Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Second Sunday Drive, Day Three

The Welcome to Wisconsin Sign
(as I'm leaving the state from Marinette, WI)

My cell phone alarm rang at 7:30, followed almost immediately by the wake up call I had requested when I checked in.  I almost never need an alarm, but this morning was an exception.  I’d been in bed for barely four hours, after two days with little sleep.  Nels Nelson from Joe Van Horn Chevrolet was picking me up at 9, and I wanted to be dressed and have breakfast before he arrived.

The shower helped a bit in reviving me, and I went downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant for breakfast.  The waitress offered me a menu, saying that they did have an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.  Rather than try to unblur my eyes to read a menu, I headed for the buffet.  Two burly gents entered the room, one immediately accosting the waitress with “What have you done with my friends?”  Eventually the two were joined by three more fellows, one of whom was wearing a “Harley Davidson – Dubai – UAE” t-shirt.  I had passed a group of bikes by the front door when I got to the hotel, and I assumed, correctly as it turns out, that the bikes and these fellows were connected.  I had a chance to talk with one at the buffet line, and learned that they were from, not Dubai, but South Africa.  They were in Milwaukee, home of Harley Davidson, on their way to Sturgis, South Dakota.  I’m going to assume that my readers all know about Sturgis.  If not, Google it.

First Photo Op with the new Saab

After breakfast, I carried my bags downtown to await Nels’ arrival.  This would be it.  Now I would know if I had bought a car or given mucho dinero to a scam artist.  I bought a car.  Nels arrived right when he said he would, and helped me get my bags into the trunk of the Chevrolet he was driving.  On the way north to Plymouth, we talked about many things, including the importance of cheese to the Wisconsin economy—particularly to the Plymouth, Wisconsin economy.  Sargento, Borden’s, and several other cheese processors are all located in Plymouth.  Johnsonville—the sausage maker—is also in that area.  Nels and I talked about Scandinavian naming traditions (he was named for his grandfather, as is typical in his community).  We talked about our parents’ experiences in the 40s.  I’m not sure if there’s anything we didn’t talk about.

When he pulled into the dealership’s lot, he told me that the salesman would want to show me my car, but he was going to take me there first.  After allowing me to walk around it, he herded me into the showroom, not allowing me to actually get in the car, or even open a door.

A Scenic Overlook--looking out toward Lake Michigan

I don’t believe “showroom” is the right word for car dealerships these days.  There were no cars to show.  Just desks with computers.  It was a sales room, not a show room.  The sales manager, Rodney, greeted me (we’d spoken on the phone several times as my train was delayed), and introduced me to the salesman who would be helping me finalize the deal.  The salesman and I went for a test drive, and discussed the importance of golf to the Plymouth economy.  Well, he discussed it.  I maintain that golf is a practical joke the Scots played on the rest of the world, and the world never caught on that this was a joke.  We also talked art.  Plymouth is in Sheboygan County, and Sheboygan is home to the Kohler Art Museum where Nancy Fields O’Connor and I had arranged for an exhibit of her grandfather’s early twentieth-century photographs of the Crow Indian Nation.  And finally, we talked cheese and brats.  If there was any doubt before, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was in Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland.

Once back to the salesroom, I was asked to wait in the reception area while the sales crew dealt with another customer.  While I waited, a rather elegant looking woman came in and sat down next to me.  We didn’t converse, though, until Nels burst into the room saying, “I knew I enjoyed our conversation, but I didn’t know I was talking with someone famous.”  I had no idea what he was talking about, but the woman next to me asked, “Famous?  Who is he?”  Nels replied, “He’s a photographer.”  Apparently, for some reason, Nels had seen fit to Google me and had found some of my on-line photographic galleries.  Thank God.  There’s so much more he could have found.

After pumping my hand and telling me how much he enjoyed meeting me, Nels left, and the woman and I chatted.  She lives in Miami, and each summer spends three months on the road with her children.  When she learned that I live in Missoula, she told me about her experiences staying at Paws Up, the former Lindbergh Ranch purchased by Charles Lindbergh after he put the Spirit of Saint Louis in the hangar for the last time. 

The Menominee County Court House, Menominee, Michigan

While we were talking, the salesman came in to tell me he was ready for me.  We filled out all the proper papers, discussed the details of the transaction, and he handed me my keys.  I had, indeed, just bought a car, on-line, and several states away from home.  What a brave new world we live in.

The dealership sits next door to Wal-Mart, where I stopped and bought an electric cooler I could plug into the car’s power point.  Having fillled said cooler with Peace Tea, Naked Mango smoothie, veggies, lunch meat and, yes, cheese, I set the car’s Navigation System to Marinette, Wisconsin, and headed northeast.  Marinette is on Lake Michigan, north of Green Bay, and right on the state line.  You cross from Marinette WI to Menominee MI, not by turning the first letter of the state’s name upside down, but via a bridge.  I crossed the bridge three times in order to get the pictures I wanted. 

At Menominee,  I set the Nav System to get me to Mackinac City, but by the time I reached Escanaba, I knew it was time to get off the road.  Checking into the Super 8, I asked the very friendly desk clerk to recommend a restaurant that would be good and fun.  He questioned me on “fun,” but I didn’t back down so he directed me to the Hudson Grill.  Indeed, as I sat eating my fish and chips (which fit my criteria of “good”), I stared into the grill, in fact the entire front end, of a 1952 Hudson.  Definitely “fun.”
Back at the motel, I checked out the pool/spa, but finding it full of screaming children, decided that it would be more relaxing to return to my room and chill.  And that’s what I did, thus ending Day 3.

Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba MI


hotproof said...

Congratulations on purchasing & obtaining your new Saab! Looks like a fun ride. I've been reading about your escapades getting to Wisconsin. I also am enjoying your photos. I became fixated on the black upright structure outdoors in the Lighthouse photo near the entry door of the 3 story part. Is that an old hitching post?

BDSpellman said...

That would be my guess, Ed. Looks like a horseheaded hitching post to me. Glad you're enjoying the ride.