Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leaving Chicago to Head East

This morning Mike and I would be going our separate ways, he to Memphis to spend the weekend with family, me east and then south, stamping my way through IN, MI, OH, WV to Roanoke for the RSBS Annual.

But before I departed the hotel, I spent some time in the parking lot watching some of the riders pack their bikes in preparation for leaving on the second leg of the Iron Butt Rally. I saw the rider on the rotary Suzuki working on his bike and saw Kevin from the MTF making his final preparations for departure.

Mike was awake but still in bed when I headed out the door for the last time. My first stop would be Isle a la Cache in Romeoville IL for an I&M Canal Heritage Corridor stamp. There are several of these stamps located in small towns throughout this region. I had three of them waypointed in my GPS, just in case. The one in Romeoville was very easy to get to, but I found myself at the visitor center at 9:15, 45 minutes before they opened. What to do?? I could go get gas...had half a tank, but topping off wouldn't hurt. So I departed the parking lot and headed back into town to a gas station. That managed to kill about 15 minutes, but I still had a 30 minute dilemma on my hands. I had pretty much decided that this was the stamp I wanted to get.

As I pulled back into the parking lot after getting gas, I saw a woman approach the building and go inside. So I gathered my things off the bike and headed that way. When I got there, I could see that she had neglected to push the door all the way closed. It had a push-button key pad and that was how she entered the building. I opened the door and went inside, feeling really guilty about trespassing.

I noticed a doorway toward the rear of the main visitor area and walked over and peered in. Three people were busily working away in their cubicles and I was a bit timid at first about interrupting. Afterall, I had no business being inside. Screwing up my courage, I started my inquiry with an apology for being there when I knew they weren't open yet. My voice startled and surprised the workers, but one of the women came out and obliged me by getting the stamp and letting me stamp my NPS Passport book. I thanked her profusely, apologized again for interrupting [and trespassing] and was then on my way.

I had no real need to collect additional stamps for the I&M Heritage Corridor so worked my way up onto I-80 and headed east, my next stop the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a stamp. I got this stamp last year, as well, on my way to the BMW RA rally on the Upper Peninsula. This time I considered proceeding to the Indiana Dunes state park on the shore of Lake Michigan to take photos, but in the end decided my route was amibitious enough already so didn't do it.

The real prize for the day was going to be the Hudson Auto Museum in Ypsilanti MI. I knew little about it, as their webpage is kind of scanty, but there is an Auto Cities Heritage stamp at this little museum.

As I continued east and north on I-94 the temperatures continued to drop and I began to get chilled. I was wearing the warmest riding gear I had with me, but it wasn't quite enough. If only the sun would come out, it might warm things up a tad. Part of this was a "lake effect" as I was still very near to lake Michigan. I could only hope that as I moved inland, east of the lake things would warm up a little.

Michigan is a pretty state and the miles flew by as I continued east across the state. Once I got to Ann Arbor I began to notice a slight improvement in the temperature and the sun started to peek out a bit from the clouds.

The GPS directed me north of the interstate and through the town of Ypsilanti and then a right turn and down a hill into the section known as Depot Town. This was like another world! It still had that small mid-west town look, with store fronts along both sides of the narrow road, a brick crosswalk bisecting the road at midpoint along the way.

Immediately in front of me I spotted the Hudson Auto Museum, situated on an odd intersecting corner on the other side of diagonal railroad tracks. I found a parking spot along the curb a half block away and walked toward the museum. It sat there like a pale green jewel, its stucco walls freshly painted and the concrete sidewalk in front spotlessly clean. I paused long enough to set my helmet down on the bench in front and take a photo.

Stepping inside this museum was like stepping back more than half a century. Childhood memories came rushing back to me, memories of being in dealerships much like this one. Everything within was perfectly restored and "staged" to appear as it would have when this dealership was open for business.

The museum curator was excellent...not obtrusive, but enormously helpful and informative if asked a question. He told me that when the building was turned into a museum, records were found that went back to 1927 and the first sales of automobiles. He gave me some background on some of the automobiles and told me the significance of the Hydromatic transmission.

I spent more than an hour at this museum, looking at the cars, returning to the curator with more questions, taking photographs. It was time well-spent and well-enjoyed. I asked the curator if any of the cars were in running order. "All of them are," he replied. He went on to tell me about the Hudson Hornet (in photo below). It is the most well-traveled of the cars in the collection, often going on loan to other events or organizations. It is being readied to go on loan for a full year to another museum.

Reluctantly, I left the museum but not before the curator gave me a postcard of the Hudson Hornet as a keepsake. Back on the road again, I had a destination in Maumee, outside of Toledo, set in my GPS but as I neared the exit for this location it was 5:00 PM. This would have been the Fallen Timbers National Historic Site stamp, located temporarily in the Maumee branch of the library. I wasn't sure how late that stamp would be available, so chose to bypass it for this trip. I already had several OH stamps and did not need to get this one. Perhaps once they get the visitor center built for this national park I'll return. It's a newly designated National Park and is still under construction.

My stop for the night would be Grove City, just south of Columbus OH and I arrived at my hotel just before dark, settling in to a nice Hampton Inn with a White Castle within walking distance.

Tomorrow: Hopewell Culture national park, some park stamps in WV and then RSBS Annual!


  1. My son loves the movie CARS and he thought the photo of the Fabulous Hudson Hornet was awesome. Good luck and be safe on the rest of your journey.

  2. Michigan is a beautiful state... and cold in September!!! :) I love reading your stories Barb.

  3. Sounds like you had a great day right up until the White Castle part. Those are the nastiest things Ever to pass for a burger. I'll stick to Whataburger, Culver's, and even McDonalds!