The next morning we were supposed to head back to the United States. After two cups of coffee, we packed up at Lakewood Christian Campground and headed for Sarnia – the middle of the three border crossings between Ontario (Canada) and Michigan (USA).
To do this, we drove along Lakeshore Road, past very nice residential areas with insanely impressive courtyard entrances and houses. It is certainly good to live here. At the end, the road leads more or less directly to Canatara Beach & Park, where you have a wonderful view of Lake Huron as well as great swimming and picnic opportunities. A really nice place to relax – and completely free of charge!
Afterwards we went on to the Waterfront Park. Here you not only have a great view of the Blue Water Bridge and the USA, which is only a few meters away; with the flags of the two countries, we of course did not miss the opportunity to have a little photo shoot with Gernot & Gisi. 🤭
Our first re-entry
After we dutifully paid our tolls for the use of the Blue Water Bridge (per motorcycle 6 CAD; payable by credit card) and joined the car queue, we had to wait. With a great view of the estuary of the St. Clair River into Lake Huron, we stood in the middle of the bridge, which began to swing with every passing truck. Only slowly we moved forward – this time at 28 °C. With every meter our tension increased: Will we be pulled out and will all our luggage be checked? Will the date of our departure be adjusted?
After about 45 minutes in sweltering heat, it was finally our turn. And this time, too, everything went smoothly: passports handed in, a few questions answered and we were allowed to continue. No control of our bikes or our luggage, but also no new stamp in the passports – and thus no new departure date. 😕
This means that our current B2 visa will expire in mid-November 2023. Unfortunately, entering or leaving Canada does not change anything. Consequently, we now have to consider whether we will manage our tour as planned until then. It is really difficult for us to estimate this at the moment:
According to our route tracking (see map below), we have traveled 1,372 miles in the last twenty days. This corresponds to approximately 2,208 kilometers, which means that we have covered about 68.6 miles (= 110.4 km) per day. Up to the west coast (to Vancouver) there are currently at least 2,547 miles (= 4,099 km) ahead of us – and that without making big stops at canyons or in national parks. With 68.6 miles per day we will need about 37 days – with stops more like 1.5 months. Down the west coast it’s about 1,397 miles (= 2,249 km). I.e. at least another 20 days or due to the numerous attractions in the west probably rather 1-1.5 months. And then it should actually go back to the east coast, to Miami. Depending on the route again between 2,975 and 3,288 miles (= 4,788 and 5,291 km) and thus around 43 to 48 days (rather 2 months). That makes a total of 100 – 105 days (without stops) or with round about 4.5-5 months.
Currently we have (without buffer) just under 4.5 months left: So this could be quite tight! 😬
Detroit or Dearborn: The city of Henry Ford
After a short break behind the border crossing, we continued towards Detroit. Since both friends and people who approached us along the way recommended that we just pass Detroit due to the crime rate, we took Interstate Highway 94 (I-94) without seeing anything of Detroit. Instead, we drove to Dearborn, a city southwest of it. This is the hometown of Henry Ford and thus also the headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.
We didn’t want to miss a visit to the Henry Ford-Museum; so this time we booked a room at the Best Western Greenfield Inn. The hotel is located only 3 km away directly on I-94 and offers a free shuttle service, which we gladly took advantage of. Our room was also neat & there was a separate parking lot where we could safely park Gernot & Gisi. Based on our experience, it is absolutely no problem to make a stop so close to Detroit!
We spent a full 3.5 hours at the museum. Our highlight was definitely the exhibition of the previous presidential vehicles (of course with the exception of “the Beast”), Ford’s models until the completion of the Model-T and the subsequent variants, as well as our break in Lamy‘s Diner, an original diner car from 1946. What we didn’t manage due to our short stay was a foray through the adjacent Greenfield Village. There you can take a ride in an original Model T, marvel at other Ford buildings and Edison’s laboratory, where he invented the light bulb. If you want to visit everything, you should rather plan two full days for it.
Across sand dunes to Chicago
From Dearborn, we were to continue to Chicago – a distance of about 6.5-7 hours of pure riding time. Therefore, we decided to make another stopover before Chicago. On the southeast side of Lake Michigan – our third of the five great lakes – we came across Warren Dunes State Park during our research for a campground.
And so we reserved a campsite online for two nights at the park’s Mount Randall Campground. The necessary recreation passes, which you need per vehicle for driving into the park, cost $11 per day and can be paid at check-in. In our eyes, this is not exactly cheap – especially since you are camping in the park – but in our opinion it is definitely worth it! The campsites are beautifully located in the forest, you have great trails through the forest & to the dunes and the dune landscape itself is beautiful. Once again, absolutely soft, fine sand, km-wide beach and although you’re at a lake, it feels like you’re at the ocean. Simply gorgeous!
And even though we weren’t so lucky with the weather again – at least at first, because it rained almost continuously from Dearborn until our arrival at the campground – we were able to explore the park at least in the afternoon of the next day with some sunshine and wind. After a total of about 7.5 km, we were surprised to find that we were quite out of breath after all; climbing sand dunes definitely gets into your calves and creates, as Micha likes to say, muscle cat … 😮💨; but it’s definitely worth it!
After this still very beautiful nature experience, we finally set off the next day to the former gangster city of Chicago. On the Freeway 12 we drove along the lake to its southernmost tip. From there we also continued along the lake to the north – partly through very strange residential areas and a large industrial district. The air here was not only characterized by the smoke of the Canadian forest fires, which is why we can’t exactly recommend this part of the route. And even though we – especially I – felt a bit queasy at one point or another, we can’t say that we felt threatened or unsafe anywhere.