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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Scary and Sad Michigan Central Depot

The Michigan Central Depot used to be the tallest railroad station in the world when it was built in 1913. Today it stands vacant and ravaged on Michigan Avenue and Vernor Hwy near Mexican town. The last train pulled out more than 20 years ago. It is one of the most haunting examples of urban decay and neglect. Some hopeful person painted the letters near the top, begging in desperation for help. David Kohrman who is interested in historic preservation has a site here with intense photos/close-ups of MCD.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery, off Lafayette in Detroit, is our vote for the coolest burial place in Michigan where you can walk around the tombs of some very famous historical people! It's the only place in the Detroit area with rolling hills and it is ablaze with color this fall. Former manager Chancey P. Miller offers very informative walking tours through here and he knows an incredible amount of juicy details. Of course there's a walk on Saturday, bein' Halloween n' all--have fun trick or treatin'!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo celebrates Halloween with Zoo Boo! This is a fantastic time to visit because more animals are out and visible in the cooler temps. We've been zoo members forever and bring visitors here year round. Some things not to miss--the polar bears swimming overheard, the butterflies in the WIG, the new Australian Outback, the penguin house (first one in the US!) and the train amongst many others. Tell us your favorite! More zoo info.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Soo Locks Sault Ste. Marie

The Soo Locks allow ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. They bypass the rapids of the St. Marys River where the water falls 21 feet. These series of gates have been referred to as one of the great wonders of the world and it is still the largest waterway system on earth. No trip to Sault Ste. Marie is complete without a Soo Locks boat tour! They just closed up the tours for the winter last week, but they will open again in May.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cross Village Rug Works

There's a wee lower peninsula village on the west side of Mackinac called Cross Village. Their Rug Works shop (non-profit) was a total surprise and holds some beautiful artisan creations. They purchase the wool from local farmers to make the rugs. How cool is that? Check out their gallery here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'll meet you under the Kern Clock

This historical clock on Woodward near Campus Martius used to be a part of the Kern Department Store. Bravo for Compuware Company down the street. They restored the clock 6 years ago and placed it on the corner of Gratiot and Woodward, close to where it used to be displayed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SpringHill in Evart

Evart's claim to fame is SpringHill. It is a trip down memory lane seeing the cabooses, airplane, tee pees and cabins where our children were campers years ago. It's is a nonprofit Christian camp open year round. Last year there were over 35,000 campers. Its a great place for a retreat! Their mission is to create life-impacting experiences that enable people to know and to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Check them out at Spring Hill

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Horses in Surrey

Driving back from closing up the cottage for the season, Doreen came across these beautiful horses grazing in the field along US 10 in Surrey. Did you know that most horses sleep standing up? Their legs lock in place which keeps them stable. A horse is vulnerable to predators when he lays down.

If you go to the Surrey Township Public Library on the 31st, their haunted basement is open for trick or treating! Surrey Library

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fishing on Tallman Lake

Here you can see two fisherman on the peaceful Tallman Lake near the city of Tallman. Located in the Manistee National Forest near Baldwin, it's surface area is 161 acres. We live in a fisherman's paradise with 146 different species of fish living in our lakes. What species have you caught?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fisher Building

Our art deco Fisher Building in Detroit on Grand Boulevard was designated a National Historic Landmark 20 years ago. As far as architecture goes, it is unsurpassed! It's designer back in 1928 was none other than Albert Kahn and many consider this building to be his pièce de résistance. There are so many details in the building that every time we go in, we notice something new.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Michigan Welcome Center

This memorial at one of Michigan's 14 Welcome Centers is dedicated to highway workers injured or killed on the job. Located on US-127 at mile marker 160 in Clare, Michigan, the Center itself is loaded with literature about wonderful things to see and do all over Michigan. The staff is on had to answer questions, give directions or offer suggestions. Check them out here: Welcome

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Call of the WIld in Gaylord

Call of the Wild museum up in Gaylord is a place that all children should experience. It's really a fascinating place for adults as well. The animals (not real, but stuffed) are set in very natural surroundings. The artist who created the backgrounds did an awesome job. It's a joy to walk through and learn about the animals that live (or used to live) in our state. There are also buttons to push or listening devices to activate so that you can hear the animals give their natural calls. Have you ever heard an elk bugle? Very cool. There is a fascinating halogram display, too, of a French fur trapper, Joseph Bailly, telling his Michigan tales. It has been family owned (the Johnsons and Vollmers) and operated since the 1960's.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Trail

The intriguing, cool blue green waters of Lake Superior are offfset by the fantastic rock formations along the UP coast near Munising. Hiking this area is unbelievable. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Indian agent and wilderness scholar, said it best in 1820: "We had been told of the variety in the color and form of these rocks, but were wholly unprepared to encounter the surprising groups of overhanging precipices, towering walls, caverns, waterfalls... mingled in the most wonderful disorder."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paper Lace, St. Blase, Sterling Heights

This delicately crafted paper lace cross hangs over the Baptismal Font at St. Blase Church in Sterling Heights. This piece of art was created by the Arts and Environmental Council, led by Kathy McGrath. There were many steps in the process, from creating the pattern, preparing the paper, making the cuts and frame and hanging the piece. Unbelievably, it took only about 20 hours! The talent of this group was also recruited to make spiritual paper lace panels that are now being used by a Military Chaplain in Afghanistan. More info: St

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Puppet Art Theater

In downtown Detroit the darling little venue of the Puppet Art Theatre is a non-profit organization that has shows every Saturday at 2:00pm. Appearing soon are Firebird and Kolobok (A Russian version of the Gingerbread Man), Sleeping Beauty, Crane Maiden and Oh, Ananse! It's located at 25 E. Grand RIver near Woodward. More info at Think about tea before or after the show in the extravagant Tea Room next store.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Motown Museum

Hitsville, USA or Motown Museum is currently featuring a Michael Jackson tribute. There are docents at the museum, happy to share their Motown knowledge with visitors. The museum opened in 1985 to preserve the Motown Record Legacy. The Hitsville home was were it all began in 1959 and was home and office to Berry Gordy Jr. This is where we take a step back in time and explore the roots of the music that rocked the nation and the world. Will you recognize the music blaring from this place?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Erma's Frozen Custard

There's a wonderful little hidden gem in downtown Utica called Erma's. We don't mind waiting in line. It's a social hang out better than Facebook! They have been serving up the most delightful frozen custard since 1942. For the rest of this month, they serve pumpkin flavored custard (in addition to their chocolate and vanilla). October 31st, they close down for the entire winter. We honestly count down the days until they open again on April 1st! Their website tells you their schedule of the flavor of the week. erma's

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cliff Bell's

Cliff Bell's was opened in Detroit on Park Avenue in 1935. It was originally a super club, the bar featured an art deco atmosphere with vaulted ceilings and plenty of mahogany. The highlight of visiting Cliff Bell's recently was finding the first drink on the cocktail menu, "La Sophia". Doreen's mother, Sophia, worked there many, many years ago. Cliff Bell's has food, drink and the best jazz music in town --and it's live!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Swedish Bakery in Harbert

This was, beyond a doubt, the most memorable breakfast we had in 2009. Located in the village of Harbert, this one hundred year old little Swedish Bakery makes divine edibles. Luisa's Café is part of it also, and it all comes out of the same kitchen. Luisa is really Italian, but she retains the Swedish ambiance and goodies. Suzie recommends the buckwheat crepes with lingonberries.

Carl Sandberg lived in Harbert for 15 years. Bet he watched the fog come in on little cat feet!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Joe Louis Fist

The Joe Louis Fist is a prominent sculpture in downtown Detroit across from Hart Plaza on Jefferson Avenue. It was dedicated on October 16th, 23 years ago. The "Brown Bomber" was our beloved heavyweight boxer world champion from the Motor City. The artist of the fist is Robert Graham. It is 24 feet long and weighs 8,000 pounds. It is de rigueur to have your photo taken with it, like T-Wo, here from Germany.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

St Andrew's

St Andrew's Hall on Congress in downtown Detroit used to be a church. Now it's a trendy place where concerts are held. It has seen the likes of legendary performers Nirvana, Iggy Pop, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem, etc. The main floor holds about 1000 and the basement (The Shelter) is smaller and more intimate. The Burns Room on the third floor is open on weekends as well. The venue is known for rock concerts as well as techno, hip-hop and alternative bands.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

El Rancho Restaurante in Ludington

Hola amigos..... All the beautiful homemade furniture and decorations in the El Rancho Restaurant on US 10 in Ludington come directly from south of the Rio Grande. The bright decor adds to the festive environment in this cute Mexican restaurant. ¡Ay chihuahua! And gringos, you must try the burrito loco. The service is good, the decor is great and of course they have the obligatory cervezas and margaritas. ¡Vámonos!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Lady of Fatima graces St Josaphat's

St Josaphat's was a cool visit yesterday! One, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was on display there and two, what an opportunity to visit an historical church in Detroit that is nationally registered! You know this lovely place. Everyone drives by it heading south on I-75 by the Mack Avenue exit. Haven't you always wondered about this looming red orange brick tower and wanted to go in? It's a beautiful edifice, Polish in origin, and over 100 years old. The Black Madonna behind the altar (also known as Our Lady of Czestochowa) is one of the church's treasures. They celebrate a Mass every Thursday at noon in her honor. But, Our Lady of Fatima is on a perpetual traveling journey! We are blessed to have her in Michigan for the next couple of weeks. Here's her Michigan schedule: fatima

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Win Shuler's Celebrates 100 years

That famous tavern Win Shuler's in Marshall is 100 years old in 2009. That's a milestone. We enjoyed their infamous bar cheeze and some delicious French onion soup on a recent visit. This beer pump outside the entrance is a historical piece that used to belong to the Eagle Brewery dating back to 1886. Marshall is a wonderful small town to visit with their historical home tours and candlelight walks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yates Cider Mill

Yates Cider Mill in Rochester has been an annual treat for families since 1863. They use six different variety of apples to make their 100% natural cider without preservatives. You can watch them as they produce 300 gallons of cider per hour. Hungry? Buy some homemade donuts, Carmel apples, pies, jellies and syrups. There is a beautiful 1/2 hour hiking trail where you can watch the Clinton River cascade over Yates dam. Children love the pony rides and petting zoo. If visiting on the weekend, be prepared to stand in line!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Boy Governor

Stevens T. Mason was the first governor of the new State of Michigan at age 24 in 1835 and served in that capacity for 5 years. His nickname was "The Boy Governor". Today marks his birthday! He was born 174 years ago. This statue of him in Detroit stands in Capitol Park behind Woodward near Campus Martius. Stevens' ashes are buried beneath it. He died at age 31 of pneumonia. The city of Mason is named after him.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Turkey Hunting in Baldwin

Our state is a paradise for hunters of all types. One of the reasons Suzie's nephew, John, moved to Michigan from California was for the supreme opportunity for the thrill of the hunt.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2009 Fall Turkey Hunting is open now and runs until November 14. Doreen shot this photo up in Baldwin.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Message in the landscape

Traveling east bound on Warren just west of the I-94 / I 75 entrance you can't help but notice the topiary spelling out a message from Plymouth United Church of Christ in the cultural district of Detroit. PUCC has an exemplary 90 year history in Detroit of ministering to the needy, leading missionary trips abroad and being civic-minded and politically active. The current pastor, Nicholas Hood III and his father, pastor emeritus Nicholas Hood II, have made a positive impact on our city.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Do you bleed Green or Blue?

Today is the big BIG Michigan State vs Michigan football game. It is a huge rivalry. The underdogs this year are the green guys, but they have been known to pull some spectacular upsets. All the action takes place starting at noon in East Lansing's Spartan Stadium (tallest structure in the city!) which was built in 1923 and will be crammed with near 80,000 people. They enter to the music "Thunderstruck" with clips from 300, saying "Spartans! What is your profession? Haroo! Haroo! Haroo!" Watch for 1) the Pompon girls 2) fans rowing in the stands 3) the Spartan Marching Band 4) Mascot Sparty and, oh yea, 4) the football game!
Go Green! Go Blue!

Thanks, Rachel, for providing today's picture.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Orchestra Hall

Orchestra Hall on Woodward in Detroit, opened 90 years ago on October 2, 1919. Many great performers and conductors have stood on its stage. Fortunately, it was saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970's and ever so beautifully restored. The acoustics here rival other venues throughout the world. It is home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra which is playing Barber's Adagio and Strauss' Don Quixote this weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Henry Ford's Model T

The first Model T was produced 101 years ago today -- built in Ford Motor Company's Piquette Avenue plant in Detroit. The T-plex museum on that spot is open the first and third Saturday of the month. Doreen and I were in awe walking through history viewing these beautifully restored cars. We even got to sit in a Tin Lizzie. Today also marks what would have been Suzie's dad's 100th birthday and Earl the Pearl even used to work for Henry Ford back in the day...... For lots more info, pics and entry fees, check out