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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Four Green Fields in Royal Oak

This Royal Oak Irish pub has been on the corner of 13 and Woodward since as long as we can remember. With a huge amount of beers on tap plus a cider, a rootbeer and live music on the weekends, as well as good pub grub, well, it's truly a hopping place. It's nothing fancy, but there's a large local following and, come on, where else can you get a burger for two bucks?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

It's elusive, mysterious, and has quite a reputation: the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The front porch--over 600 feet long-- is the longest in the world. Open only in the summertime, it has been the lure of tourists from around the world since 1887. Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour immortalized it in the movie Somewhere in Time filmed 30 years ago. What a treat to sit in one of the rocking chairs on the veranda and gaze out across the Great Lakes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dodge Park in Sterling Heights

We love the 50+ acres of Dodge Park in Sterling Heights, located on Utica Rd and Dodge Park. It has lots of paved trails that we enjoy in all four seasons. What's popular are the volleyball courts, the Thursday night summer concerts in the bandshell, the playground equipment, picnic pavilion and just taking in the beauty of the Clinton River and abundant wildlife.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Freighter Watching in St Clair

If you visit Palmer Park in St. Clair you will see this lovely statue of a mother and her son waving at the freighter passing by. It was commissioned by Alice Moore. Strolling along the boardwalk here is one of the major pastimes....and enjoying the boats sailing by on the St Clair River. There's always the ice cream shops right across the main street to add to the pleasure.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anne's Table --Mackinac Island

Hiking the inner trails of Mackinac Island we came across this memorial to Constance Fenimore Woolson (the grand niece of James Fenimore Cooper) who used to vacation here on this little paradise island in the late 1800's. She was an author who wrote the novel Anne, about a young girl, drawing on her experiences living in these northern woods. It's truly a lovely tribute and it sure makes us want to pick up the novel and read it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Millenium Bell

The Millenium Bell was created by Chris Turner and Matt Blake and inaugurated on December 31, 1999. It stands in Grand Circus Park on Woodward near the entrance to Comerica Park. Detroiters call it the Fish Head. It stands 26 feet tall and weighs 10 tons. They ring it on New Year's Eve. We're almost half way there (to the end of the year) when we will celebrate its 10th birthday. You can see the bell when you enter Comerica Park for a Tiger Baseball game ;}

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Olga's Kitchen

Olga's Kitchen is celebrating 40 years since its inception in Birmingham by one Olga Loizon who was inspired by a family vacation in Greece to reproduce the delicious bread which became her signature sandwich: the Olga. This successful and thriving chain now has 31 restaurants in Michigan. We remember when there was only one! Suzie craves their original pita sandwiches made with beef and lamb, onions, tomatoes, a tangy yogurt sauce and sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Olga long ago passed the reins on to someone younger, but she still lives not far from the original eatery. She's been spotted giving cooking demonstrations at local Greek festivals! Opa!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marine City's Heather House Bed and Breakfast

Heather House is a beautifully maintained Queen Anne Victorian Bed and Breakfast with seven bedrooms, each with a private bath and private porch to take in the fabulous views of the St. Clair River. It was built in 1888 by William Stauber --the chief engineer for Mitchell Fleet of the Great Lakes steamer. Current owners, Heather and Bill Bokram, enjoy welcoming guests to their antique-filled home in Marine City.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Algonac-Clay Historical Museum

This quaint 1849 home originally built by Charles Beers now houses the Algonac-Clay Museum which highlights boat racing and building. Did you know that Chris Craft Corporation's assembly plant was in Algonac? These gorgeous mahogany boats were bought by Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Katherine Hepburn. A Detroiter named Gar Wood raced the boat Miss Detroit winning the Gold Cup in 1917 and set many world speed records. You will find beautiful models and stories of these boats and more in this lovely museum.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waterloo Recreation Area

The Waterloo Recreation Area, with its 20,000+ acres, is a vast pristine area west of Ann Arbor filled with lakes and hiking trails, various campgrounds, fishing piers, boat launches, picnic shelters, bike paths and marshes. At its heart is the beautifully maintained Eddy Discovery Center where we all can learn about woodland life and habitats. We enjoyed the outdoor rock path with clusters of boulders pointing out those three categories we are all supposed to know--sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. We enjoyed the real life displays of sandhill cranes, the beaver, and the foxes, but especially the see through active beehive! We hiked the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail out to Mill Lake in the early morning light. What a great way to start the official first day of summer ;}

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Island without cars

Happy Father's Day to all the dads on this beautiful Sunday in Michigan. Today we are featuring the unique transportation on Mackinac Island--a place where no cars are allowed. You either walk, ride a bike or hire a horse and buggy taxi. People most like it that way, because hordes of tourists arrive by the boatloads every day during the summer. The city of Mackinac Island has a permanent population of 523, but almost a million tourists visit yearly!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lilac Festival Mackinac Island

We are on Mackinac Island this weekend, partaking in the 61st Lilac Festival, the largest celebration on the island. We stuffed ourselves on Joann's fudge tonight (with toffee bits), but tomorrow we have to choose between line dancing, art exhibits, comedy shows, wine tastings, concerts, horse and buggy rides, a 10K run, the grand island parade, the Grand Hotel garden tours and the butterfly house, not to mention the historic buildings, museums, the fort, Jenny's mansion and a stroll around this 9 mile island. The weather is PERFECT!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Walpole-Algonac Ferry, Algonac

The ferry runs all year between Algonac and Walpole Island which is part of Canada, so remember your passport before you jump on the ferry. Walpole Island "Bkejwanong" or where the waters divide, has been home to aboriginal people for over 6000 years. The mother tongue is Ojibwa/Pottawatomie. Recreational tourism is the number industry on the island. The Annual Pow Wow --"Ween Gushk Celebration" is scheduled for this weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Slows Bar-b-q in Detroit

Detroit is pretty famous for its barbecue places and one of the most well known is Slows tucked away on Michigan Avenue in Corktown. It's logo has a train on it because the restaurant is in the shadow of the looming Michigan Central Depot. Make mine a pulled pork sandwich with Slows Mustard sauce and those fried fritters made with split peas and okra, please! This is barbecue heaven.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

International Freedom Festival, Detroit

This is the view boaters on the Detroit River and our neighbors watching from Canada will see before the International Freedom Festival Fireworks. The fireworks will be held on the riverfront June 21--Midsummer's Eve-- as a dual celebration of US and Canadian Independence. The fireworks display have always been so phenomenal as to draw millions to the shoreline. We'll see you there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lighthouse on Grand Island

Not too many people have seen this lighthouse up close. We've only seen it from a boat. There are bears on Grand Island in Lake Superior which might be why we haven't ventured out here. Plus, it is privately owned and you cannot climb it. Built in 1867, it's just off the coast of Munising and people who take the Pictured Rocks boat tour can snap this photo just like we did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bay City--City Hall

The architecture of the City Hall in Bay City is quite interesting-- inside and out. We had to climb to the third floor then walk through some offices to get to the narrow, creaky stairs that lead to the 1800's clock tower. What an incredible view! Music plays on the hour. We loved all of the sculptures, the art and historical artifacts displayed throughout the building.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Take a walk on the beach, Munising

There are so many places to walk barefoot in the sand in this great state of Michigan. We have local, state and national parks with wonderful soft sand. It is so relaxing and a spiritual experience! These footprints are in Munising on the shores of Lake Superior. Bet you can't walk in up to your calves and stay more than 2 minutes ;} With 3200 miles of shoreline and 11,000 inland lakes, where do you think our state ranks in sandy beaches?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Black Star Vineyards

Driving through Michigan's vineyard country is exquisite. One of our favorites is Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay near Traverse City. We took a peak at their elegant rooms in the inn --a perfect spot for a special weekend getaway. They even offer horseback riding, and of course, their wines are delicious and so is their cheese! Is it any wonder people choose this spot for destination weddings?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wise Man by Bill Allen

Whimsical painter and sculptor Bill Allen is a Michigan artist from the Petoskey area. His Wise Man stands on the shores of Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City. We are sure you have seen (or even sat on!) another of this artist's well known sculptures--it is the galapagos tortoise just outside the reptile house at our Detroit Zoo. Countless children have climbed him, hung on his neck and even embraced him.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rose Hill Bed and Breakfast in Marshall

We love staying in unique places that are full of history. This delightful B and B in Marshall dating back to 1860, was formerly owned by William Boyce, the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. Every room is meticulously decorated in antique furniture. Breakfast at Rose Hill Inn is a treat on Haviland china. The front parlour has a unique tête-à-tête chair and grand piano dating back to the 1800's. We can get our exercise because there are tennis courts on the property! But, our favorite thing is sipping old fashioned lemonade on the screened in porch with the cat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

This tucked-away museum in Lansing celebrates the contributions of women to our state in many fields such as science, politics, philanthropy, aviation and entertainment. It is located in the beautifully restored Cooley-Haze home from 1903. Gilda Radner, born today day in 1946, is one of the Hall of Fame Honorees. She attended University of Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, then went on to study theatre at U of M. She is most famous for her portrayal of zany characters on Saturday Night Live. Michigan lost Gilda to ovarian cancer in 1989. To check out more honorees click here. The web site includes relevant classroom lesson plans for each honoree. (That's the teacher in us!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Michigan International Speedway of Brooklyn

Michigan International Speedway (MIS) is Michigan's NASCAR national park nestled in the lush Irish Hills. This two mile speedway in Brooklyn has been operating for 42 years and seats 119,500 fans, making it Michigan's largest single day paid admission sporting event. There are plenty of places to throw a tent in one of MIS's 9000 campsites. Now how did we photograph the track? NASCAR events are the first full week in June.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is visible when you drive across the bridge. Built in 1892, visiting here you find yourself easily falling back in time. After climbing the tower, we toured the light-keeper's house with very interesting displays. But the backdrop of the location is truly amazing with the beach directly behind the lighthouse, the sand, the straits of Mackinac and our mighty Mackinaw Bridge....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kal-Haven Trail

Today is National Trails Day and Michigan has a lot of beauties. The Kal-Haven Trail is 34 miles of converted railroad lines meandering through the beautiful countryside from South Haven on the shores of Lake Michigan all the way to Kalamazoo. It is a bit of heaven for hikers and bikers, joggers, roller bladers and parents pushing children in strollers. It is only through the tireless and unceasing efforts of groups like Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance that we have converted these excellent paths that traverse cities and countryside alike. Michigan is second only to Wisconsin with established rail-trails covering over 1500 miles.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Arab American National Museum, Dearborn

Dearborn's Arab American Museum is our nation's first one devoted to Arab American history and culture. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., it has permanent and changing exhibits, a library and gift shop. The Conference Room mosaics are beautiful. Current exhibits are From Mocha to Latte: The Arab World and the $4 Cup and Noble Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrard-Hermes Collection.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Idlewild, the former "Black Eden"

Idlewild is a vacation and retirement community between Baldwin and Reed City in Lake County. It was one of only a few resorts in the country where African-Americans were allowed to vacation and purchase property prior to 1964 when this discrimination became illegal. The headwaters of the Père Marquette River begin here and about half of the township is contained in the Manistee National Forest. Called the "Black Eden", from 1912 through the mid-60s, Idlewild was an active year-round community visited by well-known enertainers and professionals. At its peak it was the most popular resort in the Midwest when as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in summer to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and roller skating. The Idlewild Music Festival runs July 8-10. We recommend visiting the Historical and Cultural Center.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mt Clemens Art Fair

The Mt. Clemens Art Fair begins tomorrow and runs through June 6. These two pieces of metal sculpture were created by Artist Joseph Wesner (1955-2002) who was the chair of the sculpture program at the Detroit Center for Creative Studies. Eco Song is located in front of the Anton Art Center and Galileo's Night Vision is on the southeast corner of Main Street and Market in downtown Mt. Clemens.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sanilac Petroglyphs near Cass City

The Sanilac Petroglyphs in Michigan's thumb area are rock carvings that have been etched in sandstone hundreds of years ago by native Indians. They are the only known ones that exist in our state. They were discovered after a fire in the 1880's cleared the brush. Protected by the state now in a 240 acre park, these unique etchings are open Wednesday through Sunday starting June 2 through September 5. There are also trails that cross the Little Cass River for hikers. Visitors are given paper, pencils and plaques with replications of the designs to make rubbings of the ancient drawings to keep as great souvenirs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Père Marquette

Father Jacques Marquette was a Jesuit who came to the area of Michigan in the 1600's through Québec from France. He founded the second oldest city in the US: Sault Ste Marie and then St Ignace, the 3rd oldest city. His influence was far reaching. We have a city and county named after him, a river, a rail trail that goes from Midland to Clare and a community on Lake Michigan. He was the first non-native to explore the Mississippi (with Louis Joliet). In 1677, he died of dysentery at age 37 in Ludington and was buried there, but his followers from St Ignace reburied him in their town near where this statue stands. He was gifted in languages, and learned how to speak with the Huron Indians. He was born on June 1 in Laon, France. Today is his 373rd birthday. St Ignace (which is French for St Ignasius) was his patron saint.