By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Earlier today I saw dump trucks adding loads of salt to the growing stockpile for the roads next winter, just a block or so away, the Lake Express Ferry is getting ready for another season.

Although the ferry's launch date this year was pushed back three weeks after the discovery of a fault in one of the craft's four engines, the ferry now actually gets a week back.

Service to Muskegon, Mich., begins Monday, May 16. The original start date was April 29, but the delay pushed it back to May 23.

Pictures and video of the engine replacement can be found on Flickr and on YouTube.

"Our engineers and support staff have worked diligently over the past two weeks to complete the needed engine maintenance, allowing us to begin service ahead of schedule," said Ken Szallai, president of Lake Express. "We're ready to begin serving our customers and have a successful travel season."

My mom rode the previous ferry on the route back in the late '40s and early '50s with her grandmother to visit family in Niles, Mich. Her stories have always made me want to make the trip. Her ride certainly lasted longer than the 2.5 hours the Lake Express takes.

The only time I traversed the lake was on the S.S. Badger, which runs between Manitowoc and Ludington, Mich., with Andy Tarnoff for an OnMilwaukee.com story.

Maybe I'll take advantage of the "kids ride free" deal that lets kids 17 and under accompany an adult for free on the ferry. You must book by May 31.

The high-speed ferry makes four daily trips through the end of June and in September and October. There are six daily trips in July and August.

Travelers can still take advantage of a "Kids Ride Free" deal that allows kids under the age of 17 to ride the ferry at no charge when accompanied by an adult. Reservations made under the "Kids Ride Free" deal can take place on any date or voyage of the 2011 Lake Express sailing season, but must be booked by May 31.

OnMilwaukee.com blogger Michael Stodola might want to note that motorcycles ride free through June, and in September and October.

Factoid: The ferry can transport 250 passengers and 46 vehicles per trip.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.