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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Probably the most famous geological formation on Mackinac Island is Arch Rock. Made of limestone, it stands about 150 feet above water level and everyone who bikes around the island or takes a horse and buggy tour will stop to admire it's beauty. One former president, Gerald Ford, walked over it as an Eagle Scout. That is not allowed today. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Star Dream Fountain in Royal Oak

The Star Dream Fountain in downtown Royal Oak near the library stands 40 feet tall.  The sculptor, Marshall Fredericks, had his studio close by on Woodward and Normandy for more than 50 years. This beloved artist has creations all over Michigan and his most famous one is here. Can you guess? Star Dream was completed and installed one year before Marshall passed away at age 89.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Imlay City Historical Museum

There is a restored caboose at the Imlay City Historical Museum. Although trains no longer stop at their depot, the 1927 building has been lovingly restored and serves as a museum. Today 45 minute wagon rides are offered by the museum to explain the history of the area. The Blueberry Festival is coming up where the Historical Society serves up special homemade goodies made with this wonderful local fruit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dodge Fountain in Detroit's Hart Plaza

The 30 foot tall Horace Dodge Fountain is a creation of Isamu Noguchi from 1978. It is the focal point of Detroit's Hart Plaza on the riverfront and scene of many festivals and events throughout the summer. The Dodge brothers are famous for their automotive endeavors.  Horace's wife donated one million for the fountain in memory of her husband and son. This open area was named for Philip A. Hart, a US senator from 1959 until his death in 1976. He was twice Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, was wounded in the D-Day landing on Normandy Beach during WWII and is buried in St Anne's cemetery on Mackinac Island.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sherman's Ice Cream in South Haven

Don't we all have an ice cream fix once in a while?  We drove all around South Haven looking for the blue cow on top of a building and finally found him on Phoenix Street.  It was well worth the hunt!  Sherman's Ice Cream dates back to 1958 and this week it was packed, attesting to its popularity. Whatever flavor you choose from the 50 available, the portions were gigantic! We walked away fat and happy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Captain Lou's in South Haven

The place to party in South Haven is Captain Lou's with their inviting deck overlooking the Black River and the Dykman drawbridge. We have to rave about their rum runners and live music on the weekends!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Eagle River Lighthouse

You'll miss it unless you are looking for it--the Eagle River Lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior in the UP.  It is a private residence today, but the first operational lighthouse in Keweenaw's Eagle River was in 1857.  It was deactivated in 1908, but someone has taken the care to preserve it. This little community was born out of the copper rush in the mid 1800's and many of the homes are pre-civil war. Today about 1800 people live in Eagle River.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby

The Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Township have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hiking out there this morning and standing on the track next to the Timing Building, it's fun to imagine what it must have been like back in the early 20th century. Albert Kahn designed the buildings and, hiking around them. we found a cool old Packard someone is probably going to restore. Every Sunday there is a farmer's market and tomorrow you can take in a car show and swap meet. The picnic tables everywhere invite us to stay awhile and admire.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Joe Louis 75th anniversary

Exactly 75 years ago today, our "Brown Bomber",  Joe Louis, won the boxing heavyweight championship of the world at age 23.  He kept that title for 12 years. In Macomb County, there are remnants of the 250 acre farm that he bought called Spring Hill on Ryan Road and Hamlin in Shelby Township.  He had kept horses there, developed a racetrack and bleachers, and converted a house into a popular nightclub.  He sold it all to the state of Michigan when he ran into financial problems. The house burned down in 1973, but you can still see where the foundation used to be. The statue standing inside Detroit's Cobo Hall was created 25 years ago by Ed Hamilton to mark the 50 year anniversary of that championship fight..

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bloomfield Hills' Cranbrook Institute of Science

The Cranbrook Campus, a National Historic Landmark, consists of 315 acres in Bloomfield Hills.  It began in the early 1900's, a creation of Ellen Scripps Booth and George Booth (of Detroit News) whose father was born in Cranbrook, England. The Institute of Science has Michigan's only fully reproduced T-Rex, an observatory, a planetarium and a live bat show. The Bat Zone is in a separate building containing 150 bats. The Eliel Saarinen designed museum building  is open every day except Monday. The beautiful grounds are frequently used by joggers, hikers and bikers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cops and Doughnuts in Clare

This Cops and Doughnuts Bakery in Clare is legendary! It has been here since 1896 and when it was down on its luck and almost closed, nine police officers from Clare banded together in 2009 and rescued it. And, as they say, the rest is history. Now everyone comes for their homemade delicacies and their coffee and chitchat.  On the walls, are all kinds of interesting photos like the Purple Gang who apparently used to hang out in Clare. Last year they won the Michigan Municipal League 2011 Community Excellence Award.  You go, guys! Thanks, Matt, for the photo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rochester Public Library

If you are trying to lure your children into a reading adventure, then head them on over to the Rochester Public Library. They have so many inviting corners to crash with a book with views of painted walls, sculpture gardens or aquarium tanks. We are not surprised to hear that the building has won awards for its design. Although there has been a library for some 80 years in Rochester, this most recent one was built in 1992 backing up to Paint Creek. They serve 8000 people a week and more than a million items are checked out each year.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Biking Mackinac Island

For many Michiganders, the first long bike ride we've ever taken is around Mackinac Island. The views are just superb.  It's a healthy 8, almost 9 miles around and for the inexperienced, you can get a little winded. However, there are lots of places to rest and enjoy the scenery. Some people bring their bikes on the boat, while others rent them on this carless island. For a friend's special birthday, we all gathered with her here to hike around the historic loop. It was a memory we will never forget.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Syl's Café in Ontonagon

The restaurant of choice in Ontonagon in the western UP is Syl's Café where they serve a delicious breakfast all day. They are grilling ribs for Father's Day today and many people claim they serve the best pasties in the world. This month mark's their 40th year in business and we wish them continued success. Wishing all you dads a wonderful day filled with family and good food!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Addison Oaks in Oakland County

We've enjoyed Addison Oaks in Lake Orion over the years for its scenic beauty. At over 1000 acres and with a network of trails, it is great for hiking and mountain biking.  It is also the scene for many beautiful outdoor weddings. Adjacent to their lovely green arbor is their banquet facility for receptions.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bridgefest in Houghton and Hancock

The three-day Bridgefest in Houghton and Hancock is this weekend with concerts, boat tours, sporting events, parade and fireworks. The Portage Lake Lift Bridge which you can see out the window of this Quincy Mine cogwheel tram, links the two communities of Houghton on the south side with Hancock on "Copper Island". Built in 1959, the middle section can raise 100 feet to let boats pass through on their way to Lake Superior. It has two decks, one for cars and in the winter, one for snowmobiles. It has the distinction of being the world's heaviest and widest double deck vertical lift bridge.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coleman Veterans Memorial

We salute the flag today. The new Veterans Memorial in Coleman honors all our servicemen and women.  A replica of the "United by Sacrifice" memorial in Hawaii,  these four figures represent soldiers who served in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and the War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Coleman will be adding a female soldier and one to represent WWI in the future.  They are surrounded by flags representing the different armed forces, the Soldiers Cross and the US flag. Thanks for the photo, Matt Stanfield.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Negwegon State Park near Black River

Like dummies, we ventured into Negwegon State Park near the town of Black River, without any background information. We found out afterwards that 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.  Not too many visitors venture into this vast wilderness on Lake Huron.  We almost got stuck in the sandy road approaches and probably would have been marooned there for some time. But, hey, we love adventures and this natural, serene park is a gem just waiting to be explored! Not only are there eight miles of sandy beaches, four rustic campsites, 12 miles of foot trails (one of which is the old stagecoach path from Harrisville to Alpena) amidst its 3700 acres, but we hear tell there is an ancient 5,000 year old stone wall within the park and indian burial grounds.  Look for the endangered Pitcher's thistle while hiking here, as well as the Hines emerald dragonfly and it's a paradise for birders and kayakers. The park was named after the Chief of the Chippewa tribe who hunted and fished here. The boulder's plaque is in honor of C. Hazlett Kramer, humanitarian and conservationist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Menominee Lighthouse in the UP

The 34 foot tall Menominee Lighthouse, dating back to 1927, stands at the end of a long concrete pier. You can walk out to it, but it is not open to the public. The octagonal red shape stands at the mouth of the Menominee River in the UP, not too far from Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan.  The US Coast Guard no longer owns it, so the city of Menominee takes care of it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Picnicking in the Porcupine Mountains

This is why people love it "up north"--the pristine wilderness and the majestic views. This scene is from the vastly huge Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the western UP. A paradise for hikers, backpackers and fishermen, this area takes days and days to explore its 60,000 acres! Black bears are common, but they pretty much stay away from humans. Time to get your camping gear out!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Fishtown of Leland

The Leland River (a.k.a. Carp River) leads to the legendary fishing on Lake Michigan. For more than 100 years, Leland has been known for its commercial fishing, hence its nickname, Fishtown. In this quaint town, many of the buildings dating back to the 1800's were formally used as smoke houses or ice houses. A bunch of these old shanties have been turned into entertainment venues. This downtown area has been designated a historical site.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jacob's Falls near Eagle River

Our state has an incredible amount of waterfalls and most of them are in the Upper Peninsula.  Jacob's Falls are located close to the Jampot and Eagle River. This photo from the road doesn't do it much justice.  If you do some hiking you'll find more cascades because Jacob's Creek drops some 500 feet in its quarter mile journey to Lake Superior.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Keweenaw's Snowmometer

We screamed when we saw this, having heard of the legendary snowfalls in the UP, but actually seeing a measurement gives it much more emphasis! Maintained by the Keweenaw County Road Commission this snowmometer near Mohawk is a great tourist attraction. Last winter, the snow level was down to 195 inches which is only 16 feet. Normally the UP gets 20 feet a year. What shocks everyone is that in the winter of 1978-79, Keweenaw County got 32 and a half feet of snow! In metro Detroit, we get about 3-4 feet per winter.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Laughing Loon in Copper Harbor

It's summertime when hordes of tourists invade Keweenaw Peninsula and make the trek all the way to Copper Harbor.  Everyone stops in at the Laughing Loon to buy their souvenirs. You can pick up a copy of Amanda Wais' book Little Slices from Da Harbor, to read about the colorful life of real Yoopers.  Looking for bear statues? Carved loons? Sweet smelling balsam fir products? Tree spirits?  They have it all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Adrian's Riverview Trail

Adrian has a beautiful trail system that follows the river. The Kiwanis Trail was created using an old railroad corridor from Adrian almost all the way to Tecumseh. The area in Adrian that borders the river is called the Riverview Trail and it is lit up at night. Sometimes this seven mile paved stretch is called the River Raisin Greenway.  It's flat and has lots of shade and therefore used by parents pushing strollers, skaters, joggers, bikers and hikers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grand Haven Lighthouses

Not too many of these catwalks still exist, so it's a treat to see it and the Grand Haven Entrance and Inner Lighthouse structures on Lake Michigan. These range lights are very unique. The house shape lighthouse at the end of the pier is the original building from 1875 known as the fog house.  To protect it from the fury of Lake Michigan, they gave it a corrugated iron covering all the way around. The lighthouse keeper in the fog house would use the catwalk to return to shore in bad weather. The breakwater is always crowded with fishermen and tourists.  It is closed when the waves are too high as people have been swept out to sea. The Grand Haven Lighthouse Conservancy works hard to maintain and protect the lighthouses now as the US Coast Guard no longer needed them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mill Race Fountain in Battle Creek

There's a story behind this lovely cascading waterfall fountain in downtown Battle Creek. Back in the early 1800's Sands McCamly rightfully figured out the if he built a channel between the Kalamazoo River and the Battle Creek that it would create a mill race. With one river being higher than the other, the surging water in the man-made channel would provide the power for mills and the grinding of wheat and straw and such. The Mill Race Fountain was built in memory of those mills and the artwork on the walls shows scenes from the original mill race with a plaque honoring Sands himself and his great idea.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chelsea Depot

Chelsea's restored 100 foot long railroad depot dates back to 1880. It is no longer used as a depot, although the Detroit Chicago train whizzes by here. It's a museum for the village of Chelsea. The architecture is considered stick style with gabled bay windows on both ends. University of Michigan students did the latest sprucing up providing it with a much need paint job, repairing gingerbread trim and replacing the windows. Local community companies provided the funds and windows. What teamwork!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mexican Village in Detroit

Mexicantown is a vibrant community at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge.  The oldest Mexican restaurant in Michigan is Detroit's Mexican Village. One of their specialties is Caldo Can-Can which is a spicy rice and chicken soup with cheese and avocado. Swill it down with Dos Equis and then indulge in sopapillas for dessert.  Their second location is on Van Dyke in Utica. ¡Olé!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rochester's Farmer's Market

Farmers Markets are the bee's knees and the one in Rochester has been going strong for 13 years now.  We bought fresh veggies and homemade jam. There's a huge selection of fresh flowers and artistic creations as well as organic soaps and Michigan maple syrup.  Don't let the construction on Main Street discourage you. There are roundabout ways to get there and plenty of parking.