Great Lakes Area

Detroit, Chicago, 09/05/2016

After the falls we met back up at the nearby park to board the bus again we were soon on the road again today we travel through Canada to the US boarder by Detroit.

Loads and loads of vineyards along the way each off ramp seems to have 5 or 6 signs for different vineyards to visit.

We crossed back into the US and made our way to the Hotel in Dearborn, passing by the Henry Ford plant on the way.

6 September

First stop this morning is the Henry Ford Museum, not something I was all that fussed on but it turned out to be a fantastic place, biggest locomotive I have ever seen just massive.

Also the old mechanisms that ran that ran the ford plant were really impressive the sheer size of the fly wheels was mind-blowing. And some of the pumps from back in the late 1700’s I did not even know they had such technology then.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy traveling with Matt he gets right into this stuff as well, I can see he is off in a world of his own and loving every minute of this place.

The cars and trains of the presidents were also awesome to see in person, the actual car the JFK rode in, left the hairs on the back of my neck standing to be able to see and touch a part of history.

The old steam locomotive snow plough is another that I had not seen before, would have been amazing to see that in action.

Like some of the other stops it seems we were pretty rushed here and I am pretty sure every bloke on the tour would have loved another hour or two, two hours were not enough here. If I am ever in the area again I will certainly spend some time here.

After we leave the museum we head off toward Chicago, but first will be our lunchtime stop and the most fantastic food and service of the entire trip.

The countryside is still much the same as it has been to date, green with loads of rivers a short while later and its welcome to Cracker Barrel for lunch; our driver has highly recommended a meal called Chicken Fried Chicken.

The restaurant is without a doubt the best meal I had on the whole trip, the waiter was so friendly helpful and genuine, we mentioned we enjoyed the iced tea, so after we had settled up he brought us a complimentary one to take on the road, now that’s service.

The service was so attentive but without being suffocating, I would love to just go to this place again someday.

The food was stunningly good, my mouth waters just thinking about it even now. I had the Chicken Fried Chicken and it was the best chicken I have had in my 50 years on this earth! The deserts were also very tasty.

Back on the road for a couple of hours, our afternoon stop at the Indiana welcome centre on the outskirts of Chicago, basically a glorified toilet block with pamphlets. Nice picture of the local Governor Mike Pence.

Then it’s on into Chicago about 5PM we enter the city we go past the new sports stadium, shaped like a space ship, very cool, I notice some runners on the side of the road looking very

over heated in the summer sun, in the bus it’s hard to tell but it looks like a hot day.

I like the look of this city so much newer and cleaner than New York.

Sure enough when we step off the bus at the hotel we are greeted by the heat. We are starting to get to know some of our fellow passengers now and Mick is keen to go to a Blues club that evening, so we agree to tag along.

After settling in to the hotel Matt and I went for a walk to explore the local area, we walked up to Grant Park which backs on to the shores of Lake Michigan, spent about 10 minutes looking at Buckingham fountain, famous form the opening of Married with Children a 90’s sitcom.

Spotted a bag store on the main road and Matt wanted to get a new bag as his was rapidly falling apart, I too decided to get a new one, as I was running out of room for souvenir caps and now that we had completed all out flights in the US there was really no need to travel light anymore.

Chicago or at least this part of it is nice and clean and the people are friendly, I am wary that the whole city isn’t like this and we need to be mindful of where we go, love the architecture here even the overhead railway adds a certain charm to the city.

The design of having a big green space with parks between the city and the lakeside is fantastic and add a cool vibe or feel to the downtown area.

Then we went off to Buddy Guys blues bar with Mick and The younger Aussie couple from the tour.

It was a great venue but man they had some odd rules there was five of us, but you could only have 4 at a table, when we tried to bring another chair over you would have thought we tried to steal an instrument off the stage the reaction was so strong.

It was tonight I became Matt’s dad, he text me from the toilet informing me of his deception, it’s just too hard explaining our friendship sometimes. I agree it’s just as easy to go with the father son thing.

The band was ok but the highpoint was when the owner came on stage later in the night, apparently it’s a rare treat.

I got very drunk and if I am honest don’t remember much of the rest of the evening, I do however recall the Aussie guy asking a homeless person to sing for a donation and the guy sang an amazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

When I got up the next day I noticed some pictures on my phone the next day of Matt pulling a brown eye out the hotel window. Quickly got those shots into secure storage so they don’t come back to haunt either of us.

I got some details from Matt later the next day apparently he wasn’t the only one, oh god, mental note don’t get that drunk again, yeah right.

Another great day on tour.

7 September

Things move a little slow this morning, a bit hung-over. Thank god we don’t have to get up early.

When we eventually do make a move we head out in search of food a very common activity when travelling with my hollow legs friend Matt. :)

Dunkin Doughnuts on Wabash was our choice of breakfast food, can’t remember why but it wasn’t too bad if I recall correctly.

From there we walked to Navy Pier which took about an hour stopping to have a good look around Chicago on the way looked around the river walk and took in the sights of the golden mile.

We got a little bit lost looking for a way to the Navy pier, ended up a street which was heading in the right direction but was a dead end, locals had kindly put signs up informing us of our error, we bumped into a local man who also cheerfully informed us of the right way to go apparently many tourists ended up where we were.

We spent about an hour at Navy Pier, including a look at the botanical garden which had some really cool water features. A thunderstorm passed through while we were on the pier but in typical USA fashion it didn’t last long, even the jet boat operating from the pier next to us which abandoned its tour midway because of the lightning, said to passengers to stay in their seats as they may be able to get back out soon.

Then we walked to Bobby’s bike hire another 15 minutes walking and picked up the hire bikes. Great quality bikes we decided to bike around the lake as far as we could go. The day soon heated up again and keeping up with Matt was a bit challenging.

The scenery around the lake is awesome and seeing Chicago’s city line disappear in the distance as we biked on was cool.

We cycled out to Montrose Beach on Lake Michigan about 10KMs north of Navy Pier. There we went for a swim in the lake, just a couple of Kiwi lads swimming in Lake Michigan. I lost my watch at some point here.

We biked back to the bike hire place then grabbed a cab to the hotel as we were running a bit late for the scheduled meeting time for the evenings events, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the hotels name and the driver was hopeless but we got there eventually after a mild panic attack by me.

Surreptitiously sent Matt a text to wait till I had my card back from the driver before getting out of the cab, just in case he was annoyed at the slightly damp seats we left behind as we had not fully dried off from the lake.

A Quick change then piled into the tour bus for our ride to Dinner at the rib house.
Dinner was average the ribs were not that great, and I got sat next to the mad old dear from the bus, wow she can talk.

After dinner the tour bus took us to sears tower to see the sky deck. Views from up there are incredible, you can see 3 states and it’s so flat for miles and miles, the lights are cool but I would love to have seen it in the daytime.

I braved the glass ledge hanging out form the side of the building but only a few steps.


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