The highlight of day five is the crossing on the steamship Badger. We’ve both had a lot of saddle time and we planned on taking the opportunity to rest a bit more during our four hour journey.
The trip on the S.S. Badger is a much anticipated part of this adventure. I’ve only been on one other car ferry and that one took our party across the English Channel from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. The Badger is special as it’s the last operating coal-fired steam ferry.
Originally designed and built in the 1950s to haul automobiles and rail cars, today it carries passengers and vehicles between Manitowoc,Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan. Motorcyclists ride aboard and tie their machines down to a steel grate before heading up to the passenger decks.
I did spend more time than expected wandering the decks and looking through the various exhibits on what amounts to a floating museum.
The landing in Ludington was ceremonious, with tourists and locals waving as we pulled into the harbor. Unloading was surprisingly efficient and soon we were on our way.
Most of the three hour ride home was in the dark. We made a fuel stop and a took a break to stretch our legs, but otherwise rode straight home. I’ll write up a summary of the trip in a few days, but suffice to say we succeeded in visiting parts of Michigan we’ve never been too, and rode some of the most pleasant winding roads we’ve ever seen. A worthy adventure indeed!