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Pamela E Wiedenbeck

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Michigan Boating
By Pamela E Wiedenbeck
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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What did your mom consider the ultimate in vacations?

Mom shared her family's fascination with boats and ships.  Her French Canadian ancestors, the Durochers and Bidegares, came to Michigan in the mid-1860s as ship's carpenters.  As the ship building industry moved south from Canada, many French Canadian families followed the work into Detroit.  Her first job out of Southeastern High School was as a cost accountant for the D&C Steamship lines.

With the exception of submarines, Mom never missed a chance to tour a ship or ride on a boat.  Her uncles were fascinated by boats, one by power boating and the other by sail boating.  For my uncles, boating in the summer was not enough.  Winter saw them ice boating on Lake St. Clair -- something I don't remember Mom participating in -- she was definitely a summer boater.

One 1960s summer vacation was a classic: boats and brewery tours.  We left Lexington, Michigan and drove across the state.  From Port Sanilac on Lake Huron to Muskegon on Lake Michigan was about 220 miles on two-lane M46, one of the straightest highways in Michigan.  M46 cut through central Michigan farms and ranches entertaining the spectator with picturesque fields of grazing cattle and the distinctive odor of successful pig farms.

To catch the car ferry to Milwaukee, we continued north on US 31 on the Lake Michigan coast to Ludington.  This car ferry trip was one that Mom wanted to treat us to for years.  After parking the car on the auto deck, we climbed the stairs to the main deck where we had booked a single bunk cabin for Dad to rest.  After watching the ship cast off, we had dinner in the tiny formal dining room -- all white linen and silver.  While Dad slept and my Mom and sister explored, I firmly anchored myself to a deck chair with a view of the horizon and tried to concentrate on my book.  After all, I am the "sea sick daughter" -- probably more Eastern European than French Canadian genes!

After docking, we stayed at a high-rise Holiday Inn in Milwaukee.  Since we had two adjoining rooms, it meant that my sister and I had our first "solo" stay in a hotel.

To make Mom's trip complete, the next day we toured the Miller Brewery where the free drinks for kids were, of course, soft.  After the tour, we headed north for the drive back to Michigan through the Upper Peninsula and across the Mackinac Bridge to the lower peninsula and our summer residence on Lake Huron.  Mom considered this a most excellent vacation.

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