Friday, June 26, 2015

Adventure Caravans Traversing Michigan Tour 6/26/2015

Lansing Day 1

Yesterday was moving day.  We left Ypsilanti and drove about 79 miles to the Cottonwood Campground in Lansing, MI.

It had rained the day before we arrived and the ground was still quite wet.  We managed to get backed into our site without getting stuck, although we came close a couple of times.  Here is our campsite and some of our tour mates.

This is a nice campground with lots of activities and a nice lake.  The campground is aptly named as the cottonwood trees are numerous and are "cottoning" all over the place.  We had cotton from the trees everywhere, not just the fluffy cotton part, but the whole flower stem full of cotton emitting seed pods fell to the ground.

Lansing is the Capitol of Michigan.  We took a bus tour of some of the city today.  Here is a downtown view.  Taking pictures out the bus window can cause all sorts of reflections.  Try to ignore them. 

It looks like a humongous lug nut is on the top of this smoke stack turned cell tower.  That is because it is honoring the auto manufacturing industry in the city.  The lug nut is featured in many aspects of life in the city.  They even have a baseball team named the Lugnuts. 

The tour drove through some of the Michigan State University.  These are some of the buildings on campus.

 The school of art was particularly unique and ultra modern compared to the majority of the other buildings.

Lansing, like many other cities and towns at this time of year, was having a construction epidemic.  Even the Capitol was getting a make-over.  The dome is covered with scaffolding.

We thought that the turquoise or light blue port-a-potties hanging onto the edge of the building were  interesting.  It must have been an experience to use one of them.  You wouldn't want to move around in there very much.

We were given a tour of the inside of the Capitol Building.  The building is designed after the National Capitol.  It is very ornate inside.  This is the rotunda looking up toward the dome.  You can see the balconies for the second, third, and forth floors.  The flags in the cases are replicas of many of the flags used during the Civil War.  The originals began deteriorating, so they took them to a museum for preservation. 

Looking up to the dome. 

Close-up of the dome and paintings surrounding it.

Looking down, from the third floor, at the floor of the rotunda.  We were told that it was designed to look like the reverse of the dome.  In other words, it is supposed to look like the center is lower, even though it is level with the rest of the floor.  Use your imagination.

This is our Adventure Caravans group along the railing of the second floor of the Rotunda.

The Governor's office

I said that the Capitol is designed after the National Capitol, so as such, the House of Representatives is on one side of the Capitol Rotunda and the Senate is on the other side.
House of Representatives

The ceiling of each of the houses is made of glass squares, making them giant skylights.  The squares have been etched with a design or embossed with the seal of each state.  I tried to get a photo of them, but it was difficult to do because of the light coming in from the sky. What looks like red is actually gold, in most cases.  I'm not sure why, but you get the idea of what the ceiling in those two rooms looks like.

These bronze chandeliers were in each hallway throughout the Capitol.  The detail is amazing!

It was lunch time after the tour of the capitol. Some of us went to this restaurant, Kewpee, that was recommended by the tour bus driver.

It was a nice restaurant with a varied American menu of good food.  There were Kewpee dolls and images around the dining area, but what impressed me was what I saw in the ladies' room.

After lunch, our city tour continued at the Michigan State University Horticultural Gardens and 4-H Children's Garden.  Besides the many beautiful flowers and plants, this unusual display caught my eye.  This is a bee hotel for your garden.  The hotel is made from hollow reeds or pieces of logs with holes drilled in them, and other tubes of various diameters to attract different species. 

These bees are not honey bees, but they are beneficial to the garden.  Some kinds of bees and wasps are solitary and do not live in hives with many other bees or wasps.  Each bee builds its nest and lays its eggs in a single hollow tube or hole then seals it, usually with mud.  The wasps don't pollinate, but they collect other insects and put them in their nest for their offspring to eat, thus providing pest control.

There was a beautiful rose garden.

Being from California and having the drought there, it was a real treat to see all of the green lawns, trees and plants. 

The Children's Garden had some interesting things, too.  This is the entrance to that section of the garden.

There was a walkway with cow and chicken stepping stones.

The beautiful water lily had a frog sitting on a lily pad next to it.

The "Small World Globe" was set in a flower bed with a small pond behind it.

As we were leaving the gardens, I took this photo of the butterfly bench and the topiary peacock.  I saw it when we entered the gardens, but didn't realize that it was a peacock until I saw it from this angle.  I like the way the tail feathers flow out behind the bird and how the plants make its topknot. 

Ice cream is very popular in this area.  There seems to be an ice cream shop on every other corner.  It was a nice warm day, which made us appreciate our stop at the MSU Dairy Store for some ice cream.  They have all of these flavors, although they had run out of the three flavors that are covered in white.  This university started out with an agriculturally based education, then it expanded into other fields of education.  However, the agriculture studies are still a very important part of the university.  The students make, serve, and sell the ice cream.

Like I said, it was a pretty warm day and everyone in the area was in the mood to get something to cool off with.  When we arrived at the Dairy Store, there was already a very long line.  We waited 20 minutes, maybe more, until the first of our group was served.  That's how popular this campus store is.  The public is welcome at the store, as well as the students and faculty, which helps to keep it very busy.

There is a small display of the history of ice cream at the university.

This is an original half gallon ice cream package.  The Dairy Store sells packaged ice cream, shakes, sundaes, and other ice cream related items as well as cones.

Back at camp, we had another beautiful pink sunset.  As you know, I like taking sunset pictures.  It was hard to find an area that had a clear view of the sky, from the campground, that is why there are so many trees in the picture.

Tomorrow is a free day for us to explore some suggested sights in the area at our own pace.  
We are planning to go to see a couple other attractions. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Adventure Caravans Traversing Michigan Tour 6/24/15

Detroit Tour Day 2

We slept in this morning because it is a carpool/ride share/do your own thing day and we were tired from not sleeping very much during the severe thunderstorm night before last.  Once we got going, we headed back to Detroit and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.

The Henry Ford Museum is very large.  It covers the history and development of energy and technology in the USA.  There are many original and one of a kind items.  There are also a lot of progression samples, such as these vehicles used by U. S. Presidents.
President Theodore Roosevelt's Carriage
President Ronald Reagan's Car

There are more cars, but, of course, I can't put everything in the blog.  There are some highlights that I found interesting because they jogged my memory about something or I learned something that I hadn't known or realized.  For instance, I remember listening to Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" program on the radio and TV.  Well, they have the last of several motorhomes that he used on display.  Interestingly, neither he nor the crew that traveled with him ever slept in any of the motorhomes.  Each of the vehicles was modified into a broadcast studio and was used to transport the crew around the back roads for his stories.
1975 FMC Motorcoach

Many of you will recognize this vehicle.  It is the 1952 prototype vehicle, built in the original 1937 Oscar Meyer design, that was used for the 1988 fleet of Wienermobiles.
1952 Wienermobile

Also in the automobile section of the museum, is this display of race cars from over time.

And here are samples of some of the first baby car seats and more modern versions

Of course, when you travel by automobile, you need to stop for food.  Here are a couple photos with that theme.
Multiple signs for different fast food
This is a working diner where you can buy snacks in the museum

In the agriculture section of the Museum. there are old and newer pieces of farm equipment.
Old farm equipment

Newer farm equipment

In the railroad section, I hadn't realized that this type of train was made back in the beginning.  It looks like a bunch of stagecoaches hooked up behind an early steam engine.
Engine for the Dewitt Clinton train
Carriages used as railroad cars

Then there was this interesting snow removal engine.
Canadian Pacific Snowplow
Model railroad.  This is about one-third of the display.

There was a aircraft section that contained this original Wright Brothers first airplane.
Wright Brothers' first flight plane

This airplane, below, looked like it had corrugated metal covering the outside of the fuselage and wings.  It also had three propellers, one on each wing and one on the nose.  

This helicopter never made it into production.  This is the only one made.  It did everything except fly forward, however, they figured that out eventually, but it was not a profitable design.
1940 Sikorsky VS-300 Helicopter

Thomas Newcomen built the first successful steam engine in 1710.  The power section of the Henry Ford Museum has the oldest surviving steam engine in the world, the Newcomen Engine built in 1760. This machine was used to pump water out of mines.  The first photo shows the pump mechanism that would be put down in the mine to suck the water to the surface.  The second shows the other end of the machine where the steam forces the gears and levers, etc. to crank the pump up and down to bring the water up from the mine.
Newcomen engine

Newcomen engine

This interesting painted steam engine was cast with arches.  No one knows for sure, but it is thought that perhaps the manufacturer wanted it to fit into the Gothic style that was popular at the time, around 1855.  It was used to produce electricity - 150 horsepower or 112 kilowatts/ hr. at 32 revolutions/minute.
Stationary Steam Engine, 1855

Before we left the museum, we had to check out the House of the Future (as predicted in 1946).  Here is the floor plan.  It is a prefab house made in a circular design and made from the new materials of aluminum, plastic, Plexiglas, and Naugahyde.  It had unique features like rotating closets and many compact, efficient storage solutions.
Circular floor plan of the 2 bedroom house

Outside view

Here are a couple of photos of the inside of the house.
Revolving closet


Living/Dining room

This is only a prototype.  The homes never went into production.

We left the Henry Ford Museum and walked over to Greenfield Village, which is next  to the Museum.  We were expected back at camp at 5:30 PM and were running out of time to see much more, so we decided to take the train that circles the village then see if we had enough time to see anything else.This is the train being pulled by an Edison coal-fired Engine.
Edison Steam Engine.

Shoveling coal into the firebox

Away we go...  See the smoke and steam coming from the smokestack?

This is some of the soot that landed on my backpack and everything and everyone else.

Here are some of the scenes along the way around the track encircling the Greenfield Village.
An old farm
Some of the homes and an old truck

When we got off the train, we walked through some of the village.  Everything has been brought in from the 1800's to early 1900's.  The volunteers walk around in period costume.  There are horses and horse drawn carriages and early autos and trucks traversing the streets.  Here are some of the things we saw.  
Horse-drawn carriage and windmill on the farm
Clock tower
Super cool playground

We had to get back to the campground so we could have the spaghetti dinner that the Adventure Caravans staff had prepared for us.  It was delicious.  After that, we started to prepare to move to Lansing, MI, tomorrow, for the next stop on our tour of Michigan.