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Thread: Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip

    Many Cyburbians have a love of geography, love to tell about and describe places they have been, travel often, and certainly brag about their own "neck of the woods". With all of that in mind, let's take a fantasy trip....dubbed The Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip. Here's how it works.....

    Imagine that we are all crammed into a single vehicle. Because this Bear is starting this trip, it will begin in Swanton, OH.

    Each thread participant will begin at the location where the previous poster left off. You can cover as much ground as you care to. Provide routings, scenic sites, places you might have enjoyed (and tell us why ).....you can even be a civic booster for your own area. Let's make this road trip fun and informative.

    Oh.....be honest, too. If your routing takes us through a less-than-picturesque place, tell us about it, and why. Rants about signs, big boxes, ugly 'burbs.....all permitted.

    Now.....everybody grab a seat. Remember, we are all bozos on this bus.
    _____

    Starting Point - Swanton, OH
    This trip begins at Hub's Bar, facing the railroad tracks, in Swanton, OH. Primarily a bedroom suburb of Toledo, the village is the home of a famous Bear.

    We will jump on the Ohio Turnpike and head west.

    Northwestern Ohio is quite flat, except for the broad river valleys. As we motor west we notice quite a few groups of deer, always grazing on the stubble in the cornfields and beanfields that line the pike. Woodlots provide plenty of windbreaks, protecting some of the best soil in the world.

    We pay the toll at the west end of the Ohio Turnpike, motor a few miles farther west, and go through the toll booths of the Indiana Toll Road. Northern Indiana is more rolling than northwestern Ohio.....and the routing takes us past a number of scenic lakes.

    About halfway through Indiana is an exit that could get you to Granger, IN. There is a popular nudist resort located in Granger. (Been there. )

    South Bend is interesting. The city has a strong urban feel.....kind of a surprise to me on my first visit. I expected more of a college town feel, because of Notre Dame. West of South Bend is an area that is always blasted by lake-effect snow.

    Map lovers should know that the Indiana Toll Road and I-94 run nearly parallel to each other for about 30 miles in northwestern Indiana. Both roads are testaments to the industrial might of the Great Lakes region......big rigs dominate.

    I will end the "armchair" adventure in the Michigan City area. Time for another Cyburbian to start driving.

    Ending Point - Michigan City, IN
    _____

    Anybody want to drive? My eyes are tired.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Ending Point - Michigan City, IN
    _____

    Anybody want to drive? My eyes are tired.

    Bear
    I'll take the wheel (wheelchair?) for a little while. You younguns don't want us old geezers on the road too long.

    Starting Point - Michigan City, IN

    Leaving Michigan City, we travel down Highway 35 to La Porte and visit the auctions. ofos spent many evenings there with his parents looking for just the right riding horses to be brought back to the farm. The Amish, who are numerous in the area, were shrewd horse-traders and provided this young man with a look at a rural culture that was very different from his own. There were many other goods and foods sold there as well.

    Now leaving La Porte and heading back north on Hwy 37, we cross back into Michigan and connect up with the Red Arrow Hwy which parallels the shoreline of Lake Michigan, grandest of the Great Lakes. It's only a short trip to Warren Dunes State Park, where the residents of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio converge to drive away the ivory translucence of winter, replacing it with broiled lobster redness and eventually with bronzed skintones prized by the Coppertone contingent. Some of us pay for that later in life.

    I'd like to drive a little farther but I'm enjoying laying out here in the sun with a high school girlfriend so I'll let someone else take the wheel and meander off in their own direction.

    Ending Point - Warren Dunes State Park, MI
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Around The Lake

    I was hoping that somebody would grab the wheel and head on down to Chicago. Since nobody feels like driving, this Bear will slide in behind the wheel and head.....you guessed it.....north.

    Starting Point - Warren Dunes State Park, MI
    We will hop on I-94 and head north. After a bit we will skirt past Benton Harbor, MI.....a community that has experienced some severe urban problems. The area is also home to the largest manufacturer of appliances in the world, Whirlpool Corporation.

    We continue our trek, following U.S. 31, along the lake. It should be noted that the eastern shore of Lake Michigan is considered to be the longest stretch of freshwater lake sand beach in the world. Michigan has done a nice job of making many areas along the coast accessible to the "average Joe".

    Saugatuck is a pretty place, especially popular with boaters. Continuing on U.S. 31 we cruise past Holland and Muskegon. North of here the traffic thins.....primarily resort towns north of here. Switching to U.S. 131 we head for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

    I was at Sleeping Bear in 1970, before it was a National Lakeshore. Cindy (wife 1) and I were on a trip that followed the coast, from Chicago to Traverse City. In those days you paid some landowners to ride on their paved road, to see the dunes. We did, stopping at a very high vantage point. Like the jerk that I am, I decided to run down the dune. It was so steep and so high that you could barely make out the tiny people at the bottom. Down I went, enjoying that unique feeling of floating through the air that you experience when you run down a sand dune.

    When I reached the bottom I jumped in Lake Michigan and looked back up, to wave to Cindy. Because of the height and the steepness, we could not see each other. So.....I started walking down the beach, hoping to find steps. What a jerk.

    Meanwhile, Cindy was worried, so she started down the dune. When I did not find steps I just started the very tough climb back to the top. When I reached the top and walked back to the car, she was not there. I looked down and saw her going down to the lakeshore, just going out of my view.

    Holy wah! I ran back down the hill. When we finally met at the bottom we enjoyed a swim and (once again) looked for stairs. About a mile south we found a lakeside cottage, walked behind it, found a driveway and a curvy road. After a walk of a few miles we finally made it back to our car. Told ya I was a jerk.

    Later that day we went for a swim at Glen Lake. Incredibly clear water, very refreshing. One problem, though.....I lost my wedding ring. Even the incredibly clear water wasn't good enough to help me find my ring. (My marriage disolved a year or so later.....coincidence? )

    Continuing north (in the Cyburbian van) we pass through one of the nicest little cities on the Great Lakes.....Traverse City.

    Time for somebody else to jump behind the steering wheel.

    Ending Point - Traverse City, MI

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Can I drive?

    We'll head up Highway 31 through Petosky (stopping to look for some Petosky stones) and then on up over the Mackinac Bridge. Of course we will do the tourist thing and visit Mackinac Island, and maybe stay a night in the Grand Hotel. No driving on the island, though.

    I hope you brought your passport, because we are crossing into Canada. The thing you will notice about Sault Ste. Marie is the number of donut shops. Besides these, there is also the locks. About a half hour north on Highway 17 we cross into the Canadian Shield. There is an abrupt change from more rolling terrain to outcrops of basalt on steep bluffs. There are quite a fe nice waterfalls along the way, and some seriously challenging hiking. Our destination is Lake Superior Provincial Park. The pictograph panels are a must-see, and then we hike along the shore to a secluded cove. A wide sandy beach stretches out, embraced by the rocky headland and an archipelago of small, evergreen-covered islands. The water is crystal clear and the most beautiful shade of blue. I'll leave you here as I pitch my tent and prepare my dinner.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Around Lake Superior

    Starting Point - Lake Superior Provincial Park

    Hats off to Cardinal for the comfortable and appropriate use of his camp site. And now it is time to continue our journey around the "world's greatest lake".....Superior.

    It is a big deal with folks.....they love to collect the patch and vehicle sticker that indicates that they have circled Lake Superior. The complete tour around the lake would be in the range of 1000 miles. The adventurer would travel through both ther USA and Canada.....including Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The incredible lake that they circle is primarily a wilderness, with the many small towns and villages joined by just a few larger cities.....Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Duluth, and Marquette.

    Waving "bye" to the friends we met at Cardinal's camp site we continue on Highway 17, the Trans-Canadian Highway (that follows the eastern and northern shoreline of the lake). My friend (John) was traveling from Montreal to Alaska's North Slope. On Highway 17 on the north side of the lake he ran into heavy fog, so he pulled his little vehicle over and slept. Later in the night his vehicle started to shake.....he had partially stopped on a railroad track and it was so foggy that he did not realize it. Lucky for him.....the train was a pulp unit, moving slow, giving him time to get off the tracks.

    Highway 17 follows the lake along the north shore. This is very rugged terrain, pocked with many fjords and stunning views of Lake Superior. There is gold in them thar hills.....gold was discovered near Marathon (largest city on the north side of the lake with about 3000 people). Marathon is a pulp mill town so the odor can be unpleasant.

    Continuing west on Highway 17 we cruise into Thunder Bay. Believe it or not, Thunder Bay is the sunniest city in eastern Canada. Unusual, too.....two separate CBDs......because the city was actually a merger between the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William. From Thunder Bay you can look across the lake and see what it called "The Sleeping Giant". It is a large series of hills and rock that form what looks like a giant man on his back. (Also should note that the Michigan state line and Michigan's Isle Royale is only about 30 miles to the southeast.)

    Driving southwest from Thunder Bay we hop on Ontario Highway 61 and at the International Border it changes to Minnesota Highway 61. This highway along the Arrowhead portion of Minnesota is stunning. Quaint fishing villages, tourist spots, a vibrant arts community (especially at Grand Marais), downhill skiing, and access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (west of the lake).

    This Bear has spent some time in this area, including camping and canoeing in the BWCA, train-spotting in the routings for ore trains (from the huge mines in the Mesabi area), and even some good old-fashioned hiking. One year we decided to hike to and up Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. On or way up we became involved in a bit of a dispute with a territorial beaver. That was one pixxed-off beaver!

    Other BWCA adventures included watching a small lynx swipe his paw at our moving vehicle and a small bear (perhaps a cousin?) with most of his body in a garbage can at a forest camp site.

    Duluth is the end of this portion of our Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip. Duluth is a wonderful city......but you have to be OK with extreme cold temperatures. As our friend Cardinal has mentioned in other posts in other threads, Duluth is a city that will "awe" those of us who love to travel.....armchair-style or for real.

    Ending Point - Duluth, MN

    It is time for somebody else to take the wheel. From Duluth we could head south toward The Twin Cities, head east toward the Apostle Islands, head southeast toward northern Wisconsin (and Green Bay, Appleton), or head west across the "Land Of 10,000 Lakes".

    Who's driving?

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Staring Point - Duluth, MN

    Thanks to Bear we are in the regional center for NE Minnesota, Duluth, MN. Duluth is the county seat of Saint Louis County, the largest county in the state of Minnesota and the 2nd largest county east of the Mississippi River. Duluth sits at the westernmost point of Lake Superior and is is one of the most important ports on the Great Lakes. Duluth sits nearly 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, more than 200 miles greater than the distance from NY to LA. Even with this great distance, the ships that leave this port are able to travel to the Atlantic Ocean. The port is very important to Minnesota's iron iand farming industries.

    Traveling southbound on Interstate 35 we leave the hills and bluffs of the Duluth area and enter the pine forests of Carleton and Pine Counties. At Exit 188 we get off I-35 and head to the city of Hinckley. Hinckley has the dubious distinction of over 400 people killed in the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894. A drought in the summer of 1894 caused the forests of the surrounding countryside to become very dry. In late August several small fires started, by September 1 the fires had merged to create a major firestorm with temperatures reaching over 1000 degrees in the fire. The storm only lasted 4 hours, but the wind-whipped fire was so intense that it burned everything in its path and destroyed nearly 400 square miles of land. The Hinckley Fire Museum tells the story of this historic event and describes how Hinckley was rebuilt and shifted from a timber economy to agriculture.

    After visiting Hinckley, we merge back onto Interstate 35 and continue our journey. Entering Chisago County, we unofficially enter the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Area. Chisago County used to be a mostly rural county, but as the metro area has expanded, the County has become more urban. At Exit 127 we are faced with the decision of heading south on Interstate 35W, towards Minneapolis, or Interstate 35E, towards St. Paul. This trip we decide to head towards St. Paul, the state capital of Minnesota. In St. Paul, we visit Summit Avenue, one of the 2008 Great Streets awarded by the APA. Summit Avenue is home to some of the great historical mansions of St. Paul. Summit Avenue also has a great view of downtown St. Paul and the Mississippi River. While in St. Paul we can also take in a hockey game at the Xcel Energy Center or enjoy a large number of museums.

    If in town in at the end of January, we can take in the sights and sounds of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. The Winter Carnival was stated in 1886 as a response to a journalist in New York that called St. Paul " another Siberia, unfit for human habitation". The Chamber of Commerce took this as an opportunity to show everyone that the city was very alive during the winter. The Carnival is now one of the biggest events in the area. One of the biggest events is the medallion hunt. Carnival organizers hide a medallion somewhere in the city and publish daily clues for 12 days in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The finders of the medallion are awarded up to $10,000.

    We end our day at the historic St. Paul Hotel. This hotel is nearly 100 years old and is featured on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel is Italian Renaissance style and was built in 1910. Rooms in this beautiful hotel range from $200.00 a night upwards to $700.00, but since this is an armchair trip, we can all afford it!

    Well I am tired so I am handing the wheel over to anyone who would like to drive. From here we can head south on 35E, rejoin I-35 and head towards southern Minnesota and possibly Iowa. We could also head westward on I-94 and head towards Minneapolis and eventually NW Minnesota, or eastward on I-94 and head towards America's Dairyland and the great state of Wisconsin.

    Ending Point - St. Paul, MN

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Rainy River Or Bust !!!

    Time to restart the Cyburbian Armchair Road Trip. Perhaps when I finish driving today, the next driver can steer us a bit south. For today's wander, though......enjoy more of the north!

    Side-note, referencing the drive from Duluth to the Twin Cities.....this Bear and wife 2 (Donna) canoed the Kettle River. The rapids were fun and fast.

    Starting Point - St. Paul, MN

    A smile and a wink for our last driver, rcgplanner. Now we will move away from the St. Paul CBD, heading west on I-94, with the Minnesota State Capitol in our rear-view mirror. As we approach the "other" twin, Minneapolis, we first notice a smaller skyline on our right. That is the huge University of Minnesota campus. This Bear spent some time there, back in the 1980s.

    On the edge of the Minneapolis CBD (and the stunning Minneapolis skyline) you see the big dome......known to baseball and football fans as the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. (Sidenote.....my first wife yelled something at Mr. Humphrey, at a 1968 presidential campaign stop. He stopped his speech and gave her a bit of a dirty look. )

    Heading north through Minneapolis (on I-94) we eventually turn on Minnesota 169. We will motor up to the area around Mil Lacs Lake. This Bear spent some time camped at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. Did some fishing on the Rum River. From here we will continue north in Minnesota 169, turn west on Minnesota 18, and cruise toward Brainerd.

    Brainerd was made famous in the great movie Fargo. The area is very popular with sportsmen.......many lakes in the area. Heading west we pick-up Minnesota 210, hop on U.S. 10, switch (after a bit) to U.S. 71, and move toward Lake Itasca State Park. Geography buffs know that name.....the headwaters of the 2nd largest river in the United States.....the Mississippi River. The great river begins its' 2340-mile trip actually flowing north, toward Bemidji.

    Bemidji is our next stop.....a nice lakefront town. This Bear stopped in Bemidji back in the 1990s, hoping to catch a couple drinks at a tavern in the CBD known as "The Bare Bear". Unfortunately, it was closed. I did snap a couple photos.....35M (non-digital) photos, so can't share. Bemidji is a mill town.

    U.S. 71 from Bemidji to International Falls is (or was in the 1990s) the bumpiest federal route I have ever been on. Perhaps the tough winters, pot holes not properly taken care of. It reminded me of some "booney" roads in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

    International Falls is a paper mill town. The huge mill dominates the landscape, hovering over the CBD and the small bridge (over the Rainy River, going to Canada). There was a bar in the CBD that I had told my friends I would grab a drink at.....The Viking Bar. It was pictured in national magazines at a time when Koochiching County was in the news.....offering free land to homesteaders....."1990's style". (Not sure how that program ever turned out.)

    Anyhoo.....this Bear and wife 3 (Carole) wandered into The Viking Bar. It was filled with paper mill workers, all of them apparently never before seeing a good-looking woman. They were hooting and hollering and salivating.....making both of us quite uncomfortable. We had one drink and left.

    As we motor the Cyburbian vanload west (on Minnesota11) we travel along the Rainy River. It is in this area that Koochiching County offered the 10-acre parcels of free land. We follow this road into Warrroad, located on the shores of on of the best places to fish in the world.....Lake of the Woods. This huge lake even has along its' shore a small parcel of land know as "The Northwest Angle". It is separated from the rest of Minnesota by land in Canada. Because it is so unique, I have included a linky>

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Angle

    We stay on Minnesota 11 and motor toward Roseau. If memory serves me correctly, snowmobiles (those in "the know" call them snow machines) are manufactured in Roseau (or Warrroad). I wonder how their business is fairing during these tough economic times?

    Looking out the Cyburbian van windows you probably noticed that we have started to see more and more farmland and less and less trees. This portion of Minnesota is the eastern edge of "the northern plains". Our trip takes us in a southwesterly direction, eventually crossing Minnesota 32. We will follow that route to Thief River Falls (great name!) and pick-up U.S. 59.

    Wife 3 (Carole) spent a lot of her summertime youth in the farm areas west of U.S. 59.....specifically Gary, Twin Valley, and Ada. We'll turn west and cruise through these very small farming communities (on Minnesota 200). When I was there the obvious influence of the railroad was so dang apparent. The buildings in the villages all faced the railroad tracks.

    We will stay on Minnesota 200 until we arrive at Minnesota 75. We turn south and align with the Red River of the North (just south of Climax, MN). Our next stop is the Minnesota suburb of Fargo, ND.....Moorhead. Back in the 1960s a friend of this Bear spent a couple years at Moorhead State College.

    The Fargo Metropolitan Area has always intriqued this Bear. Generally, I like colder climates (and it is pretty daxx cold here in the winter!). The area always gets great reviews about being "near-perfect" places to raise a family. Strong work ethic, that sort of thing.

    I-29 is the main north-south route through Fargo. If you would hop on I-29 north, you could drive into Canada and wander into what is considered one of the largest cities in the world with an extreme cold climate.....Winnipeg.

    We will jump on I-94 and cruise along the huge farmlands of North Dakota, making a bee-line (sorry, Orlando!) for Bismarck. What I remember most about Bismarck is the tall State Capitol Building. Very interesting!

    When you travel through the Great Plains it is easy to know when a city or village is on the horizon. You will see "trees" off in the distance. Obviously, those trees you see were planted by the city or village residents. Along many stretches of I-94 the interstate parallels the very-busy BNSF railroad tracks. Long unit trains of eastbound coal, mined in Montana and Wyoming, roar toward the electrical generating plants of the American midwest.

    Whew! I did a good bit of driving. Time to let somebody else grab the steering wheel. From Bismarck we can continue west, heading for Montana and the mountains. We could also swing southwest, and wander toward that great bastion of freedom, Mount Rushmore.

    Ending Point - Bismarck, ND

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Going To Montana

    Nobody has jumped behind the wheel, so this Bear will slide in and resume the trip.....

    Starting Point - Bismarck, ND
    From Bismarck we head north on U.S. 83. Next stop will be for a late breakfast in Minot, ND. Minot is a name that was quite familiar to the Soviets during the cold war.....it was one of their main targets. America's nuclear resolve included a key component here.....the Minot Air Force Base. It is still active.

    Minot has the lowest home prices in the states, looking at over 300 different cities. Odd that Minot has struggled while Fargo (at the other end of the state) continues to do quite well.

    From here we hang a left and head west, on U.S. 2. It will be a long drive across the northwestern corner of North Dakota before we reach the Montana state line. This part of the drive includes considerable distance on the high plains of Montana, with Fort Peck Dam our target.

    This Bear camped at Fort Peck, back in the early 1970s. Had a good time, but the skeeters were horrible. The dam was considered, at one time, the largest earthen dam in the world. The lake that it created is the 5th largest man-made lake in the states.

    After swatting more mosquitos we back our bags and continue west. Next stop, at the other end of this huge state called Montana, is beautiful Glacier National Park.
    The most beautiful road I have ever been on crosses Glacier Park, from east to west. Going-To-The-Sun Highway is a stunning joy.

    Wife 2 and this Bear were camped at Apgar Campground, at the west end of the highway. We had been eating peanut butter sandwiches and canned stew (we were poor honeymooners) and decided to have a "real" meal. We grabbed some cheeseburgers in the little restaurant in West Glacier....yum! After eating we were wandering through the gift shop. We were both looking at a rack of paperback books when we noticed a book called (something like) "Night Of The Grizzly". The cover of the book illustrated 3 bloody X marks and a map of.....Apgar Campground! OMG!

    Side note: The three women who were killed by a bear at Apgar Campground, late 1960s or early 1970s, were from my school.....Bowling Green State University. In the late 1970s I had a business relationship with the father of one of the victims. He lived in Perrysburg, OH (suburb of Toledo).

    Glacier is a beautiful place. We will set up camp here. enjoy the scenery, and wait for the next Cyburbian driver to jump behind the steering wheel.

    Ending Point - West Glacier, Apgar Campground, Montana

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

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