Monday was designed to be a “day of rest” for the bike tour, mainly due to timing issues. The plan was to take the S.S. Badger car ferry from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin (roughly 60 miles). Due to the arrival time in Wisconsin (around noon local time), Sloth decided to mainly stick around Manitowoc in order to have a full day of cycling on Tuesday. This turned out to be a perfect plan: Monday also happened to be the only day of rain throughout the tour.
The S.S. Badger continues to be a luxury rather than an affordable and feasible method of transportation: with just his bike and going only one way, Sloth wound up forking over almost $100 for his fare. But this was much less time-consuming than traveling all the way around Lake Michigan… and the view, as you can guess, was stunning. Once in Manitowoc, Sloth learned even more about the Lake Michigan shipping industry and even explored a World War II submarine at the Maritime Museum. Check out his montage video for more! (WARNING: movie clip is 14 minutes in length, 48k in size and requires Windows Media Player. You may either save to disc or stream from our website to view.)
The Badger was originally designed to carry train cars from one side of the lake to the other
Bizarrely, one of the Badger staff turned out to be a guy Sloth had met randomly earler that summer while camping up north… go figure!
If you have a car like this… you may as well ferry yourself around in style
Nice restoration job!
Time to load up!
Passengers watch as the last cars are loaded
The morning was a bit windy and wet, sending most passengers into the belly of ship to keep warm
A plaque hanging in the centre of the front deck
The Badger cruises out past the Ludington lighthouse
A panoramic view of Lake Michigan from the S.S. Badger prow (NOTE: will open in a new window)
This is why early settlers thought Lake Michigan was an ocean: water as far as the eye can see
The Badger leaves a trail of churning water in its wake
Sloth took a break to explore the inside of the ship and discovered an arcade with the classic “Dig Dug”
The ship’s “quiet room” also served as a miniature museum
This plaque discusses the Badger and its steam engine, still powered by coal
The S.S. City of Midland 41, another Lake Michigan train car ferry built in 1940
As the morning wore on, Lake Michigan calmed and became disturbingly smooth
Welcome to Wisconsin!
Downtown Manitowoc from the perspective of Lake Michigan
The Manitowoc River at Lake Michigan – you can see the Maritime Museum in the distance on the north side of the channel
Sloth heads into the city on his trusty steed
The historic 8th Street District downtown was pretty cool and included Doctor Freud’s Records & Tapes, a fun but ragtag music shop
The iconic Budweiser smokestacks here may mislead visitors to believe that this plant is a brewery, but it is not: it instead manufactures barley malt for Anheuser-Busch
The Maritime Museum awaits!
As it turned out, Manitowoc was a major source of both submarine building and crew training for WWII
Next to the Maritime Museum was the USS Cobia (SS-245), an honest-to-goodness (and still partially functional) WWII fleet submarine
The forward deck guns
Rear deck guns
Each crew member in the sub was trained on the entire ship and could theoretically do any job. Try memorizing these dials…
Sloth joined a group of about a dozen for a full tour of the sub. Down the hatch!
One of our tourmates was a veteran himself… he was absolutely fascinated by the submarine and the environment the crew needed to endure
The heart of the sub: its gyrocompass
Again: the complexity and claustrophobia of this little world was mind-boggling
Sinks and showers. Due to limited water, submariners showered once a week with their uniforms on, thus cleaning both themselves and doing their laundry simultaneously
The restroom. Flushing the toilet was a complex operation, which if done incorrectly caused the next inhabitant to take an unpleasant bath
Paperwork processing and management…
Officer’s quarters and battle room… not a lot of luxury on the sub for the officers, who ate the same food as the crew and inhabited the same hot, sweaty, and dangerous environment
One of the two main benefits to being a submariner: the kitchen. Full service bakery and fresh food preparatory area – believe it or not, three men worked in here simultaneously
Our tour takes a break in the tiny crew mess room
Books and classic magazines for the crew on break
The forward torpedo room, which coupled as a barracks for the men who worked in this area
Cross-section of a torpedo – used sparingly, as these were not cheap to produce
Sloth learned about the history of ship building in Manitowoc in the museum proper
Alas, the height of Great Lakes ship building and fishing industries was long ago
Another (and larger) tribute to the railcar ferry City of Midland 41
The ferry cost $1.75 million to build back in 1940 and was eventually decommissioned in 1988
The museum was filled with stunning and very detailed ship models
Alas, passenger ferries are mostly a thing of the past… unfortunate, really…
The infamous Edmund Fitzgerald, tragically wrecked on the bottom of Lake Superior in 1975
Shipbuilding in Manitowoc reached its heyday during WWII, but then declined afterwards
Check out this Art Deco wooden boat… awesome!
A tribute to Wisconsin’s famous Friday Night Fish Fry
Sloth later took advantage of the “day of rest” for some laundry action
Dinner wound up being an incredible Chinese buffet attached to the hotel. All you can eat for less than $10… yum!
The day eventually cleared up by the late afternoon, allowing Sloth to explore the city a little before heading in for the night