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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hell's Half Mile

Bay City's big film festival is Oct 1-4 in their block called Hell's Half Mile (it used to be a row of brothels used by the shanty boys back in the 20th century). Don't we love a bit of colorful history? The renovated State Theatre is a wonderful example of art deco. The big block party to kick it off takes place Thursday night, October 1st with the movie Timer. Check out the films and schedules at

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Tree-Top Bridge of Berrien County

Oh my, this lovely nature center near Benton Harbor is quite something to behold. We hiked out to see the "Tree-Top Bridge" as it is affectionately called, and the views were if indeed, we were walking tall amongst the upper reaches of these large deciduous creatures. The gully 55 feet below us seemed far away. Can you imagine what this place will look like in the ripe fall colors in late October? The man with the incredible vision for the Sarrett Nature Center is the Director: Chuck Nelson. The center, which reeks with ambiance, offers a myriad of classes for young and old alike. We made friends with their resident python, Charlie. It is also a beautiful setting for a wedding and they have an elegant new addition that can be used for receptions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Hart

Good Hart is a little tiny town on the west coast of Michigan in the middle of the tunnel of trees and in between Harbor Springs and Cross Village. There's an old-fashioned general store/post office there (you can't miss it) that everyone stops at. It reeks with character and they have fresh hot donuts that are to-die-for. Neil, pictured here, made them for us. They will also mail you their homemade chicken pot pies. We are so going to do this! We love the Good Hart General Store!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Legs Inn at Cross Village

This weekend Doreen and I participated in a Smart car rally up north that was a whole lot of fun. We met some very interesting people from all over our state and shared a fabulous lunch at this unique Legs Inn in Cross Village. It is a little tiny town not too far from Mackinac Bridge, on the west side of the state. The restaurant overlooks Lake Michigan and the food is outstanding....we indulged in their Polish specialties: pierogies and kiszka. Why do they call it Legs In? Because of all the little antique stove legs on the roof top!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Diego Rivera at the DIA

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a world class museum that has been in our midst almost 125 years and it's a place Suzie and I like to visit on a regular basis. Everyone loves the new look--the refurbishing it underwent a couple of years ago. Whether it is Brunch with Bach, First Fridays, new exhibits, workshops, etc., there is always something to experience. The free guided tours are always very informative and every one is different! More info here:

This is Father Chris from Sri Lanka pictured in front of the awesome Diego Rivera Detroit Industry murals--a must see for all visitors!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fly Fishing on the Manistee

Originating north of Grayling, the serene Manistee eventually leads into Lake Michigan. It's a great river for fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Suzie and I have been hosted by our gracious friend Linda. Visits here mean good friends, great nature, wonderful cottage living. This is the scene we caught in the morning sipping our coffee from the deck. Catch and release is this noble fisherman's policy. We can hear the babbling brook right now... It doesn't get any better than this.......

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There is a season, turn, turn turn

The MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit has a seasonable outdoor display that is a joy to look at when driving by. The summer display with inviting adirondack chairs was recently replaced by this autumn harvest theme. We assumed the chairs were empty because everyone was out exploring the wonders of Michigan! Let us know if you remember who sang the song in the title.....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Buffalo

New Buffalo is often the first town visitors from Illinois and Indiana see when crossing the border. On a recent visit, we saw so many boats (it's located on the mouth of the Galien River) and great views of Lake Michigan and numerous condos, resorts and homes along the coast. New Buffalo has a quaint downtown and an interesting history with the land originally owned by the Potawatomi Indians. Suzie has even participated in the Apple Cider Century bike rally here in September (national biking month, you know!) Thousands are going to participate this year on Sept 27 for the 35th anniversary. More info at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ambassador Bridge

Did you know that our Ambassador Bridge, connecting Detroit with Windsor, Canada, is one of the busiest international border crossings in all of North America? It's 80 years old and over 1 mile in length. We used to be able to walk across it, but 9/11 and concerns over security changed that. Boo. It's a "Welcome to Detroit Site", when driving up from Toledo on I-75. Everyone loves the lights on the bridge at night.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Seahorse

On our visit to St. Joseph we came across a wonderful outdoor exhibition by the Krasl Art Center. A real eye-catcher was The Seahorse by Maple City Michigan artist, William Allen. Doesn't he look fierce? The vision of the Krasl Art Center is to enhance the quality of life through art. We feel they are succeeding with their placement of sculptures throughout the city. In mid-July their "Art on the Bluff" outdoor fair is consistently rated as one of the top 100 in the nation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

St. John's Episcopal Church

Check out the view from the Hockey Town patio roof bar! It's St. John's Episcopal Church on Woodward and I-75 dating back to 1861. The land (on the then outskirts of Detroit) was donated by Henry Baldwin-- a governor of Michigan as well as US Senator. This unique victorian gothic structure weighing 40 million pounds was moved 60 feet east in 1936 to accommodate the widening of the avenue. When you venture inside this national historic treasure, be sure to see its awesome Tiffany stained glass window and mosaic art. If you go to their homepage, you can hear the St John's choir belt out a glorious rendition of Schubert's Sanctus:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Detroit Lions at Ford Field

Ford Field is a new state-of-the-art facility of almost 2 million square feet comprising suites, restaurants, retail space and seating for 65,000 football fans. We love it, because it is right in the heart of downtown Detroit and part of the stadium has uniquely incorporated the 80 year old Hudson warehouse structure. Gorgeous skylights let in natural light. It is used for huge events like Wrestlemania, basketball's Final Four, tons of concerts, the Superbowl in 2006 and of course, our beloved Lions. We always hope that this may be the year for the Detroit's football team! See you at the Eastern Market tailgate party tomorrow as we celebrate our first home opener against Minnesota and Brett Favre.

Friday, September 18, 2009

World's Largest Stove

Bet you didn't know Detroit was once known as the Stove Capital of the World! There were at least five companies producing wood, coal, or coke burning stoves in the late 1800's. The "World's Largest Stove" was built for the Michigan Stove Company's exhibit at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It now resides at our Michigan State Fair Grounds on 8 Mile and Woodward in Detroit. You wouldn't want to cook on it though as it's made out of wood. This handsome 6 foot 2 guy in front is helping us with the scale of this thing!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hard Rock Café Detroit

There is a very cool Hard Rock Café in Detroit between Woodward and Monroe near Campus Martius. Can you name all these people in the mural? It's an interesting place to take out-of-towners for a drink--I mean we are Motown, aren't we? Then you can stroll around the fountains in the park and even wander down to Hart Plaza and the Detroit River. Hey!--they even offer free parking in the Compuware building if you bring your ticket in for validation. There's live, crazy entertainment on some evenings. Check their website:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Morton's Lava Cake

Southfield's Morton's Steakhouse was the setting for this lavish molten lava cake. All those little extra special touches make this warm melted chocolate, hot-out-of-the-oven cake so divine....the sprinkling of powdered sugar, the succulent little raspberries and the real vanilla ice cream. Doreen and Suzie are mock celebrating today. We've been doing this Michigan blog for two months!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Self-Service Vegetable Roadside Stand

Just take what you want --it's the honor system. The prices are posted. We were amazed with these unmanned stands of vegetables and fruit all over the southwestern Michigan. Of course we had to buy some fresh tomatoes, corn and peaches and put our money in the little coin slot. Yummy! Take advantage of the bounty we have in Michigan 'cause the frost is just around the corner! Did you know that Europeans are very impressed with our roadside produce? They have their markets on certain days of the week, but roadside stands are non-existent and those who visit here, particularly love them. We're blessed, no?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dally in the Alley

Detroit's Dally in the Alley Festival has been around for nearly 30 years, but yesterday was the first time Doreen attended. There were so many people with three stages of music going simultaneously, streets and alleys of vendors, artists and stuff for children to do. It is sponsored by the North Cass Community Union and always held the Saturday after Labor Day weekend in the block bounded by Second and Third as well as Forest and Hancock. Proceeds from the event support local soup kitchens, plow snow, remove trash, and provide music scholarships for neighborhood children. Now they are trying to raise the funds to purchase the land at 4753 Second Ave where they are going to rebuild and restore the Horace Dodge Garage --that place where the Dodge brothers built their first motor car. Mark your 2010 calendars for September 11th for Dally in the Alley!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Father Gabriel Richard

St Anne's Church near the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit represents the oldest church in Michigan (and second oldest Catholic parish in the nation!), founded in 1701, 3 days after Cadillac made his landing in the voyager canoe. The most well-known priest of this church was none other than French-born Father Gabriel Richard. It is interesting that he is considered the second founder of our city, behind Cadillac. He not only was a parish priest, but a US Congressman, a builder of roads and schools, publisher of books and newspapers and he even brought the first organ to Michigan. He was jailed during the War of 1812 for siding with the Americans. He died on September 13th of cholera that hit the area. There were more people at his funeral in 1832 than the population of Detroit at that time. His casket in the photo above is sitting in the chapel of St Anne's for all to see.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

U of M's Big House

Michigan Stadium was originally constructed in Ann Arbor in 1927 with a capacity of 72,000. Over the years, expansion and improvements were made and the "Big House" expanded to hold over 110,000. The current improvement project is scheduled to be completed by August 2010. Web cam view of construction is available at along with schedules, stats, etc.. Today, the Wolverines will try to maintain their undefeated record when playing against Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium at 3:30 PM. Tailgate anyone?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gateway to Freedom

It is 9/11. We've chosen a riverfront sculpture in Detroit that honors freedom by the artist Ed Dwight for the blog today. Our city was a magnet for those escaping slavery in the South in the 1800's and there was a large underground network of Indians, blacks and whites to help African Americans get to Canada. Our country was founded on precious liberties and we must never take that for granted. The horror we experienced eight years ago served as a painful, gut-wrenching wake-up call. May we ever strive for peace and understanding.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fisk Farm of White Lake

Fisk Farm Festival takes place this weekend, September 12 and 13 where you can visit the historic 1855 farm and the one room school house from 1876! There will be pony rides, crafts, antiques, corn roast, home made pies, a dulcimer player and so much more. Maribeth and Tim Ruggles, local farmers from Highland, sell their farm fresh produce at this site daily May through October, from 10-6:30PM. Fisk Farm is located at 9180 Highland Rd (M-59) in White Lake.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pontiac Lake Recreation Area

How could a beautiful, well maintained park have only one person on the beach on a day with 75 degree weather? Located in Waterford at 7800 Gale near M-59, Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, has over 3700 acres and is open year round. What a great place for a quick lunchtime escape or a picnic dinner. There is a mixture of beaches, marshes, ponds, heavy forests, old farm fields, river bottom and lakes support a wide variety of animals and excellent hunting. Designated trails meandering throughout the recreation area are available for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to school, kids!!

Not too many of these still exist. This one room schoolhouse sits behind Warren Woods Tower High School on Bunert Rd just north of 696. Back in 1875, August and Mine Bunert sold land to the Warren School District and this building dates back to then. It is maintained by the Warren Historical Society. It last held classes in 1944 and has the distinction of being the longest serving one room school house of the city. It's open Sunday, October 4th from 1-4pm. Have you ever stood in such a structure? Now's your chance! Most of Michigan's children return to school today.... a big welcome back! "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." ~John Dewey

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day: Transcending

In honor of Labor Day, we have chosen the newest sculpture in Detroit's Hart Plaza --the work of two artists, David Barr and Sergio De Guisti. It's called "Transcending" and explores the evolution of labor, unions and freedom. See the top of the arch (some 60 feet high)? There is a little space there....meaning we've progressed immensely, but that we've got a little more work to do. Well, actually, that strive for unity never reaches perfection--it's always a work in progress! It is quite a unique piece and the stones on the pathway leading to the arch have interesting carvings on them representing various facets of the labor movement and there are great quotes in the round tablet beneath the arch. It gives one much food for thought.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Spirit of Detroit

This statue is 51 years old and represents the city of Detroit. He was created by Michigan artist Marshall Fredericks. He sits at the foot of Woodward on Jefferson and all visitors to our city must have their photo taken with him. He is sporting a new patina now. Can you tell? It is lighter and all one color. The verse behind him is from 2 Corinthians 3:17 "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." This guy is 26 feet tall and sometimes wears a sports jersey supporting one of our teams.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tiger Fans at Comerica Park

It's pennant fever time with our Detroit Tigers in first place! Comerica Park is gorgeous especially when you have seats right behind homeplate. Suzie is in the middle, flanked by Spanish teacher coworkers Sara on the left and Laura (who is related to Charlie Gehringer!!) on the right. The Toronto Blue Jays will be in for a four day homestand next weekend. And as Ernie Harwell used to say, "Thank you for sneaking your transistor under the pillow as you grew up loving the Tigers." This beloved Tiger announcer recently announced that he has incurable cancer and has chosen not to undergo surgery. You are in our prayers, dear Ernie.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Michigan State Fair

The Michigan State Fair opened on August 28 and is running through September 7, 2009. Armed services day is Sept 6 where Vets and those currently serving are admitted free. Doreen's favorites at the fair were the agricultural displays, the miracle of life (baby cows, pigs, chicks, etc), the mules, donkeys, chicken, doves and pigeons. Be sure to visit the Community Arts Building to see displays of local talent in photography, quilting, canning, painting, wood carving, table setting, cake decorating. The music on Saturday night was fantastic with plenty of seating, plenty of food, bottomless chocolate milk for 50 cents and carnival rides. We surely hope this is not the last State Fair. Did you know that it is the nation's oldest? It began in 1849, shortly after we became a state and is designated as an official Historic State site. It is situated on 164 acres.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jollay Orchard since 1857

The Jollay family has owned and operated this unique orchard in Coloma for over 150 years. They make divine preserves! Suzie has been eating the cherry blueberry one with her whole grain toast all week. Doreen bought a half bushel of peaches which she is going to can. (Yes, we managed to squeeze it in the Smart car along with two suitcases, two computers, our journal/book bags and the proverbial cooler). This is a great place to take the whole family. There is even an old one room school house that they have converted into a haunted mansion. Gruesome!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant

It was a supreme treat to dine at the Tabor Hill Vineyards and Restaurant in Buchanan last week, just a few miles from Lake Michigan. Both the food and the gold-medal winning wines were absolutely scintillating! They have been here since 1968. Just for fun, we made a one minute movie of our visit:

Their website is chock full of photos and information:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Warren Dunes State Park

Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer is the place to have fun! The high-relief sand dunes were formed over 10,000 years ago during the recession of the glacial lakes. They are a natural phenomenon found no where else in the world. Besides the hiking, swimming, hunting, fishing, and birding you can do in this great Michigan State Park, you can experience the joy of running down the dunes. Click on the button above to watch some joyful frolickers and hear the waves behind Doreen's camera!