“What year is your Sihtrone?”
“Is it made by Fiat?”
“No, it’s made by Citroen…a French company. Fiat is Italian and they made the Fiat 500.”

That’s how the day began… it never fails to surprise me how these cars attract people and it happened multiple times to us later in the day too.

We left Cadott, WI in the morning and got a good jump on the day.  It was a 4 hour trip on Highway 29 to Manitowoc and our reservation on the historic SS Badger to cross Lake Michigan.  It wasn’t a big time saver, but something fun and unusual Uschi had found to add to our trip.  A 3 hour break from driving while still putting on the miles.  Good deal!

Today we felt like it was all going to be easy.  Overcast skies threatened rain, but kept things cool and for the first time in 3 days, no wind!

We really boogied and got to the ferry with time to spare.  We checked in and they had us move our cars off to the side.  It seems that if you have a modern vehicle, they load it and unload it for you.  If you have a 2CV, they don’t know what to do with it, so they have you drive it on and off.  Only wrinkle is having to load in backwards.  Up a ramp, through a narrowed opening and inches from your neighbors.  We did it pretty well and Axel did it with a trailer hooked up!

 Here is the historic SS Badger awaiting us in Manitowoc.  That black exhaust is because it has a coal burning steam engine!

    This is us backing into the ferry.  They load everyone else’s cars but for older/collectibles, you have to load yourself.

The SS Badger is the last of a fleet of ferries that were used by the railroads to ferry train cars across Lake Michigan.  Built in 1953, the Badger runs on coal fired steam engines which work at very low rpms, usually no more than 100, so the trip is very smooth and relatively quiet compared to the giant diesels in ferries today.  The ferry was converted to carry autos and trucks in the 90’s and has become very popular.
      A car club joined us on the ferry ride with some lovely cars.

At one point the chief engineer came out to see our cars and Uschi said, ” If we show you our motors, will you show us yours?”  And he agreed!

We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, but trust me the design and execution of the engines is like a work of art.  There are numerous glass windows where you can watch the crank shaft in action, check the drive shafts or check the external lifters.  What cool visit, the high point of our day.  Then it was up to the main deck for the rest of the 3 hour journey.  The crew is terrific and they have all sorts of activities for passengers on the crossing.  You might want to put it on your list of things to see and do, you’ll be glad you did.

  Loaded into historic SS Badger about to debark in MI.

  The planning committee ( where do we go now ) in Ludington after getting off the Badger.

  The view from the boat as we arrive in Ludington.

  And our route from WI into MI.
Upon arrival in Ludington, MI, the crew bent over a map to decide what to do next…go camp on the dunes nearby or put some miles on.  The decision was to cut into tomorrow’s driving and knock some miles off before quitting.

Onto 10 East we went enjoying the architecture of Ludington and then the combination of wooded and open farm land that is the Upper Pennisula.  We got as far as Mt. Pleasant before our energy ran out.  Some late food and off to bed… another day on the road tomorrow.

It was a fun day and we put a good bit of mileage behind us thanks to the boat ride in the middle.

BTW, after I did the math about how old the historic Badger was and then I realized that I was born 5 years before she was built…I guess that makes me historic too!

Tomorrow, over the border into Canada.


[Read the story about the complete trip here.]