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We started the year with the usual events-The lakes and Wine tour ending at the Renaissance Fair at the James Arthur Vinyard. Two weeks later we attended the Heartland Regional M.G. meet, one of our favorite shows. However, these were just warm-ups.
But the highlight of the year came on our little jaunt to Niagra Falls via Canada. By M.G. of course.
Our happy band of travelers included Marvin and Sue Marshall, '65 MGB Tourer, Steve and Deb Espelund, '66 MGB Tourer, Jim and Jo Stork, Porsche 911 T, and Martha and I in the '57 MGA.
Perhaps I should explain the Stork's choice of conveyance. Jim Stork is a delightful fellow. He has a number of British cars, including Sprites-Box and Bugeye, a Midget, a Morgan, a 100-6, and a Jaguar 420. But he has a bad habit. He buys a car and takes it home and starts to restore it. He has since put the Box Sprite and the 420 back together. But at that particular moment, despite Marvin, Steve and my efforts at helping to reassemble the Box Sprite, he had only the 911 in operating order.
So our small company left the Marshalls' home in Omaha the morning of June 17, 2001 for two weeks of adolescent joy. It is the practice of our happy little band to drive only seconday highways, unless there is NO alternative save the Interstate Highway system.
We had driven but about 350 miles when, in Waterloo Iowa I stopped for a stop sign, turned a corner and heard a very loud explosion, and the car went dead. I pulled to the side of the road and lifted the hood to discover that my new Lucas Sport coil had literally blown its top off. Fortunately, I had my old Bosch Blue coil in the trunk, and in about 5 minutes we were back under way. I have spoken to several people on this issue, and everyone tells me to check the same things. The car always checks out with reference to the specifications, but the only coil I can make last longer than 500 miles is a Bosch Blue Coil. If anyone is able to tell me why, I am ready to listen!
As it turned out, this was the only problem I would have on this trip. Marvin had a weak head gasket that made it home (barely) and Jim Stork had some trouble with his ignition, but he also made the trip without serious incident. Steve Espelund's car ran flawlessly, but this is digression.
We spent the first night in Independence Iowa, where we discovered a grill under the trees in the court yard of the motel. A quick trip to the grocery store and we were dining on a feast of beef steak, salad, cake, and "adult beverages."
We departed the second day and drove to Marquette Iowa, where we stopped to have lunch in an open air diner on the Mississippi River. We then crossed the river and drove Highway 35 along the Mississippi River. It is a route that I would recommend highly to all who love top down sports car motoring. We reached LaCross, Wisconsin and stopped at a mom and pop motel where we met the owner's pet racoon Rocky. The little mooch stole most of our peanuts and cheetos! We followed Highway 21 across Wisconsin and then took 22 north across Door County and then drove 35 into Michigan, where we stopped at Sandy Shores, in Escabana, Michigan. This little motel is run by Rose Johnson, and by Rose Junior who is, I would guess, in her early 40's. Both were truely delightful hosts who had made provisions for a fire on the beach of Lake Michigan. We enjoyed the fire, the lake, a few good bottles of wine and the approaching storm coming over the lake.
The next morning we took 35 to 2, and took that across Michigan to St Ignace where, after a short drive across the world's second longest suspension bridge, we settled in for the night. The next morning we left by ferry for Macinac Island, where we took the carriage tour. It turns out the driver of our carriage had attended a party for a departing driver the night before and was suffering a bit. Marvin and I started teasing her and finally she turned around and said- You are making me laugh so much that it hurts! Please let me be sober for a while and I will give you a tour that very few people ever get. It was spectacular, she was great fun and we did tip well. When we departed the Island we took 134 east and then drove 129 north to Sault Ste. Marie where we stopped for the night. While in Sault Ste. Marie, we split up, and part of us toured a museum ship while the rest of us took the tour of the locks. For many of us, the Paste we ate was a first. It was quite good. We drove 17 to Blind River where we stopped for the night at a little motel on the river. the rapids below a small dam ran right by the back door. We watched blue herons and sea gulls catch their dinner as the sunlight painted the sky at sunset.
We continued on 17 to Espanola where we took 6 to South Baymouth, hopped on the ferry and took a shortcut via Chi Chi Mon to Tobermory, where we stopped for the night. The next day we drove to Niagra Falls on the Canadian side. We stopped at a new motel that had a new bar at the end of it that was not yet open. It was Marvin and Jim who noticed that all of the other residents were young, attractive females who left for work about 5:00pm and arrived back at the motel around 1:30am. It turned that we were the only residents whowere not traveling strippers. Oh well, it was clean, the scenery was good and the rates were right!
After a day at the falls, we started the return trip. We went through Buffalo, where we had to drive interstate for a time. This was not pleasant. we then started driving route 5 along the shore of Lake Erie. We turned at Orchard Beach and took 89 south and then 6 west again into Ohio, where we stopped at Geneva-on-the-Lake and stayed in the Sands Motel. We ate at the resturaunt next door, on the deck just above the lake. We watched the sun sink into the Lake and then watched the lights of some freighters navigating on the lake. We had another bonfire on the beach and decided to sleep in. We took 528 south and then 91, I271 and 224 west to Willard where we stopped for the night.
We continued on 224 west through Ohio, into Indiana, where we broke down and took I 70 and I 65 to 24, which we took west into Illinois to Peoria. Just outside of Peoria, we ran into a rainstorm, and were caught behind a van with a canoe on top. It was raining too hard to see to pass, so we just kept going to Banner where we stopped under a large tree next to a country church to erect the tops. About three minutes later it stopped raining. We stopped in Canton for the night.
We then drove 97 to Galesburg, where we stopped for some major antiquing, and picked up highway 34 which we would drive the rest of the way home, side trips excepted. We stopped for the night in Chariton Iowa where we called our good firends Ken and Vicky Grant who recently moved there.They were sure we were in Omaha playing a prank on him, but came out anyway and were pleasantly surprized to see us in at the local Chinese restaurant!
The next morning we took a side tour to Pella and to Knoxville where we ate chocolate, toured flower gardens and toured the Sprint Car Museum. We took 181 west to 169, which we took south to 34, and took 34 west to Viking Lake where we stopped to say hello to Martha's brother who was camping there. It was then on to Nebraska where we stopped in Nehawka for the Flatwater Austin Healey Club's monthly fish fry and the Windmill Inn, and then home to Lincoln where we parked the A in the garage to be unloaded the next day.
We covered about 4000 miles on the little jaunt, and had a delightful time. We are convinced that an open roadster allows one to see and smell the surroundings. Granted in some eastern industrial areas this may not have been a bonus, but when driving through a flower filled meadow in the Canadian northlands, it was wonderful!
Other highlights for the year included the Fremont days show, and the Kansas City All British meet, the Flatwater Show and the Loess Hills drive. Thanks again, Brian and Jane, for organizing the Loess Hills run.
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