I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Into the Dairy State


Years ago, when our trips to the USA were usually to Florida to escape the January gloom, Edward’s friend Seb took a shine to the Green Bay Packers, who were one of the teams in that year’s Superbowl.  Little did we know that, some years later, we’d find ourselves in Green Bay, driving past the Packers stadium and considering a visit there tomorrow!




I have to say, our last night in Michigan in a Holiday Inn Express in Munising, was not the most successful.  The hotel was packed full with large, noisy families and at times, the door slams and thud-thud thud of running down the halls reminded us that, as much fun as road trips can be, there are times when we look forward to being at home. 




As we wheeled our luggage out to the car, one family was stuffing what seemed like the contents of their home (and their neighbour’s), the family bedding, a couple of week’s food shopping, a kayak or two and a few bikes into theirs.  Rather them than me.




The first part of our journey was on bumpy, pot holed roads through the Hiawatha National Forest.  A bit like driving at home, then!




After an hour or more, we found ourselves back alongside Lake Michigan.




We crossed a river with a significant water operation going on too, though I have no idea where it was.  I must have been snoozing!




Eventually, just when we were all feeling a little dopey, we arrived in Escanaba, where a small lighthouse gave us reason to get out of the car and get some fresh air.




Ah, the lake.




We found ourselves on the Circle Lake Michigan route once again.




Occasionally, we pass something which makes me grab my camera and take a quick snap.  Who knew the Lloyd Loom chairs were made here?  Not me!  (But there’s a chequered history of the company/design/manufacture it seems)




But I was ready for the state line snap, in the middle of a bridge.  Saying ‘bye to Michigan and hello Wisconsin.




Marinette, the first city over the border was an elegant place with large, imposing buildings.




My hero screeched to a halt outside a quilt shop shortly afterwards, too.




The dilemma was, what fabric to choose as a souvenir from our Michigan road trip when we’re already in Wisconsin?  The answer, some mitten-patterned flannel for a cushion or two!




Into the Dairy state then, with green meadows, Holstein cattle and large red barns.




Hey, there’s a quilt on that one!




Soon, we were into Green Bay and one of the first landmarks we saw was the imposing Lambeau Field, where the Packers play.




The cute image in the foyer of the Hampton Inn said it all.  Cows and football, eh?




We set off to walk over the bridge to dinner this evening, except that as we did, the bells rang and the bridge lifted.  As it went down again, the bridge master came out to address a couple of young men who had ducked under the gates and crossed as it was opening/closing.  He’d called the police and was especially vigilant as result of an accident last week




We were heading for the highly recommended Titletown, located in the former depot of the Chicago and North Western Railroad.




One of us was especially interested in the artwork, but the food was pretty good too Winking smile


A Superior frame of mind


We left Sault Ste Marie this morning and began our journey through part of the Upper Peninsula, where the Yoopers live.  Our route was highly recommended by those who know about such things and whilst putting some details on our map, we realised that much of it followed the Whitefish Bay Scenic Drive.

And yes, much of it followed the coast of Lake Superior.




By sheer coincidence, I discovered that one of the pages I’d scanned before leaving home was a commentary of our planned journey today.  Yes, of course we watched for black bears.  No, we did not see any Sad smile




Our first stop was the lookout over Spectacle Lake.   Lovely!




Next stop was the Port Iroquois Lighthouse, a little further along the lake shore.




These byways are so well documented and offer a great deal of information along the way.




We had a great view of the shipping channel from here, unsurprisingly.  That’s Canada over there, by the way.




A sturdy boardwalk led down to the lakeside.




Once again, we noted that the Great Lakes are enormous, like inland seas really.




Yes, I had to put my feet in Lake Superior.  Brrrr! 




What a great place.  But the bugs were out and we’d not applied any repellent this morning, so it was time to go before we regretted it!




Nevertheless, I had to take a photograph of the stones in the lake.  All colours, they looked beautiful in the clear water, even if they didn’t make paddling very easy.




The next stop on our page was Pendills Creek Fish Hatchery.  Worth a stop?




Why not?




In fifteen minutes or so, we learned so much from Julie, a member of the hatchery staff, who expertly outlined the background to the project and the whole process of restocking the Great Lakes with trout; a project which has been so successful that the number of trout is almost at a self-sustaining level now.




Part of the fun of a road trip is learning about things we never knew were there to learn about!




Anyway, full marks, Pendills Creek Hatchery.  Full marks plus to Julie, too!




By the time we’d reached Salt Point, we felt we’d got the measure of the Lake Superior beaches.  That smooth sand was just too inviting though.




Shame I didn’t get my character placement correct, though!  Sorry Mary.




The last stop on the scenic route was the very tip of the peninsula: Whitefish Point.  Though there is a lighthouse here and another lovely beach, the main attraction is the Shipwreck Museum.




We began our visit with the introductory film, which focused on what is probably the best known shipwreck amongst many such events in the near vicinity, the Edmund Fitzgerald.




We saw how the original ship’s bell had been lifted to form a memorial to the 29 lost souls and outside, took a look at what appears to be a new memorial on the beach nearby.  As we did, the soundtrack in our minds was Gordon Lightfoot.




There was a small collection of items relating to the US Coastguard nearby.




How primitive some of the lifesaving implements were, too.




In the reconstructed lighthouse keeper’s cottage, the figure was eerily realistic!




The main event, the museum itself, was excellent, if a little sobering.  Here was that bell, raised from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald together with the stories of many other dreadful events which have occurred in these treacherous waters.




After a while, we took refuge in the gift shop, where the “Superior state of mind” took shape.




We had just one more item on our list for today: The Tahquamenon Falls.




We knew to expect brown, tannin-coloured water, but were surprised by the extent of the falls.  They are pretty huge!




Well into the afternoon by now, it was time to crack on towards Munising, our overnight stay.




This is a part of the world where people fix snowploughs on their pickup trucks.  I spotted this one in the Ford dealer’s nearby and saw it as an advertising example, but here in our hotel car park, there is a similar vehicle parked near to our own. Be prepared, eh?

Sadly, it’s our last night in Michigan, because tomorrow we cross the border into Wisconsin.  Who knew it was going to be such a magnificent journey through such a superior state?

(Yes, of course you did, Joanne and Terry Winking smile)


Over the bridge

into the Upper Peninsula today.




First (short) stop was St Ignace, just over the bridge.  We snapped a picture of the lighthouse and continued on our way.




I know, I’ve shared road trip pictures before, but these long, straight roads just seem to sum it up sometimes.  I’d have been knitting, but having reorganised our luggage for the island, I didn’t have it to hand.  So I sat and sorted journal ephemera and entertained the crew with the sound of rustling paper.




We are travelling close to the Canadian border again.




Before long, we were in the city of Sault Ste Marie.  It’s nothing like as affluent as some of the small towns we’ve been travelling through, but we had a clear destination in mind.




We were going to take a look at the Soo Locks, which enable shipping to travel between Lakes Superior and Huron.




We’re right there in the red O and looking at it like this, we can get a great view of where we’ve been.




With a small yellow boat in the lock when we arrived, we lost no time in getting out there to see what was going on.




But once it had gone, we returned to the Visitor Centre to see what it was all about.  Looking at it like this, the importance of these locks became clear.  Thinking about it, what’s the alternative?  (if there is one at all?)




The relative levels of the lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway (and the Atlantic Ocean) was interesting to see too.  Who knew that Lake Superior was so deep – or so high?  Not me!




Anyway, as we stood chatting and looking around, we noticed there was another ship due. 




So we dashed out to the viewing area to take a look.




It was a slow old do, but eventually, the Federal Bering eased into the lock basin, close behind the cheerful red and green tug which had been sailing alongside.




We stood watching as they progressed through the whole lock process and eventually sailed out into Lake Huron, on the way to Sorel, east of Montreal, Canada.




Meanwhile,  we were chatting to our fellow ship nerds and watching as another tour boat came through.




All rather entertaining, if a little slow.  Plus, the show seemed to have ended for today.




So, it was time to go and check into our Hampton Inn for the night – a bright new property on the edge of town.  Not quite the Grand Hotel but a perfectly comfortable and very familiar format which suits us very well.  We identified a good place for dinner tonight on the way, so we can be back in time for Fixer Upper!


More Mackinac


Not quite done there yet!




When we woke this morning and saw the sunshine coming through the curtains, there was no question about it – open all twelve (yes!) pairs of curtains and let the sun shine in!




The Grand Hotel operates on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, so you’ll guess what was next on our agenda.  Whilst there, I had to take a photo of the e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s dining room.




Actually, that was half – above is the other half.  Oh, and there’s another section to the right as well!




From there, we did what we’d been unable to do yesterday – walk along the porch and take sunny pictures.




The red geraniums looked glorious.




The view across the strait, similarly so.  What a difference a bit of sunshine makes.




We hadn’t noticed the planted horse and carriage in the garden yesterday.




Neither had we noticed the staff member standing by the entrance to collect admission fees!




On this lovely morning, we could see people beginning to arrive on the ferries.  Yesterday, the three of us and about another half dozen folks chose to sit inside, but today, they were up top as well, enjoying the fresh air.  When we thought about it, we felt the rain had perhaps done us a favour yesterday in keeping the crowds away?




The view of the bridge was lovely too.  We’d be driving over it later.




I was glad I’d worn my black patent sandals with red shiny toes to match the carpet!




There was just enough time left to take photographs of one or two things we’d missed, like these phone booths.  More green and white stripes!




The teddy bear ferris wheel too!  Well, I’d taken photos of that for Lesley, but this morning, without anyone else around, it was easier!




But we couldn’t stretch it out any longer.  It was time to go.  We’d sent our bags on ahead, so checked out and made our way down into town, to the ferry terminal.

One last look at our room, up there on the third floor; the curved windows.








Walking down to the ferry, we had chance to peer inside some gorgeous gardens.  The season here is short but flowers are abundant.




Hehe, the better weather gave me a better shot of the lighthouse too.




Standing looking over the strait, I mused on this lovely garden.  A great view of the bridge, the water lapping at the rocks, flowers, well tended lawn, visitors gawping over the fence…what more could one want? Winking smile




And here we were, at the ferry.  Good grief.

(let me remind you of what it looked like yesterday…)




Well, once more, what a difference a bit of sunshine makes, eh?




Feeling rather pleased that the rain yesterday hadn’t stopped us from doing what we planned and the sunshine today gave us a view of the island in better weather, we counted our blessings and felt more than happy.




We boarded the 11.00am ferry and said ‘bye to the island.




I chose to sit up top for an exhilarating ride!




Better views, too.




Well, of course, I had to take one last shot, didn’t I?




As we arrived, another full boat was just leaving and the queue for the next one stretched out to the road.




The system worked beautifully again and having collected our car and our bags, within half an hour we were over that bridge!

The road trip continues.


The Grand Hotel


No, not the Grand Budapest Hotel (though at times, we feared it might be a similar experience!) but the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island.




I referred to the slight anxiety experienced this morning, overcome now we are here.  But having to leave our car on the mainland and bring only a carryon bag was tricky enough.  The fact that the Grand Hotel has standards meant that my Hero had to bring a jacket and dress trousers and Mary and I our finery too.  At times, we did wonder if it was all worth it.  Now we are here, believe me, it was.




So, the hotel is indeed grand in every sense of the word.  Everything runs like clockwork, from dropping off our carry on bags at the ferry in Mackinac City to our arrival here straight from the carriage tour.  All our anxieties came to nought.




The decor is striking.  Classic, contemporary and somewhat timeless, the “theme” is black and white with red geraniums.




Very pretty and rather elegant.




There’s a daily programme of activities.




There are so many comfortable places to sit with a book.




There’s an elegant ballroom.




And the Parlour is lovely with its remarkable geranium-patterned carpet!




Just outside here is the longest porch in the world, complete with rocking chairs and window boxes filled with red geraniums.  Sadly, too chilly to sit out here today, but maybe tomorrow morning?  The ceiling is painted a particular shade of duck egg blue, to deter flies, we were told by Kylie this morning.




Of course, there’s a gift shop where we might have acquired a new friend.




But at this time of the day, visitors are encouraged to pay $10 to take a look around the public areas and so parts of the hotel feel a little like a railway station.  Perhaps our rooms are ready?




Mary’s certainly was.  Decorated in a pale turquoise with the red and green geranium theme going on, it’s elegant and comfortable.




There’s a cosy nook to sit in too.  Not bad for a standard “single”.

Ours wasn’t quite ready, so we had a bite to eat before asking again.  My Hero went off and returned with a set of keys.




We opened the door to 394, booked as a standard king room and wondered if there’d been some mistake.




Because 394 is a corner room; one of those round sets of bay windows we’d seen coming up the hill in the carriage this morning.  There’s a piano in here, which is a first.  I really don’t think we’ve ever had a room with a piano before!




A step up leads to the bedroom/sitting room, which is furnished in the red and green with yellow accents.




It’s not what I’d choose but, hey, I’m not complaining!




We have a fine view of the drive and have been sitting watching the carriages come and go this afternoon (through the screened windows)




But mostly, I’ve been thinking how fortunate it was that I brought matching luggage Winking smile

Now, I’d better pull my linen dress out of that bag and do some ironing.  Can’t be letting the side down this evening, can we?

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