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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in Harbor Springs

This small bronze statue greets you as you enter the American Legion Hall in Harbor Springs. It was created by artist George Lundeen and he calls it "Field of Blue". The small town of Harbor Springs actually has a number of unique statues all over town. It might have something to do with the awesome Knox Gallery on Main Street and their charming outdoor sculpture garden. Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church, Indian Village

Detroit's Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church just celebrated their 156th anniversary this month. Their summer outdoor concerts are put on by Jenny King using the 23 bell carillon --the oldest and smallest in Michigan. Stephen Warner plays the 1925 Skinner organ in the sanctuary in between playing the organ at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor and repairing other Skinner organs in the state. The church is a part of Detroit's Indian Village which is bordered by Jefferson, Seminole, Burns and Iroquois Streets and includes about 350 beautiful homes built around 100 years ago. The Home & Garden tour of the village is this Saturday, June 5th.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Horton Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast

Horton Bay on the north side of Lake Charlevoix was a hang out for Hemingway back in the day....and the place to relax and enjoy your stay nearby is at the Horton Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast. The 60 acres of grounds and the home are immaculate with a lot of attention to detail. The log beds are hand carved and each one is unique. Hosts Dave and Jeannie have thought of everything and with 7 guest rooms, there's enough space for lots of people. Breakfast is served in the airy solarium overlooking the pool and gardens.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Iva's in Sterling

Iva's is a delightful step back in time. We've eaten here on several occasions just because the southern fried chicken is soooo good, and everything is homemade and the service is quaint. It's like eating at Grandma's. It used to be a boarding house for lumbermen back in the 30's. Take exit 195 off I-75 and go east 2 miles to Sterling. Once you cross the railroad tracks, go right two blocks. It's open everyday except Tuesday and closes in December-January.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

McGulpin's Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City

McGulpin Point Lighthouse, at the tippy top of our mitten, went into service in 1869. Retired in 1906, Emmet County was able to purchase it and the land in 2008. After some serious and loving restoration work, they opened it to the public with a beautiful museum one year ago on May 30 when the lantern was replaced and relit. It is a wonderful lighthouse which you can climb and get a thrilling view. The nature trail to Lake Michigan behind it adds to the enjoyment of the visit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Young State Park

Young State Park near Boyne City overlooks gorgeous Lake Charlevoix whose waters certainly resemble the blues of the Caribbean. What joy to camp right at the water's edge and have a sandy beach for swimming, picnicking or playing volleyball. One northern publication voted it the "best beach of the year". We call it a hidden gem ;} The park has 560 acres with lots of hiking trails. They have two mini cabins rentals. One's called Timberdoodle and the other Sundew.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Exploring an Iron Mine in Iron Mountain

One of the thrills of Michigan is touring a mine in the Upper Peninsula. Everyone at the Iron Mountain Iron Mine has to don a hard hat and raincoat before tour guide Bob drives you on his train through the eerie corridors. If you want to look down, hang on to your hat! This mine opened in 1870 and closed down in 1945, producing a total of 22 million tons of iron ore. They have a big huge rock shop at the exit so you can buy your souvenirs. Their season runs from June 1 until October 15.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hamtramck's Polish Village Café

This little restaurant is located on a residential street called Yemans off Joseph Campau Ave in Hamtramck. Back in the 1920's, when the Bakerstreet trolley came up and down this part of the city it was the nation's second busiest retail area! This building where the Polish Village Café sits used to be a boarding house for immigrants and in the basement was the rathskeller. It still doles out some of the most wonderful Polish vittles in the state. Think comfort food: pierogis, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage, kielbasa and authentic duck blood soup. They have a full bar, they're open on Sundays, and you can watch the Tigers. No credit cards, they accept cash only.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oakland County Farmer's Market

Eating healthy and buying local produce are hot topics these days and one of the best and largest open air markets around is in Waterford on Pontiac Lake Road. Yesterday they were selling lots of veggie plants, tomatoes, herbs and honey, jams and jellies, flowers, and wonderful soaps. In the photo, Danielle, from Tom the Tomato Man's Farm, sold us some beautiful chives, dill and parsley. Sugar peas, asparagus and rhubarb are Michigan's early crops. Pretty soon they'll have the whole gamut including fruit! Oakland County Farmer's Market is open Tues, Thursday and Saturdays from 6:30am to 2pm.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Alma's Highland Games

Alma College is the scene for one of the state's best Scottish Highland games. Always taking place on Memorial Weekend, here's where you can get your fill of bagpipe bands, watch caber tossing, eat your fill of haggis, enjoy the highland dancers, see a parade and even learn how to play a harp! Inexpensive dorm rooms are available for rent. Saturday night is the ceilidh (pronounced KAY lee), which is a wonderful party for all. Alma College's nickname is The Scots.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chelsea House Orchestra

The Chelsea House Orchestra specializes in celtic music and their performances are nothing short of astounding for this high school orchestra from Chelsea led by Jed Fritzemeier. They are performing tomorrow in Fremont at the Dogwood Center for the Arts and at the Highland Games in Alma next weekend. All their music is mesmorizing and you can tell they really enjoy what they are doing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

DuMouchelle's Art Gallery and Auctions

Detroit's DuMouchelles, on Jefferson directly across from the Renaissance towers has been showing off its objets d'art since 1927. There was a live auction going on this past weekend and it's pretty thrilling to view these magnificent pieces of furniture and art up close. It's not unusual for some of these masterpieces to sell for over a million dollars. We often wow out-of-towners by bringing them in here for a brief mind-boggling tour. You can check out their catalogue on their website. Be careful, you'll get hooked, too!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Frankenmuth Brewery

There's been a brewery here on Frankenmuth's Cass River since 1862. A tornado destroyed the original building in 1996, but it has been rebuilt and the cellar where they store their kegs is still in its original state. They have a wonderful restaurant and give interesting tours of their facility. The very popular World Expo of Beer takes place this year May 21-22 in Frankenmuth's Heritage Park. It's a community fundraiser and the entry fee is $5.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Downtown Hoedown since 1983

The lovely spring time temperatures brought out massive crowds and cowboy hats for the world's largest free country music festival. The action took place on 3 different stages Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 14-16th. The media estimated a million people enjoyed the music coming out of Hart Plaza right on the Detroit River. Here, Jocaine sings with local guest Karen Newman Sunday afternoon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flower Day

It was a beautiful day in Detroit yesterday with hordes of people downtown at Flower Day in Eastern Market, at the Country Hoedown and at Comerica Park watching the Tigers put away the RedSox. Families pull wagons and carts and haul off all kinds of flowers and plants from the sheds and open air venues on Russell Street. It's people watching heaven with 150,000 smiling faces, live jazz on several street corners, balloon artists, and jammed restaurants.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Morel Mushroom Festival

The 50th anniversary of Boyne City's National Morel Mushroom Festival was this weekend and it was a 'shroomin' good time! With a huge national reputation, we even met attendees who came from Pennsylvania and Alberta, Canada. Basking in the sunlight at the foot of Lake Charlevoix, we were grateful to be a part of it all. We ate these delicious fungi morning, noon and night. There were guest speakers, crafters, concerts, carnival rides, mushroom hunts and prizes awarded. If you did not want to go out into the woods and hunt your own morels, you could buy them for $30 a half pound. This festival always takes place the weekend after Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Last Kiddish, West Bloomfield

The Last Kaddish on the lawn of the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield was created by artist Aharon Bezalel. The artist felt that survival through bonding with God is the core expression of Jewish identity. The Kaddish is an expression of faith on the part of the mourners that although he is grief stricken, he still believes in God and still trusts in the meaning of life.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Midland's Tridge

The Tridge in Midland is an architecturally unique footbridge built in 1981. It's got three legs that crab over the conjunction of two rivers, the Tittabawassee and the Chippewa. One appendage leads to downtown Midland and the Farmer's Market area and the other two lead to the beautifully maintained St Charles Park. We've enjoyed concerts here, picnics and fireworks. It is beautifully lit up at night.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hell, Michigan

Blink your eyes and you will miss this town, but a lot of people make the trek out to Hell just to say they've been there and back. Founded by George Reeves and incorporated back in 1841, it has stood the test of time. It's an interesting biker haven with an ice cream store, putt putt golf and Hell's Kitchen where they sell sandwiches and a lots of souvenirs. The Pinckney Recreation Area surrounds Hell and makes for a wonderful scenic drive.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tokyo Sushi

Tokyo Sushi has four locations now.... in Birmingham, Royal Oak , Auburn Hills and the original one in Troy. We noticed wall photos of the chef/owner with some of our well-known local sports heroes. Our delicious sushi was made fresh right in front of us. The wait staff is very knowledgeable and friendly. We left quite satisfied.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Historic Holly Hotel and Battle Alley

The Holly Hotel and the street on which it stands--Battle Alley-- have both been given national historic designation. With 25 trains arriving daily in the early 1900's, the saloons were thriving and there were often fisticuffs on this street with many of the brawls spilling out of the hotel's own saloon! Carry Nation came with her trademark ax in 1908 to protest such wanton behavior. Her destructive force compelled the hotel owners to have her locked up! The building has survived a few fires, but renovations and attention to historic detail make it a gem on our list. Although no longer an inn, it is well known in the area for their fine dining and their elegant Victorian teas Monday-Saturday 2-5pm. They also celebrate Carry Nation Day by offering reduced prices on alcoholic beverages.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Morning Coffee on the Manistee

The term Up North in Michigan conjures up all kinds of images of rest and relaxation and recreation. The Manistee River is a pristine beauty --a favorite of fly fisherman, canoers and tubers. Watching the woods green up, listening to the water rippling past and the twitter of the birds, is it any wonder people in Michigan say, "It doesn't get any better than this?"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gayle's Chocolates in Royal Oak

We can't think of a better way to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day then directing you to some of the best chocolate in Michigan: Gayle's Chocolates in Royal Oak! Their pink tin chocolate boxes of truffles are simply exquisite. They also have specialty items like high heels, Eiffel Towers, holiday treats, penguins, polar bears, etc. It's a thrill just to look and sniff.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Petoskey State Park

Petoskey State Park, located on the north end of Little Traverse Bay between Harbor Springs and Petoskey, has 304 scenic acres and offers a beautiful sandy beach on the bay with two campgrounds. Everyone hunts for our famous petoskey stones here. You can hear the peaceful sound of the water crashing on the beach right from your spacious campsite. You can hike up the Old Baldy Trail (about a half mile) to the top of the dune and be rewarded with an awesome view of Lake Michigan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak

Word on the street is that Gusoline Alley in Royal Oak at 309 S Center St has one of the best jukeboxes in Michigan. We had to go check it out. It's a unique dive bar in Royal Oak adjacent to the railroad tracks. Their beers on tap are great, featuring some Michigan brews like Oberon and a DragonMeade specialty. The jukebox music was divine....a little on the moldy side (for those of you under 25), but classic all the way--some country, some rock, a little blues and R&B, some laid back 70's and 80's. We enjoyed! And being as we hit it post smoke free day, the air inside was crystal clear! Hurrah!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Round Island Lighthouse off Mackinac

Beautiful and serene Round Island lighthouse is just off Mackinac Island and visible to those who arrive by boat. Do you remember the picnic scene here from the movie "Somewhere in Time"? It's hard to believe that the movie premiered 22 years ago this month. Who could ever forget Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeves? If you are making your first trip to our incredibly unique no-cars-allowed Mackinac Island, you simply must prepare yourself by watching this flick.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Great Lakes Live Steamers

There's some green space in Royal Oak called Starr Jaycee Park on 13 Mile where Rob, one of the engineers, took us on a steam powered train ride this past Saturday. The Great Lakes Live Steamers offer these rides for free the first weekend of every month when the weather is good. We saw him stoke the little engine with real coal. The park has the 7.5 inch gauge track laid all around. These volunteers do it just to see the joy on everyone's faces while experiencing a ride on an authentic miniature railroad.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Greektown Detroit

There's always excitement in Greektown in Detroit. At 11pm Saturday most restaurants were still open and so was Astoria Bakery with many wonderful goodies. The atmosphere is festive and parking is plentiful. Enjoy a great meal, a wonderful pastry, or a relaxing stroll and be sure to yell opa when they flame the saganaki cheese!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Harbor Springs Train Station

The train doesn't come by this historic station anymore, but it does signify what a delightful community Harbor Springs was and still is today with plenty of hotels, B&B's, restaurants, and shopping--not to mention the beach, the boats, great sunsets, and the Tunnel of Trees. The Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce provides ample resources. This charming depot was built in 1887, but the last trains pulled out in the 1960's. It was bought and restored by the Trillium group in 2000 when they added a 2 bedroom apartment to the second floor. The depot now houses the Ward Gallery and the waiting room is the antiques showroom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tulip Time in Holland

Everyone has to visit Holland at least once in their lifetime to see the glorious Tulip Festival which runs this year from May 1-8. Trolleys are available to take you around to see all the wonderful gardens. There are parades, shows, plays, 1300 dancers, fireworks, the Dutch Market, a carnival, an arts and craft fair, the wooden shoe factory to tour and, of course, the over 1/2 a million tulips in bloom!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Southfield

Congregation Shaarey Zedek has its roots back in 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, when 17 followers of Traditional Judaism withdrew from Beth El Society in Detroit to found the Shaarey Zedek Society. The congregation has worshiped in seven different structures since founded moving to this location in 1962. The building was designed by Albert Kahn and Percival Goodman. In 1966 when Rabbi Morris Adler was delivering a sermon in honor of Abraham Lincoln, a troubled congregant shot Adler twice before taking his own life.