When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Detroit and Disaster

We left Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the river and headed west towards Detroit.  This route is much shorter than staying in the USA.  that would have required we run south before we could turn west along the south shore of Lake Erie and then turn north to get to Detroit.  Also it gave us another chance to hit the duty-free store for some more liquor.







Our reason for including Detroit, other than it is right on the route we are taking, is to visit the Henry Ford Museum and Village.  After Henry made his fortune he decided to start saving pieces of history.  His collection is very diverse and is housed in a museum on the grounds of his factory.  Henry was not a guy who wanted to collect magnetic bottle openers (like me) or teddy bears (like Kathy) or some other small easily stored item.



No, Henry liked bigger things.  On the right is a very early steam engine.  Early steam engines were not dependable and complicated so the Liverpool and Manchester railroad in England had a contest for a new design.  This is the winner.  This is not the original one built in 1829, that one is in a museum in London and they wouldn't give it up.  But the builder was still in business in 1929 so Henry had them build an exact replica, which he brought to Detroit!

He also has earlier and later engines that are original ones.  The "modern" steam locomotive in the background has drive wheels over six feet in diameter and is nearly as long as the entire earlier model in front of it.

But steam engines were not all he collected.  There are presidential limousines in a long line.










A very early model Ford, the "Quadricycle".











The actual bus the Rosa Parks rode in.  And it is not closed off.  You can climb aboard and sit in the same seat as Rosa did in her famous ride.










I found the section of the museum that was filled with HUGE generators and pumps to be very interesting.  You can judge the size by the person standing on the right.  And this is not, by far, the largest of these machines.








On the right is James Watt's 1796 canal pump from England.  The real thing!  Rarely is there a replica here.  Henry has bought and brought to Detroit these huge machines, rebuilt them, and installed them in his museum.

There was an airplane section and a home life section.  He has sections of the museum where there were dioramas of rooms in early houses.  They are completely furnished.  They were mobbed by teachers and school kids having a history field trip.

And if one gets tired walking all these rooms there are cafes and sitting areas.  It was an experience to remember.

As Detroit was only a couple hours from Niagara Falls we had gone directly to the museum.  We spent the entire day there.  But now we are tired and need to get to camp and get set up.  We head out of town towards the county fairgrounds where there is a cheap campground but we need gasoline so that is the first stop.  And this is when the disaster hits, the bike won't start.  The starter has been acting up for several weeks but has not failed completely until now.  No matter what we tried it would not start.  So we backed up to the back edge of the filling station and with Kathy pushing and me paddling with my feet we headed for the street.  I popped the clutch and it started right off.  Now that it is running I look in my GPS database for nearby Honda repair shops.  There is one about 3 miles away and we head for it.  This is at 4:45 on Thursday afternoon.  We arrive just before closing and they take a look at it right then.  The diagnosis: it needs a new starter for a cost of $1,000 and the new one won't be there until Monday or Tuesday!  And they are closed on Monday!  With no real choice we say OK and head for the campground.  We set up and had a stiff one from our new bottle of liquor.

We had purchased combination tickets to the Henry Ford Museum and the Greenfield Village when we arrived.  We had only used the museum tickets because the museum was an all day event.  Now we have a dead bike and two unused tickets.  The Greenfield Village is an outdoor excursion and the weather was poor so we stayed in camp on Saturday and bemoaned our problems.  On Sunday we walked to a nearby Applebee's and watched football on their TV.  On Monday we decided to go to the Village and got ready to push start the bike.  But first I pushed the starter button and it groaned a bit and then started. So we headed back to town and the Greenfield Village.

This "village" is actually a collection of buildings and shops that Henry collected from many parts of the US and even from England.  He started the village in 1929 bringing in original structures and adding replicas of some.  Today many of them are staffed by artisans and costumed actors.








The place is huge.  You can get around by train (not all steam engines are in the museum) or by old Ford Model T's.  We walked because the things to see were so close together that trying to ride from one to the next was not necessary.

The artisans included glassblowers and a tinsmith who is soldering a pewter object with a alcohol lamp and blow tube.




Among the original buildings was a late 1600's sawmill that operated up to 1925.  Today it is not operating but is complete as it was when it was shut down.  It was rebuilt here in 1940 with mostly original parts.









There is a Jacquard weaving machine.  This was a very early "computer" controlled loom from the 1800's.  The punch cards on the left controlled the warp and weave to automatically produce complicated patterns like on the right.  Each card represented one thread as the shuttle passed across the loom.  The cross threads were lifted or lowered to fit the pattern by pins that fit into the holes in the card.


The old buildings include the home of the Wright Brothers, yes, the guys that first flew powered flight.  It was built in 1871 in Dayton, Ohio.

The H.J. Heinz house is also here.  Where Heinz 57 Varieties started.  It was built in 1854 in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania.

There is an 1857 general store from Waterford, Michigan.  It is open for business but with a limited stack of items for sale.  Most of the display is just that, display.





We had lunch at the Eagle Tavern, built in 1831 in Clinton Michigan.  The current "time" in the tavern is 1850 and the food and drink is fitted to this time.



One of the more interesting houses to transport to this location has got to be the limestone home from the Cotswold area of England.  It was built in the 1600's in Chedworth, Gloucestershire, England.  How Henry managed to take it apart, transport it to Detroit and put it back together correctly is beyond me.


A replica of the log cabin (left) that George Washington Carver was raised in is here as well as typical slave quarters from the south.

The actual 1790 log cabin (right) that McGuffey lived in as a child is here.  McGuffey is famous for his "Eclectic Reader" series of books that taught many pioneer children to read.

I felt the most interesting buildings were the "Menlo Park Complex" of buildings that were either original or exact replicas of Thomas Edison's famous research center in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  Henry Ford had worked for Edison when he built his first car, the "Quadricycle", shown above in the museum.

The complex consisted of about a half dozen buildings of brick and wood filled with the tools and equipment from the original Menlo Park (or similar items).





This is part of the machine shop on the left and the laboratory on the right.  This is where Edison experimented with several thousand items trying to find the perfect one to use as an element in his light bulb.  As with many famous inventors, he didn't actually "invent" the light bulb.  He just made a version that was practical and usable.  Edison invented or improved thousands of things in this complex that was moved/built here in 1929.

After a very full and fun day we walked back to the bike and it started again!  We headed back to the campsite and relaxed through the evening.  Our legs were worn out from the walking at the Greenfield Village.

The next morning we pushed the bike to start it and I took my book and went back to the Honda shop.  The starter arrived a little before ten o'clock and they started working on it.  I want to thank Rosenau Powersports for the prompt service.  I know that they had bikes already scheduled for Tuesday but they worked me in first.  It was a nearly all-day job and I was well into my book before I headed back to camp a bit after 3:00 in the afternoon.  It started fine in the parking lot and again the next morning when we packed up and headed homeward.

But wait - Homeward bound. and more problems are next.