Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Greetings from Michigan

[Editor's note: I drafted this months ago, but have been remiss in posting! This is beginning to feel like the entries in my old diary: "Dear Diary, I'm sooooooooooooooooooo sorry it's been such a loooooooooooooooooong time since I've written..." LOL]

After my graduation, my parents and I spent about a week traveling around Michigan. Since we graduate so early, a lot of stuff was not open yet, but we were able to see a good amount of things. Many photos are on my parents' computer, so I have not included them here. Maybe if I get around to it, I can post some better ones from this trip in a future entry.

We began in Detroit at the Ford estate. John came with us for this day, despite feeling under-the-weather. He was a real trooper and I'm glad he was able to come!

Ford had a whole generator on his estate that powered everything, and ironically, on the day he died, the river powering the generator flooded and knocked the power out on the entire estate. So he died without power, the same way he came into the world. He had built this tunnel underground connecting the generator/garage with the house.

He also had a bowling alley in the house:

I loved this room -- I think it was the living room. There was this huge fireplace and then a large room with wood floors, but my favorite part were the glass doors that opened out onto a large porch.
This was the dining room.

A pretty hallway leading down to what used to be the indoor pool!

The next day, my parents and I headed out of town. We ended up staying at this bed and breakfast outside of Battle Creek. It was modeled after a French chateau, and it was beautiful. We were the only people there besides one woman who we got to talk with over breakfast the next morning. This was the view from my room.

The chateau:

One thing we ended up doing a lot of on this trip was walking around historic districts of various Michigan towns. This was the town of Marshall, MI with its National Historic Landmark District of 19th century houses. It was a cute little town that is also the home of the American Museum of Magic and Turkeyville, USA! :-) Since most places were closed or you needed to call ahead to schedule a tour, we just walked around the neighborhood and ate lunch at the local restaurant called Schuler's. Schuler's has been there for 98 years and has mostly German-type food.

This was one of my favorite houses we saw:

We thought this sign was funny:

The downtown street (it seems that all of Michigan's towns have this kind of downtown area, which I love):

This is their most famous historic house, the Honolulu House. It was built for the town Judge who had served as U.S. consul in the Hawaiian Islands. It apparently has some cute features to it, like pineapples everywhere, but we did not get to go inside.

Next, we headed over to St. Joseph's on the coast of Lake Michigan and stayed there overnight. The next day, we headed up to the little town of Saugatuck on Kalamazoo Lake. Unfortunately, most things were not open yet, but you could tell that it was an adorable place to be over the summer. We drove over to the shore and took a few pics. You can see that it wasn't exactly warm out!

Then we headed to Holland, MI. I ended up coming back to Holland a few weeks later with John, so there are more pictures of this town to come in another post.

My parents and I decided to stop at this tulip farm. They had thousands of beautiful tulips! They also had a wooden shoe and Delft "factory", which was really just a few little workshops that you could see through open windows along the back wall of their store.

Mom on the recreated Dutch bridge leading to the tulips:

Me on the same bridge!

We took about a billion photos of the tulips, but some of the better ones were on my Dad's camera.

I liked this photo so much, I fooled around with it a bit on Picasa (see photo below this one).

We made our way further up to Ludington, which used to be the big lumber town in Michigan. They would send the lumber down the river to Grand Rapids where they would use the lumber to make furniture. (Grand Rapids was the furniture capital of Michigan.) There was an interesting story about a town near Ludington called Singapore. According to legend, when all the trees had been cut down, everyone vacated Singapore which had been a booming lumber town. Because the trees were no longer there to block the wind, enough sand was blown over time to bury the town! (A different version of the story says the townspeople broke down the buildings and took them with them when they left, so there is no actual town underneath the sand.)

Anyway, we watched a beautiful sunset on the beach.

There were these little piles of sand where the sand around them had been blown away by the wind. They looked like little rocks, but they were just sand.

The next day we stopped by Historic White Pine Village on the outskirts of Ludington. It's basically like a little Greenfield Village, where they brought in historic buildings from around the area.

This is a photo of PO Boxes in the historic post office:

A historic trapper's cabin...and a historic trapper! Ha ha - just kidding. :-)

Some old ice cream topping jars in the soda shop.

Liam's new baby carriage! Ha ha. It was actually funny how similar this carriage is to Liam's stroller.

Okay, so when I was little, we used to go to Bob's Big Boy. Then, they closed all the restaurants around here. So when I saw one in Ann Arbor, I was planning on going before I left. Well, there was one on our trip! Hence, the photo. :-) The burger was great! Better than a Big Mac.

After Ludington, we drove through the Manistee National Forest. The most interesting part was that they were doing controlled burning throughout the forest. We got to see and talk to the firefighters about it. We walked up to this platform that gave us a great view of the lake, but also a chance to talk to some other people who were up there bird watching and fire watching.

After the fiery forest, we drove up to Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was probably my favorite part of the trip. You can see here that the dunes are between Glen Lake and Lake Michigan. Both lakes were incredibly blue.

Looking out onto the dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes are the highest sand dunes outside of the Sahara desert, reaching 460 feet!

I think it's a little hard to tell from this photo, but as we walked up the dune, it looked like we were on the edge of a cliff!

You can tell a little more from this photo how high the dunes are when you look at the crests of the waves down below.

There was a designated dune for people to run down, so Mom and I went up and wrote "LOL" in the sand, which are my nephew's initials. I think we also look kind of like aliens!

Only AFTER hiking around the dunes a bit did we see this sign. Who knew this was cougar habitat??

We spent the night in Traverse City, having come much further north than we had originally intended. But I'm glad we went up there because it was immensely beautiful in that part of Michigan. Our next stop on the way back to Ann Arbor was in Grand Rapids. Once again, we walked around their historic district, called Heritage Hill. There was this Frank Lloyd Wright house, called the Meyer May House.
We spent the night in this gorgeous hotel, the Amway Grand Plaza. This was the historic part of the lobby:

The view of Grand Rapids from our room. I really liked this town. It was more of a city than Ann Arbor, and had a cute downtown area.

Our last stop was the Frederick Meijer Sculpture Garden. They had a butterfly exhibit going on. I have been in one butterfly exhibit before and I must say that despite the beauty of the insects, it does freak me out a little bit to know they could land on me at any minute. :-) But we survived and made it out into the sculpture part of the garden.

This is a cast someone did of Leonardo Da Vinci's horse. In 1482, Da Vinci was commissioned to make an equestrian statue. He designed this horse, but was never able to make it. An American sculptor undertook the task and thus stands the 24-foot high bronze "American Horse". It was pretty impressive! That's my mom and dad at the foot (literally) of the statue.

This may look like my mom is holding a giant spade, but it's an optical illusion! ;-)

The Meijer Gardens was our last stop on the way back to Ann Arbor. The week around Michigan was great and I'm glad I got to see more of the state before I left. I just wish it had been warm enough to go to the Upper Peninsula. I have heard that is great. Well, I'll just have to go back!