The one thing we have learned on this #VZGreatLakes Roadtreking Tour is that very often, a surprise is literally around the next corner.
So it was when we got off the car ferry in Manitowoc, WI, directly across Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI.
As we made a right turn out of the parking lot, we spotted a submarine. What on earth is a submarine doing in Manitowoc, WI? We had to find out. The sub is docked out front of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, a fascinating place dedicated to the maritime history of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.
It turns out that the city of Manitowoc built 28 submarines for service in World War II. In all, more than 7,000 men and women worked around the clock, 365 days a year, to build some of the best submarines in the Navy. Of the 28 submarines, 25 were built in time to see action during the war. Together they sank 132 Japanese ships.
Just up the shoreline in Two Rivers, WI, we found another place of great historical significance about something very near and dear to us. Two Rivers is recognized by the Wisconsin State Historical Society as the REAL birthplace of the ice cream sundae.
I stress REAL because lots of other communities around the country have tried to claim that title. But well-known American language authority, columnist and author H.L. Mencken identified Two Rivers as the birthplace of the sundae. The claim is also supported by a 1929 newspaper interview in which the inventor recalls how the sundae came about.
For me, it was a chance to visit the Ice Cream Sundae Museum there and order one. It was a piece of art. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream with caramel and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.
I love my job.
Heading south, we came to Wisconsin Cheese country. Called America’s dairy state, Wisconsin has a rich tradition of cheese making. In the crossroads town of Gibbsville, the VanTatenhove family has been making cheese for generations. I sampled the extra sharp cheddar.
Have I told you I love my job?
A lot of folks have emailed me asking how we find all the interesting spots we’ve been visiting. Many times, it’s just a roadside sign, an email suggestion from a reader or our curiosity. But I have some apps on my smartphone that we use. Thanks to the solid Verizon 4G LTE signal we’ve had for most of the tour, those apps have really helped.
Here are the three apps I’ve used the most:
Roadtrippers – Search along a route or plan a road trip with the app's online trip planner for free, then sync it with your smartphone for turn-by-turn navigation. Roadtrippers is a powerful route planner, perfect as a RV trip planner or family trip planner, listing all the cool, offbeat and major tourist events for you to visit on your roadtrip.
Field Trip – This is a very handy and totally free app from Google for iPhone and Android devices. The app bills itself as a tool to find cool, hidden and unique things in the world around you. And that it does. Field Trip gives you inside info on everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk or drive. When you get close to something interesting, it will notify you, and if you have a headset or bluetooth connected, it can even read the info to you.
AroundMe – It is all about providing local info. Whatever you’re looking for (grocery stores, banks, hospitals, gas stations, movie theaters), this app will help you find it. This is really handy when you travel, but surprisingly useful locally, where I always seem to find cool things nearby that I didn’t know about. It’s free for Apple, Android and Windows devices and smartphones.
You can follow our trip through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana by watching the video version:
Come back next week as we wrap up our shoreline tour by rounding the Lake Michigan shoreline and heading up through southwestern Michigan.
Tweet me (@roadtreking) using the #VZGreatLakes hashtag to recommend a place for me to visit!
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*Disclosure: Verizon has compensated Mike for partnering with us on the Great Lakes Tour, but all opinions are his own.