American Adventure Part 1 of ?
One week before we leave, I landed in Winsor Ontario, got picked up by a crazy lady on the 27th of July ready for a week in Michigan consisting of Puppy sitting and vague, random landscaping jobs in the garden that included but was not limited to, creating a support for a roof overhang, fixing together fence panels then turning them into a fence, overturning a climbing frame and transforming it into a store for a lawn mower come kayak stand, taking a very sweet pair of dogs paddle boarding on the Huron and preparing a van, to be known as Little Blue, for an extensive 7000 mile road trip.
The trip unknown to me was indeed extensive, as it turns out America is a lot bigger than Britain, and more on that later. I have traveled to Africa and Europe kayaking, it seemed only right that the next place to explore, while kayaking, is America. Having gone through University with the likes of Bomb Flow, Substantial and with a bit of delving into the past LVM America is on the Radar for almost all kayakers in Britain. And for a months trip I fully expected to go to the South East, California, the Pacific North West and British Columbia and if there was time at the end spend some of it on the Ottawa and possibly the Upper Peninsula of Michigan… I did my homework poorly, we did not cover the whole of America. The trip was however incredible, and almost entirely down to the part of the outfit who did do her homework, the aforementioned crazy lady.
She was the owner of Little Blue a transit connect van with a bit of work to be done if it was be used for a month long trip. To start all the back seats had to come out, then a plywood floor had to be fitted and a removable bedframe completed the structure in the back, of course as much Cedar as possible had to be included in the build for its bug repelling abilities, it also smells nice in a hot car. Added to that was some curtains and front seat covers with the wet kayaker in mind, and with the hungry kayaker in mind an electric cool box was also thrown into the mix. The rig was now ready for action, well, at least for packing.
After protecting the roofbars from the kayaks with pipe insulation we attached a Jed, 9R, Axiom and Braaap to the roof and garnished with a couple of bags worth of paddles, we tucked Molly, my carbon Jed, under the bed frame and we were set up for two people going on a road trip, after a flourish of clothing etc. We were ready to leave the next day.
Side note: The word extravagance becomes a theme in this trip.
Day 1 – Thursday 6th July
We left Ann Arbor MI via storage for a few cooking items and time for me to relearn how to Ripstick, then breakfast from a supermarket and a stop off at the bank before remembering we left a few important items outside of the car at base.
We left Ann Arbor MI a second time. This time we had everything and were eager to get going, joining Interstate 94 we crossed into Indiana, traversed the city named Chicago and via a road network which I am sure was logical to someone at some time, although who ever it was at the time must have found it difficult to explain such a system to anyone else because what currently exists is a mystery to all who use it.
Side note: Now having traveled across America I can assess that drivers in the mid-west are by far the worst drivers I have ever come across, even by Uganda standards. But what came first the bad drivers or the bad roads? Did the roads infuriate citizens into poor driving? Or does the presence of bad drivers make the roads incomprehensible? The Hitch Hikers Guide to the galaxy would know.
Side note to the side note: The Hitch Hikers Guide to the galaxy trilogy of 5 is by far the best audiobook series to have while crossing the Earth tribe of America.
During the mess of Chicago we intentionally switched onto Interstate 90 and followed that road through Indiana into Wisconsin. The drive was accompanied by storm clouds that provided a permanent light show and fleeting showers, we made a stop in the surreal town of Wisconsin Dells, with its luminous blue waterfalls and inexplicable disagreement for a unified theme this amusement town reminded me of an arcade street in the UK, if that street had taken an overdose on steroids and spent a winter hitting Coach Joes Gym. This British citizen was out of his depth.
Our final state of the day was Minnesota, we were aiming to get to St. Pauls the next day and so we took Highway 14 up to Old Frontenac State Park on the Mississippi for our first nights camping. Now being next the Mississippi, a big body of water, in summer in the mid-west which is a warm climate and home to a species of flying insect keen for promoting blood donation and transfer, these industrious creatures clouded together and sat around our campsite, so I set up the tent and we had a bite free evening. In hindsight the presence of the full moon may well have encouraged the mosquitos but in my bubble of happy it didn’t matter the moon was out and I feel asleep content.