(The 51st Edition)


Victor Edward Swanson,



    The reports and stories contained on this Web page have been put together with information taken from "The Victor Swanson Fabulous Files of Places to See in Michigan and Wisconsin" and with information obtained from operators and staffers of tourist attractions and from press releases, Web sites, and other sources.  The reports and stories are provided as a public service by Victor Swanson and The Hologlobe Press.  Almost all persons and entities, such as staffers of radio stations, may freely use the materials; neither AAA Michigan nor any employee of AAA Michigan may use, distribute, download, transmit, copy, or duplicate any of the material presented on this page in any way or through any means.

- - - Travel Thoughts for Everyone - - -

    Between 1980 and 2003, I did a lot of writing about traffic and travel conditions through AAA Michigan for radio stations in Michigan, and one of the sources of information about traffic was the group of staffers of the Mackinac Bridge.  I no longer write traffic reports, but I still do from time to time see what the traffic statistics are for the Mackinac Bridge in relation to recent months (going to the Web site for the Mackinac Bridge).  Based on information published by the Mackinac Bridge Authority through the Web site, I can say the volume of vehicle traffic for the Mackinac Bridge from January 2008 through June 2008 is down about 6.5 percent over the vehicle traffic for the Mackinac Bridge from January 2007 through June 2007.  A few of the probable reasons for the downturn in the amount traffic are (1) the price of gasoline is reducing the miles that people are willing to travel, (2) the somewhat bad economic conditions of Michigan are keeping people home or close to home, and (3) the high divorce rate in the county has reduced the number of families that travel to places together (unlike how it was in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s).

    The Mackinac Bridge is the road link between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan; the northern end of the bridge is St. Ignace, and the southern end of the bridge is Mackinaw City.  Mackinaw City is the focus of this edition of Michigan Travel Tips.  Really, this edition of Michigan Travel Tips focuses on the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, which is a former icebreaker of the Great Lakes--called The Mackinaw--based at a dock (related to Bill Shepler's ferry service) at Mackinaw City.

    On three days recently, I was a volunteer guide or interpreter on the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, and through this edition of Michigan Travel Tips, I pass along information about what I learned about the ship and what I did as a volunteer guide or interpreter.  All three days--June 11, July 2, and July 4--were learning days for me, as any more days that I end up at the ship will be, though learning about the ship had started years ago and through my recently reading of Icebreaker Mackinaw (a book), which was written by Sandra L. Planisek.  During the three days, I wrote down notes about what things are, where things are, and more, and, of course, each day after the first, I was able to explain more and show more about the ship to visitors.  In addition, the information that I gained I put into a document of facts and statistics and notes entitled "Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum Notes for Volunteers," which can now be used by the management of the museum as a document that can be given to volunteers and especially new volunteers so that they will be better informed about the ship and be able to better tell visitors about the ship.

    On the first day, I was given a blue shirt to wear, which had a logo of the museum on it, so that visitors would know I was associated with the museum, and, on the first day, I worked on the "levels" of the ship.  Generally speaking, the ship has a main deck, which is where such places as the crew's mess and officer's area are, and any decks that are below the main deck are "decks," and any decks that are above the main deck are "levels."  On old Mackinaw, the first level up from the main deck is "Level 01," and the next level up is "Level 02," and the next level up is "Level 03," which is the deck that has, for instance, the bridge, the chart room, and the radio room.  On this day, I spent most of my time on Level 01 and Level 03, since Level 02 does not have much for a person to see.  Level 01 has, for example, small boats to see (each of which is on a portion of deck that can be called a "boat deck") and the "bow deck," which is a portion of the level near the bow of the ship. On this day, I did have to say as an answer to some questions from visitors: "I do not know."  Most questions were not hard to answer, since they were simple--on this day and over the next two days, I sort of slipped away from visitors a few moments to get answers from other volunteers.  Fortunately for me, future volunteers, and visitors, one of the visitors who showed up was a man--Bill Kluszubski--who had worked on The Mackinaw twice, one time of which was in 1962-1963 in the supply area and another time of which was in 1971-1972 as the "supply officer" (he currently lives with his wife, Carol, in Benton, Kentucky, and Carol was with him on this day).  One thing he told me was, in the early 1970s, a man in Detroit acquired through purchase the parts inventory of Fairbanks Morse, the company that had built the six diesel engines that are on The Mackinaw, and he said that the parts became less expensive after the transfer.  He also told a story about how, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s (the peak time of which was in 1962), The Mackinaw was in dry dock at Chicago, Illinois and he did guard duty with an M-1 around The Mackinaw for a while, and he said that it was a thrill to see the entire Mackinaw out of the water.  I learned through him that the two conning towers on Level 03 today did not exist on the ship when he was on it.  (The conning towers are places from which to look down along the sides of the ship and even control the engines of the ship. It is the bridge that is the main control center of The Mackinaw.)  On this first day of volunteering, I did not see any of the ship below the main deck, as did visitors, who get to see, for example, the library, offices, officer's quarters, crew's quarters, and engines.

    Let me make it clear: The Mackinaw is as she was left by the crew on the final day, and that means it looks as it did when in use, having personal effects of crew members.

    On the second day of volunteering, I had more information about the ship about which to pass along to visitors, but one particular question asked by a visitor, I could not answer, so I said that I would give the answer through this edition of Michigan Travel Tips.  The visitor was Mark Olliar, who was visiting the ship with his family (Patty, Marie, and Maggie) and was from Shelby Township, Michigan.  On the helm, which is the unit that has the wheel to steer the ship, there are two dials--one is markd "rudder order" and the other is marked "rudder angle."  Mark wondered what "rudder order" and "rudder angle" mean.  Generally speaking, both dials have degrees marked on them and show the same degree reading when the ship is on a particular course.  If an order is given to change course--move the rudder--the helmsman turns the wheel to the ordered position, and the "rudder order" shows how the wheel is turning or has been turned--to a certain degree.  The rudder is heavy and big and does not respond immediately under the order produced by the turning of the wheel--there is a lag time--and the rudder-degree dial shows how the rudder is moving, and, of course, the rudder moves till it reaches the ordered position.  When the rudder stops moving, the two dials should then show the same degree position.

    Friday, July 4, 2008--this day was my third day at the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, and a number of events took place.  Again, I worked the three levels above the main deck, and most of my time was spent on Level 03, since the day had more visitors than the other two days had had.  I took more notes, especially from a schematic of the ship that exists on a wall in the bridge, and, on this day, I was able to meet one more former member of The Mackinaw.  The man was Chuck Rader, who is now based at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  He was with his wife, Becky.  In essence, Chuck Rader worked with the engines during his time on the old Mackinaw; he was on the ship for 1981-1982, 1986-1990, and 1999-2003.  The big story that I learned from him was about the trouble that took place with the No. 4 engine during his last run of duty with the ship.  One day, about six years ago or so, he was called to the room where the No. 4 engine is (which is known as "#2 Space"), and he learned the crankshaft was broken.  During his last years with the ship, it was hard to find mechanical parts and electronic parts for the ship.  For a while, the No. 4 engine was useless, and then, finally, a crankshaft from a diesel engine used for a locomotive was found with a man in Texas.  On this third day, I asked the management of the museum about how many persons had visited the ship, and I was told that 304 persons visited the museum, making it the busiest day for the season so far.  I worked at the museum from 5:00 p.m. to somewhere around 9:00 p.m. (normally, the ship is open to tours from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day in July and August), and one reason that I worked later than 8:00 p.m. is people were coming aboard to see the fireworks that were scheduled to blast off nearby at dark and some of those people were touring the bridge.  On this day, volunteers were allowed to bring some family and friends on to the ship to see the Mackinaw City Fireworks Show.  The fireworks were shot off from a pier right south of the ship, and the explosions in the air took place almost right above the ship, and the blasts from the explosions shook--at least at little--the roughly 5,200-ton ship (I could feel the blasts through my shoes).

    It was on Sunday, July 6, 2008, I happened to be standing at the head of a lane along US-23, which runs along the east side of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan near Lake Huron when a vehicle pulling a trailer pulled up.  Inside was a couple--Todd and Mel (a gal).  They were heading back to Minnesota (though on a leisurely pace), and they were low on fuel.  Well, I got some fuel for them and, yes, I blabbed about the old Mackinaw (or the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum).  I urged them to see it.  If I would have been set to be a volunteer on July 6, which would have been for the evening shift, I might have seen them again.  Their plan was to cross the Mackinac Bridge in the next day or so, so it looks as if their vehicle will become one of the several-hundred-thousand vehicles that should later be noted as having crossed the Mackinac Bridge in July 2008 (in July 2007, 577,884 vehicles crossed the Mackinac Bridge).

    Your travel tip of Michigan in this edition of Michigan Travel Tips is:

    The Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, Mackinaw City, Cheboygan County, the Lower Peninsula.

- - - Public Service Copy for Broadcasters (four pieces) - - -

Number One:

    When you travel in Michigan, you are very likely to stop in stores,

such as one of those replica old-time "General Stores," and when you

do travel in Michigan, it is fairly easy to come across a store where

pickles are being sold.  Sometimes, you will find pickles are being sold

in old wooden barrels or something like old wooden barrels, and, in

essence, you scoop out what you want and pay for it.  A pickle barrel

has a unique shape, and the shape was used at least once for the shape

of a house that is now a museum in Michigan.  At Grand Marais is the

"Pickle Barrel House Museum," which is watched over by the Grand

Marais Historical Society.  When you are in the Grand Marais

area--maybe on a trip to see the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore--try

to see the Pickle Barrel House Museum.  Grand Marais is in Alger

County in the Upper Peninsula.  Remember: Don't get pickled before

driving!  Do enjoy your safe traveling in Michigan.


Number Two:

    When you go to some museums in Michigan, you might find

unexpected gag items scattered about within the display items.  In the

past for instance, the staffers at Fort Michilimackinac, which is a

restored fort at the southern end of the Mackinac Bridge, have put

fake mice in display cases.  Not far from Fort Michilimackinac is the

Icebreaker Mackinac Maritime Museum, the main feature of which

is the old icebreaker of the Great Lakes called The Mackinaw, which

was on duty from about 1944 to 2006.  The staffers of the museum

have not put unexpected things, like mice, on display, but former

members of The Mackinaw did.  When you visit the bridge, for

instance, you will see a hula-gal doll.  Well, it is not really a gag item.

One thing on the bridge is a gag item, though!  To find out what it is,

you should visit the bridge of The Mackinaw at Mackinaw City.  And

enjoy--if not chuckling or laughing a bit--your safe traveling in Michigan.


Number Three:

    While you travel around in Michigan, you might wonder what a

friend of yours or a family member of yours is doing elsewhere in the

state at the same time.  If you are in the lobby of the Tibbits Opera

House at Coldwater, which is in Branch County of the Lower Peninsula,

your friend Bobbi might be in the lobby of the Cheboygan Opera House,

which is a Cheboygan.  Your friend Glen might be at the MSU Diary

Store at East Lansing, while you are at the Houdek Dunes Nature Area

at Leland, which is in Leelanau County of the Lower Peninsula.  You

might be at the World War II Monument or the Korean War Monument

of Monroe, which is in Monroe County, while your friend Meko is at

the New Baltimore Historical Museum, which is at New Baltimore in

Macomb County.  Of course, it is possible you might stumble across

someone you know at some place you go to visit.  When you do go,

watch for red-light runners, and enjoy your safe traveling.


Number Four:

    On the tenth of each month, The Hologlobe Press publishes two

new Internet-only publications--one about television and one about

places to see in Michigan.  The writer and publisher of those

publications is Victor Swanson, who for several decades was a radio

announcer who promoted safe traveling in Michigan.  Victor has a

safety tip, right now.  When a person plans to travel in Michigan by

vehicle, the person should be sure the vehicle is ready travel, and one

thing people forget about on older vehicles is brake lines.  From time to

time, a person should see what condition the brake lines are in--they

do rust over time, and when they get rusted enough, they can break

and cause a leak of brake fluid.  A break can happen unexpectedly,

and it is at the very least inconvenient to have the brakes go bad when

far from home.  So do preventive maintenance when it seems right,

and enjoy your safe traveling in Michigan.


- - - Contact Information - - -

The Hologlobe Press
Postal Box 20551
Ferndale, Michigan  48220-0551
The United States of America

copyright c. 2008
File date: 10 July 2008

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