Busy Weekend in Michigan
Milford, MI - Events of Saturday, August 27 to Monday, August 29, 2011
We usually end up holing up in the motor home over the weekend and letting the weekend warriors have the run of the campground, the sightseeing attractions, and the restaurants. We sometimes do our grocery shopping on Saturday, but Walmart can be a zoo then as well.
While we were in Milford, however, we made plans to go visiting over the weekend. We planned to visit with family who live nearby on Saturday and to visit with old friends on Sunday.
Our niece, Sonya, lives in Lansing and our nephew, Alex, lives in Ann Arbor, both about 30 miles from Milford. We haven't seen either one of them for years and years, so made plans to meet them and their significant others on Saturday part way between Ann Arbor and Milford for brunch at the Breakfast Club in Brighton.
The Breakfast Club has delicious breakfast bowls and plates, but they also have great sandwiches. Margery had a Monterey turkey sandwich with mango and avocado, and Paul had a California chicken melt with provolone, roasted red pepper, artichoke, and scallion aioli. Big breakfasts range in price from $7 to $10. Simpler breakfasts start at about $5. Sandwiches and lunch salads run from $6 to $10.
Unfortunately, we got so caught up in our conversation we completely forgot to take any pictures. We did have a great time catching up on what has been going on in our niece and nephew's lives and we enjoyed meeting Sonya's husband, Scott, and Alex's girl friend, Lucy.
On Sunday, we scheduled meeting Pierre and Terry, who are old friends from back in Pittsburgh. In the late 1960s and early 1970s when we were first married and before our daughter was born, we belonged to a sports car club, which is where we met Pierre. When our daughter was born, we quit the sports car club and lost touch with Pierre.
We knew Terry separately from the church we started attending when our daughter was in school. Subsequently, we changed churches and lost touch with Terry.
In the ensuing years, Pierre and Terry met and married, and they ended up moving to Ann Arbor. Margery reconnected with them through Facebook.
We decided to meet for lunch at Bobber Down Restaurant in Whitmore Lake, which is about half way between Ann Arbor and Milford. Bobber Down doesn't look fancy - it's primarily a bar, but it got good reviews on a couple of websites we checked, and the location was convenient.
Check out the old Ford parked in front of the restaurant. We're guessing it's a Model A (1927-1931). Below is another view.
This time, we made sure we remembered photos. That's Pierre and Terry to the left.
Margery had a grilled turkey club sandwich on foccacia bread, and Paul had a black and blue burger (black pepper and blue cheese). The food was great. Sandwiches range in price from $6 to $9 and include house-made potato chips. Regular fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings are extra.
We dug the next photo out of our archives showing Pierre back in 1971.
We had a lot of fun reminiscing about old times in the sports car club and about people we knew back then. Since we're on the subject of the sports car club and since we were digging through our archives, we thought we would show you a picture of Margery racing her Opel Rallye. Zoom-zoom.
We raced in what are called autocrosses. In those days, malls were not open on Sundays, and the club would get permission from the mall management to set up a small course in the parking lot using rubber traffic cones. There were different classes for men and women, and for different types of cars. We raced against the clock one at a time, so there was little chance of wrecking. That was a good thing because most of us raced the cars we also drove to work the next day. However, the autocrosses were hard on brakes, tires and clutches.
Paul raced his 1967 Camaro for a while.
Later, we bought a used 1969 Opel GT to replace the Opel Rallye, and we both raced the GT.
After a fun weekend with family and friends, we headed about 30 minutes north on Monday to Flint, MI to tour the GM Assembly Plant. There was a tour of a plant in the Ford Rouge Complex available through The Henry Ford, but there was a charge for the tour. Not only that, but we have been staunch GM buyers most of our lives, so we opted for the free tour of the GM Plant in Flint.
The Flint Assembly Plant builds Chevrolet and GMC ¾ ton and 1 ton pickups. The next photo shows our view as we approached the plant.
The plant is so big it wouldn't all fit in the picture, but it didn't look as big as most auto assembly plants. That's because most auto assembly plants are only one story and sprawl all over the countyside. This is an older plant built right after WWII, and it's two stories high. Of course, just because it's an older plant, that doesn't mean it's outdated. The building is older, and they have to cope with the fact it's two stories by routing the assembly line to the second floor and back down; but all the equipmnent is state of the art.
We had to make reservations for the tour in advance, and the email confirmation we received gave us directions to the plant and info on the parking. There is a special visitor lot right by the door if you are driving a GM vehicle. Otherwise, you have to park in the next lot and walk a little farther. Since our Saturn was made by GM, we got to park in the preferred lot. The photo below shows the sign limiting parking there to GM vehicles only.
The next photo shows the semi-circular entrance to the office where the tours start.
Of course, cameras are not allowed in the plant, so we can't show any pictures of the inside.
The GM Plant in Flint is an assembly plant. Engines, transmissions, body panels and various sub-assemblies are manufactured elsewhere.
We got to see all the operations except inside the paint booth. Since that area must be kept clean, it is closed to tours.
We did get to see the assembly of brakes, engines, transmissions and other components to the chassis. We also got to see welding of body panels together. They have an amazing coordinate measuring machine that uses lasers to make sure all dimensions of the assembled cab meet tolerances so it will match up properly with other components like the doors, fenders and hood when they are assembled later on. The machine also makes sure every spot weld is present and in the right location.
The cab, doors, hood and fenders for each vehicle are all painted at the same time. After painting, the other components are separated from the cab. Doors go one direction to have windows, door handles, locks and speakers installed; and the cabs go another direction to have interiors installed. The doors, fenders and hood all come back together for final assembly with their original cab farther down the line.
GM, like Toyota that we visited in Kentucky last year, uses teams to perform groups of related orerations. Operators can assist each other, or they can sound an alarm which summons a troubleshooter to the location to provide additional help.
One of the most impressive machines we saw was the one that marries the cab and box to the chassis. The machine has to be huge to be able to handle those heavy components, yet the precision to align all the components and then line itself up to hit all the bolts and tighten them is amazing. Not only that, but the machine also has to know whether it's assembling a 2-door cab or a 4-door cab and whether it's a short box or a long box.
There were originally supposed to be more people on our tour, but they didn't show so we had our own personal tour. That was kind of nice because we got to sit right behind the tour guide who was driving the tram so we could hear very well, and we got to ask all the questions we wanted.
We mentioned the Henry Ford Museum in our first post about Greenfield Village. The museum was the next thing on our agenda, and we'll tell you about our visit there in our following post.