Canada

Across North America, Day 9: Into America, Camping at Lake Michigan

After our weird, nocturnal mishaps of the night before, we set out from our motel in western Ontario and headed for the Windsor/Detroit Border.

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(Our weirdly large, sketchy motel room. Complete with with orange shower water.)

This marks the start of some long driving days as we make our way across the wide belly of the continent.

The Windsor – Detroit Border

There are two options when making this crossing:

1. The Ambassador Bridge
2. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

They are the No. 1 and No. 2 busiest Canada-USA border crossings (in that order).

We opted for the tunnel because it was the quicker route for us by a couple minutes.

The subterranean border crossing made me feel like a maple syrup smuggler. The tunnel was humid in the middle and a full of exhaust fumes. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if you were driving straight through, but traffic was held up about a quarter of the way through, and made the rest of the trip a warm, slow crawl.

In addition to changing countries, we also completed the Ontario portion of our cross-country time-lapse, with arguably the best soundtrack thanks to our talented and folksy Toronto friends. Listen for my beer bottle solo!

We continued our drive towards Chicago. Coming across the border and heading west, the highways around Detroit were unkempt and lined with fallen-down and desolate-looking homes. National Geographic recently did a great series called Taking Back Detroit, with an essay, portraits, and videos about how citizens are bringing their fallen city back from the ashes. I recommend reading it.

Of course, my brief glimpse from the highway didn’t tell that story, but I guess that’s the difference between a ten minute glimpse from a car window, and a well-researched journalism series.

Camping on Lake Michigan

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We had originally planned to visit Chicago for the afternoon, but after spending so much money and city time in Toronto, we were craving the woods, cheap camping and fresh air, so we decided to forgo Chicago this time around (I’ll be back someday!) and instead aimed our van towards the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Indiana Dunes is right on the lakeshore (a fact I can attest to not only because I saw the lake, but also because there were plague-level amounts of mosquitos). Our campsite was nice, with indoor toilets, showers, and a washing station a short walk away. It was quite humid; we were having pre-thunderstorm weather, and our tent bed talk that night consisted mostly of us saying to each other, “Try not to move. Or breathe. Or do anything that produces heat.”

Next time: We buy a tent fan.

This time: Revelation! Baby wipes are the best camping accessory. So useful for a so many things (hand cleaner, makeup remover, glasses wipe, baby wipe showers, etc.), and so cheap ($1.50 for a whole box)! Thanks to our friend Liz Robichaud for the heads-up.

Day 9 Costs:

  • Tunnel Cost: $4.75 USD
  • Starbucks’ Tea: $2.65 USD
  • Gas in Battle Creek: $40.00 USD
  • Groceries: $23.12 USD
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – Dunewood Campground: $18.00 USD

Total: $88.52 USD

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