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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Centennial Park in Holland

Gorgeous Centennial Park in Holland was established in 1876. The fountain is the focal point with its flowers in full bloom. The statue of the city's Dutch founder, Dr Albertus C Van Raalte, was erected in celebration of their 150 years of existence. James L Gafgen is the sculptor. On October 2, 1997, it was unveiled when Princess Margriet visted from the Netherlands.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hope College in Holland

Signs everywhere in university towns this week say "Welcome back college students!" Tucked away in Holland, Michigan lies a beautiful 90 acre campus called Hope College.  When it was established almost 150 years ago, Holland's founder Albertus Van Raalte said, "This is my Anchor of Hope for this people in the future". Thus, the beautiful anchor at the entrance to the campus is a reminder of its history and its legacy. Their motto is Spera in Deo, or Hope in God. The liberal arts college has about 3200 students just a few miles from Lake Michigan. This higher institution of learning has outstanding undergrad research programs and they are well known for their fine arts programs of music, theatre, dance and art. Their colors are orange and blue with the nickname the Flying Dutchmen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fenn Valley Winery in Fennville

The Fenn Valley Winery has been perfecting their fruit of the vine for over 30 years now in the southwest corner of Michigan. They have a 3 ring binder of all the awards their vintages have won. Their red wine was voted the best of the state. Tours involve seeing the vineyards where guides share their in depth knowledge of how the grapes are grown and cultivated and a trip to the cellar, a wine glass with logo to take home and of course, a sampling of wines in the largest tasting room in the US. We found the wines to be extremely good and had to purchase several.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Holland's Pillar Church

The Ninth Street Christian Reformed Church is most often called the Pillar Church. Built in 1856, it is Holland's oldest church, being one of the few buildings that survived the huge fire of 1871. The founder of the city of Holland, Rev Albertus Van Raalte was its first pastor. This imposing structure stands right in the middle of downtown where everyone can hear their Wednesday 12:15 organ concerts  in the summer. Jonathan Tuuk is performing this week.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

SS Keewatin in Douglas

The Great Lakes passenger ship, the SS Keewatin, was born in Glasgow, Scotland back in 1907.  It plied the waters of Lake Huron and Lake Superior as a luxurious ship for decades and has been permanently docked in Douglas since the late 1960's where it is open to the public as a museum. It is amazing to see how small the compartments are where people bunked. It carried 288 passengers with a crew of 86. The tour takes you all the way through the captains quarters and the bridge.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oval Beach in Saugatuck

The word that came to mind yesterday upon seeing the waves rolling in on Oval Beach was resplendent, even majestic. The breathtaking views make you realize why this is one of the top sandy shores in our state. Some publications have even rated it as one of the most beautiful in the world. Sandwiched three ways between the towering sand dunes, the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan, it is very private and serene.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Climbing Mt Baldhead in Saugatuck

The stairway to Heaven? You'll huff and you'll puff all those 282 steps to the top of the Mt Baldhead, but the view over Saugatuck and its sister city Douglas is so worth it. The climb is entirely shaded and there are several strategically placed benches if breaks are needed. We witnessed one man with a weighted vest who was ascending and descending continually. What a great workout! Once at the top, you have the thrill of a race down the sand to the beaches of Lake Michigan --supreme fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fennville's Evergreen Lane Creamery

If you are in to artisan cheeses, then you must make a stop at the Evergreen Lane Creamery outside of Fennville. Watching the chef from a restaurant in Grand Rapids load up his cooler with these cheeses gave us a strong indication that we were in for a treat. Owner Cathy proudly showed off all the 26 baby goats and then Erin gave us a cheese tasting. The fresh chevre is truly exceptional. We had to buy the garlic and the peppercorn as well.  But they also make a hard cheese out of cow's milk called a tome in a round wheel. They wash it in oatmeal stout made from the local New Holland Brewery. We bought an entire 4 pound wheel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wally's in Saugatuck

Everyone knows Wally's in Saugatuck. It's the casual bar with eclectic décor, good food and great service. Where else can you sit outside, people watch, eat tender sliders and drink rum runners? Half the fun is checking out all the weird stuff hanging from the ceiling!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saugatuck Brewing Company

The Saugatuck Brewing Company is really located in Douglas, just across the bridge from Saugatuck.  They have only been in existence 7 years, but the locals love their beer. They named one Singapore IPA, after the sawmill town that used to exist at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River that was reclaimed by the sand dunes. Other notables are their Raspberry Wheat, the Pier Cove Porter and the Oval Beach Blonde. The Lucky Stone Pub was very busy this past weekend with some great appetizers to go with their wide assortment of beers. For tasting purposes, you can order a flight of 6 beers of your choice for $12.00 served up by a knowledgeable and friendly wait staff.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saugatuck Chain Ferry

The hand-cranked Saugatuck ferry is the last one of its kind in the US having begun its journeys in 1838. Boat traffic to stop for its crossing or risk getting snagged by the chain that connects the boat to both shores. The boat operator actually pulls the boat using a system of chains and pulleys--across the river. Open every day in the summertime, it takes you from town across the Kalamazoo River to the massive dunes where you can climb the 300+ steps up to the top of Mt Baldhead. The population of Saugatuck is 925 in the winter.  Summertime, it swells to 3,000. Budget Travel Magazine calls it the 4th coolest town in America!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Centaur in Detroit

Once Detroit's Iodent Toothpaste Factory, the space on Park and Montcalm has been occupied for 6 years now by Centaur. It has been proclaimed the best martini bar for at least 3 different years and one news media source calls it one of the top 25 new hotspots of the world. Guess you'll just have to check this out. The interior has an art deco feel to it and it is classy. Don't expect to hang out here in your sneakers, jeans and Tiger gear prior to a game.  Save this venue for a special night. It opens at 4pm for the after work crowd. Kitchen open until 2am. You can't miss it as the centaur half man half beast looms over the entrance.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sweet Dreams Pastry Shop in Warren

Heads up! The Detroit Free Press voted Sweet Dreams in Warren on Ryan and 13 Mile the best pastry shop three years in a row. We came, we saw, we took photos and we had to eat some, naturally.  Those little fruit tarts are quite heavenly. They specialize in uniquely designed wedding cakes, but there is a whole lot more to choose from. They also make up gorgeous mini dessert trays of carrot cake, frosted brownie, petit fours, etc. This is definitely a great oo là là choice for parties.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lexington Pier and Harbor Park

The town of Lexington is filled with many surprises!  We enjoyed walking along the pier on Lake Huron during the sunset with a music tribute to ABBA playing in the Harbor Park. The food concessions were from  local restaurants like the delicious Wimpie burger. We even did a little dancing.  Music concerts are held in the park throughout the summer on week end evenings.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs

Beautiful Lemon Creek Winery is located on a centennial farm owned by the Lemon family for over 150 years! Tucked away in the southwest corner near Lake Michigan, they offer over 25 wines to choose from including their newest, a Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine. We did not get to try all their award winning wines, but our favorite so far is the Lighthouse White made with the seyval blanc grape. It won a silver medal. They are open year round.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Presque Isle lighthouse

It's big. It's beautiful and it is tallest one open to the public! The new Presque Isle lighthouse is a long climb to the top (113 feet), but the view is worth it. It was built in 1870 to replace the smaller one built earlier, hence the name new even though it is 141 years old ;}  The third order fresnel lense dates from 1870, too. Pretty amazing.  It is surrounded by a 99 acre park and two beautifully restored keeper's buildings. We dropped some coins in their lovely gift shop. It is open from 9am-6pm daily through mid October.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Town Pump Tavern in Detroit

The door was wide open, beckoning people to come on in. The Town Pump Tavern on Park avenue in Detroit is a popular place just a few steps from our sports venues. The tin ceilings are a dead giveaway that this is an historic building.  Open every day of the year except Christmas, for $6 you can have a burger and beer lunch. Live entertainment after ballgames. When it's not a game day, they have a $1.00 Happy Hour Menu! You can ride the Night Move shuttle bus from downtown Royal Oak and it will drop you off right at the Town Pump's door.  Can't beat that!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mackinac Island's Missionary Bark Chapel

This is a typical chapel made out of bark that was established by the Jesuit missionaries. The first ones were built in the 1600's by the "black robes" as the Indians called the Jesuits. Father Charles Dablon was the builder of the first birchbark chapel of which we see the recreation above, sitting below the fort on Mackinac Island.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Port Sanilac's Raymond House Inn

The Raymond House Inn is a luxurious and cozy bed and breakfast in Port Sanilac.  Less than two hours from Detroit, 7 spacious bedrooms are available with warm period furnishings (five with private baths).  The whole establishment is filled with antiques and collectibles. Ask Cristy and her mom where the shawl came from in the green room.  A private residence for the Raymond Family for over 112 years, it was restored in 1983 and placed on the historic register in 1992.  It is very reasonably priced and within walking distance of Lake Huron, the marina and some of the towns favorite restaurants.  Don't forget to visit the Harbor Light Gift shop in the back for some real treasures!

Friday, August 12, 2011

V & M Polish Kitchen in Royal Oak

V&M Polish Kitchen on 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak has been serving up traditional Polish favorites since 1988. They are open about 8:00 am most days to prepare many kinds of omelets --Polish, Spanish, Farmers and Greek!   For lunch and dinner you have to try both the dill pickle soup and the beet soup.  You'll swear you're in Polish Heaven.  Or try the divine potato pancakes, the city chicken or the stuffed cabbage. It is total comfort food.   

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rochester's Upside Down Artist Doug West

You just never know who you are going to meet at a garage sale. In this case, it was Doug West, Michigan's Upside Down Artist who just happened to have this intricate masterpiece hanging on a wall near the cars in his Rochester Hills home. What a conversation piece. He likes to paint with the images upside down to help him see details more clearly. Doug entered this painting in Grand Rapid's Art Prize and the funny thing is--we took a photo of this very painting in the Bob last year.  If you click here and scroll down to the last page, there you can see and read about him in Detroit's Premier Business Journal. Wishing you much success, Doug, in your future endeavors!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sanilac County Historic Village

We really enjoyed or visit to the Sanilac County Village and Museum.  The hour and a half tour is about gives much interesting detail about the town, how people lived, what things were used for, etc. We began in the Loop Harrison Mansion built in 1872 and walked outside to the general store, dairy museum, carriage barn, log cabin, schoolhouse, cottage, church and depot. More buildings are being added. Take some time to enjoy a little bit of yesteryear in Port Sanilac.   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dearborn's Big Fish at Fairlane Mall

On the outer perimeter of Fairlane Mall in Dearborn stands Big Fish, a Muer seafood restaurant that is truly wonderful. This seafood bistro motto is "One bite and you'll be hooked". Wednesday nights, they feature jazz on the patio and the weekends offer live entertainment. Perhaps their biggest enticement is the Happy Hour rock bottom pricing from 3-6:30pm on weekdays. Come help them celebrate their 20th anniversary.  We loved everything, especially this crab and corn short stack.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Barn Theatre in Port Sanilac

It's not often you can watch live theatre in a 150 year old barn, but that is what takes place up in Port Sanilac in the thumb. The Barn Theatre has been entertaining locals since 1980 just 15 minutes north of Lexington on Lake Huron. Arsenic and Old Lace, one of our favorites, is playing this weekend.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Harbor Beach's Williams Inn

Harbor Beach is a sleepy little thumb town of 1500 on Lake Huron with what they claim as the world's largest fresh water man-made harbor. We tried the inviting Williams Inn for breakfast and feel they offer great home cooking for a very reasonable price. The hot cinnamon rolls right out of the oven were our favorite at the buffet. Tables and dining area are spacious and old photos add to the ambiance. You leave feeling they really appreciate your business. Open seven days a week, they only offer the buffet on the weekends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Raymond Hardware in Port Sanilac

Along the shores of Lake Huron in Michigan's thumb lies the oldest continuously running hardware store in Port Sanilac. Uri Raymond opened it in 1850 when the village was called Bark Shanty Point and it remained in his family for over 150 years. The current owners are the Blaine family and with their great service and extensive inventory, we wish them success for at least the next 100 years at Raymond Hardware.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lakeside Antiques

Lakeside is a small town on Lake Michigan sandwiched between Union Pier and Sawyer.  Lots of antique stores dot the Red Arrow highway along with art galleries in this area.  Lakeside Antiques is run by a consortium of people and there are a lot of interesting items that will catch your eye. In the summer, they are open every day of the week.  Watch for their tent sales!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bluff Park and St Joe Monument Works

St Joseph has a whole row of unique monuments on Bluff Park dedicated to those who served in past wars involving the United States.  Each one has a marker with a phone number you can dial to learn more about it! Okay. We did bite and listened to the owner of St Joe Monument Works, Bill Cooper, narrating about this sculpture and World War II.  After the spiel, then you know to go search for the Kilroy was here symbol and SNAFU with the F backwards. Very well done, St Joseph and Bill and Genie Cooper.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Soé Café in Sawyer

Located in Sawyer, the Soé Café is pronounced SO ee.  And we thought it was borderline divine. With an outdoor patio to take your meals al fresco and very attentive service, we can also recommend the food and wine. The trout rillettes or pâté was excellent served on toast points. The duck was perfectly done and very memorable. But the discovery of a new and delicious Michigan wine was astounding!  Made by well known Château Grand Traverse, it is called Pinot Noir Vin Gris.....with just a pale hint of pink --it is a summer quaffer extraordinaire.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Loving Stitches Quilt Shop in Stevensville

Loving Stitches gets our vote for the quilt shop with the most extensive and beautiful gardens! Located in the village of Stevensville, it is a mother and daughter operation that has been flourishing for years. They use a long arm quilting machine to sew together the quilt top, the batting and the quilt back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Drier's Butcher Shop in Three Oaks

Drier's Butcher Shop in Three Oaks has been in the same family for 98 years.  As soon as you walk in the door, they are eager to give you samples of their liver sausage, their bologna and their spicy mustard because they know you will buy these wonderful homemade products.  We did just that and more ;} This was such an enjoyable walk back in time.