I’ve jumped around a bit sharing the recap of our Michigan vacation, but in my opinion I’ve saved the best for last. After our first day on Mackinac Island, the next day was forecasted for rain, all day long. So we decided to head north across the Mackinac Bridge, or the Mighty Mac, to the Upper Peninsula, also known as the U.P., which phonetically is pronounced “Yoop” and the residents are “Yoopers.”


As an aside, check out the Da Turdy-Point Buck song here. It’s awesome! And a great introduction to the Yooper culture.

As we drove further north on our way to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, I started to have a sense of déjà vu. Even though I’d never been there before, a lot of the scenery reminded me of all the time I’d spent in Alaska. Just pure wilderness, and I loved it. When we got to the state park, we first took the short hike to the Upper Falls. The brown and yellow water (most noticeably on the left side of the falls) is caused by tannis leaching into the river upstream. hdr_00015_1//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js


The Tahquamenon River is most famous as the place where Hiawatha built his canoe. (“By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining Big Sea Water . . . “)

We next went to the Lower Falls. Had we had more time, we could have made the 4 mile hike along the river, but we drove instead. It was a short walk to where we could view the falls, but a lot of stairs.


We next drove up to Whitefish Point, which is the very tip of the U.P. on the east side. It’s famous for its Shipwreck Museum (how did I not get a picture) and where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. Also, this body of water is Lake Superior. Can I get a holla for 3 Great Lakes in one vacation? I’ve been to Lake Ontario before on a Toronto trip, so I think I need to figure out how to spend some time around Lake Erie to get the last one checked off the list. And see that land across the way? Hello, Canada!


We’d hoped to spend the afternoon driving up to Sault Ste. Marie and crossing the border, but there just wasn’t time. Maybe in another trip.

At Whitefish Point we were starving, but there was nowhere to eat, and that area was so remote that our options were limited. So we drove back to Tahquamenon Falls State Park and ate at the restaurant/brewery there. It was yummy! I had the grilled whitefish and splurged on some onion rings and the root beer they brew themselves. As a connoisseur of onion rings, I have to say that these ranked in my top three – well done!


Finally, we made our way back down across the bridge into the mainland and joined the trolls (you know, the folks that live under the bridge? LOL)

Robert and I definitely want to revisit the U.P., and next time we’ll probably take a flight into Milwaukee and travel up the west side of Lake Michigan. It looks like we missed a lot of gorgeous places.

So that’s it for this trip and another travel experience is in the books. Time to start planning for next year – we’re thinking Tahoe and Yosemite. Any suggestions?


Filed under Uncategorized

Not So Grand

I have to say, after all the anticipation of visiting Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel, I was disappointed with the hotel itself. The exterior was gorgeous, with the sweeping front porch and the amazing gardens and lawn.




But once you entered the doors, it was old, tired, and really – quite ugly. It must have been amazing in its day – back when the wealthy had summer homes on the island – and I get that some things need not change for the historical value, but really, how hideous is this carpet?



We went up to the cupola to check out the views, and then back to the Main Dining Room for lunch. Had we been there at dinner, the boys would have had to have worn coats and ties, and Ginger and I would have had to have packed dresses – pants not allowed for women. Fortunately, they allow a more casual attire for the midday meal. The food was ok, but not exceptional. Let’s be honest here – you’re paying for the experience. And I’ll admit, it looked good, but taste was something else. So if you want to shell out $30+ per person to say that you’ve dined at the Grand Hotel, that’s probably worth it. If you’re wanting a dining experience where the food is exceptional, don’t miss the Historic Depot Restaurant in Mackinaw City (I wish I’d taken photos here).



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Oh, Fudge!

When I wrote about visiting the many shops on Mackinac Island, I deliberately omitted the plethora of fudge shops. Island residents are called “fudgies,” and you can purchase the freshly made candy no matter where you are.

We first stopped at Murdick’s Fudge, which is the original fudge shop on the island, established in 1887.   We were the only ones in this particular shop at the time, so we got to watch the candy maker in action.


Continuously stirring the melted mixture in the huge copper kettle, when it reached the appropriate temperature it took two men to pour it onto a marble slab within a metal frame. 20150825_111707


There it was spread out to an even consistency. 20150825_112452

Finally, pecans were added to make this yummy butter pecan fudge.


We waited until our last day to make our purchases, but I think that’s because it took us that long to make our decisions as we walked up and down the street peering into the windows and the candy counters.





We did buy several bars of fudge at Murdick’s, but I think my favorite shop was actually Joann’s Fudge. Why? Because they actually let you sample the flavors before buying. I was surprised that Murdick’s didn’t do this. 20150825_114133

Pumpkin, dark chocolate sea salt caramel, chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate macadamia nut, and peanut butter found their way home with us.


Can I tell you a secret? I don’t really like fudge. Seriously. It’s a good thing, too, otherwise my healthy eating plan would have been shot. And all the fudge we brought home? I cut up into small pieces and put 2-3 in a small bag and they’re in the freezer. So when Robert wants a sweet treat, or I’ll nibble on a bite, we won’t be tempted to overindulge.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Somewhere in Time

Ever since I saw the movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour (and hello! Let’s not forget Christopher Plummer!), I’ve wanted to visit Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. We’d planned to go a few years ago but had to cancel that trip. Issues with finding a house sitter had us worried about this one, too, but we made it, and that’s one more item checked off my bucket list (not that I have an actual one – maybe I should do that).


It was cold and drizzly our first day on the island, and the waters of Lake Huron were so rough that Shepler’s Ferry had all passengers stay on the lower inside deck. We disembarked and made our way to Main Street.

There are no cars allowed on the island, so bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are the main mode of transportation. Oh, and walking.


We visited the gift shops, and I loved this little grocery store. Seriously – if we had a store like this I’d probably skip the supermarket altogether. It was just so cute!




We climbed the steep hill to tour Fort Mackinac, which the US lost to the British during the War of 1812. There were stunning views of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.





And look! In the Fort’s gift shop Robert found a vintage Montgomery Ward catalog and an ad for spinning wheels. Check out those prices!



After making our way back down the hill to the main part of town, we decided to save our feet and take a carriage ride.   Here we got our first glimpse of the Grand Hotel, and then went on to Arch Rock.



This was a great way to see the interior part of the island that we might otherwise have skipped.


The next day was rain on the island, so we changed plans and drove into the Upper Peninsula. Stay tuned for that post. But by Thursday, the weather was absolutely perfect. The sun came out, the temperatures warmed up a little, but not too much, and it was a glorious late summer day.

We rode on the upper level of the ferry over to the island and got to see the five-mile long Mackinac Bridge which connects mainland Michigan to the U.P. from the water. It also marks the division of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in the Mackinac Straits. (By the way, there are times when Mackinaw is appropriately spelled with a “w” at the end, and other times when it’s spelled Mackinac. They’re both pronounced Mack-in-gnaw.)


This day we had the famous brunch buffet at the Grand Hotel, but that deserves its own post as well. After our meal, Robert, Ginger, and I rented bicycles to make the 8.2 mile ride around the perimeter of the island. Steve wasn’t feeling well so he went back to our hotel. Robert had been having an issue with plantar fasciitis, so he opted for the adult tricycle, which he loved.


Ginger and I were on Trek comfort bikes, and although the seats had seen better days, I really enjoyed this ride. So much so that I’m considering purchasing my own bike next spring.


Some of the views were quite nice.


After we returned to the hotel, Robert and I walked down to the beach. Considering the temperature, it was no surprise that it was deserted. Robert had hoped to swim in one of the Great Lakes, but he had to settle for wading into the cold water of Lake Huron.




Toward the end of our trip, we made an unscheduled stop at Indiana Dunes, since we’d had to skip Sleeping Bear Dunes, and we all stuck our toes into Lake Michigan. It was still cold.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Holland and Germany

A European adventure? I wish! But nope, surprisingly we hit both of these spots on our recent vacation to Michigan. Steve and Ginger flew up to Chicago to spend a few days there before we drove up to meet them at our friend Annie’s house. (Her remodel is lovely, by the way – you should check out her blog posts at knitandrun97.blogspot.com.)

Then next morning after an obligatory Starbucks run, we were on the road to Holland, Michigan. All of us except Robert had been there before, but it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We spent most of our time at Windmill Gardens, a hidden oasis close to downtown.

Just look at all the pretty, pretty flowers.



And they have a real working windmill, too! Since Robert and I like to be as self-sufficient as possible, we didn’t realize that the windmill wasn’t for generating energy, but was an actual mill – as in grain. We took a tour inside and Robert tried his hand at grinding flour.



Our intent after leaving Holland was to make a stop at Sleeping Bear Dunes, but the weather was uncooperative. So we drove on into Mackinaw City which would be our base for the next few days. I’ll cover that area in a separate post. We left Mackinaw City on Friday morning and headed to Frankenmuth, Michigan, where there is a cute little Bavarian Village. First up was a stop for lunch at the world famous Zehnder’s restaurant. They’re known for their fried chicken and German fare, so what did Steve order? A pork chop, of course. 20150828_131043//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js20150828_135534//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Robert, Ginger, and I all had the fried chicken and noodles. I have to say, it lived up to the hype. 20150828_135608//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Next we drove down the road to the can’t-miss Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Talk about your Christmas overload! These photos are only a small part of this huge shopping experience. 20150828_145016//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js20150828_145551//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js20150828_145555//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js20150828_162737//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js20150828_145448//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized