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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heritage Museum of Menominee

The former lumber town Menominee derives its name from the Menominee Indian tribe that used to live in this area on Green Bay, next to Wisconsin. It is the southernmost city in Michigan's UP with lovely beaches. In addition there is a charming Heritage Museum located in an old Catholic Church displaying a whole miniature collection of the Cole Brothers 1920's circus.

Monday, August 30, 2010

SS Badger lands in Ludington

At least once in your lifetime you want to make the Lake Michigan crossing on the SS Badger which is still going strong at age 59. It is huge. It swallows up cars and campers, semis and motorhomes. The upper deck has reclining lounge chairs upon which you can watch the dazzling blue skies overhead. Not into that? Enjoy a movie in the theatre one deck below, or the little maritime museum, a cute gift boatique, and plenty of food and beverage service. We boarded in Ludington and using coal to fuel the steam-powered engine, it took 4 hours for the passenger ship to make the trip across the lake at a top speed of 24 mph. We thoroughly enjoyed!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Diamond Jack Boat Tours of Detroit River

The Diamond Jack boat tours have been around a long time now giving great views of Canada, river traffic and our beautiful city of Detroit. You learn a lot during their two hour narrated tour on the busiest international waterway of the world. There are 2 different departure points: one is from the Rivard Plaza in downtown Detroit which offers views of the upper Detroit River and the other leaves from Wyandotte on two different scenic routes. Captain Bill Hoey from Grosse Ile is the owner. He purchased former Arnold Line Mackinac ferries and converted them into the sightseeing ships they use today. They will be celebrating 20 years next year. Let's hear a big freighter toot for that!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Detroit RiverWalk

The Detroit RiverWalk (our front porch) is just getting more beautiful with each successive visit. In our meanderings this weekend, we found the beautiful Great Lakes-themed carousel which has our familiar fish on it like sturgeon and walleye and, well, a mythical river mermaid, also! The standing glass sculpture, looking like a wave, shows us a map of the St Lawrence Seaway. All in all, the Riverwalk is pretty darn cool. They are currently expanding it and it will be 5 1/2 miles long when it is done. Awesome. On September 16th, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is holding a fundraising gala called the Shimmer-on-the-River-Party from 6-11pm. Be there!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Outrageous Art by Kimberly Arden

Do we love to wear our art? Especially when it's from Michigan! Kimberly Arden, professional artist in Temperance, makes some beautiful jewelry pieces and also teaches how to create them using polymer clay at the Monroe Community College Whitman Center in her town. Her memory wire bracelets are cool, too. We met her at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, but she'll be at Birmingham's Art in the Park Sept 25-26.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marble Lighthouse on Belle Isle

The Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse on Belle Isle is so worthy of visiting. It has the distinction of being the only marble lighthouse in the United States. Designed by Archtiect Cass Gilbert and built in 1929, it stands 70 feet tall and is full of art deco detail. William Livingstone, a popular Detroiter, was the president of the Lakes Carrier Association in the early 1900's. It is still an active light, but climbing the stairs is not an option as it is not open to the public.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bayview Yacht Club Detroit

The Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, just north and east of Belle Isle, was the exciting scene this past weekend for the Toyota International Match Race of identical sailing boats with 12 teams competing from five different countries. This world class regatta was won by the American team led by Dave Perry who received the coveted Detroit Cup. The Bayview Yacht Club is celebrating 95 years since its founding on the Detroit River.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Del Shannon Monument to Runaway

One of Michigan's unique historical state markers is dedicated to the 1960's rocker Del Shannon. Located in Battle Creek at the site where the Hi-Lo Club used to stand this nightclub's house band featured Charles Westover a.k.a. Del Shannon and keyboard player, Max Crook. Hi-Lo is where they first played Runaway which then became famous 'round the world in 1961. Come on now, we know you want to sing along..."As I walk along I wonder oh what went wrong...." Watch a great YouTube video of Del singing Runaway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bath City Art Park, Mt. Clemens

People used to come from around the world to Mt Clemens in the 1800's to bathe in the mineral waters here for their curative powers. At one time there were 13 bath houses in this area, thus the name of the sculpture park next to the Art Center: Bath City Art Park. This sculpture by Michigan artist John Sauvé is called Selbsterkenntnis. We find his sculptures all over Michigan. He's a curator and helps establish outdoor sculpture gardens like in Brighton and Birmingham. He's currently working on the Blue Water International Sculpture Exhibit between the US and Canada.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Lamb's Tail Antiques in Armada-Romeo

One of metro Detroit's top antique spots is situated half way between Romeo and Armada: The Lamb's Tail. So visible from Armada-Ridge Rd with intriguing yard art, it just begs to be explored. Bonnie and Terry have been selling from their historical barn for 18 years. Their little consortium of artists and pickers keep the place stocked. The whole area comes out for The Lamb's Tail's festive Harvest Day September 25th. Ummmm....yes, Suzie walked out with a few charming pieces! We voted for them here through Click On Detroit.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

138th Annual Armada Fair Aug 16-22

Armada's adorable little country fair lasts a full week and it is a perverbial blast. Here's where you get loaded up on elephant ears, corn dogs, cotton candy and fresh squeezed lemonade. Everyone enjoys demolition derbies and the tractor/truck/horse draft pulls. There are bands, a beer tent, and carnival rides --but most of all don't we love the animals and 4-H displays! Lower left are the bantam millefleurs that won first prize. The kids were singing karaoke at the Rascal Flatts trailer. Tomorrow is the last day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Wave Field in Ann Arbor

The Wave Field in Ann Arbor celebrates 15 years this fall. Created by Maya Lin, it stands in memory of François-Xavier Bagnoud who was born in Switzerland and received an Aerospace Engineering degree at the Univeristy of Michigan. He was a helicopter pilot known as "The Little Prince of the Mountains", having flown over 300 rescue missions coming to the rescue of orphans and AIDS victims. He lost his life in Mali in 1986, crashing in the desert on such a mission. His mother, philanthropist Albina Du Boisrouvray, created the Association FXB in honor of her son, which continues this work today.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Battle Creek: The Cereal City

Raisin Bran, Alpha Bits, Pebbles and Grape Nuts--those are just some of the cereals that were developed right here in our state by none other than C.W. Post at the Cereal Factory in Battle Creek. His dedication to producing healthy food products like Post Toasties made him a multi-millionaire in the early 1900's. He first made a caffeine-free cereal beverage called Postum in 1895. Remember that one? It was discontinued just three years ago.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ott Biological Preserve

Whose woods these are--I think I know.... (just echoing the immortal words of Robert Frost). When you see a trail like this, don't you get the urge to explore? We found the Ott Biological Preserve at the end of Arlington Rd on the eastern end of Battle Creek. We have to commend our local communities for preserving such green spaces as these--300 acres of natural habitats. These well-trod paths lead to two spring-fed lakes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Phoenicia Restaurant in Birmingham

The first thing that beckons you to Phoenicia's on Old Woodward is the inviting outdoor patio. Then you find out how fabulous the mideastern food is. You can tell they have almost 40 years experience in the restaurant business. The ambiance is honed, the food delicious and the service is excellent. Our recommendation: the Hashwi with Tiziano Pinto Grigio from Italy ;}

Monday, August 16, 2010

Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek

Arcadia is everything a brew pub should be--great handcrafted beers, fabulous food, housed in a historic building in downtown Battle Creek and an authentic oven imported from Naples, Italy and built into a brick wall visible from the restaurant. Kudos to executive chef Sean Kelly for their outstanding fare--we thoroughly enjoyed the barbecued combination plate and the ahi tuna salad. The samplers tray includes 9 different beers for $10. Their award winning medals for their beers are displayed on the wall. It's an awesome place.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden

Established 44 years ago, this nature sanctuary in Dryden has been preserved for outdoor lovers. Seven Ponds consists of more than 400 acres of trails and marshes, lakes and wildflowers. They offer many delightful naturalist-led programs. They have a large room that is often rented out for various functions, a gift shop, library, and even a bee hive where we can watch up close. It's an education center consistently striving to conserve the environment.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleeping Bear Winery

We're getting close to grape harvest time and Michigan has a myriad of excellent wineries to explore. Our latest discovery is the new and unpretentious Sleeping Bear in Albion, just west of Jackson. We not only like their wines, we love their cider called Farmhouse. Their big Winetoberfest is October 9th complete with Polka Band.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Historic Bridge Park in Battle Creek

This unique park in Emmett Township near Battle Creek is one of the first of its kind in the United States. They work to preserve and move old truss bridges. They restore them to their original beauty and have them on display for all to admire and learn about their history. The park has paved trails and picnic areas, but we were not allowed to enter due to the tragic Enridge Oil spill as they are still working in the Kalamazoo River.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Colon: The Magic Capital of the World

Did you know that Michigan has a town known as the Magic Capital of the World? That would be Colon, south of Battle Creek. Their 77th Magic Festival was last weekend, where for four days, they bring in celebrated sleight-of-hand acts from around the world. Famed magician Harry Blackstone lived here and was buried in Colon's cemetery which started a rash of other magician burials here! The whole town is devoted to magic. Be prepared for bleacher seats in the Colon High School auditorium where all the programming takes place. Your kids will love it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Miller's Big Red Greenhouses

Miller's Big Red Orchard and Cider Mill is the oldest U-Pick apple orchard in Michigan. Located on 32 Mile Rd in Romeo, they offer many homemade delectable items in their kitchens like pies, jams, jellies and breads as well as donuts to go along with their cider made on the premises. Thousands enjoy their haunted hayrides and corn mazes in the fall. There's even a petting farm for the little ones!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Redcoat Tavern in Royal Oak

We've always had to wait in line to get into Royal Oak's Redcoat Tavern on Woodward north of 13 Mile Road. That translates to "one of the best places to eat with good service". Known for their half pound burgers, fries, generous onion rings, homemade cole slaw and a selection of over 100 beers, expect it to be noisy and dark (no windows) with lots of happy customers. It's got the feel of an English pub all right and they have well over 100 beers to choose from.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery

Ann Arbor's Blue Tractor BBQ and Brewery is filled with reclaimed barn wood planks covering the walls while various pieces of farming and tractor equipment add to the theme. The brewing equipment is behind the bar. The menu is interesting with lots of barbecue entrees, catfish and blue cheese fondue. Another Blue Tractor has opened in Traverse City as well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor

We call Ann Arbor's Zingerman's Deli "An Experience". It's a restaurant like no other. There is just so much for your eyes to take in and it all makes you drool--from their homemade breads to their vast selection of cheeses. Then there are the chalk boards, the different multi level seating areas, the separate dessert building, well, it's a feast for the eyes. And did we mention the sandwiches? You've never had better. It's been in this cool historic early 1900's building for almost 30 years. Make ours on rye!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Views from the Roostertail

Everyone's heard of the Roostertail on the Detroit River. They've been hosting classy proms and weddings for over 50 years. The name comes from the spray of water left behind a speed boat, but the views from this banquet facility are what we all swoon over. They hold corporate and charity events as well as seminars. It has been the backdrop, too, for some well known performers like Aretha Franklin and even the Rolling Stones.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Black Lotus Brewery in Clawson

Clawson's unique brewery, The Black Lotus, is a laid back restaurant with some awesome beers. The food is great, the ambiance is brew pub chic and we saw a group of young 30 somethings enjoying the establishment for their wedding shower. We classified the beer tastings as mighty fine. Investigate for yourselves at 14 Mile & Main.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Seven Lakes in Holly

Serene yet shocking, that was our first impression of Seven Lakes State Park in Fenton. That's a rattlesnake on the sign! What? Yes, the Massasauga is our state's only venomous snake. We don't see too many of them and they are in danger of extinction. The DNR wants us to learn to co-exist with these wetland-loving slithering creatures. Be careful not to provoke! Really, they say it is rare to sight them. They've been tracking several of their whereabouts by inserting GPS devices in them. With 1400 acres and seven beautiful lakes, the park also has numerous trails for hiking and biking. It's not overcrowded!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Covered Bridge in Fallasburg

As far as historic covered bridges go, Michigan has only a few left and the one in Fallasburg dates way back to 1871. Located in Kent County east of Grand Rapids, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. It's an eerie experience, walking across this one lane 100 foot structure and especially driving over it! It is rare to be able to drive over one. Dare you to do it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lighthouse at Ludington Beach

One of the coolest lighthouses to visit is the North Breakwater Light in Ludington --a mile walk roundtrip using the breakwater. The white pyramid-shaped light is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday until Sept 5. It is located in Stearns Park at the end of Ludington Avenue. Built in 1924, it tilts 4 degrees due to settling. Perhaps they should call it the Leaning Lighthouse of Ludington?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick

Michigan is so blessed to have this very special Milford couple reside and work in our state: Carl R Sams II and Jean Stoick. They have taken wildlife photography to its highest levels. For more than 30 years, they have snapped countless pictures of white-tailed deer, loons and other critters. They have published many books including the NY Times #1 best-seller pictured here: Stranger in the Woods. The movie made from it has won numerous awards. Surely you have seen their art out and about like in the Madison Heights Nature Center on 13 Mile west of Dequindre.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blueberry Picking in South Haven

Are you coming to the National Blueberry Festival in South Haven this year? This 47th annual affair runs from Aug 12-15. Besides the traditional blueberry pancakes and bake-offs, there is a fish boil, a 5k run, an art show, lots of free concerts and gorgeous sunsets out by the lighthouse pier. The blueberries are ripe for picking now. The DeGrandchamp Farm with its 130 acres has been family operated since 1958. It opens at 8am and you can pick your own for a dollar fifty a pound. Heavenly! Michigan is the nation's leader in highbush blueberry production, producing nearly 500 million pounds a year. That's a lot of blueberries, baby!