Busy times, my friends!
On Friday we sped out from work, threw everything we’d packed into the car, and high-tailed it to Milwaukee to catch the Lake Express Ferry. We stopped for a quick bite at Subway and got to the dock right at 6 PM, just in time to be one of the last cars there for the 7 PM sailing. The ferry was just coming in through the breakwater, and takaza was able to get some nice photos of it approaching the dock.
Dan walked on with the other passengers while I drove the car onto the ferry (one person per vehicle), then I met up with him in the main passenger cabin. Think a whole bunch of airline-style seats (though not nearly as uncomfortable) with narrow tables between them and that’s what the main cabin is like. There was a “Premiere Class” cabin available as well, but at $15 per person for a 2.5 hour trip, it just didn’t seem worth it, and in hindsight that was a good choice. They showed a movie during the crossing (some horrible Miley Cyrus flick) that we ignored. Premiere class would have gotten us “Iron Man 2”, but we were OK without a movie.
We got some snacks from the snack bar (overpriced and meh, as expected, but not egregiously so) and passed the time taking pictures of the receding Wisconsin coastline, hanging out on the very windy deck (we were traveling at 40+ mph, so that generates quite a wind), and generally goofing around on our iPod (me)/iPad (Dan). (Full album of photos here)
We left Milwaukee just ahead of a line of nasty storms, and they never really impacted us on the trip. I’d guess the seas were never over about 1-2 feet – enough rocking that you want to keep a grip on a railing as you walk around the deck. As the sun set, we passed within maybe a half-mile of a huge ship that was carrying perhaps coal or iron ore to Indiana. I thought it odd that in the vast expanse of Lake Michigan we would come that close to another ship – just an accident of navigation, I suppose. When we arrived at Muskegon, Michigan, we first passed through a narrow passage into Lake Muskegon. It was a warm and humid night, but the wind made being on deck comfortable, and watching the various small boats approach the ferry with cries of “hello!” and escorting us into Muskegon was charming and a perfect cap to an enjoyable trip.
Was the ferry trip worth the nearly-$300 for a one-way crossing with two people and one car? I would have to say yes. I’d say it’s worth $100 alone to avoid the hassle of late-summer Friday afternoon Chicago/Northern Indiana traffic. Throw in another $100 apiece for a novel and fun experience, and it all works out. I’m not sure we’d do it again (the sailing schedule is somewhat difficult, and Muskegon is inconventient to anywhere we want to go in Michigan), but I’m glad to took the trip.
Once back on shore, we drove about 50 minutes to Grand Rapids and spent the night at a Springhill Suites. The next morning, we continued on down to Ypsilanti, where we met up with Nik, Gir, and Dusk (the latter visiting from Virginia). A tasty lunch followed, then an FCN staff meeting. They’ve got an awesome convention planned for this year, and I think everyone is going to like their theme and awesome guests of honor. After the meeting, we ordered pizza and Chinese, and hung out and chatted with the excellent Michigan folks. It was a real pleasure to talk with Keet and Raeth some more, and it’s always good to chat with Eddi, Cadyr, Ed Hyena, and the rest of the FCN staff.
We crashed for the night at a Courtyard in Ann Arbor (10 minutes away) and then had a lovely brunch on Sunday with Gir and Dusk at Zingerman’s Roadhouse (mmm, eggs Benedict). Then it was a six+ hour drive home, where we picked up Buddy from Dan’s mom’s, stopped by the grocery store, and collapsed back at home. So, not a lot of time in Michigan, but we had fun. I think next time we may try Amtrak, which would also be a fun trip (and much more affordable!).