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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Salmon Fishing off Ludington

Michigan is considered a hunter's and fisherman's paradise. Salmon fishing is best if you get up at 4am and head out to the big waters (Lake Michigan) before the sun rises. King salmon charters are hired July through October. The biggest one caught in Michigan was 30 pounds. We caught this one off the coast of Ludington, considered Michigan's #1 fishing port. It only weighed about 21 pounds. Twas some good eatin' though!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Toys from Times Past in Rhodes

Don and Dawn Shurlow are from Rhodes, a little blurp on the map between Pinconning and Gladwin. They handcraft replicas of Toys From Time Past. You will see these two in fairs all around our state. They'll be in East Jordan on Aug 7th for their Portside Art Fair, in Hessel Aug 14th for the Les Cheneaux Boat Show and at Frankfort's Art Fair Aug 21. Do you see the twinkle in Don's eye? We know he makes a great Kris Kringle, too!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beaver Island forest

Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan which is reached via car ferry from Charlevoix or via plane. Lying 30 miles off shore, it is 13 miles long and about 5 miles wide. Like you see in this photo, it is mostly flat and sandy, with lots of dirt roads and covered with a forest. There are 500 permanent residents, but it swells in the summertime. With it's large Irish population, it is nicknamed America's Emerald Isle. There are two lighthouses to see on the island. We mentioned the South Beaver Island lighthouse earlier this year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Great Lakes tall ship: Denis Sullivan

Once in a while you might catch sight of this tall ship called the Denis Sullivan on our Michigan lakes. This is the world's only replica of a traditional Great Lakes schooner. Ten years old now, it's actually a floating school, outfitted with computers and technology for studying ecological systems. It was recently seen in Bay City for their Tall Ship Festival. Today it is in Houghton, ready to set sail for Duluth. It can sleep 21 passengers on overnights! High School students can sail Aug 2-6 from Duluth to Sault Ste Marie with their Science Under Sail program. Ship ahoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Los Galanes, Detroit

Fried ice cream, please! One place we always take out-of-state visitors to is Mexicantown near the Ambassador Bridge. It's just so authentic and fun. We love Los Galanes where we took our friend's German exchange student, Sina. They have fiesta party trays for take-out, too. If you're looking for a place to salsa, their upstairs nightclub on the weekends sees lots of action.

Monday, July 26, 2010

McIntosh Cellars on the west coast

Not far from Glenn, Michigan is a first rate hard cider and fruit winery called McIntosh Cellars. We enjoyed a growler of their semi-dry draught apple cider and give it two thumbs up. It's obvious they've won prizes in Michigan's annual hard cider competitions. Spread out on 75 acres with 14 different kinds of apples, they've also recently planted peach and pear trees. With an address in South Haven, but being much closer to Glenn, it's a nice ride out in the country ;}

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2010

Ann Arbor's Art Fair is an event that everyone will probably want to attend more than once in their lifetime! The four-day eye-popping event ended yesterday. Many streets were blocked off as it was actually four different art fairs all within walking distance of each other. Artists from all over the world have been coming for more than 50 years to showcase their creations in U of M's shadow. This year there were a mind-boggling 1000+ booths. There were plenty of shuttles and free-parking for the half million visitors who attended. In 2011, the fair will be July 20-23. Better mark your calendars!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cadillac landing: Happy Birthday Detroit

He was the first white man to set foot in our area and he and his party did it by traveling in large voyageur canoes up the St Lawrence Seaway and landing here on July 24, 1701. Detroit was founded (for France!) by Antoine de la Mothe de Cadillac and our city is 309 years old today. This lovely bronze statue stands in Hart Plaza, not far from where he hopped out of the canoe.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Detroit People Mover - Times Square

The People mover first opened on July 23, 1987. It's only 50 cents a ride and takes about 1 hour to complete the circuit, hopping on and off to see all 13 stations. Tom Phardel (1950- ), who was teaching at Pewabic Pottery in '87, is the artist of the Time Square Station. The bold colors used are not typically found in the Pewabic palette. He created two murals, one you can see when entering the turnstiles, using 163 square feet of tile, and the others after turning the corner to the escalator using 800 square feet of tile. This work is tilted In Honor of W. Hawkins Ferry, Detroit architect and original member of the Art in the Stations Commission as well as president of the DIA's Friends of the Modern Art auxiliary.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

WWII Reenactment Camp in St Clair Shores

St Clair Shores is the setting this weekend for the 3rd Annual WWII and Veterans Weekend with live beach assault reenactments at Veterans Memorial Park on Jefferson Avenue. There will also be live musical entertainment and a huge convoy to kick things off on Friday night. Helicopter tours available as well as rides in an LVT.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ypsilanti Beerfest at Riverside Park

Did you know that July is Michigan Craft Beer Month? This was a joint resolution passed by both our House and Senate. We celebrate all of our state's crafted beers this weekend in Ypsilanti July 23-25th, which features pours from more than 50 breweries. There will be lots of live music showcasing our local talent at Riverside Park and, since this is the 13th annual Beerfest, they do expect it to sell out again. The park is connectd via a tridge to Ypsi's historic Depot Town and Frog Island.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Niles: "Town of Four Flags"

Rebel Pride was part of the entertainment this past weekend at the Niles Burn Run down in the southwest corner of Michigan. It was initiated in 2001 by firefighters who like motorcycles. Proceeds go to the Great Lakes Burn Camp which exists to help and support kids who are burn survivors. First settled by Frenchies in the 1600's, Niles is known as the City of Four Flags. The 4 nations which have ruled over Niles are France, England, Spain and the United States.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Van Buren State Park

Michigan has the world's greatest concentration of freshwater coastal dunes. At Van Buren State Park between Benton Harbor and South Haven, you can enjoy a whole mile of these sandy beaches. The park on Lake Michigan has 400 acres to enjoy with more than 200 campsites. We owe this park's existence to the Harry Labar Drake family who donated the original 167 acre plot to the state for this purpose back in the 1960's.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bangor's Railroad Cafe

Bangor, about 25 miles east of Kalamazoo, was a booming town back in the 1870's. Trains carrying timber, iron ore and farm produce whizzed by at a constant pace. The advent of the automobile, trucking and interstate travel almost put the railroads out of business. Residents in Bangor got together and renovated this beautiful depot which had been in disuse since the 1960's. Opened in 2005, it now holds the Amtrak waiting room, various offices and the Railroad Café and Coffee Depot. Passengers can catch the 9am train for Chicago and return the same evening. The café has a nice selection of paninis, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as a breakfast menu.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friends Good Will 1812 Warship

Seems like the hot spot to vacation is South Haven with its gorgeous sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, some wonderful restaurants, lots of intriguing shops to browse in, blueberry farms nearby where you can pick your own and homes galore --big or little, new or historic --to rent by the week or a weekend. From their Maritime Museum you can book passage for a sunset cruise on a replica of a ship that fought in the War of 1812 called Friends Good Will. When they fire the cannon they get everyone's attention! What better way to learn about history? "We have met the enemy and they are ours!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hart-Montague Trail State Park

The 22 mile paved pathway between Hart and Montague was the first converted railtrail in Michigan. Bill Field of Shelby was a man of vision. He was able to purchase the former railroad and then donate it to the State of Michigan, making it one of the first "Rails to Trails" projects in our state. It opened in 1991. The map is provided from the Michigan Department of Natural resources. Winding through a portion of the Manistee National Forest, it's the first linear state park in Michigan with a paved pathway 8 feet across. In the winter the trail is used by snowmobilers and dog-sledders! Today marks the one year anniversary of our blog. We started with a railtrail in Detroit: the Dequindre Cut Greenway and we thought it à propos to speak about the first converted railtrail in Michigan on this anniversary. Thanks for supporting us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Otsego's Highland Beef

We ran into Phyllis Rogers at the South Haven Farmer's Market and were educated about the fabulous qualities of Highland beef. Those are the long-haired, long-horned cows from Scotland. We did not know they were right in our backyard! They have 3 times less fat than regular beef. We so enjoyed these hamburger patties on the grill. Phyllis and her husband Gary invite people to tour their farm in Otsego with advanced notice. Their website is a hoot.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day, but way before the French Revolution, those Frenchies explored the Great Lakes. One of the most famous voyageurs was La Salle (known also as De LaSalle, like the school). This boulder in St Joseph marks his landing here on the west side of Michigan back in 1679 and the building of Fort Miamis.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blue Star Pottery

Who doesn't love unique pottery? Mark Williams' hobbitlike studio is back in the woods off Blue Star Highway about 3 miles north of South Haven. His singular textured designs come in lovely earth tones. He's been wheel throwing for 37 years in this corner of our state. Everything is overproof and dishwasher safe. He's open Fri-Sat-Sun 11-5, or by appointment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thirsty Perch in South Haven

We've been on a good fish taco hunt for a long time and we think we've found the sweet spot in Michigan! It's called the Thirsty Perch in South Haven. Three things to accompany these tasty morsels make them heavenly: the ground mustard aioli, the surprise fennel slaw and the portabella mushroom fries! Creative chalk art on all their signboards gives quite a whimsical touch. Add a happy hour from 4-7 with $2 local drafts and great service....well, no wonder the Independent Restaurant Association rates it so highly!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

JL Beanery Coffee Shop

A darling little coffee shop with a view to take your breath away--that's what we experienced at the J.L. Beanery Coffeehouse on Mackinac Island. And, the coffee was great! Even the Detroit News Reader's Poll voted it the best independent coffee house in Michigan. It's located on Main St by the Marina (obviously)!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ugly Dog Vodka Distillery in Chelsea

There is a new vodka distillery in our state (opening May 2010) and despite its name --Ugly Dog-- it tastes pretty refined. Jon Dyer, pictured here, is the founder and master distiller who built most of the equipment on his own. It's location in Chelsea is at 14495 North Territorial Road. There is a story behind the name, of course. The vodka is named after Jon's dog, Ruger, whom he affectionately calls, Ugly Dog. He's a German Whirehaired Pointer and Jon designed the label on the bottle as well. He uses Michigan's grain to make his spirits and prints the labels and his Ugly Dog t-shirts in our state. All hail Michigan ;}

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grand Rapids Public Museum - The Whale

This has to be the most impressive museum entrance piece we've seen in our state. You turn the corner from the entry desk and right smack overhead is the skeleton of a gigantic whale. It's sheer size is so incredible that it will stick in your mind forever whether child or adult. The collection is house in the Van Andel Museum Center, because Jay and Betty Van Andel contributed 3 million dollars for its fundraising campaign. Built on the river where the Voigt Crescent Flour Mill used to stand, the Grand Rapids Public Museum's throwback to that time is maintained in the red and burnt-orange brick used in the 1800's by Dutch immigrants. The museum opened in 1994 and has almost 90,000 square feet of space including a planetarium.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mt. Clemens' County Seat sculpture

Don't you just love art in public places? One sculpture that stands out is in Mt Clemens on the southeast corner of Cass Avenue and Walnut, kitty corner from the County Building. It was created by Gary Kulak, artist in residence and part of the faculty at Cranbrook-Kingswood in Bloomfield Hills. Where is your favorite piece?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Silver Lake State Park in Mears

Dune rides next to Lake Michigan and Silver Lake and rolling down these gigantic mounds of sand--it's heaven for any kid at heart. Silver Lake State Park is Michigan at its best--a 3000 acre area of pristine white sand with four miles on Lake Michigan. It seems like we are standing in the middle of a desert. The views from the campground are beautiful. You can drive your own 4-wheelers on the dunes or rent one or have someone drive them for you! All ORV's are required to have an orange flag 10 feet tall attached to their vehicle for safety.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fulton Street Farmer's Market

88 years and still going strong--that's the Fulton Street Farmer's Market in Grand Rapids running Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8am until 3. They supply fresh beautiful veggies and fruit (much of it is organic), locally produced honey and maple syrup, as well as plants and many handcrafted items. We hit the very end of it last Friday when the vendors were starting to leave.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pentwater Pie Contest

Is there anything more Americana than an old fashioned pie contest followed by a competition to see who can eat the most? Pentwater did an outstanding job doing this on the 4th of July weekend raising thousands of dollars in educational scholarships. We think the most creative one was the ant on the watermelon pie! Tomorrow and every Tuesday in the summer Pentwater puts on Pick'n in the Park at the Village Green. Bring lawn chairs and blankets and listen to local musicians.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mackinac Island Boy Scouts

Did you know that in the summer the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts serve Michigan as the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard? We were so delighted to watch them march up to the entrance of Fort Mackinac and perform the raising of the flags. Back in 1929, former president Gerald Ford was among the first Eagle Scouts to serve in this honor guard. They live in the barracks close to the fort. May you have a blessed Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fireworks in Hart

Fourth of July celebrations abound everywhere in Michigan! The historic town of Hart near Pentwater hosted a marvelous firework display over Hart Lake last night. Thousands gathered downtown to listen to a live band and just enjoy the scenery. The Asparagus Festival was held here two weeks ago as Oceana County is the National Asparagus Capital. We thoroughly enjoyed the company of Thad and Deana Helmlinger in their beautiful 100+ year old Courtland Carriage House Bed and Breakfast.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fenton's AJ Phillips Museum

The Fenton Museum gets its name from the man, A.J. Phillips whose heirs donated the 1900 Victorian home and some of its contents to the city of Fenton. Maintained by the Fenton Historical Society --this is the place to visit for genealogical records and cemetery records for all of Genesee County. Other rooms in the museum are furnished with period furniture, military items and more. Open Sundays, 1-4. Visit when you have time to stroll the main street and area parks.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dow Gardens in Midland

Midland's Dow Gardens were started by Herbert Dow back in 1899 on eight flat acres. Son Alden Dow, an architect, continued to develop the landscaping and his son, Herbert II, is involved today. The gardens are a popular attraction with their winding paths, a butterfly-filled conservatory, hills, a waterfall and ponds that extend over 110 acres. The Pines, home of Herbert and Grace Dow and also built in 1899, is hidden within the garden. Reservations can be made to tour it. Don't forget to see the statue called The Leaping Gazelle by Marshall Fredicks and take a stroll through The Maze. What a serene spot to hold Yoga classes -- held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.