We said goodbye to Toronto with a breakfast of scrambled eggs and croissants, toast and jam, tea and pastries.
Finding the road out was problematic as there are no signs, no place names to aim for and no signs telling you where the road we needed was. As said before, Graeme has a wonderful sense of direction and knew roughly which direction we needed to go, so by trial and error we eventually found the right highway. And it was busy as it was 8 am and rush hour.
We headed off the main highway eventually, onto the more minor roads with corn fields either side and much, much less trafic. Bliss!
Our first stop of the day was Munro Honey and Meadery, being fans of the odd drop of mead. It was in the town of Alvinston, down ‘back’ roads lined with corn. The speed limit was 90 km/hr and that is what we were doing, following a police car. The traffic built up a bit behind us, until one guy had had enough. Graeme said ‘he’ll see the police car and pull in behind it’ which is exactly what he did, but then, for some inexplicable reason decided to overtake the police car – at which point the blue lights came on and he got pulled. Baffling!
The meadery was lovely. A small shop full of all things bees and honey. We had a browse then picked up a bottle of mead to buy with our remaining Canadian dollars. We got talking to the lady serving us and ended up tasting three different meads of varying sweetness (the sweetest was my favourite of course!) and one callled Melomel, a blend of mead and fruit juice. Then she showed us the bees, hidden behind a board in the shop. She explained all the different moves they do, the way they dance to tell the other bees where the nectar came from and how plentiful it was, how the queen has a red spot painted on her back and how the queen lives three to five years when the workers live about forty five days.
As we were crossing the border into the US at Sarnia/Port Huron we thought it would be good to see our third great lake, Lake Huron. We left the main highway and plunged into small town Cananda to take a look. We found a gem. A pathway led down a grassy incline to a sandy beach with a few people sunbathing. An idyllic spot. I would have liked to stay and sit for a while. Blue sky, blue lake so large it looked like the sea.
But we had an appointment to keep, and not knowing how long it would take to get through the border, we had to go. As it was, customs was a formality. Did we have anything to eat in the car? No. We wereback in America – and welcome back SamSam. We’d missed her gravelly, deadpan American voice telling us where to drive.
Lunch was Tim Hortons, this time chilli and mac and cheese. They do combos of sandwiches/soup with donuts, pastries and a drink. Two combos cost us $12 with tax so a good cheap meal. Tax is awkward because you aren’t sure how much it’s going to cost. The amount of tax varies each state and some don’t charge it at all. At the meadery the tax was included, usually it isn’t.
After fuelling up we continued our journey to Dearborn, close to Detroit, and the Henry Ford Museum. We’d booked tickets for the Rouge factory tour. We parked our car at the museum and caught a free shuttle bus for a 15 minute drive to the plant. After a couple of video presentations on Henry Ford and the rise of his car production company, we got to see the production of F150 trucks for real. Gantries overlooked the production line and we could watch workers fitting door panels, wing mirrors, headliners, steering wheels, etc. It was very interesting, not only to see how the production line worked and the order in which a car is put together, but to realise how efficient the process is. Each worker does a tiny part, at a work staion equipped with the tools and parts required. They don’t move far but if their work takes a little longer their platform moves along with the car. Some tasks require two or four people to complete it. It looked boring and repetitive for the workers, we had no way of knowing how long their shifts were or how often they got a break, they worked on their feet. But for us as visitors it was fascinating. Trucks without doors trundled on conveyor belts, doubling back on themselves, being raised up or lowered down depending on which bit was being worked on next, being lifted up above our heads before coming back down, the bed of the truck was worked on seperately as were the doors. This particular truck has been the best seller in the US for 47 years. We could take our time in this section. There we plenty of mini videos and information boards explaining what was being worked on at that particular point. It must be distracting for the workers to have a succession of people peering down at them all day long …
We jumped on a bus back to the museum but didn’t go in, deciding we’d seen enough for today. Instead we drove to Ann Arbour, home (for those that are interested) of Starkidz. It is a charming little town, with a university, and has a thriving town centre. The shops are open until 9pm, there are numerous cafes and restaurants and full of life. We loved it.
Dinner was at an Israeli restaurant called Jerusalem Garden. We had hummus, kofta kebab, falafel and mixed salad with lemonade (no alcohol) and the waiter sat at our table whilst he took our order. Very friendly atmosphere, we ate outside as it was a warm (76F) evening and then took a stroll round to look at the shops and find a fairy door. There are fairy doors are all over Ann Arbour. There are about twenty in total but hidden away, you have to go and find them. Luckily we knew of one just off Main Street, a little red one, mirroring its giant counterpart.