We did an easy drive across southern Michigan to La Porte, Indiana and set up camp for a few days.
Our plan was to drive back to Niles, Michigan and tour the Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve and the Fort St Joseph Museum. I programed the GPS for a few stops and we were on our way. First stop was the Museum, the building that it's located in is the old carriage house of the Chapin house.
This is another one of those great little museums that has few one of a kind items that you would expect to find in a much larger museum. The items I like best were twelve sketches made by Chief Sitting Bull after his surrender out west. The story is that a local girl was married to a military officer who was stationed out west and was in charge of Sitting Bull and his family, she was living there with her husband and became friends with Sitting Bull and his family. She saw some of his sketches and asked him if he would make some for her, she provided him with a sketch book and he did a series of drawings showing some of the different battles he was in during his life. When her husband died she moved the family back to Niles and after her death her daughter donated the drawings to the museum. Every year in October Chief Sitting Bull's Great-Great-Great Grandson comes to the museum and spends the day, talking about Sitting Bull and telling stories that have been passed down through the family.
There is also an interesting display on the Underground Railroad which Michigan played a large part in helping run away slaves get to Canada. Some of the old slave songs that they sang were really codes telling them which routes to take north and what houses were safe to stop at to receive help and assistance in their journey.
We also found out that Niles is the home of Simplicity Patterns, the founder of Montgomery Wards which was a large Department store chain in the mid-west, the Dodge brothers of automotive fame and many more things. The museum is well worth the hour and a half or so to tour. Admission by Donation. No Photography allowed in the museum.
The Carriage House is a pretty impressive building so here is a picture of the house in front of it. The house is used by the city as their City Hall, how would you like to come to work here every day.
When we came out of the museum it was very overcast and looked like the rains were moving in so we decided to hold off on the gardens and see a few other things, when I went to program the GARMIN GPS all I got was a screen telling me that I was locked out of my maps and nothing would work. Since we started using a GPS I've pretty much stopped carrying a map in the car, so we were unable to locate the other small places that we wanted so it was time to start wandering and see what happened.
The first thing we stumbled on was the old railroad depot, we thought that it looked very photogenic and when we stopped we found out that we were right, it's appeared in the movies Continental Divide, Midnight Run(one of my favorites) & Only the Lonely.
After 45 minutes of wandering around Cathy was happy because we ended up at a giant outlet mall in Michigan City, she decided that this was the perfect place for us to do our daily walking exercise, some how walking around lifting a credit card doesn't do the same as lifting weights.
Well the rain caught up with us so we found a local hamburger stand and enjoyed a Schoop's burger, after that it was back to camp to dig out the old TomTOM GPS and hope that I still have all the cables for it.