Sat. Jul. 30, 2011: Portage, IN ~ Frankenmuth/Birch Run, MI ~ London, ON
If there were time, we would’ve explored the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, but there was none. Just time for a walk in a park in Portage, to say Jer got a geocache in this state, and we had to go.
The weather was magnificent, sunny and hot and Lake Michigan looked so inviting as we drove up the shore, but there was no time.
I am glad that my first visit to Michigan a few years ago was to the right parts (i.e. Yooper country, Sleeping Bear and the Superior and Huron shoreline) because this drive along I94 to I69 around Flint was through all of the wrong parts and we were disappointed by the lack of…everything or anything scenic.
Frankenmuth was our destination and I had convinced myself that I was elatedly looking forward to it.
So we got there…And saw the crowds and crowds of people strolling along the promenade, lined up at the shops for ice cream, pouring out of the restaurants and down the sidewalks, waiting for schnitzel…And we realized that we weren’t up to it.
We drove down the main street to the end, turned around, drove back, and parked at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
We took pleasure in spending time geocaching outside of Bronners, so we’d spend less time inside, though we knew we couldn’t not go inside.
Our plan inside: tour the place quickly and keep on moving. Only stop if something catches the eye. Take photos, instead of spending more money.
We didn’t see it all, but were out within 40 minutes, I think. We bought ornaments of karate Santas, and one of Rudolph riding a bass fish, and an outdoorsy Nutcracker holding a fishing pole with lures, amongst a few knick-knack souvenirs for family.
Then we got the heck out of town.
We had to stop at Birch Run because we’d been told by others about the deals, deals, deals. Yeah, we bought some things, but not a lot because the deals were not worth fighting the crowds of people.
I ate at Chili’s for the first time and fell in love with the chips and guacamole. I believe we passed most of the meal by making constant references to funny moments from The Office on TV (U.S. series).
In the dark, dark night, we drove to the border at Port Huron at around 11:30 pm and then continued on driving in reflective silence, over the St. Clair River and back into Canada. With welcome Tim Hortons coffees now in hand, we tiredly drove the last stretch along the deserted 402. There was no moon, nor stars, nor other cars.
We reached London with mixed feelings: we felt relief at being done the long-haul driving, and anxiety at being so close to home, and thus, almost at the end of our adventure. Simply put, we checked in; we flopped down on the top of the bed; we passed out.