwaters of the Mississippi (Gulf of Mexico), and ended the day in the Great Lakes (the Saint Lawrence and the Atlantic), probably didn't occur to them as sort of cool!

Friday, June 25, 2010

North Dakota

We stuck to Route 2 across North Dakota, which was pretty much the original plan, although I had hoped we'd have time to swing south through Teddy Roosevelt NP (the ND badlands are more extensive and more interesting than the ones that most folks visit in South Dakota east of Wall Drug).

We drove past the old Schulmberger shop and the Super 8 in Williston and I even found the "Chateau" apartments in Minot where I spent a good part of 1982 while the bottom was dropping out of the oil market. The area around Tioga and Stanley was buzzing with activity - apparently they've found a way to squeeze oil directly out of the Bakken shale and there are new wells were everywhere. D politely tolerated my convoluted explanations of how oil and gas are located and extracted.

The Minot train station has been fixed up since I was last here - when D & I were returning from Chicago on the Empire Builder in April, 2005.

In Rugby, we marveled at how the Geographic Center of North America happens to occur right at an intersection along Route 2. Convenient. We stayed near Grand Forks and crossed the Red River the next morning, where it was actually drizzling.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


East of the Fort Belknap Agency, we came to this little church on a rise, glowing in the last light of the day.

My passengers stayed in the car (were they uncomfortable with the lack of sidewalks, traffic lights, and street noise -or did they know something that I didn't?), so I wandered off in search of photos. The mosquitoes waited until I was far from the car before attacking. Some were the size of hummingbirds. I stood little chance out in the open, so I ran, fumbling with the gate, desperately hoping that M & D would let me open the door to get back in the car.


Cut Bank, Shelby, Havre, Malta, and Glasgow (where we closed out day 2). Oil wells, wind turbines, and freight trains (we passed the Empire Builder, too).

Just east of Shelby, we checked out Devon (our own Devon wasn't too impressed), where the grain elevators were still active, but little else was.

The High Line (I've seen various spellings) is the route of the Great Northern and U.S. 2 across northern Montana. It should not be confused with the High Line of mid-town Manhattan, which we will visit next week, although both are railroad legacies.