2014 Michigan Train Extravaganza (part 2)

Aug 30-Sep 7, 2014

We finished the day at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo with a ride in two vintage Biplanes. Yes everyone took to the sky, even Walter who swore he would never ride in a plane with only one engine. Gunard, who always moves to the beat of a different drummer, actually flew one of the planes, a Stearman. He was gone for almost an hour. From our vantage point at the airport we could see the sun reflect off the top wing as the plane glided and climbed through several aerobatic maneuvers.

Hey, the Giants are in town. Directions were secured from the hotel staff and off we went to Tiger Stadium. Getting there was difficult even with directions. Signage was non existent. For the most part we relied on dead reckoning and traffic flow to get us there.

Tiger Stadium was designed by the same people who planned our park here in San Francisco. The parks are similar and we felt at home except for the tigers. Tigers decorate the outside of the stadium and adorn the flags inside and outside the park.

We secured good seats, bought a beer, and the game began. Third inning and we were ahead by six. It looked like a blow-out. The Tiger fans are grumbling and we are cheering but not too loud. We are outnumbered and forced to keep our exuberance muted.

The third inning ended and it began to rain. We were in the open someplace between third and home plate. The rain was warm and we were tough San Franciscans. We sat tight as everyone moved into the cover of the overhead bleachers. After a few minutes an usher asked us to move to high ground. We declined. He then explained that we were the highest point in the stands and should there be lightning - no further explanation was necessary. The tough San Franciscans found cover inside the stadium. We killed time and a large pizza. The game delay continued. Several of the grounds crew were injured when a gust of wind carried part of the rain cover away from the field. It looked like the game was over. We left feeling a little cheated by the weather and returned to our hotel. We tried to follow our directions in reverse. Nothing worked. It took almost two hours to find our way home. Eventually we arrived safe and sound. The next morning we learned that after four hours the delay had ended and the Giants had won the game. Go Giants!

The Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village was frosting on the cake. Cars ranging from the 1890’s to 1932 cruised the streets controlled only by Keystone Cops in blue uniforms trimmed in white gloves. The smart folks rented three wheeled electric carts and cruised the Village effortlessly. The rest of us slow folks slugged it out on foot. There was a surprise at every turn. We had a private lesson on how to properly crank start a Model T Ford. We learned the difference between a High Boy and a Channeled Rod. We learned that Edison and Westinghouse were competitors. Edison liked DC and Westinghouse was a fan of AC. Alternating Current eventually won the day. We learned that the first Hybrids were produced around 1915 and the first Studebaker production cars were electric.

We ate an 1850 lunch at 2014 prices. We learned that the new San Francisco Hook and Ladder Trucks use the same wooden ladders that were in common use in the 1920’s. If it works, why change it.

We shared stories about family, friends, work and yes, our politics. We learned a lot about our Model A Family and became much closer for the experience. My hope is that we can do a similar tour in 2016 that would include the Air Park in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana. There is still a lot to see out there – put this one on your bucket list.

Photos by Joe Higgins