Saturday, August 14, 2010

My First Time to Michigan!

Today we start our trip to...

Home of...

and sites such as...

and bridges such as...

and modes of transportation such as...

Yes, we're finally off to...

We had good intentions of getting up at a decent time this morning and hitting the road, but it just felt so good to sleep in a bit.  So we did.  Here is Melon Man hanging out, flipping channels while he waits for me to finish packing and getting ready.  That's the look of "come on, stop taking pictures and just get ready."

It was about 10 a.m. or so when we left the hotel and headed to McDonald's for some breakfast.  We jumped on the freeway and he made me drive because I "knew where I was going around Columbus."  Yeah, right...that's why I hauled our GPS with me the whole way to Columbus. 

Anyway, I mostly did know where I was going for the first part of the trip and so he navigated and I drove.  We stopped off for gas and soon we were heading on up a country "highway" (i.e. road) toward Michigan.  The problem, though, was that Melon Man didn't have my brain or heart inside of his skull and chest.  He didn't know what pictures I wanted taken and I'd say, "Take a picture of that!" or "You missed that for the pictures!"  Pretty soon, he was getting irritated with me and made me pull over to let him drive!  Yahoo!  No more driving for me!!!  Ha, ha, ha!!!

I was in awe of so many things.  Northern Ohio has a lot of flat land and low lands.  As we headed north, soon there were more and more trees as well as some rolling hills.  It was so green!

The other thing I started to notice a lot of were Bob Evans restaurants!  They were like LDS churches in Utah - one on every corner practically!  They were everywhere!  Unfortunately, we'd already 5-star dined at McDonald's in lovely Easton/, we didn't stop.  Dang.  I've heard they are REALLY good.

We continued to motor on up the highway and soon Melon Man needed to use the tinkletorium.  So, we stopped at this very lovely rest area.  Isn't it pretty?

This was our fairly comfy rental car - a Nissan (Yay! Love 'em!) Altima.  Melon Man actually really liked it too.  It had a push button start and all you used the key for was to lock the doors.  Notice the license plate...yes, it says New York.  We actually overheard some little boys say "Look, they're from New York!"  We just laughed.  If only they knew that we were actually from the complete opposite site of the country!

I gave my wannabe-fancy pants camera (i.e. my Nikon point & shoot) to Melon Man and told him to use it to take whatever he wanted to take pictures of and I would use the real fancy-pants camera (i.e. my Canon Rebel XTi) to take all of my pictures.  So, after coming back from the tinkletorium, this is what he did...

He took pictures of me sitting in the car...or at least tried to figure out how.  He is such a good sport.  He's really into "old" things such as old style know...the kind where the photographer climbs under the drape thing and holds up a spark thing and a poof of smoke shoots up...oh wait, he's not that old!  No, seriously, he does like older things like film cameras and he's never had a digital camera before, so this is somewhat new to him.  He's quick to learn though so I'm sure he'll do just fine with it.  I mean, really, just keep it set on auto, keep the battery charged, and push the button.  It will do all the rest.  (Love ya MM)

So, on we continued, motoring up the "highway" when we finally came to a real highway.  I took all kinds of pictures.  Pictures of things that just interested me for one reason or another.  Things they have there that we don't have here.  Things like Meijer (no, not Fred Meyer - we don't have that here either actually) grocery stores...

and Kroger trucks for the Kroger grocery stores (ours are Kroger owned stores, but they don't go by Kroger)...

and more that I'll show as we continue on our little journey.

Soon we saw this sign...

Just 87 more miles to Toledo.  Toledo, Ohio.  Melon Man wanted to stop there and go to his grandmother's grave.  He knew just where the cemetery was.  He knew right where her grave was.  It wouldn't take long.  Okay, sure, we'll stop.

So, we keep driving on up the highway and we begin to see this...cornfields...

Isn't it pretty?  Just rows and rows of corn...on slanted land, on flat land, on rolling hills, with houses out in the distance, buried behind the corn.  I would have loved to stop to take a good picture, but this one's not bad for going 80 miles per hour.

Off to the left I later saw this...what in the world....?

Oh,'s old rickety grain shaft or elevator or something.  Melon Man just laughed at me the whole day because I just couldn't get the names of these things right when I would see one.  Remember...I'm a city girl...

This was an interesting sign to puzzled me for a long time. 

I was puzzled because I am fascinated by the Amish people and way of life.  I would never want to live without electricity and such, but they do.  So, when I saw this sign, I was a little confused because I was like, how do they keep the cheeses and meats cold if they don't use electricity?  Well, duh, girl.  There is a two-part answer to this one.  1)  They aren't the ones manning the store this stuff is being sold in, most likely.  That would require commercial refrigeration units.  2)  Those likely don't run on propane, which some Amish WILL use to power a refrigerator to keep their food cold.

I kept telling Melon Man I wanted to go to an Amish town.  I wanted to walk among them and talk to them and make friends with them.  He just kind of wasn't too thrilled about it.  So, on we kept motoring...

It was about this time that our GPS suddenly stopped working.  What the heck?  It's brand new!  We've only used it maybe 6 or 7 times.  Seriously?  That's when Melon Man is all like..."see, this is why I use a map."  (Back to the non-technology guy)  I just could not get it to all.  What were we going to do?  I had no idea where the heck to go.  Oh wait, Melon Man lived here half of his life (and that is a LONG time - LOL!!).  So, he assured me we would be fine and if we needed to, we would just buy a map.  Me, on the other hand, I was IRKED that our brand new Garmin was dead...and I could do NOTHING about it until we got home 7 days from now.

We kept driving for what possibly could have seemed like forever, but because it was all new to me, I actually stayed awake the entire day and I enjoyed every little row of corn and every barn and every tractor.  And, because I enjoyed every single one of them, I'd like to share them with you....

I LOVED this barn...I thought it was just cool...old and worn, but with the Ohio logo on it.

Auntie Sigie would have loved this...the Best Yarn Shop in northwest Ohio!

Look...another Bob Evans restaurant coming up...

Just keep driving, just keep driving...Toledo is this-a-way...

But, before you get to Toledo, you have to go through Findlay...which, by the way, did you know, is also called Flag City, USA?  Hmmm!  No, I did not know that.

Keep track of that black SUV...I think they're on vacation with us.  It'll be in a lot of our pictures for some reason!

A marble orchard...but not the one in Toledo...

Melon Man wanted to go to Ohio's Largest Antique Shop.  I asked him how on earth were we going to get some big, old antique home on a plane next week.  He just said he'd figure it out.  But, we didn't stop, so no worries.

I began to see tons of these bubble-on-a-tube towers.  What...are there so many tress around that they need these as a reference point to know where they are going?  I don't think so...

I'd heard of Bronner's in doing a bunch of research for our vacation, but I saw this sign that said "World's Largest Christmas Store" and before I even saw "BRONNER'S" on the sign, I knew from reading the first line of the sign that it was Bronner's.  (Yeah, tell me I didn't see the "BRONNER'S in yellow taking up the major part of the "real estate!" - Really, I didn't!)  I was really excited to go there.  It's 50,000 square feet of Christmas - all year round!

 I kept taking pictures as we drove on and on.  I was really fascinated with all of the barns everywhere.  There were old barns and new barns, really nice barns, and dilapidated this one...

Soon, we arrived in Perrysburg (well, more like drove through it) and of course, I had to take a picture of the water tower.  I never understood why all these towns have these water towers.  It wasn't until recently that I learned it's to give the local homes some water pressure since there aren't mountains or hills to help with that.  I thought it is interesting that each town puts their name on them...

We then came to Lucas County where Melon Man's Aunt Janette was born.  He wanted me to be sure to take a picture of this sign so we could send it to her, so I did.

We then came to the famous Maumee River, so, of course, I had to take a picture of that too.  Funny thing though...when I saw this picture when I downloaded all of today's pictures, I couldn't for the life of me remember why I took this picture!  However, Melon Man was quick to recognize it to remind me.

We finally arrived in Toledo!  And...of course, what was the first thing we saw as we got off the highway?

Yep.  Another Bob Evans.  By this time, we were really thinking about stopping and trying it out.  But first, we wanted to get to the cemetery.  Melon Man drove right to the Ottawa Hills Memorial Park.

We turned in and the road was lined with these flags.  It was so beautiful.  Each flag had a little plaque below it with the name of a deceased military member and the war or conflict they died in.  It was very touching.

We continued toward where Melon Man thought the grave was, but first, we came across these huge geese.  They just waddled on down the road and then finally across the lawn.

We drove around and around and Melon Man decided that this just was not the right cemetery.  He knew there was a wall along the road, which there wasn't this time.  He knew the graves faced a different direction.  He didn't want to get out and look around or go to the office to find out for sure.  He just knew.  So, we left that cemetery and went further on down the road into town looking for another one.  We found a couple, but none of them were the right one.  So, after venturing into a not-so-great area, we gave up and turned around and decided to head back onto the highway.  As we were sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change, I looked across the way and saw these incredibly beautiful hanging baskets.  I loved the whole look - the baskets, the lightpole, the style of the street sign, and the name of the street - Talmadge - just like the famous scriptorian (even though this one has a D in it and his didn't).  I wish we were able to have baskets like this in Arizona, but it's just too hot.  Drat.

We jumped back on the highway (without stopping at Bob Evans - again!) and very, very quickly we saw this awesome sign!  We're here!  Finally!

Every time we go somewhere and cross a state border, I always want to stop and take a picture of us in front of it, but Melon Man will never stop and so I always either miss the picture or it ends up blurry.  That was not going to happen this time!  This was an important vacation and I wanted to get a good picture of the Michigan sign with us in front of it, so I begged Melon Man to please stop this time.  He agreed to oblige this time!  Yay!  Well, no sooner had he said yes, that we suddenly saw the sign!  But, it was too soon for us to actually stop, so it was good that I had the camera ready!  (If I hadn't been able to get the picture, we WOULD have gotten off at the next exit and turned around and come back again!)

We continued on driving and these were a few of the sites we saw...Uncle Sam selling fireworks...

...a John Deere equipment "store"...

...beef jerky sales off the highway...I really wanted to stop...I love beef jerky!  But, we didn't.

I had to take this picture of the Michigan International Speedway sign because for some odd reason I thought it was the Indianapolis 500 speedway place (yeah, I have no idea what that one's called, but Melon Man loves to watch the Indy 500).  Plus...what other sign is in the picture?  Yep...a sign for another Bob Evans!

I was so amazed at how much the scenery began to change.  There were SO MANY trees and I noticed that people had these awesome ponds in their "yards".  I always wanted a "swimming hole" pond when I was growing up...and here were tons of them all along the highway!  I just wanted to go out and jump into the pond and swim around.  It looked so refreshing!  It made me feel like a kid again just looking at them all!

The forests were thick!  They were so thick that you couldn't see through them!  I don't think I'd ever seen such thick groups of trees, especially right off the highway.  It was so beautiful.  I loved it!

We kept driving and soon we came upon this sign for Ann Arbor.  I had to take a picture of it because that's where the University of Michigan is and Melon Man is definitely a Michigan fan versus an OSU fan (like a ton of folks at work!).

More pictures of the highway and all the trees alongside the road...oh, and the Saturday afternoon traffic.  Oh to have such little traffic in Phoenix!!!  Isn't it interesting how the trees were just carved out to make room for the road?

Look how green it is!

This is the Zilwaukee bridge.  Cool name!  Melon Man kept taunting me that I would be scared going over this bridge...NOT.

My first Mackinac Bridge sign!  Too bad it's still far away and we won't be there for 2 more days, but it sure got me excited!!

More corn fields...

...and another cool red barn in a huge corn field!  I had no idea they grow so much corn in Michigan!

Here's the turnoff to head off to M-23 where we need to go to get to West Branch where Kris and Jim live.

Cool blue grain elevators (or whatever they are!)...and a soybean field.  There are lots of these in Michigan too.

Oh, I forgot...we never did stop at Bronner's.  By the time we got that far, I was tired of being in the car and told Melon Man to just press on.  It wasn't much further to Kris and Jim's so we headed that way.  We figured we'd stop by Bronner's on the way back to Ohio next weekend.

Only 23 more miles to West Branch!  Yay!  I'm so excited!  I'll finally get to meet Kris and Jim!

We drove the additional 23 miles and we're soon turning off onto a side road.  Melon Man missed the first turn that he was supposed to make, but he took a different one and just kept driving.  I had no idea where we were because seriously, there are just so many trees around that one could wander around in them and get lost forever.  (In fact, that's probably where BigFoot lives.  He was probably a former normal person and then one day decided to go for a walk in the Michigan trees and just never came out!)  It really is SO BEAUTIFUL here though!  I truly love it!

When we arrived at Kris and Jim's, she was so welcoming!  Hugs all around.  Jim wasn't home yet and wouldn't be for a while.  We decided to head out and get some dinner and browse around the town.  I think West Branch has the cutest water tower - wouldn't this just make you smile and try to have a nice day if you saw it every day?

Melon Man had been telling me that there were oil wells in Michigan.  Well, when I think of oil wells, I think of the ones that look like this.  He kept pointing out a different kind and I was so confused!  Luckily, as we were driving around town, we came across these.  They were already a rusty/orangey color, but the sun was setting and it just intensified the color even more!

We drove out by Peach Lake and I captured this really cool picture.  I just love the reflection of the sun on the water!

We saw these ginormous bales of hay too.  Seriously, just huge!

And then, we saw this barn.  It was like it was begging for me to take its picture, so I did.  Isn't it cool in color and in sepia?  Can you find the difference in the two pictures?

After we were done bumming around town, we came back to their house and just visited.  Jim was now home so I got to meet him too.  We had a great visit for about 3 hours and then I began to doze off because I was really tired.  It had been a long day in the car. was really warm.  The temperatures were up and so was the humidity.  I was dying sweating.  In Michigan, not a lot of people have air conditioning because most of the year, you just don't need it.  Of course, we came during a heat spell.  I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to sleep at all because of the heat, but Kris was so sweet.  She propped a super duper turbo speed fan on the seat of a chair and aimed it right at me on the bed.  Oh yeah, that worked!  I was out in a flash and I was cool all night long! 

What a great first day in Michigan this has been!


Cindy said...

Great pictures and journaling. Mike served his mission in Ohio and we loved seeing the beauty when we went to pick him up. And we ate at the Bob Evans's. They are good. We liked them.

No light fixture on the barn in the sepia?????

Linda Lu said...

Oh Bob Evans! Love their heart clogging Biscuits and Gravy, they're the best.

Great Bronner's sign, brings back old memories. Recognize a lot of the highway pictures.

Linda Lu

Lisa Tucker said...

Great pictures and a fun story to read...can't wait for more.