Monday, April 18, 2011

Van Buren Ohio to Sudbury Ontario

We were up before 5:00 AM anticipating a long day on the road. The Internet showed it was -6C at home and snowing while it was 42F here. After a quick breakfast, I disconnected in the dark knowing that at least I had no surge protector to forget today. We rolled out in the still dark morning before 6:00 AM.

Things were fine as we watched the sun come up and drove around Toledo, taking US 23 north and sparing ourselves the I-75 stretch through Detroit. Unfortunately, as we approached Ann Arbor, the snow started to fall. By the time we were north of the city, it was coming down heavily and limiting our visibility. One trucker on the CB suggested that Mother Nature had PMS this week. At least our side was moving but the southbound into Ann Arbor was backed up at a crawl or slower for almost twenty miles. I stopped for fuel in Michigan, paying $3.999 per USG, and then continued on. It eased a bit but then picked up again near Saginaw. Finally, north of Saginaw, it cleared up for good although the ice buildup on the RV stayed with us for quite a while.

Fueling at $3.999 in southern Michigan

Driving US 23 in Michigan in a snowstorm

Someone forgot how to drive in snow

More snow and no one doing the speed limit

Salt truck

Another driver loses it

Finally, clear roads

Ice on the mirrors

The KOA in Kentucky called to say they had found my surge protector. They confirmed the address and I made arrangements to cover the mailing costs plus a $5.00 charge for packing and mailing it. Cheap at five times the price. I guess they do this quite regularly. In any case, thanks to the fine folks at the Renfro Valley KOA for their help.

Driving through the Lower Peninsula of Michigan was quite relaxing. No big winds and almost no traffic as we headed for the Mackinac Bridge. One concern was a new clunking sound when we hit certain kinds of bumps in the road. Sandy got up and tried to pinpoint the source, indicating it was coming from the roof. My suspicion was that the TV antenna, which felt loose when I cranked it down last night, was bouncing on the roof. This isn't good because the chance of damaging the antenna or the rubber roof is possible. This elevated the priority of checking it out when we get home.

Northern Michigan highway traffic (or lack thereof)

As we approached the Big Mac, signs warned of construction ahead and that one lane was closed on the bridge. Wow, what a surprise. I can only think of one crossing in the last five years where both lanes were open. Luckily, there were no wind warnings and the crossing was easy. I paid a toll of $4.50 per axle for a total of $13.50, compared to $3.50 for a car.

Construction sign for the Mackinac Bridge

Lane closed? So what else is new?

Starting across the five mile Big Mac

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island (see Somewhere in Time)

The closed lane

Welcome to the U.P.

There was a heavy layer of salt or brine on I-75 as we approached the Soo indicating that they have had their share of the late snow. I stopped and fueled on the US side and then headed over the International Bridge. For once, we got to Canadian Customs and there were no vehicles lined up. I told the Border Services officer that we had $3,400 to declare and he sent us inside with a piece of paper. The lady at the counter was training a young man and they were very pleasant. After converting to Canadian (a reduction for a change) and deducting our $750 each in exemptions, we ended up paying the cashier $233 in HST on what they classed as Auto Parts.

The International Bridge - Sault Ste Marie

Empty Customs booths

Back in Canada, we drove up to my brother Dave's house. I called Rick, someone I know through the STOP Program, and he offered to come over to the house. Rick has Multiple Sclerosis and just underwent the Liberation Treatment in Rhode Island with very positive results. Sandy was eager to hear the take first hand. Rick arrived and gave us a very positive story about both the facility and his improvement so we will seriously consider pursuing it. It is a shame that not only won't the government fund the procedure, which I understand, they have prohibited OHIP facilities from doing it even if the patient is willing to foot the bill.

Dave gave us several boxes with some of Mom's things, all labeled, that he thought we or the girls might be interested in. There were some old photos, underscoring the need to get one of the dedicated photo scanners so they can be digitized and put on discs to share with everyone.

We left the Soo headed for Sudbury about 4:30. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I waved to a Mennonite buggy driver near Sowerby and he actually waved back. The only stop was in Spanish where I took a moment to clean the crud off the rear view camera. The stretch of highway the last forty miles from the Espanola turnoff into Sudbury was as bad as we have seen anywhere. Sandy pointed out it was pretty pathetic for the Trans-Canada Highway.  I'll remember how well our northern roads have been maintained when the Provincial election rolls around in the fall.

Mennonite wave

Huron Central motive power

Northern Ontario roads

Sundown in Sudbury

We arrived home just as the sun was going down and parked the whole unit out in front of the house. Unloading, unhooking and getting everything in the driveway could wait until morning. I took the thermostat off it's vacation setting, turned the water on and we settled into our permanent home for the night the first time in almost seven weeks.

Today's Route (630 motorhome miles):

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