Leaving Wisconsin

Adventure Film 06: Lakes & Origins

This is the sixth post on the Adventure Film project. If you haven’t read parts 1-5 of the adventure film blog series yet, you can read them here:

“I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”
– Thomas Carlyle

Day 9

After eight days of straight travel & filming, Landon and I were whipped.  We had come to a crossroads of sorts.  We assessed the dwindling budget and determined that we could afford to replace some bread and cheese that was spoiled in the cooler.  It is only because of generous readers of this blog that we were able to get as far as we did (My many thanks for your support).  At this point in the journey we were debating the merits of more travel because of the expense (basically fuel).  In mid morning of day nine we had determined that we should press on in spite of tough financing.  Somewhat encouraged, we moved out for Michigan & the promise of a day off.

There are two primary routes to travel from Wisconsin to central Michigan.   One can take the indirect route and drive down around the horn of Lake Michigan through Chicago.  Option two is more fun & more direct.  A ride on the SS Badger ferry from Manitowoc, Wisconsin across lake Michigan to Ludington, Michigan.  We opted for the ferry.  It was recommended by friends and we didn’t have to sit in the Jeep to get to Michigan!  So on to the SS Badger we went.

It was a nice day with a gentle wind blowing across the ship as we crossed the great lake.  Birds flew around us and children roamed the decks.  It was the kind of therapy the soul needs after staring out of an insect sprayed windshield for eight days.  Landon even managed a short nap.

Ships are made similar to RVs and aircraft in that everything is small and light.  The bathrooms are small, hallways are small, and walls are thin.  The 6’8″ Landon couldn’t stretch to his full height in the halls of the ship.  As he was walking down a hallway with his head bent over while slouching, a 10 year old boy in front of him suddenly turned around when he realized someone was walking behind him.  His eyes grew to the size of saucers as he saw the “giant”.  With all the subtly of a 10 year old boy, he ran over to a friend in a dining area and grabbed his arm.  Then he pointed at Landon as he slouch-walked past them.  The friend loudly said “WHOOOAA”.  I love the innocence of children.  This still makes me laugh.

As we arrived at port in Ludincton, Michigan, Landon and I were beginning to feel the need for food.  Once offloaded, we stopped for fuel and I parked the jPod at a gas station across from a pizza place.  Landon got his pizza.  While the pizza was baking, I made popcorn in the parking lot of the gas station.  I know it is unusual to see a man making popcorn out the back of his teardrop trailer at a gas station.  I discovered this when no fewer than 15 cars came by with their owners gawking out the windows and wanting to chat, giggle, and otherwise socialize.  It was really good popcorn.

Nathan & Erin’s Jeep House

By evening, we had arrived at Nathan’s parent’s house.  Nathan and his wife Erin live in the Northwest and were in Michigan to visit family.  It was a good opportunity to visit the family and relax with friends.  Nathan and his parents have done more than their share of work in helping with the jPod Overland trailer.  Nathan is pictured all over this blog doing various tasks on the jPod.  We also go camping with Nathan and Erin.  His parents own a hardware store which ended up being the supplier for most of the jPod hardware.  Besides their hard work ethic and generosity to friends, they are genuine people and great company.  At the end of day nine, I fell asleep in the basement of the house on an actual bed.  The bed in the jPod is very comfortable (memory foam) but the air in Wisconsin was a sticky hot hell to try to sleep through.  In the basement of the already cooler state of Michigan, the temperature was perfect and I slept the sleep of the dead.

Day 10

We vowed to do no driving on day 10.  In fact, we decided to spend a day with Nathan’s family.  It was great.  In the morning, I went for a three mile walk/run.  After nine days of sitting, I felt that my body was wasting away.  It was a hot & humid run but a great start to the day.  After eating breakfast (Nathan’s mother is a great cook by the way!), we went on a tour of the town & surrounding areas of Cedar Lake.  We visited family down the road, drove through the town, and heard the stories.  At one point, we toured a forklift company owned by Nathan’s family.  It was territory which pleases any builder’s soul.  Massive metal working machines, engines, and uniquely designed fork lifts for lifting bee hives.

Poorman's Bargain Barn
Poorman’s Bargain Barn

Across the street from the forklift facility is the “Poorman’s Bargain Barn”.  The Poorman’s Bargain Barn is Nathan’s Parent’s hardware store.  It is not a traditional hardware store.  There are many of the typical hardware items but numerous hardware items which are difficult to find.  It is an eclectic mix of general consumer hardware and truly awesome tools.  Even though I have purchased a number of items from this store (read Toys Have Arrived), I had never visited it before.  It was fun to see one of the birthplaces of the jPod project.  It was also good to see the business that I helped to support -a little.  I’d rather support a local guy than the big box stores any day.

By late afternoon a plan had formed.  We were going kayaking.  Neither Landon nor I had ever been in a proper kayak and it sounded like a great adventure.  The six of us loaded up the family kayak and struck out for a local river.  Since our hour long trip down the river, I have thought about buying kayaks for Senior Management and I to use.  I’ve even mentally planned a rack for the jPod to hold kayaks.  It is so peaceful and easy rowing.  This is relaxation at its best.   After we finished the kayak trip we stopped for ice-cream.  Yep I know… this is a perfect day.

As evening approached, I was back to planning our route south to Elkhart, Indiana and the National RV Hall of Fame.  The next day, we would see one of a kind RVs, the world’s oldest known RV, and interview a historian who advises the Smithsonian Museum on the Topic of RVs.  The brief break was over and it was time to get back to making a film.

It is truly exhausting but also exciting.  I am thankful for friends who share this experience.

Read Part 07

2 thoughts on “Adventure Film 06: Lakes & Origins”

  1. I really enjoyed the pictures. I realize how much I miss Lake Michigan and the area around home. The Coast Guard picture is one of my favorites.

  2. Well done. Wish I could’ve gone w/ you. It looks like you saw some beautiful things. I’m glad you’re home now. 🙂

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