Friday, June 24, 2011

Traveling to See Family (daughter)

We packed up a few critical items and slowly headed northeast to daughter's house for the weekend.   On the way, we made a call on Mother at the care center, finding her "about the same" as she words it.  At 100 years and 2 months, not much seems to change in her life.

It was then on to Walmart in Cedar Rapids for some critical items and a haircut for Sandy.  As we left, I told Sandy that I was suggesting that we pick a different route since we've traveled highway 151 numerous times over the years.  So we headed NE, initially on 151 before exiting the 4 lane for various state highways.   All went well until we exited the state highway onto a county road on the way to the ferry.  It was a very  good road surface with a lots of turns.  We can handle that okay; the show stopper was when we rounded a curve and the road was blocked with a stopped freight train.   The train disappeared around a curve, looking to the right or the left.

It seemed like hours that we were waiting, although it was probably only 10 to 20 minutes.  What was also a bit unsettling was that there were no cars parked on the other side of the train.  Or maybe that was good news that the ferry wasn't in yet.

Finally, there was a rumble and lots of banging as the train started to move.  It still took a while before the last car cleared our crossing so that we could proceed.   About a mile down the very curvy road we finally met another car.  I was expecting to see a number of cars from the ferry, so did one car indicate that the ferry was in or not?

The road then went from a nice (but curvy) oil to much narrower gravel road.  We finally rounded the last curve and spotted a ferry sign and then the ferry.  The gates were closed and the ferry just sitting there, but the one deck hand quickly opened the gates and beckoned us to come forward.  He parked us in the middle lane at the end of the ferry, as if they had to load many others.  However, after we were parked, he went to the ramp and closed the gates.  We were leaving now.

I wasn't paying much attention to the pilot house and then noticed that it was at 90 degrees to the ferry length and rotating.  It appeared that the power unit is a pusher and always positions itself to push on the barge part. Once we were underway, the deck hand came by to collect the fee, a cool $15 per car.  Reading online, each car is allowed to take as many people as there are seat belts in the car.

The crossing went smoothly and shortly we exited the ferry onto main street Cassville, Wisconsin.  We hadn't paid attention to road details and when I turned, the Garmin GPS announced "recalculating".  So we stopped to figure out (on paper) where we were going.  Karen (the voice in the GPS) wanted to take us south to Plattville, WI and I said "no, we're going to take small county and state roads east. Sandy resolved that issue  finally and we headed north, intending to pick up a state highway.  However, upon arriving at the state highway junction, it was closed for bridge construction.  We headed north following the "detour" signs, all the while with Karen insistently saying "turn right" at the every intersection.

Since the reworked closed bridge was 8 miles east of town, there is no use taking any road sooner.  Finally, Sandy and I decided to change our planned route to the north and suddenly Karen was happy.

We picked up U.S. highway 18 and seemed to float along, as we had a very strong tail wind.  Even the MPG indicator was happy, getting us to a number over 30 for the trip.  "That I can take any time!"

We finally arrived at daughter's house and settled in. It has been two weeks since we've seen her, but it is always great to see family again.  The really great news is that we have a high speed Internet connection and Sandy and I get to sleep in our very own King sized bed that Beth is storing for us while we travel the country.  It still has the right feel and so much SPACE!


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