“Memories…Pressed between the pages of my mind…”

They say you can’t go home again, but this past weekend, I did. To Three Rivers, Michigan where I lived from age 12 to 24. My high school class had our 45th reunion. I hadn’t been back since our 11th reunion. (Yeah, we were a bit unconventional.) I had a wonderful time.

Friday night we met at the home of a classmate who lives out in the country. Everyone brought snacks and their own drinks. For me, it was wine. We talked for hours. It was so good to see people who I hadn’t had contact with in over 30 years. Our hosts even let me camp on the property that night. Thank you, Gary and Mary!

Then Saturday morning we toured the building that used to be our high school. It now Riverside Church, a non-denominational worship center that has many community outreach programs. And it just happens to be run by one of our classmates. The building was really changed from when we suffered through the angst of high school. (Well, I did anyway) It was fun trying to guess what each room used to be. The gym was easy; it has been kept almost intact with the basketball hoops and floor markings and is now used for the church services. Even the bleachers were still in use.

Saturday afternoon I wandered around the area. Spent some time at the county park just outside of town. It has lovely hiking trails. Took pictures of my old house. Walked around downtown and visited the used book store. It’s called Lowery’s and it’s huge. They bought out five shops along the main street and combined them, leaving the original storefronts so you don’t know how big it is until you get inside. The décor is innovative and fun. This is a picture of the stairway to the lower level.

I controlled myself and bought only one book (pat on the back).

Then Saturday night was the actual reunion dinner. It was pot luck (I took a fruit platter). Saw even more old friends. Connected with classmates that I didn’t hang out with and they became new friends. So nice. We had music playing from our childhood and youth. I even contributed a few CD’s. The food was great. Although, surprisingly, there were very few desserts. We must be living healthy lives LOL.

Sunday morning, some of us met up again at a restaurant for breakfast. It was out at one of the lakes that surround the city. I remember as a teenager I was happy that my parents knew several people who had a lake house. Had to keep that tan, ya know.

All in all it was a satisfying weekend. I shall definitely go to the next event. We’re going to celebrate our 65th birthdays together.

More Michigan Goodness

The morning in Alpena was amazing. I went to a museum called the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. It is associated with the NOAA Marine Sanctuary. This sanctuary isn’t for animals…it’s for shipwrecks.

The museum details the long history of ships sinking in Lake Huron. Remember the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?” Well, apparently the storm on the Great Lakes are legendary.

Alpena is located on Thunder Bay, so named because of the storms. There are at least 200 shipwrecks in the bay alone. Some have been salvaged and some are designated landmarks and cannot legally be plundered.

The museum is full of education stations

displays

a giant sphere that serves as a screen for a film on the environment

and a full size replica of the stern of a ship with a sound and light show that lets you feel what a storm is like on deck. It even has wind machines.

             

Then after I devoured all the knowledge of the museum, I went to the wildlife sanctuary I mentioned yesterday. It is a wetlands area formed by the Thunder Bay River which includes an island that you get to through a covered bridge.


The sanctuary is right in the middle of the city. This house is right across the river from the island.

Talk about scenic views!


All in all Alpena turned out to be a great place to stop.

Down the Eastern Coast of Michigan

Travel today was all along Lake Huron. It’s very wild in places. I kept stopping at little rest stops and scenic overlooks. All of them wonderful.

       

   

Camping in Alpena, MI. The campground is at the county fairgrounds. You would think it would be isolated, but no…

     

The fairgrounds are part of the city park system. There’s a river beside the campground and a bike trail runs along it. There were people to talk to all afternoon.

Also, on the other side of the river is a wildlife sanctuary. Lots of birds to watch.

The campground was not very full so it is a peaceful night.

Mackinac Island

 Warning: A boatload of graphics in this post…pun intended.

Mackinac Island is a resort in the Straits of Mackinac, which is between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It’s right beside (so to speak) the Mackinac Bridge.

The ferry I took went under the bridge before heading out to the island. This guy was going under it at the same time.

The village looks like a nice, quiet place,

      

but during the summer tourists invade by the thousands. I think I saw at least 3 different school groups.

The island has a ton of history. Father Marquette started a Mission for Native Americans. Then the fort was built during the revolutionary war, so there were soldiers living there along with many fur traders. The fur trade became so lucrative that John Jacob Astor built a business on the island. There was a battle during the French and Indiana War, and during the Civil War the fort served as a prison.  Then after the soldiers left for good in the 1890’s, it became a favorite resort. Many summer homes were built, some of which are bed and breakfasts now.

Today it has at least 20 hotels, 30 restaurants and bars, many, many t-shirt and souvenir shops, and several other attractions.

The fort itself is up on the ridge above the town. It is one giant museum. Here are impressions.

          

Every place on the island is beautiful. Even the miniature golf course!

There is a road around the island but no cars are allowed on the island. It’s a nine mile walk to go around it and the most popular mode of transportation is bicycles or horse drawn carriages.

      

I mentioned that the fort is above the town. The island is a huge hill rising out of the water with cliffs all around it. After eating lunch at the Tea Room over looking the harbor,

I walked across the island through the woods from the fort

to get to this, Arch Rock.

Then to get to the road you need to go down….

I didn’t walk all the way around, just enough to get a taste of the scenery.

        

One thing the island is famous for is fudge. However, since I’m on a budget I didn’t think spending $12.00 per pound for candy was a good idea. So I had a cone with ice cream with fudge in it on my way back to the ferry.

If you want a unique place to go on vacation, I suggest Mackinac Island. It is spectacular.

 

 

By the Bay

” A foggy day….in London Petosky town…”

Driving across northern Michigan, I came across some old familiar names. Stoney Lake, rings a bell but I don’t know why. (There’s a Lutheran Camp there, did I go to it?) Interlochen, home of a famous music and arts camp. Boyne Mountain. I think I went skiing there once.  The city of Petosky. Home of the famous Petosky stone.

It was a dreary, foggy morning, but I wanted to get some more pictures of the Lake. Petosky is on Little Traverse Bay but still….

I ended up in Bayfront Park, a city park that includes a marina.

It also has a 23-mile bike trail running through it, going around the bay from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. The Little Traverse Wheelway.

  

The park is amazingly beautiful. The waterfall above is just one of the elements. Here’s another.

There’s a bridge over a creek.

This stairway goes up to the highway above the park. Yes I climbed it!

The pond along the bikeway.

   

Some of the structures were lovingly built by the residents of Petosky (Petoskians? Petoskyites?)

   

And of course there’s the birds. We always referred to them as seagulls, but maybe they are lakegulls? Anyone out there know for sure?

   

I’ve been trying to conserve money, but Walmarts are few and far between in this neck of the woods. Ah! There’s one in Cheboygan.  (Cheboygan was always one my favorite words to say, hehe)

 

Great Lakes Memories

Today I made it over to Lake Michigan. I used to go there when I was young. We would swim at Warren Dunes and climb the sand hills. Occasionally ride a dune buggy.

Visited Little Sable Point at Silver Lake State Park. Went out to the light house.

It was great to feel the sand under my feet again.

Then I drove through the town of Silver Lake. There was an event going on called the “Jeep Invasion.” I bet I saw a thousand jeeps and four wheel drive vehicles. No kidding! I felt inadequate. LOL.

My roaming then  took me through the Manistee National Forest and on into Cadillac where I stayed at a Walmart. I bless Sam Walton for being an RV’er and giving his blessing to anyone who wants to park overnight in a Walmart parking lot. Most of the stores let you , but some don’t, so asking first is a good idea.

Heading North

I have come to Michigan for several reasons. To regain a bit of my youth – I lived in Three Rivers through High School and went to College in Kalamazoo. To experience the joy of the woods. To see something new.

My first destination was Huron National Forest. I love the National Forests because they are such a mixture of woods and small towns. And there are many little areas designated to scenic views and/or education.

One I found is the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary. It has a guided trail with many stops that describe the vegetation. You get a self-guided tour map at the head of the trail.

 

There is also a cultural trail that lets you wander through a homestead from the early 1900’s. The buildings are gone except for a few foundations. It was inhabited by a famer whose daughter fell in love with and married an artist, Albert Schmidt, in Europe. The wedding caused the family to miss their voyage back home – on the Titanic! – and the father was so grateful that he built a studio on his property for his son-on-law.

I’m at Brower Park Campground on the Muskegon River. It smells so good! There are pine trees all around my campsite. Some birch and oak, too. I do love a good forest.

Growing up in Michigan meant that if you didn’t live on a lake or river, you knew someone who did. Swimming was second nature to us. And fishing. ( I was not fond of fishing, but you just don’t broadcast that sentiment.) The wildlife is abundant. I saw these one morning.

I am camping here for a couple of days and then I’ll head further north. Maybe hit the dunes one afternoon.