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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shrine of the Pines in Baldwin

Baldwin’s Shrine of the Pines  is certainly worth a visit. We are in awe of the talent of the late Mr. Raymond W. Overholzer. The complex consists of  a Rustic Furniture Museum, nature trails and gift shop. Walking the nature trails along the Pere Marquette River, you’ll see plenty of birds, deer and turkey among the towering white pines.  In the museum there are hundreds of  handcrafted masterpieces including the world's largest collection of rustic pine furniture. Check out the dining room table with its unique chairs.  The furniture was all handcrafted by the artist from the tree stumps left behind in the 1920's by the logging community.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gay Bar in Keweenaw County

The tiny little town of Gay, Michigan sits on Lake Superior on Keweenaw's east side. It is famous for one thing: the Gay bar. Lots of hunters hang out here. You can have a local brew called "The Widowmaker", named after a piece of machinery in the mines that often fatally injured its user! Their menu features all types of hotdogs. We enjoyed our lunch and conversation with the locals. Suzie used to spend her summers here many moons ago visiting her Finnish relatives who lived just down the street and taught her about agate hunting at the beaches.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Art In Public Places - Mt Clemens

This Sea Serpent is actually a bike rack! He sits outside in the front of the Bay City Art Park in Mt. Clemens.  He was created by metal sculptor Tom Crimboli. The Anton Art Center is currently holding a contest to name the Sea Serpent.  Entries are only $1.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keweenaw Gift Shop and Agate Hunting

The waters of Lake Superior are the warmest they have been in decades!  They were perfect temperatures for hunting agates this past summer. If you'd rather skip all the hard work, there is a darling little shop in Houghton called Keweenaw Gem & Gift with tons of souvenirs from the upper peninsula, including these polished agates. They have the largest supply of greenstone (our official gemstone) in the state. They ship out orders, too. Check out their products on-line. You'll find jewelry, lots of copper, bumper stickers, petoskey stones, magnets, clocks, fossils and even candles with copper flecks in them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Father Gabriel Richard in Detroit

Along Jefferson avenue are so many impressive buildings and structures. This statue of Father Gabriel Richard faces Jefferson Avenue at Sheridan just northeast of Belle Isle. Father Gabriel Richard was born in France and sailed to the US during his country's revolution. He was reassigned to Detroit --a small French speaking village that had been occupied by Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck. Richard brought the first printing press to Detroit. He was instrumental in establishing schools for Native American and women. Thank you, Father Richard! His remains are in a visible casket at St Anne's Church. Remember this previous post?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ludington Skate Park

Stearns Park right on Lake Michigan is the stunning location for Ludington's new Skate Park Plaza.  This 14,000 square foot, concrete wonder includes a bowl, half-pipe, stairs, and ramps for beginners through the most experienced boarders and in-line skaters. We witnessed some fascinating stunts! It was great entertainment --not to mention the wonderful backdrop of Lake Michigan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

House of Flavors in Ludington

A visit to Ludington means an obligatory stop at the House of Flavors to indulge in ice cream made right there. During peak season there is a line, but it moves really fast because they are well staffed. Back in 1948 when they were called The Miller Dairy, they offered only five flavors.  The current name was adopted in 1964 when they added more ice cream--a whopping 33 flavors now--and eliminated milk processing.  In the summer, they produce over 40,000 gallons of our favorite dessert each week.   We recommend the waffle cone with Tennessee Toffee and Mocha Almond Fudge ;}

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Peck Park in Detroit

What a blessing when a road detour leads to someplace new and surprisingly pleasing!   Peck Park located behind the Center for Creative Studies also serves as an outdoor classroom for the Detroit Science Center.   The park's construction was completed in 2004 by the University Cultural Center Association which also maintains it.  The unique Connections Bridge is a Detroit 300 sculpture, a collaborative work by high school students from both Windsor and Detroit celebrating the shared history between our two cities across the border for over the past three centuries.   This cool green space includes a play scape, performance stage,  picnic tables and benches.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Henry's Inn in Rockland

My, oh my! If you are ever in Rockland, just east of Ontonagon in the UP, treat yourself to a delicious meal at Henry's Inn. The building's history goes back to 1890 (molded tin ceilings and unique architecture) and the pasty special on Thursday is outstanding.  It is served with some great homemade cole slaw and we washed it all down with a brand of root beer called 1919 which is pretty popular with the Yoopers and not available to trolls (those who live below the bridge). They actually brew this root beer the old-fashioned way and do not use high fructose corn syrup. Two thumbs up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Independence Oaks Park in Clarkston

We biked through the wonderful trails of this Oakland County Park in Clarkston called Independence Oaks. Zipping over the paved trails, boardwalks and bridges we noticed areas for swimming, boating (with rentals), ball fields, volleyball courts and picnicking.   The Wint Nature Center is worth a stop with knowledgeable and helpful naturalists on hand.  Check out the hands on physics and science!   The park is constantly improving and expanding --what a great place to spend the afternoon.   

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dakota Inn Rathskeller in Detroit

It's that Oktoberfest time of year and there is truly no better place in Detroit to celebrate it than the Dakota Inn Rathskeller on John R near 7 Mile Rd. Their live entertainment on the weekends begins at 8pm and when the going gets good there are even sing-a-longs. "Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank"? We started out with a platter full of wonderful smoked gouda cheese and summer sausage with crackers.  You can swill that down with all kinds of German beers including Warsteiner Pilsner and Dunkel.  Friday night the restaurant was packed --all tables reserved. They are celebrating Oktoberfest for the next 5 weekends. Make your reservations now and be sure to enjoy all that schnitzal, bratwurt, spätzle, sauerkraut, potato pancakes and strudel!  Everyone gets an opportunity to wear the chicken hats!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ontonagon Sunset on Lake Superior

Unspoiled beauty and a sense of awesome wonder--that's why people like visiting the upper peninsula so much. Ontonagon is a little town on Lake Superior that is famous for its river of the same name in which was found a gigantic copper rock back in 1600's. This "Ontonagon Boulder" --a gigantic nugget of 1.5 tons of copper --is so phenomenal that the Smithsonian in Washington somehow laid claims on it and has it on display. But mostly we like the peacefulness, the deserted beaches and the fresh smell of pines and fir trees and the beautiful sunsets. It doesn't get any better than this.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Engadine's Fenske Log Cabin

In honor of Detroiter Sonny Eliot's retirement from broadcasting last week, we are featuring the UP's Engadine. We remember Sonny who frequently put it on the map in his weather broadcasts and don't we all just love pronouncing the name of this little town?  Engadine features the 1891 Fenske log cabin adjacent to their historical museum and beautifully preserved Freeman Hastings home.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Roadside Table in the Nation!

Who would have thought that the UP would have this distinction....establishing the first roadside table in America.  We thought it was pretty cool.  Established in 1918, this park is on US 2 route east of Iron River. The idea for such a thing goes back to the highway engineer Herb Larson (graduate of the U of M School of Engineering), who wanted to promote tourism in the area and save this tract of virgin trees from the hungry loggers.  He bought the land to save the trees!  It didn't take long to catch on in the rest of the state and, of course, beyond.  Better head out for your picnics while you can!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bluewater Ferry connecting Marine City

The Bluewater Ferry  travels between Marine City, Michigan, USA and  Sombra, Ontario, Canada.  When we find the traffic heavy over the Bluewater Bridge from Sarnia to Port Huron we jump on the ferry for a quick relaxing trip on the scenic St. Clair River.  It runs from 7:00 AM to 10:30 PM with reasonable tolls.   When approaching Michigan you see the  gorgeous St. Mary's Church on the horizon. Our favorite time to ride the ferry is early evening when the sun is beginning to set.    

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gros Cap Park and St Helena lighthouse

There is an uninhabited island in Lake Michigan about 6 miles west of Mackinac Bridge. This photo was taken from Gros Cap Park in the UP and you can clearly see the St Helena lighthouse.  Built in 1873, it was automated by the US government in the early 1920's.  Without daily use, it deteriorated badly.  The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association took it over in 1986.  They dedicated several summers  in a row to its restoration and have done an outstanding job. They will take people  (via boat!) on tours of the island and lighthouse. In addition, they are always looking for volunteers to help weed, clean, paint, dishwash and even be a tour guide! You have to sign up for a minimum of five days and you will actually stay on the island. The fee to be a helper is $75 for the boat ferrying and $12/day for your food! We are adventuresome enough to do it.  Boat tours leave from Shepler's dock in St Ignace.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Snowshoe Priest of Baraga

The beloved snowshoe priest, Father Baraga, arrived in the UP near L'Anse in 1843. Originally from Slovenia, his mission was to minister to the American Indian population. He learned to speak Ottawa and Chippewa and would travel on foot, even in the winter, using his trusty snowshoes. They say he trekked as much as 700 miles through the snow each season. He was loved deeply.  This 60-foot monument looks over L'Anse and Lake Superior.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Parthenon in Detroit's Greektown

The New Parthenon Restaurant across from Greektown Casino is one of our favorites. Why? The kitchen is open until 2:30 am seven days a week, the multi level dining room offers many settings, and the Greek decor has wall to wall marble and statues which add to the atmosphere and creates an enjoyable dining experience. And of course, we always love the food! "O-pa!" We start off with saganaki. The flaming display is the best we have ever seen.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Porcupine State Park Lake of the Clouds

Nestled on the shores of Lake Superior in the very western portion of the upper peninsula lies one of our most coveted jewels: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Michiganders call it the Porkies. Black bears are common in this huge park of 60,000 acres, so we did not venture too far in, but we did get this spectacular view of Lake in the Clouds. Just west of Silver City, this huge tract of virgin pines is part of the largest area of undeveloped wilderness in our entire state. With 87 miles of hiking rails and lots of backwoods cabins to hole up for the night, it's a backpacker's paradise.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lansing Memorial to 9-11

The plaque on this memorial in downtown Lansing reads, "Dedicated to the courage, strength and indomitable American Spirit of those who perished and those who persevered during the events of September 11. 2001. Lansing Remembers" . The Sculpture is a piece of the World Trade Center. It stands across from the Radisson Hotel next to the river. What a stark reminder it is --on this 9th anniversary.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Eagle Harbor's 1927 Chrysler rescued

We were fascinated with the story of the rescue of these 220 brand new Chryslers from the ship City of Bangor that ran aground in Keweenaw bay back in the winter of 1927.  They were en route from Detroit to Duluth. The little museum on the grounds of the Eagle Harbor lighthouse tells a wild tale as eighteen of the cars fell into the Lake Superior. The rest were off-loaded in Copper Harbor, whose area is known for its massive snowfalls!  It took them all winter to get them back to Detroit, yet somehow this tiny museum has one of those beauties on display--we hear tell that some resourceful yooper had it hid in his garage for a few decades!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sommers Sausage Shop in Crystal Falls

We are converts. The little succulent sausage sticks at Sommers in Crystal Falls are hands-down the best we've ever had.  The teriyaki ones were outstanding. A return trip is necessary to try the jalapeño-cheddar. They are also known for their smoked venison and their fresh or smoked sausages.  Sommers works in conjunction with Wildlife Unlimited by accepting deer, processing it and helping feed the less fortunate in Iron County. This is also an ice cream shop! Our three cones were filled with awesome coffee mocha, mackinac fudge and da yooper mudslide.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mbad African Bead Museum in Detroit

Mbad is an interesting museum inside and out! Located at the corner of Grand River and Tireman, the entire building is covered with design in mosaic, mirror, paint and whatever. Pictured here is Executive Director Dabl with beads dating back hundreds of years from many different cultures throughout Africa. "Iron Teaching Rocks how to Rust" is part of the outdoor museum, located behind the building. Our favorite was the sculpture of the chieflike man.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

McKune Memorial Library in Chelsea

Today marks the first day of school for most children across our state. Voted the nation's best small library in 2008, we bring to you today-- Chelsea's McKune Memorial Library. It used to be housed in the historic home of Elisha Congdon (Chelsea's founder) from 1860 pictured above on the left. The McKunes were the second owners in 1870 and they converted it into a hotel. In 1958 it was donated to the city by Katherine McKune. The city renovated the home at that time and started using it as their library. When the new library facility was built, they remodeled and incorporated the original structure into the new one integrating technology and blending a lovely new architectural style. The library serves Chelsea and several surrounding communities.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arts Beats and Eats in Royal Oak

Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak was hopping this lovely Labor Day weekend with lots of food, wine tastings, art galleries, shops open and good vibes all around. Tons of people came to check out the various bands on multiple stages. With four solid days of events, more than 250,000 people are expected to attend. Judging from the video we've posted (those Killer Flamingos from Friday night), it looks like they will surpass that prediction! Get out and enjoy these last days of summer! Here's a great map of the festival and schedule.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day weekend in Baraga

With the advent of school looming on the horizon, the migration towards home began a couple of weeks ago....which leaves up north and in particular the UP pretty empty. Baraga State Park has a myriad of tables for picnics and memories can be made sleeping in a teepee overlooking the shores of Lake Superior. Remember, if you are renewing your license plates in October, check the box that says YES to get your Michigan sticker for the bargain price of $10 that gives you access to our 98 glorious state parks!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Copper Harbor Lighthouse Sunset Boat Tours

A sunset cruise and a tour of the Copper Harbor Lighthouse? It doesn't get any better than this. Native Yooper Captain Nick is full of stories and history of the Keweenaw area on Lake Superior. The only way to tour the lighthouse is by boat as land leading up to it is all private. But what a delightful treat. Boat tours take place all day long well into October (where you might experience snow as well!). Check them out here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Westview Orchards and Cider Mill - Washington

Tis the season for apple picking, hiking and cider making in Michigan. There's a heavenly little corner in Washington Township called Westview Orchards. Visit their bakery for yummy pies and baked goods. Now is the time to picking apples like gala and gingergold. This is the last weekend for picking peaches. There is a playground, animals and a obstacle course for the kids to enjoy.To find the Westview schedule and location click here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Norway Spring and Swedish Passport

There's a small town in the UP called Norway --just east of Iron Mountain-- where we found a man carrying away 5 gallons of water from this spring. Back in 1903, Oliver Mining company had drilled a 1000-foot hole looking for iron ore. Instead, they found an artesian well from which we still enjoy the benefits today! It tastes delicious. While in Norway, be sure to stop at Swedish Passport for all types of Scandanavian gifts. We picked up a few items from Barb ;}

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chene Park in Detroit

Chene Park is a unique outdoor venue holding 5,000 seats with the Detroit River as a backdrop. Mary J Blige was here earlier in the summer. September 5th they are hosting the Return of the Legends. Known for jazz, R&B and soul music, some of the musicians playing on that Sunday are Doug E Fresh, Whodini, FatBoys, Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane. Originally built in 1984 to hold 1400, it was replaced in 1990 with what we see today.