The 2014 Expedition to ‘Fairbanks’ Begins (check that…Seattle and back) – click here to follow


22 July – Olympic National Park

I made it to the Pacific Ocean today.



21 July – Wala Wala, WA


13 July – Jackson, WY  Need a big greasy breakfast!

9 July – Minnesota!

Enjoying an Americano at a little java-hut on the north side of Duluth. Camped for the first time this trip last night at a clean and empty municipal grounds to the west of Escanaba, MI. Good to get the tents out again.

8 July – On the Road at Last!

Car repairs were finished this morning and we got on the road by 10am.

6 July – Checking Out the Local Wildlife (still in Ohio)

Headed out into the countryside today. I was feeling somewhat nostalgic when we stopped in Port Clinton, site of many a childhood memory. Fresh perch was acquired at the old P.C. Fish Co. on the river and we fried it up for dinner – delicious!



Ended up at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on the edge of Lake Eire. Along the two-three miles that we walked, we spotted and identified plovers, orioles, kingbirds, egrets, cranes, a swallow (presumably North American and not an African swallow) and great blue herons, and one big snapping turtle who was taking a leisurely saunter across the road.


5 July – Headed to the Lake and More Shurmers

Saigon… shit; I’m still only in Saigon… Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle. When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. (opening lines to the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’)

Captain Willard makes more sense to me now. We had planned to wake up this morning in a Finnish co-op camp in Minnesota. But we’re still only in Fremont, Ohio. At least we wake to 60 rather than 90 degree weather.

Spent the day with my sister’s family on Devil Lake in Michigan. Highlights of the day include playing giant jenga (getting beat by an 81 year-old), snacks on the water, and an amazing applewood-smoked pork shoulder for dinner.


4 July (below)

3 July: Plans Change Drastically

Damien, my 1993 Ford Explorer, reared his vindictive side again. As we pulled out of a gas station near Port Clinton, Ohio last night I noticed a small strange sound emanating from the front right wheel-well. The phone call that came from the garage this morning was expected, the extent of the operation needed to maintain the status quo was not. Wheel ball bearings need replaced, break line shot, wheel alinement necessary, front shocks daed, and an oil change needed. No option here – had to make the the repairs. However, considering that Friday is the 4th of July, this means we are staying in Fremont, Ohio for the entire holiday weekend. To look on the bright side: we are delayed a few days, but enjoy the luxury of an air-conditioned home with great food and a fully stocked bar.

The stocked bar didn’t deter us from checking out the ‘Black Swamp Distillery’ that I spotted on the way into time. Love supporting local business! Bought some onions and a quart of moonshine,  ‘Peach Patty’, flavored with peace juice and cider.


This pretty much captures the entire operation at Black Swamp Distillery.

This pretty much captures the entire operation at Black Swamp Distillery.



With the lay-over, Michel is getting the grand tour of Fremont — the R.B. Hayes Presidential Center, site of Fort Stephanson, We visited two of my haunts during the teen years, Chuds and The Depot, where he got to sample some local pub-grub: sauerkraut balls!




4 July – Independence Day: “Welcome to my State”

We had planned to wake up this morning in a Finnish co-op camp in Minnesota. I have to admit that waking up in a real bed and with no schedule for the day was a real treat. I think the only thing on the agenda was to be near a screen for the France-Germany match at  noon. After watching Germany win 1-0 (the sauerkraut balls were an omen perhaps), we headed over to Spiegle Grove, home of President Rutherford B. Hayes, for the Independence Day Concert, the Toledo Symphony Concert Band performing. Throughout the entire set, an old boy dressed in Civil War regalia (I think he was playing ‘Civil War Col. Hayes’) planted himself against a broad sycamore twenty feet off the edge of the grandstand, saluting the crowd every time a patriotic tune was played. When introduced to Michel, he simple said, “welcome to my state.”



The guys providing artillery support for the day are part of Gillmore Ordinance out of Old Fort (a few miles down the road). Their cannon have been featured in such movies as ‘The Last Samurai’ and ‘Gods and Generals’ – great cannon, not-so-great film.

Artillerists hanging about until their big number, the 1812 Overture.

Artillerists hanging about until their big number, the 1812 Overture.

Some fans also awaiting the big finale.

Some fans also awaiting the big finale.

At 9:30pm we went down by the river to watch the fireworks – pretty good show for a small town. Sorry, no photos; was in the moment.


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