You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We've been lurking near Morgantown, West Virginia, for a few days, mitigated by some casual hikes in the Coopers Rock State Forest, and now we'll resume our westward progress towards Wisconsin.
First, 31 May 2022, at the Hampton Inn and Suites just outside Ashland, Ohio, with a . . .
. . . very nice room, or suite, whatever.
One has been visiting family near Ashland since about 1970 but never ventured into the downtown -- it's much more interesting than foreseen.
That's certainly worth a second glance.
It's time for lunch in the Uniontown Brewing Co., very nice place, catching up on old and new times with family (that's not the Uniontown Brewing Co.).
The Uniontown has its own kind of charm -- all the brewing vats are next door, but the finished products are worth mentioning.
Lunchtime pals (right to left): nephew Adrian (half of a poetical couple in Toledo), his youngest son Scott, sister Susan of Ashland, and a friendly passerby.
We were told a story about that butterfly, but we've forgotten it.
Further explorations of the passage of family time
[Sister Susan's celebratory photo taken for the occasion, later liberated from Facebook.]
Meanwhile, someone has gone to ground.
Not as sociable as might have been wished.
Tomorrow we're off at dawn (or nearly so) for a six hour trajet past Toledo and a large chunk Michigan to catch a ferry.
This is Norwalk, Ohio, self-described as 'the best little city in Ohio', planted more or less equidistant among Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus, where citizens have the opportunity to celebrate their local worthies with these lamppost banners.
'The Hometown Hero Banner Program provides the opportunity for a member of the public to purchase a banner to recognize the city of Norwalk’s servicemen and servicewomen and their families who serve, have served or given their lives to our country in the United State Armed Forces' (Norwalk Reflector). What a nice idea.
We resume our journey across the heart of Middle America.
The drive is seeming longer and longer.
'Dig we must', as Con Edison used to say of its New York City construction sites
We yearn for at least a few small hills along the way.
But at least we've got a great lot of car dealership US flags, a note of color if nothing else.
At last, here we are, the very satisfactory Dunes Express in Hart, Michigan.
Hart, Michigan, has the closest pet-friendly accommodation we could find to tomorrow's ferry dock in Ludington. Half an hour farther north, at the crack of dawn (more or less).
Here we are -- flagged off to a special holding pen for cars with pets aboard. Pets need to stay in their cars, but are boarded last and therefore get to be first off. Which is good.
Some important information about our imminent Lake Michigan crossing, indicating that . . .
. . . we are part of a distinguished historical tradition. As so often.
That's the Badger's decommissioned sister boat, or ship perhaps. Water craft. The Badger, reconstituted in recent years and revised to no longer carry railroad cars, by 1988 was the last of the 14 ships running on the line out of Ludington.
The Badger is advertised as the only coal-fired ferry on the lakes, but after a some years of negotiations with the EPA and environmental groups for its practice of dumping toxic coal ash directly into the lake, under a consent decree with the DOJ and EPA
the Badger was supplied with a new 'combustion control system' to burn coal more efficiently, and toxic ash is now stored on board and off-loaded for making cement. (Discussions about the black smoke don't seem to have come up.)
A series of quick security checks at the dock, and we're off.
The cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pets will be joining us soon, down here on the lower deck.
Downtown Ludington, probably not the best view of it
Pet-filled cars lined up, with an enigmatic gentleman planted suggestively directly in front of our Volvo.
A rapid walk around the decks to make sure that we have the regulation number of lifeboats aboard. Mind the black smoke.
Ludington harbor and breakwaters
Still to be loaded on, a motorcycle club and a couple of montrous truck rigs, with a small group of religious people who've come along to wave byebye to one of their colleagues.
Religious people moving over to a better vantage
We misunderstood the usher's directions and left our car window wide open, with our little buddies locked up in their cage. That led to second thoughts, and with a helpful security assistant, Kristin is returning to put the window up to a mere ventilating crack.
Here comes Sven the Wonder Volvo, driven by a teenage staff member. Do you very best, laddie!
Not so good, but a more senior car marshal sets him straight.
Good, now just straight ahead, backwards.
Patient religious persons, awaiting our departure
This driver is an artist.
One is stunned by skill levels on this order.
Here comes another one, right alongside the first one.
It's too late to back out now.
Bye Bye!! Safe journey to Wisconsin!
The young lady to whom they're waving was quite nice and spent much of the trip briskly walking laps around the upper decks, for fitness, etc.
An attractive residential subdivision along the harborside
Storm Surge City . . .
. . . a beach community
We're officially at sea now, or at lake.
Our cafeteria; yum, sort of.
We've got a teensy 'stateroom' wedged in just down the corridor, in case it's too cold out of doors on the high seas, or high lake.
But we have a courageous go at setting up a chair with coffee and a rewarding book. That, however, lasted less than a minute.
The bridge, and some comfy chairs in the chilly breeze. The gentleman apparently snoozing over on the right was in fact dead already.
That, if we're not mistaken, is meant to be Manitowoc, Wisconsin -- connecting Rte 10 in MI with Rte 10 in WI.
A small city with, no doubt, its own history
Not a terribly attractive history, but it's probably beloved by its residents nonetheless.
Roughly three hours later, now in north-central Wisconsin, we're in the Northwoods and Gazillion Lakes district. And after eight months locked up in a condo in Virginia, here are two cats who recognize our destination and are giddy with anticipation.
Back to the family properties on the lake, 2 June 2022.
Choupette is supervising the unloading of the heavily-laden car , and both cats are settling in enthusiastically.
Next up: Probaby just some lake views, with cats