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Friday, August 31, 2012

Pointe Mouillee Wildlife Refuge

They call Pointe Mouillee a spit of a piece of land in Monroe County near Rockford.  It's a long skinny finger that juts out into Lake Erie that is great for birders, joggers, bikers and hikers. The French fur trappers named it, meaning Wet Point. The whole area consists of 4000 acres and the US Army Corps of engineers have built dikes to help preserve the wetlands for the huge migrations of fowl that use this area.  The 65th annual Waterfowl Festival takes place September 8-9 here where you'll find hip boot races, duck and goose calling contests as well as beautiful wildlife art displays and duck carvings.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AJ's Salt Docks in Marine City

We found AJ Salt Docks in Marine City through word-of-mouth. Sit on their patio, have a two dollar beer, watch the boat traffic on the St Clair River and enjoy these last few days of summer. Very friendly and attentive service.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marine City's Algonac Park

Algonac State Park is a thing of beauty because you get up close with the majestic freighters going up and down the St Clair River all year long. The park in Marine City has 1500 acres and a half mile of river frontage along with 220 campsites, several hiking trails, archery and trap shooting. Every plot comes with a large ring for campfires. Ghost stories are optional.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St Clair Flats Taxidermy in Algonac

It was interesting checking out St Clair Flats Taxidermy shop in Algonac this week. With more than 25 years in the business, they take their work very seriously and have won numerous awards. They call it "half art, half science" and they sure have some fascinating mounts. Love that standing groundhog!

Monday, August 27, 2012

St Clair County's Bridge to Bay Trail

St Clair County has been developing a beautiful hiking/biking trail called Bridge to Bay.  When finished it will stretch 54 miles from Lakeport State Park north of Port Huron down to New Baltimore. Some of it hugs the water and some parts of it are inland, but what a gem it is! It will potentially link us to Canada via ferry to the St Clair Parkway Trail in Lamberton, Ontario. How cool is that? No excuses now, get out and get some fresh Michigan air.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lake Margrethe State Forest Campground

Are you seeking serenity, wilderness, solitude and nature? Then head out to Lake Margrethe State Forest Campground just west of Grayling. As in all state parks, you only need your recreation passport which is a sticker that goes on your license plate and costs a mere $10 annually. There are more than 100 of these state campgrounds which have vault toilets, but no modern hook-ups nor showers. The natural setting is a huge draw.  Picnic tables and campfire rings are located at each of the 37 sites in Lake Margrethe. You can't beat the privacy, spaciousness and the view. Fifty percent of these sites are reservable.  50% are available first-come-first serve.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Change our state bird to the chickadee?

The tiny black-capped chickadee is a bird that lives year round in Michigan and has often been bantered about as the winged creature that should represent our state, rather than the robin which flees south at the first hint of frost. The robin was chosen in 1931.  It's hard to reverse a ruling that has been standing 72 years. But, that little chickadee sure is cute.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lake Margrethe in Grayling

Natural beauty abounds in Michigan especially with its huge presence of water.  Here on Lake Margrethe in Grayling, we enjoyed scenic vistas, sandbar swimming, the foliage with its hints of the coming fall and taking in all the homes and cabins around the lake as we cruised around in our rented pontoon. With almost 2000 acres, the lake never seems crowded and with depths to 65 feet, fishermen here enjoy catching perch, bass, pike and walleye. The wife of the lumber baron Rasmus Hanson (1846-1927) was Margrethe. Rasmus also generously donated the land for the military training facility we know as Camp Grayling at the far end of the lake.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Indian Pipe

There is an abundance of beautiful wildflowers growing in Michigan! We came across one we had never seen before this week and after looking it up in the book, we found it to be an Indian Pipe or a Ghost Flower.  At first glance we thought it might be a mushroom, because this plant lacks any chlorophyll. Its stems, leaves and flower are waxy and once fertilized, they turn a pinkish hue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WhimZ Designs in Ann Arbor by Kelley

Loved meeting Kelley Heath Faley recently from Ann Arbor, a very colorful artist who offers classes in Zentangles. This beautiful technique is portrayed in her angel wings above. We fell in love with it and had to purchase them as well as some of her darling magnetic bookmarks! In addition to her matted prints of original art, Kelley sells notecards and darling little clocks.  She'll be at the Art and Apple Festival in Rochester September 7-9.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Incognito in Royal Oak

If you are looking for fashion that is youthful and cutting edge then by all means head to Incognito in Royal Oak.  On the corner of 4th and Main Street for 30 years now, they specialize in shoes, fashion, bags and sunglasses. Only the sassiest girl would wear those spiky heels--and wouldn't she get noticed! --which is like the opposite of the store's name.  Incognito means you would like to go disguised so no one knows who you are. Perhaps it is tongue in cheek? But all in fun and fashion!  We like the TOM shoes.  Buy a pair and they donate a pair to children in third world countries.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Helen Nelson, artist from Grandville

If you go to Art Prize in Grand Rapids Sept 19-Oct 7, be sure to check out Helen Nelson's fused glass work in Huntington Bank.  She is amazing.  Her signature pieces are these lovely birch trees but she also does some beautiful moon rises, dragonflies, the Mackinac Bridge and one incredible panther chameleon, besides many others. Her Fired Up Studio is in Grandville where she works tirelessly, because "it's therapeutic"!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Howell's Melon Festival

Today marks the last day of the Howell Melon Festival and the city has once again done itself proud. Streets are closed, artisans and hawkers have set up their displays, the aroma of pulled barbecue pork and wood fired pizzas fill the air and last night, everyone was groovin' to Detroit's own Mitch Ryder and his tunes. He was gracious enough to hang around, sign autographs and chat with his long time fans. Don't forget to eat the melon ice cream!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Crane's U-Pick in Fennville

You can't miss the barn roof sign pointing out Crane's U-Pick, located in Fennville. It is a purely delightful small fruit and vegetable farm, run by the charming Crane Family who has owned it since 1936.  Their little store offers the most delicious homemade goodies with the friendliest down-home service you'll ever encounter.  Unfortunately, Michigan's quirky weather destroyed their apples, peaches, plums and nectarines this season.  But you can still come pick their blueberries, raspberries and pumpkins. Thanks for the photos, Robbie Knapp.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Detroit's World African Festival

The World African Festival is celebrating its 30th year this weekend, but in a new midtown location, behind the DIA and the Wright Museum.  Brush Street and Farnsworth are populated with little white tents beginning at noon today. Here's a wonderful opportunity to eat some soul food and garlic crabs, plantains and fried catfish. You'll see people from Senegal, Ghana and Caribbean nations selling their hand made wares. It's a very colorful festival with all kinds of music from reggae, and drum dances to gospel and beyond. The world's longest soul train line takes place Sunday night at 6pm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Burr Elementary Outdoor Classroom

Inspired by nature, some schools build an outdoor classroom where kids can do their work and enjoy their surroundings at the same time. Built in 1994 by the Burr Elementary PTA in Sterling Heights, this structure continues to be lovingly maintained by the parent group, staff, administration and their students. It's such a pleasure to have a change of venue from the four walls of a classroom! It was named after Marty Kasiska, the exemplary principal of Burr back in the early 90's and avid outdoor enthusiast. The 2012-13 school year is just around the corner and may the children continue to grow in wisdom and appreciation of our Earth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vinsetta's Garage in Berkley

People have been just gushing over the recently opened Vinsetta's Garage on Woodward in Berkley so we had to go see for ourselves.  It definitely rates an OMG not only for its preservation efforts but for their food as well.  The lovely building has so much character.  Dating back 91 years, they kept many things in the vintage garage as they were. It opens onto Woodward where you can see the classic cars cruising by. Everyone raves about the burgers but we went for the balls and noodles where you pick your own ingredients. It was flat out fantastic as was the key lime pie in a mason jar. There will be a wait line. Some people have dug in as long as 3 hours to get a table, but, listen up guys, it is worth it! With Woodward's Dream Cruise this weekend, well, it's the perfect hang out place.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sally Sellers from Marion Township

Watercolors and pen and ink are the specialties of Marion Township artist, Sally Sellers, recently the Livingston Fine Art Association's artist of the year. Sally loves painting on location and enjoys portraying lighthouses, wildflowers and birds. Behind her is her wonderful rendition of Eilean Donan, inspired by her trip to Scotland. The Point Betsie Lighthouse is near Frankfurt.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Street art at Hannan House in Detroit

This barrel which is used for rain collection is treated as art at the Luella Hannan Foundation in Detroit. The Hannan House is a residence for low income seniors which also provides classes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Howell Opera House

The Opera House in Howell is home to the Livingston Arts Council and they have been working very hard at restoring this memory-filled structure that dates back to 1881. It has been listed on the National Historic Register and the ground floor has been brought back to its original beauty.  They give tours of the second floor and the stage that are still in need of repair. We wish them loads of success at bringing the 800 seat theatre back to life.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rockin' on the Riverfront in Detroit

We hope you have not been missing the free classic Rockin' n the Riverfront concerts this summer downtown on the riverfront at the GM Rencen. Last night you could feel the energy and excitement in the crowd sandwiched between the skyscraper and the Detroit River as the drummer flailed in a frenzy. The music plays from 8-10pm and parking on the surface lot at St Antoine and Atwater is $5. The view is gorgeous. The last concert is this coming Friday, August 17th.

Friday, August 10, 2012

David Chase, Photographer from Milford

Photographer David Chase's pieces are magnificent, using layered HDR timed exposures which pulls out some incredible colors in his pastoral scenes in and around Michigan. This artist from Milford says, "Lighting is everything" so he will rise early and scout out just the right spot for his pictures.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Volt Lounge in Detroit's GM Tower

The Volt Lounge is  fun place we recently discovered. It is up on the third floor of the GM Tower adjacent to the registration desk of the Marriott Hotel. Bartender, Tony, knows everything about Detroit and seems to genuinely love his job.  The food is great and the views of the Detroit River and Jefferson Avenue from its massive windows are inspiring. They have couches for lounging and touch screen computers for patrons' amusement.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cleary's Irish Pub in Howell

Celebrating 25 years in Howell, Cleary's Irish Pub is a very popular hangout.  Patrons enjoy the live entertainment on weekend nights as well as the free wireless connection, the 25th anniversary t-shirts and pints and specials everyday. Housed in a building dating back to 1875, this pub has an authentic feel to it. They've been having fun rolling prices back to 1987 on occasion with $2 and $1 pints.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

TangoDown Tactical in Detroit

We found this to be a fitting mural for the TangoDown Tactical on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit.  It was originally going to be used for paintball.  With over 70,000 square feet and 7 stories, today, participants use airsoft guns to hone their skills. Those are replica firearms that fire plastic pellets.  Goggles are required in this largest tactical indoor facility in the US.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Royal Oak's Vinotecca

There is a great wine bar in Royal Oak called Vinotecca. We took advantage of their Happy Hour half off glasses of wine and half off appetizers today and totally indulged. It was grape heaven for us.  The seared ahi tuna melts in your mouth and we also enjoyed the onion tart. The pièce de résistance, however, has to be their wonderful selections of wine.  They are even showcasing one from the Basque region of Spain called Txakolina (pronounced cha ko LEE na) with nice apple overtones. They are open everyday at 4pm and happy hour is everyday from 4-6 and Thursday nights from 9 to close. Hementxe! {That's cheers in basque ;}

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oak Hill Cemetery in Pontiac

Pontiac's Oak Hill Cemetery dates back to the early 1800's and sits at the highest point in the area. It's like walking through history with graves of heroes from the American Revolution and the Civil War. The photo is of the Buckland Memorial Chapel, built in 1898 by the grandson of Col Stephen Mack, the founder of Pontiac and the man who donated the land for the cemetery. It is built of Berea sandstone. It was lovingly restored by volunteers from Pontiac.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Howell's Train Depot

The Howell Area Historical Society has painstakingly restored their train depot built in 1886. Part of the Ann Arbor Railroad that went from Toledo up to Frankfurt, the last train pulled away from this station in 1950. Inside, visitors are treated to a general store from the late 1800's and lots of train memorabilia.  It will be open during the Melon Festival the weekend of August 17-19th at which time train rides will be given also.  All aboard!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lake Fanny Hooe's Copperman Triathlon

Lake Fanny Hooe, long and skinny, is situated in Keweenaw Peninsula close to Copper Harbor. There is good walleye fishing here, as well as trout, perch, bass and a fish called splake. Splake is a cross betweeen a brook (or speckled) trout and a lake trout. This Saturday, August 4th, however, is the Copperman Triathlon, where participants swim the 1/2 mile across Lake Fanny Hooe, bike 23 miles along Lake Superior and then end with a 5 mile run to the tip of this gorgeous peninsula.  Proceeds benefit the Keweenaw Health Foundation.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Skeins on Main in Rochester

This is probably the most memorable t-shirt we have ever seen in a knit shop.  Skeins on Main in Rochester definitely supports Breast Cancer Awareness and the shop oozes charm and warmth.  A long table up front was being used for a community knit group as  they offer many levels of classes for learning various needlework projects. Owner Lori Sheffield is a little bundle of energy, wearing her hand-knit creations and teaching up a storm.  People love to learn and converse at the same time! It's a lovely congenial store. Be brave and dare to confront that construction in Rochester and use their sneaky back way in.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Harrison Township's Crews Inn

In Harrison Township on North River Road near Lake St Clair stands Crews Inn.  It's a great place for boat watching and people watching and water watching with their large wrap around porch. People come here for the food and the ambiance. We like the perch and chips and the burgers and they have a wonderful variety of fresh salads. Entertainment on occasion can include a Boot Scootin' Boogie by Single Shot. It's loud and popular during boating season, but open year round.