We had a hectic few days, with the Coast Guard Festival, museums and other attractions so we stopped at Lansing and took a couple of days off, hanging out at Barnes and Noble, the Lansing Mall and Starbucks. We did homeschooling and I had the chance to go see Suicide Squad 2 while Holly and Olivia did homework at the Barnes and Noble in the Lansing Mall. The movie was rated R so Olivia could not go so it was a rare treat to be able to get away to the movies by myself. The weather was warm and muggy so the mall was perfect.
After a couple of days in Lansing it was time to continue east. We drove through Detroit to the Ford Rouge Factory tour in Dearborn. Detroit is not the first place people think about when going on vacation but we couldn’t go past Detroit without visiting a car factory. We got a combo ticket for the factory tour and the Henry Ford Museum for around $100 for the three of us.
First, we got on a bus which drove us a few miles to the actual Ford Rouge Factory which currently manufactures the popular Ford F-150 truck. When the Rouge Factory was completed in 1928 it was the largest integrated factory in the world. Raw materials like iron ore, sand and coal went in one end and Model A cars came out the other. Later on it would produce Ford Thunderbird, Mercury and Mustang cars. In 2020 Ford started construction of a new Electric Vehicle Center which will produce electric vehicles starting with the all electric F-150 Lightning. At 1.5 miles wide and 1 mile long it is a huge complex.
The tour started with a standard movie about the history of the Rouge factory and then we moved to a second theater which had a snazzy innovation presentation featuring a couple of robotic arms. After that we went up to an observation room that overlooked the entire complex and a guide pointed out the various buildings in the factory complex where different activities are carried out such as metal stamping, painting and assembly. The final assembly building has a living roof with plants on it but unfortunately, no goats.
After that we got to go into the auto plant itself. Visitors get to go onto an elevated walkway around the edge of the factory where they could look down onto the factory itself as the workers assembled the trucks. Unfortunately photography was not allowed but it was really interesting watching the robot install the windshields and the trucks move along the assembly line as the workers installed parts. It partially completed vehicles moved along tracks like a Disneyland ride and at each station people installed lights, doors, seats, wheels and all the other parts and eventually a fully completed truck would be driven out the factory at the other end.
At the end of the tour we were bussed back to the Henry Ford Museum where we had lunch at it’s surprisingly good Plum Café before going into the Museum. The Ford Museum was transportation focused, featuring a number of Presidential cars including the car Kennedy was riding when he was assassinated. This was a nice follow up to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas which detailed the JFK assassination. After the assassination, they retrofitted the car with a permanent steel roof.
There were a lot of cars on display but also trains, airplanes and also some huge electrical engines. There was even a Holiday Inn display showing a vintage hotel room and a technology section with old computers. The Henry Ford Museum was a lot more than just a car museum.
After leaving the museum we drove an hour to the really nice Wyandot Service plaza in Ohio. It was a hot and humid night and the Wynadot Service Plaza had RV spots with electric for $20 a night. It also included RV dump, potable water and free showers. This is one of the better spots to spend the night. During the night we experienced the biggest thunderstorm in our travels. The lightning was continuous and the wind was rocking Rover as rain sleeted down. We were cool and dry in our beds though and Olivia slept so soundly that she didn’t even notice the storm.