Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Greetings From Michigan

Sorry, it's been awhile since the last blog.  The Captain bought a new computer several months ago and while trying to upload pictures he picked up several viruses and the computer quit working.  We took it into Best Buy to get it fixed and after a 20 minute conversation about the error messages (and the techie saying things like, 'Oh, that's not good', 'Oh, that's really not good') he asked if we had purchased a service contract.  When we said 'no' he started quoting what it could cost for diagnostics, the hourly rate to fix the sick computer and so on, and then he happily suggested that a service contract would probably be cheaper.  To paraphrase an old saying, "You can pay us now or you can pay us later", and we now have a computer that works and a two-year service plan for both of our computers :)

So, with that said, I'm going to combine several places we visited in Michigan in order to get caught up.

Our first stop was in Rochester Hills, Michigan, which is a suburb north of Detroit.  We spent two days with Don and Shelly Vanarsdalen who used to work with Brett at Sonoco.  It's been ten years but they haven't changed at all.  They moved to the Detroit area to be near their families but both of them miss the south, especially in the winter time.  This past winter they had record snowfalls and it seemed to never end.  We had a great time together and caught up on everyone's lives.

Shelly and Don

Their two kids, Sydney and Adam, goofing off for the photographer.

 While in Rochester we checked out the downtown shops and found several restaurants that were dog-friendly.

Rochester is a busy little town with many eclectic shops and restaurants. 

We stopped to have a few beers at this place.  The front entranceway is carved from wood.

Getting seated on Main Street.

Enjoying a Michigan beer.  Now this is the life!

I visited the ladies room in the restaurant and assumed the hand soap was in a large Listerine container.  Wrong.  The soap is on the wall on the left and the Listerine bottle is full of Listerine.  Duh!  I neglected to see the small cups next to it but then I've never seen mouthwash in a restaurant bathroom, either.  My hands were nicely refreshed, too.

Another different store, this one was aptly named, 'The Oz'.

The town has miles of biking and walking trails we enjoyed. 

Swans were aswimming.

Lucy enjoyed the water with them.

Our next stop was Bay City which is a little northeast of Detroit on Saginaw Bay and nestled on Lake Huron.  The people in this state call the shape of Michigan 'the mitten' so Bay City is in the groove between the thumb and the other fingers.  It used to be an old timber producing town but died out when that resource was depleted.  They are renovating the downtown area which has the Saginaw River winding through it and the results were impressive.

We arrived at our RV park with the skies looking troublesome.  Barely there 15 minutes and a fellow RVer knocked on our door and said there was a tornado warning in effect.  The weather service spotted clouds that were rotating and they issued the warning.  So we grabbed the dogs and headed for the safest place in the park, the bathrooms.

Made of cement blocks, the structure is sturdy and we got to meet our neighbors quickly.  Of course, some of the campers had to peek out the door to see what was going on but most everyone else stayed inside the adjoining shower rooms.
In downtown Bay City there are trails along the Saginaw River to give you a good look at the area.

A tourist boat offers rides.

The Captain caught this picture of a bald eagle while we were walking along the river.  What a great shot!

Part of the walking trail is on the left.

The debris you see in the water is part of the docks where the ships picked up the lumber form the sawmills.

There is even part of a wooden ship still in the river but we couldn't see it because the water was too high

This is the first frame dwelling built in Bay City in 1837.  Construction methods used both hand hewn and sawn timbers mortised and tenoned together.  It was built for French settlers Joseph and Mader Trombley.
Most people in Michigan are rather pale but not this guy at a local pool.  Kind of gives Speedo a bad name.......
Traveling in the area we spotted this American Gourmet Pretzel Shop so we had to stop in.

It was a cute place with a lot of antique items.

And lots of different type of Original Gourmet Pretzels.  We bought several bags including onion garlic, jalapeno and cheddar cheese, and white cheddar and jalapeno.  Trust me......the ones with jalapeno you won't wolf down.  Three or four with a glass of beer is more than enough.

Bay City has a main thoroughfare called Center Avenue that presents a spectacular display of residential homes built between 1870 and 1940.  Many of the homes were built by wealthy lumberman and later shipbuilders as the lumber industry waned. We took a bike ride up and down the street and photographed some of the more beautiful places.

This was my favorite.

The intricate detail was amazing.  I can only imagine what it must cost to maintain this house in such beautiful condition.

 Our final stop in the area was the town of Midland which is home to The Dow Chemical Company. We  wanted to view the Dow Gardens which were started in 1899 by Herbert Dow on eight acres of land.  The  garden was an outlet for his creative interest in gardening and no outside experts were ever involved. He developed the gardens because he thought he could do something different and he chose to never copy anyone else's ideas.  Plantings were always arranged so that at least part of the lawn disappeared in back of the plantings.  The gardens are now 110 acres and one of the most interesting characteristics is the feeling of never seeing the whole area from any one spot.    

We spotted this black squirrel in one of the beds.

The home of Herbert Dow.

His son, who was an architect, built this home on the property.

There is also an area for children to grow crops with decorative scarecrows in it.

What a beautiful place to see but it is time to move on.  We are heading southwest toward Lake Michigan to a town called South Haven which we've heard is pretty neat.  Peace!

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