Easing Along

Easin’ Along Goes to America’s Heartland

Heartland of America

Heartland of America

This week’s activity involved planning more activity.

Readers may remember that we launched Easin’ Along last August as we hit the road for an extended trip along the East Coast (see August and September 2015 posts of Easin’ Along).  Well, that trip was so much fun we decided that we would venture out on another trip this August – this time to the Heartland of America.

America's Heartland logo

America’s Heartland logo

In earlier times, we had passed through St. Louis and Kansas City, but did not have the time to explore either one. I drove through Iowa and Nebraska once on my way to Jackson Hole where I spent a fascinating evening at a truck stop in Ogallala, NE but, once again, I was just passing through. I have never been to Minnesota, Wisconsin or the Dakotas and it was time to do something about that.

Midwestern meadow

Midwestern meadow

Taking that trip last summer taught us a lot about how to prepare for extensive travel by car. Without a doubt, the most important thing we learned is that you can’t do it all. When we were in the early portion of our trip we would try to take in every attraction we passed and punctuate those events with food and drink at every pub or restaurant that looked interesting. By the fourth day of a five week trip we had reached a saturation point. Nevertheless, America is a place of staggering beauty with a multitude of must see places along the back roads and byways so we knew we had to change our approach if we were going to make it to the end of the trail.

Books, maps, travel information

Books, maps, travel information

We decided somewhere between Beaufort, NC and Norfolk, VA that the best way to attack the problem was to study ahead of reaching the next stop and to pick out one attraction and one good spot for food and drink for each day.  That plan got us into a rhythm that carried us successfully through an incredible experience. Helen (adorable wife in charge of research) would read the travel books while I drove. She would pick out the activities for the next stop and then go to Trip Advisor for the restaurants. It worked like a charm. With that plan in mind she made a visit to the AAA Travel Office earlier this week and stocked up on all the books and maps she could carry.

Adorable wife (and travel guide)

Adorable wife (and travel guide)

Our plan for this year is to take off sometime in the middle of August and point Heidi (adorable wife’s car) in the direction of St. Louis, MO and work our way north from there.  Stops include Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis, Grand Forks, ND, and points in between all of those. Once we reach Grand Forks the plan is to go to Winnipeg then work our way back east along the lakes of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.  We will make our way through International Falls, Duluth, and Green Bay before we arrive at a destination we’re really excited about.   

As stated before, I am a retired Army officer and we have the wonderful opportunity to stay at guest lodging on military bases as we travel.  This year we have booked two nights at an inn operated by the United States Coast Guard on Lake Michigan known as Rawley Point at Two Rivers, MI. There is a lighthouse adjacent to the inn and both sit a few hundred yards off the shore. I have placed a picture below.  The setting looks very cozy and inviting. This stop should give us the opportunity to explore Green Bay and travel through Door County, WI where we expect to fill up on a bowl of whitefish stew.

Rawley Point Lighthouse

Rawley Point Lighthouse

Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

After Rawley Point we need to be in Chicago where our home away from home will be the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for several days. As luck would have it, the Cubs will be in town for a series with the Giants and we were able to secure two tickets in the upper deck of historic Wrigley Field. Talk about excited…

Chicago skyline

Chicago skyline

So far we have nailed down most of the plan but we still have a way to go to get in final format.  Hopefully we will be able to work our way up to Mackinaw City, and over to Mackinac Island, but that portion of the trip is still a work in progress.

I have placed a picture of the map showing the details of the trip we have worked out up until now. That route is highlighted in yellow on the map.  As is evident, there are a few breaks in the yellow line and this is where we need help from Easin’ Along readers.  We would love to have your suggestions for places to visit and places to eat along the entire route and especially along the upper portion of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from Chicago to Mackinaw City. We know there are some well seasoned travelers out there and we would be forever grateful for your input. I hope you will share your advice with us in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Partial route map

Partial route map

We’re counting the days until once again…we’re Easin’ Along.Print

6 thoughts on “Easin’ Along Goes to America’s Heartland

  1. Suzanne Kear

    Joe, As I I posted on an earlier comment, I believe the Cherry Festival is during August in Traverse City. There are several roadside stands in the area with everything “cherry”. I highly recommend the cherry pie and preserves, and if you take in the festival, cherry sundaes are very yummy. Petosky is nice, and somewhere in that region are dunes that you can take dune buggy rides. Mackinac you must see. You take the ferry over and then walk, bike or buggy ride over the island. We enjoyed the buggy ride ( many great photo opportunities) you will enjoy the area. Have fun, Suzanne

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Thanks so much, especially for the info on Traverse City Cherry festival – I’m sure we’ll “eat that up”! Looking forward to it.

  2. Guy Hawkins

    Best of luck Joe… sounds ambitious, but also sounds like it’s well thought-out and you have a solid plan in place. How many weeks ??

    I’m looking forward to hearing/reading about it and seeing the pics !

    Guy

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Almost everything is firm except for a few days we hope to spend in Ontario. Should be on the road for four weeks. Please follow us on Easin’ Along beginning in August.

  3. Sally Pete

    Joe & Helen,
    Bill and I rely on a travel app on our smart phones to help us locate our next campground. It is called Allstays. I just searched online about whether there were apps for car road trips. I came across another person’s blog about their traveling and they have a list of apps. Some look interesting. They might be worth downloading. It’s amazing how much you can find out from your phone as you travel down the highway. You don’t need an internet connection to access the apps — just a 3g or 4g connection. We frequently don’t decide where we are going to stay most nights until early afternoon.
    Here is the link:

    http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/road-trip-apps

    Good luck and happy planning.
    Sally

    1. jobruner01 Post author

      Many thanks! I checked it out and it looks to have some very helpful information (like craft brewery locations – oh yeah). I wish we could make it out to visit you at your summer assignment. Please keep us posted on how things are going. Be safe out there.

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