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Monday, August 31, 2009

Fernwood Botanical/Railway Garden

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is such a treat! Located in Niles, there are at least 10 different trails featuring ponds, a river, ecology, grasses, wildflowers, butterflies and more. There are perennial, annual, Japanese, boxwood, herb/sensory and fern gardens. This year a Railroad Garden was added by the renowned architect and naturalist, Paul Busse. The elaborate 3-D Railroad garden has over 510 feet of railroad track, a seven foot waterfall, a covered bridge, mountain tunnels, a train depot, a local mill replica, and 12 fairy tales homes to delight visitors of all ages. The structures are made of all natural materials, including moss, twigs, leaves, bark, vines and seeds.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Andrews University

In our exploring the Southwest corner of Michigan, we came accross Andrews University which was founded in 1874 in Battle Creek and moved to Berrien Springs in 1901. The 1600 acre campus is only 12 miles from Lake Michigan and serves about 3400 students (1800 undergraduate). About a third of the student population is international representing 98 different countries. This Adventist Christian University is named after John Nevins Andrews (1829-1883), the biggest thinker in the Adventist church. The university motto is "Seek Knowledge, Affirm Faith, Change the World".

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Morton House

The Historic Morton House in Benton Harbor is open to the public. This beautiful home was built in 1849 by Eleazar Morton and his son Henry, who were among the first white settlers in the area, coming from Plymouth, MA. The Mortons continued to live in the house for the next 87 years. It was the first home built on the Benton Harbor side of the the St. Joseph River and was nicknamed the "Indian Hotel" because Henry allowed Potawatomi Indians to sleep on the porch on their way to St. Joseph to sell their baskets made from woven willows that grew near the Paw Paw River.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Swing Bridge over St Joseph River

On the St. Joseph River we found a Swing Railroad Bridge connecting tracks over the St. Joseph River from the towns of St. Joseph to Benton Harbor. This swing bridge was built in 1904 to allow boats to travel down the St. Joseph River and railroad trains to cross over the river. There are about a dozen swing bridges still in use in Michigan crossing such rivers as the Manistee, Rouge and Saginaw.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

St Joseph's Maids of the Mist

This elegant fountain of two pensive, wise women overlooking St Joseph River dates back to 1872. We saw a sign that was pulled from the Delta Airlines Sky Magazine citing the top 5 great escapes. St Joseph's is listed as #2! Nice, France edged it out as #1. With Lois Ashbrook of Taylor Rentals as our personal tour guide Doreen and Suzie are having fun hitting every nook and cranny of southwest Michigan. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

The Capuchins have two soup kitchens in Detroit, one near the Father Solanus Casey Center at 1264 Meldrum and one on Conner near the city airport. Monday Doreen invited Suzie to help work the food line on Meldrum with some wonderful friendly volunteers and together we fed lunch to over 300 people. The two hours went by very quickly and those who came to eat were most grateful.

The annual SOCK dinner (Support Our Soup Kitchen) is Friday, October 9th at the Detroit Marriott Hotel in the Rencen. This is one of Detroit's top grossing fundraisers--because everyone knows how much the Capuchins do for our local community.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feather Bowling

One of the most unique spots in Detroit is the Cadieux Café where you can not only dine on some of the finest mussels, but also partake of the unique Belgian sport called feather bowling. It is similar to bocci ball, but as we were told last weekend.....the beer you drink along with it will either make your game better or will make you feel like it doesn't matter what the outcome is! We recommend the Belgian raspberry beer. The object of the game is to get your "ball" as close to the feather as possible.

Monday, August 24, 2009

La Gloria Bakery in Mexicantown

No trip to Detroit's Mexicantown on Bagley is complete without stopping at La Gloria. We each picked up a package of homemade pork tamales on our last visit. What a bargain at $8 a dozen! Up and down each aisle, it's a feast for all eyes to see such delicious pastries, everything titled in Spanish and English. Just pick up a cafeteria tray and load up, self-serve. Very friendly people run this place. Don't forget to say "muchas gracias"!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fort Street Presbysterian

Did you know that Detroit was once known as "The City of Churches"? Yes, and Teddy Roosevelt worshipped here at Fort Street Presbyterian more than 100 years ago. It's a beautiful gothic structure with a gorgeous organ that will give you shivers as you listen to Trumpet Voluntary. It's had its problems with fires, but the existing structure has been there since 1876 and it is nationally recognized. Summer Sunday services are at 11, but you can come in Tues-Friday during the day and sneak a peek . A new female pastor took over this summer: The Rev. Dr. Sharon L. Mook. Check out the pewabic tiles in the floor. Fort St also serves the poor and homeless downtown with its Open Door Ministry.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Detroit's Eastern Market

Saturdays mornings are wonderful for visiting historic Eastern Market's. Fresh fruits, veggies, herb and flowers are plentiful. This year there are also some vendors selling fresh baked goods, soups etc. It's been in existence here since 1891, but before that it was the Detroit Farmer's Market located on Cadillac Square beginning 1841. No visit to Detroit is complete without a stroll through the stalls on Saturday and maybe breakfast nearby at Vivio's, the Russell Street Deli or Farmer's. It's all centered around Russell St, bordered between the Fisher Freeway and Mack Avenue.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Big Red" in Holland

Big Red might be the most recognized and well-known lighthouse in Michigan, standing guard over Holland's harbor since 1934. Built by the Dutchies who settled in this area, it is covered with metal plates to protect it from the harsh Michigan winters. It is not open to the public but on rare occasions by the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical commission which takes care of it. You can get a good look at it, however, from Holland State Park on Lake Michigan where we took this photo.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Navarre-Anderson Trading Post

This is Michigan's oldest residence, built in 1789, tucked away down in Monroe. We learned from the historical society there that it is built with joined timbers and is the best example of French colonial architecture. The Navarre family built it originally as a depot for their fur trading business, but converted it into their residence a few years later. It's filled with memorabilia from the 1700 and 1800's. Did you know Monroe used to be called Frenchtown from 1785-1817? Oui oui!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Charlevoix--Bridge up!

The drawbridge in Charlevoix goes up frequently to let the sailboats through. Here we are heading out for a sunset cruise. We hope you are enjoying every single minute of this glorious Michigan summer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Michigan is said to have more registered boats than Florida or California. Amazing, considering our short boating season. But not amazing considering our Great Lakes and all the wonderful inland lakes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Heidelberg Project Challenge

Beginning in 1986, using discarded objects from everyday life, artisit Tyree Guyton has created the Heidelberg Project using vacant lots and abandoned houses as his canvas. You can often see buses filled with tourist visiting Detroit's thought provoking sight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pigeons pontificating over Detroit

These bold and brazen pigeons are part of our city. We found them cooing on the wall adjacent to the Rencen and overlooking one of Detroit's historical churches: Old Mariner's. A landmark in the city since 1842 built orignally for sailors, it had a tunnel in its basement that ran to the Detroit river for use as part of the Underground Railway network that brought slaves to freedom. In 1955 this 3000 ton church was moved 900 feet east to make way for new buildings. It has two services every Sunday at 8:30 and 11am.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lithuanian Hall

This photo of Historic Luthuanian Hall was taken in 2006 in southwest Detroit, where for more than six decades the community celebrated milestone events and held concerts, social gatherings and children's activities. It was abandoned for 15 years then retored by Southwest Solutions opening in late 2006. This is where a good friend met the love of her life to whom she is getting married today. Luthuanian Hall is on Vernor Hwy in Mexican Town. Congrats Libby and Steve!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodward Dream Cruise

Tomorrow is the world's largest one day classic car event and it takes place from 9am to 9pm over 16 miles on Woodward from 8 Mile in Detroit all the way to Pontiac. Feast your eyes on 40,000 different restored muscle cars, collector vehicles and custom hot rods of various vintages. Over 1,000,000 visitors attend this Motor City party which takes place on the third Saturday of August. There is no charge to parade your automobile up and down the avenue nor to sit on the sidelines and take it all in. The weather forecast?-- gorgeous!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Detroit Zoo

Our Detroit Zoo is a gem. It's one of the premier zoos of the nation and the first one to have exhibits without cages--to show animals in a more natural habitat. It celebrated its 81st birthday on August 1. Don't you love the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery? No matter what time of year you walk through this sanctuary, these graceful little butterflies float all around you, sometimes alighting on your shoulder! We always bring out-of-state visitors to our zoo. It's a great place for exercising out in the fresh air amidst its 125 acres.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

George George Memorial Park

George George is one of Clinton Township's latest and greatest parks in Macomb County. It is located on Moravian near Cass Ave. The George Family donated the land for the park and made all the improvements here (fountains, pavilion, picnic tables, benches, umbrellas, playground, restrooms, bridges, asphalt pathways, iron archways, etc). It was built in memory of their grandfather. Suzie walked the 30 some acres last weekend quite in awe. The land used to be inhabited by the Delaware Nation Indians, then the Moravian Christian Missionaries moved in around 1782 and formed the settlement called New Gnadenhutten. Moravian Drive was the first inland road in Michigan. It was built by the missionaries to connect to Fort Detroit. Interesting that at the recent dedication, the Delaware Indians (from Moraviantown, Ontario) where invited back to bless the land and give a little powwow. George George is a very popular place to get married.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gwen Frostic Studio

If you live in Michigan, sometime in your life, you must visit Gwen Frostic's Studio up in Benzonia just south of the Sleeping Bear Sand dunes. Gwen lived from 1906-2001 and despite her physical handicap, graced us with lovely wood block prints inspired by the animals and plant life that surrounded her.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brightening Brightmoor

My sister took me to see the beginnings of a remarkable garden on the Northwest side of Detroit, called "Brightening Brightmoor"-- a project to create a “total environment” as a catalyst for community renewal and revitalization. A trio of local Detroit artists — Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, and renowned woodwork sculptor Wiley McDowell — are collaborating with an international team consisting of a landscape architect artist, a teacher, stone worker, documentary film maker and local Detroit Community High School students. The project includes the construction of the Journey of Reflection/Spirit Park; a community allotment garden; the “Talking Fence” project; and the renovation of the 85-year-old Lamphere House. More than 30 other Brightmoor community volunteers are helping out, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cathedral Arches of the People Mover

The art in Detroit's People Mover stations is quite fascinating. This is Cadillac Square and the rounded arches makes one think of a cathedral. They are done in those incredible pewabic tiles that are indigenous to our city. The creator was Mary Chase Stratton and these greenish tiles were fired back in 1935. They had been held in storage for the Stroh Brewery, but since they did not use them, they were donated for the People Mover! The plaque depicts the arrival of Mme Cadillac in Detroit back in the early 1700's. It's on loan from the Detroit Art Institute.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Abe Lincoln "Let man be free"

Just a stone's throw from Woodward and Campus Martius is this handsome statue of Abe originally casted in 1895 by the artist Alfonso Pelzer. It had been so terribly vandalized twice, that a replica was made in the 1990's. It stands behind the gorgeous Skillman branch of the Detroit Library on Library St at Gratiot. This lovely building houses the nation's most exhaustive collection of automobile memorabilia up on the second floor. Over the main door just under the roofline it proclaims: "A fountain of wisdom flows through books". Doreen and Suzie say Amen to that!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crêpes in Détroit

Good Girls Go to Paris is this wonderful little crêperie in Detroit owned and run by a former French teacher, Torya Blanchard. It's a little stand at 2 John R with divine little creations. Try the Vera, it has bacon, spinach and boursin cheese. Yummy. Or the White Kristy--just lemon and sugar. Congratulations on your first anniversary this month! Bisous!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Caseville is famous for its Cheeseburger in Paradise Festival being held August 7-16th this year. Jimmy Buffet music blares everywhere and there is a parade of pink flamingoes in the town. We also enjoy the sunsets and kayaking in the bay. It doesn't get any better than this.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Wrecking Ball at Tiger Stadium

Last month, this was all that was left of Tiger Stadium....the remnants of a bygone era. Sniff Sniff

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bridgeview Park overlooking Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan's water is so clear. Having a picnic at the Bridgeview Park in St. Ignace, we can never resist putting our feet in the water.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Midland Froggies

Midland's featuring a frog theme this year as area artists paint preformed frogs or create their own. In past years they have had trolls and dragons. Obviously local resident Marigold Mushfield, age 19 months, loves this particular reptile. Perhaps she's hoping to transform him into a handsome prince?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sterling Fest 2009

Three beautiful summer days graced the Sterling Fest and its art and music, dancing and rides for all ages. Utica Road closed down in Sterling Heights for the city's biggest family festival July 30, 31 and August 1. There was no admission and free parking, free shuttles, with bands playing on three different stages. Sizzling food cooking on grills everywhere from the Polish Century Club "Got pierogis?", BDs Mongolian Barbecue, the Loon River Café, Ike's, Buscemi's Pizza, Red Hot & Blue, Antonio's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Coach's Ice Cream and many more. Sterling Fest is like a family reunion. People come to hang out and see friends from by-gone years. Well over 100,000 people attended.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Night shot of Detroit

The best shots of the Detroit skyline are taken from Windsor, Canada, night or day! The GM Renaissance Center (or RenCen) is that group of buildings to the right. The tallest one has the restaurant Coach Insignia with beautiful panoramic views of the Detroit River, our city and Canada.