Monday, August 18, 2014

Go Pack Go!

"Go Pack Go!" We all shouted with gusto, and as instructed, listened for the echo...and there it came, WOW!  You could almost see the 80,000 plus fans cheering as their team scored one more TD!  We were a small group of about 10 taking an hour and a half tour of the Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers Football team in Wisconsin.  You just can't visit Green Bay without going to Lambeau Field whether you are a sports fan or not!  What a great tour it was too.  They have three to choose from, we choose the middle one, not to short & not to long we thought.  You get to go from the luxury suites to view the stadium (and for the best echo effect) to the  players tunnel complete with sound effects of fans cheering as you enter the field itself.  For those of you that know Jack & I, you know then that neither of us are really sports buffs, well, to put it honestly, about the only football we really watch is the Superbowl, and we are lucky to even know who's playing in it the week before, so that tells you something!  Anyway, even we know who Vince Lombardi was, so it was really interesting to hear about the history of not only how he came to the Packers, but how the Packers themselves came to be.

By the time we learned about Curly Lambeau and how the team isn't owned by a "single owner" (because Curly sold shares at $5 each!) and is the only team in the National Football League to be owned by the fans, and saw how beautiful the field was, and the incredible size and unbelievable gift shop (there wasn't anything, and I mean anything-even a truck-that wasn't for sale), it made me want to be a fan!  Another really cool thing, one that you can't help but go "aww" at, is a time-honored tradition that the players have during training, that I don't think any other professional team does...See, their practice field is just one block from Lambeau Field, and prior to practice, young Packers fans line up near the stadium eagerly waiting for players to choose their bike to ride to practice.  The kids run alongside the player carrying his helmet as the player rides their bike over!  Now, I think that's pretty cool!

The field was originally build in 1957 and started out with seating for only 32,150, but over the years has upgraded and enlarged to it's current capacity of 80,735.  Our guide didn't think they could enlarge any further.  So that's probably it, and they sell out ever one of those seats.   I've never experienced anything like it.  The whole town is alive with "Pack Fever".  When you think that all of Green Bay is just over 100,000 people, that means almost everyone goes to the game!  Think about that, what town can say that?  The very cheapest seat is $78 and that was way up in the far corner at the very top, with the most seats costing around $100-$300...and they are all sold out, every game, every year, with a waiting list.  Season tickets are passed down to family members with about 80, yep, only about 80 going on sale a year.  Wow.  That's dedication.  That's love.  



...kicking back in Wisconsin,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The County Fair!

What do you think when you hear it's time for the summer county fair?  Well, if your from a big area, like Jack and I, where hundreds of thousands of people attend, you expect large crowds, bumper to bumper traffic, long lines for food, elbow to elbow as you walk down row after row of vendors hawking hundreds of items "you just can't live without", some you see year after year (yea!), some you can't wait to see "whats new this year".  Rows and rows of rides in the Fun Zone, multiple barns of animals to gawk at and learn all about, and endless entertainment, all day and all night, always ending with fireworks, of course!  A day filled with excitement, loaded with calories, arms filled with stuff you probably will never use and ended with exhaustion and wonderful memories.

We've spent years going to "our" very big county fair, so naturally, I've wanted to experience what it would be like to visit a small county fair.  The kind I've seen in the movies, where local people bake pies and bring jars of pickles to be judged, where they actually know each other!  So, when I saw that the Marquestte County Fair was starting the day we were about to leave, I suggested we stay on an extra day and go to it, after all, it was "senior day" too!  So, we did, and...what an experience it was!

First off, it wasn't in, we drove, and drove and drove, way out into the country, only stopping a couple of times, until we finally found it, tiny signs and all!  Paid our $1(each) and entered.

First area was a barn that housed the vendors (they had about 30, maybe?), their "Arts & Crafts" (photos, quilts, knits, sewing, collections, and yes, pickles! etc) vegetables, gardening, and one of the two entertainment scheduled "Wayne the Wizard" Magic Show.  A second barn was attached that had a nice display showing "Treasures of the Past" antiques and collectables, but there sure was plenty of room for the few of us to roam around and see everything!  No "elbow to elbow" rubbing here, and certainly no hawking going on, very quiet, gentle people here.

Outside, not much bigger, I had to giggle.  Jack kept hushing me to stop, but I just couldn't help it!  I expected to see "small", just not so "tiny".  The food area was about a dozen spots, at the most, and I know we were there on the first day and all, but I think Jack had to stand in the longest line of, maybe 5 people at lunch time!  We listened to the other entertainment during lunch, which was a trio playing music on the bandstand.  After lunch we wandered over to the animal barns and watched the judging of the 4 H kids and their lambs, which was pretty cool...not that we understood a thing about it, mind you!  I just know that my own grandchildren are in 4 H and work really hard with their own animals and compete in their county fair and really take pride in winning ribbons as well, so it's special when they are standing up there and the judge is rambling off his stuff and the crowd is clapping away at them, so we did too!

We went over to the Fun Zone, what there was of it, maybe a dozen rides, mostly for the little ones, a couple for the older ones and I only saw one game and a couple more food vendors, but I did spot one thing that our fair never had, and probable never will...Fresh Deep Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds! Ha!

With that, we figured we'd seen it all...and called it a day...

...on the road to Wisconsin,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Further adventures in the U P!

As we continue to venture forth in our quest to "see all that we can see" in the U P, brochures, magazines, AAA book, the Michigan map, the 1000 Places to See book, and all the articles I've saved all scattered around me...we gather ourselves up each morning and head  out as early as we can, fill the car up with gas and off we go for the (full) day!

Some of the wonderful sights we've encountered are...

The Upper Falls: Tahquamenon State Park (it rhymes with phenomenon).  It's one of the Michigan's most popular attractions, and deserves it.  They are truly beautiful.  They are 50 feet tall and 200 feet wide and amber-colored due to the presence of tannic acid in the river, which leeches naturally from the trees and plants within the watershed.  They are located in a lovely State Park, that in itself is a nice (short) walk to get to, and if so inclined has several other (longer) hikes to some great beaches as well.  We met another couple that was going to go agate hunting in the lake (Superior) below.  That's quite "the thing" here.  People don't seem to mind that the temperature is cold, and no, they don't wear boots, or wetsuits etc. just their short pants...their from Michigan after all, and used to the COLD!  ;-)  They wander in up to about their hips, looking for 'pretty' agates, and collect them.  Oh well, everyone needs a hobby!  Oh, the other thing we saw while we were there was lots of poison ivy!  We stayed real clear of that, thank you!  (they did have signs for us tourist!)

Where you have large lakes, you have lighthouses!  Lots of them!  Some you can get to, some you can' "out on the lake", or way out on a jetty, or by hiking miles to (I don't do mile+ hikes)...but the ones that are easy to get to, we do!  Trying to find them, though, isn't always so easy, nor is the drive to/from them always short - sometimes involving a full day, but hey, it's a "scenic drive", right?  Each are very different from the other, and that's what makes it so much fun!  Here are a few samples we've found so far...

Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Hiawatha National Forest

Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba Harbor

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City

 Round Island Lighthouse from The Grand Hotel,  Mackinac Island

You can't visit lighthouses without acknowledging the "other side" of the story...the shipwrecks that happen on the Great Lakes.  Lots of them, with records dating back to the early 1800's starting with the "Invincible" (ironic name, don't you think?).  We visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise MI (who could resist going to "Paradise"?) 
where they have the bell of the famous Edmond Fitzgerald as well.  It's a small museum, but well done, with a lot of detail and history.  It really shows how, especially before there was the sophisticated navigational equipment they now have, hard it was to navigate these waters.  Storms came up fast, fog came in quick and traffic on the lakes was really heavy - around 3100 vessels.  Now, there are about 200 of them on the lake.  Larger, but so much less of them, and such better equipment.  You can't help but admire the men who did and do work these waters, the strength and courage it took in all kinds of weather, day in and day out, year after year.  What a tough way to make a living.  These people in Michigan are tough boys, that's "for sure"!

One last very fun visit was to the Oswald's Bear Ranch!  We kept passing their sign as we drove in and out of our campground, and decided we just had to go check it out for ourselves.  The picture on the billboard showed a person holding a bear cub.  "Really?" I thought, to many years working for the San Diego Zoo made me a skeptic, but it was worth a visit, just to see.  So, off we went.  $20 a car, and you park and walk around their vary large compound.  It is truly a licenced family owned business that has been raising rescued black bears since 1984 and open to the public since 1997.  Once there, each bear will live its life out there.  They have four natural habitats with trees, fresh running water to swim in and drink pools that they separate the males, females and youngsters from each other.  It's the 6 month old cubs that you get to have your picture taken with and touch - and you bet we did!  What a hoot!  He was such a cutie too!  They give you a great big spoon filled with Fruit Loops Cereal to hold and while he is enjoying that treat, you can pet away!  His hair is so soft and thick.  We were told that it actually gets softer as he gets older!  The photographer uses your camera and snaps about 3-5 snaps and boom, your done!  $10

The place was well taken care of, and you could see family members everywhere hustling about tending to everything from the cash register to getting rid of a bee hive.  Jack sat and talked with the couple that started the place (they made us look young!) and they were still there, watching over everything.  I'm glad we went...and, I got to pet a bear cub!  So cool!

Not to many more miles left of this beautiful U P area, but one never knows what new adventure will be around the next bend!

...on the road in Michigan,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Canada by train!

On a whim we decided to see Canada, by train!  On one side of the International Bridge is Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and on the other side is Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, Canada.
I found a brochure that was about an all day scenic train ride that went from Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Canada along the coast line up to Agawa Canyon and back again.  It sounded like a great way to see a part of Canada without having to drive it ourselves and... we love to take train trips, so, a win-win, we thought!

The only down-side, for us, anyway, was that it left at 8:00 a.m. which meant that we had to get up at 5:30 a.m.!  That's early for us! But...we made it!  Major yawn.  That just meant we ate breakfast on the train...which was quite good actually!

The trip was quite nice.  Smooth, since it wasn't a narrow gauge, thank goodness.  They gave us a booklet that showed us our route with the mile markers and notes on each one as well as videos popped on during the trip with little stories about the area, it's history & geography which made it even more interesting.  The seats were very comfortable and the windows were quite large and very clean so taking pictures for the most part was pretty easy.

 I was surprised at how many small lakes there were, as we seemed to go from one to another and then another as we chugged along.
Mongoose Lake
Trout Lake
Mekatina Lake
The nice surprise was the beautiful waterfalls at the stop at Agawa Canyon.  We had a much needed hour and a half stop there to take hikes, have lunch etc.  The weather was perfect as we took our time walking through the beautiful canyon floor heading up to Black Beaver Falls.  We really didn't expect much, so when we rounded the bend and saw these spectacular falls our mouth just dropped open in awe!  Most of the passengers had gone off to a much longer hike up to a high lookout and only a very few of us took this hike, I think we made the much better choice!  It was so lovely just to follow the small river for awhile afterward, enjoying the wildflowers, watching the butterflies and listening to the birds and feeling the warmth the sunshine.

Black Beaver Trail at Agawa Canyon Park
Black Beaver Falls at Agawa Canyon Park
Jack along side Agawa River at Agawa Canyon Park
Soon we were on the train heading back.  Interesting, even though it was the same route, things do look different going the opposite direction!

Back in Ontario we had to make one last stop to get Jack his peanuts (you see, Canada still packages and sells Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts in glass jars, where, in the US, they only package and sell them in plastic jars=less fresh.  Thus, every time we are in, or our friends from Canada are visiting us, we stock up on glass jars of peanuts!)

...on the road in the U P,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Upper Peninsula!

Once you "cross over the Mackinaw Bridge" you have entered the Upper Peninsula, or the "U P" as everyone refers to it here.  They even have names for people who live on one side or the other!  If you live below the bridge, you are called a "Troll", and if you live in the U P, you are called a "Yooper" (pronounced You-per), and they are both proud of it, and declare where they are from!  Oh, and don't forget the (few) from Mackinac Island (still pronounced Mackinaw, don't ask me...) they are called "Fudgies" - that one is because there are 17 different fudge stores on one (tiny) island!  There are a whole list of names and sayings here, "for sure", but, I'll spare you that for now...

Anyway, as I was saying, we finally made it to the U P, the area I've most looked forward to - the home of Mackinac Island, Sault Ste Marie & Lake Superior!

Once settled, our first mission was to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island.  We caught a clear, sunny day out of a week of cold on & off rainy ones and took an early ferry over.  If you don't know, they have an interesting history there, in that back in 1948 the carriagemen continued the ban of autos (since 1869) on the note that they "startled the horses and caused harm to the people".  Thus, the only way around the 3.8 sq mile island is by carriage, foot, horse or bicycle!  They do allow snowmobiles in the winter tho (of course nothing public is open then, but hey, if your local, go for it!).  We opted for the carriage tour!  A great way to see the island, hear about the various spots and get on and off to visit at length at the Fort.

They give you a brief stop at Arch Rock where you can get out and take a couple of pictures, then hop back in to tour the State Park.  The State Park actually encompasses 80% of the island, and is lush and feels so far away from the little town.  It also houses the three cemeteries on the island, Protestant, Catholic and one for the Fort (they don't believe in co-mingling there).  

Fort Mackinac is a restored 18th & 19th century British & American military outpost preserved as a museum.  All the buildings are original; their history is interpreted through period settings and you are greeted with period costumed folks and throughout the day, reenactments of cannon firings, musket firings, music & dance are done. It was quite nice.

From there we took a nice walk back into town and visited the Biddle House that was connected to the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop.  A young woman was at the forge (and doing quite well!).  Jack enjoyed conversing with her and seeing their set up, which was very impressive.  It was a large shop using original 19th & 20th century equipment, giving people nice demonstrations.

Time for lunch!  We decided to really treat ourselves and have "high tea" at the Grand Hotel.  This is the hotel where the 1980 film Somewhere in Time was filmed with Christopher Reeve.  Such a beautiful place, we couldn't resist!  You actually have to pay to even go into the hotel, but who cares, right?  They do it in style, a lovely lady playing the harp, butlers in tails, champagne, sherry, fancy canapes with a orchid on the plate, deserts to die for, ah, heaven!

Oh, and of course, the endless view of Lake Superior and the two lighthouses, what could be better?

All in all, a lovely day...well worth the wait!  We never did try any of the 17 different fudges...oh well, guess we will just have to come back again another year! 'Eh?

...on the road in the U P,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I can't believe it's August already!  We've been "on the road" busy, busy, busy!  It has been my goal to "see Michigan", and boy have we been seeing it!  Up every day driving either the rig or the toad, off traveling from one location to the next, or sight-seeing until evening when I'm to tired to write when I return!  So...I have some "catching up" to do!

First stop, Grand Rapids!  We have a dear friend that Jack used to work with in San Diego that has moved several times and oddly enough, we have met up with her at a number of her moves, this time, she is back in her "home town", and once again, we were able to meet up with her!  Fun to have lunch with her in all the different states!  While in Grand Rapids we visited one of the loveliest parks we've seen, called Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.  132 acres of gardens designed by world renowned landscape artists, natural meadows, woodlands and wetlands.  More than 200 sculptures done by everyone from Rodin to Roxy Paine!  It even had a charming Children's Garden that had inter-active areas that encouraged children to touch, smell, hear, taste and even play in the water (a replica of the Great Lakes they could float small boats in!).  We ended up spending an entire day there, wandering all the various pathways, enjoying the art placed among the beautiful gardens and woods.  So unique!

Light of the Moon (c1991) by Igor Mitoraj
This also started our different camping stays in Michigan as well.  Our first, was at a The Extraordinary Berry, a farm in Benton Harbor, where we spent the night and enjoyed meeting the owners and learning all about their little farm and the area & Michigan in general (all the while scarfing up some great berries!).

After that, we started staying at some of Michigan's State Parks.  They are lovely, inexpensive, and mostly empty during the week especially!  They usually are located near one of the lakes, or another "attraction", like the sand dunes  or lighthouse (or both), but all seem to be in the woods.  They have electric, but water, is located by a "community faucet", so you better bring your own container if your not "self-contained" (like us), which I thought was interesting.  All campgrounds, state, city & private, have you park on the grass here. That seems so weird to me.  All the other states we've been in, their campgrounds are so careful about telling you not to put anything on the grass, it's just taken me awhile to get used to to opposite here!  At Interlochen State Park they have a Music Camp right next door that gave free music concerts (some nights they brought in big names too), so we got to enjoy a lovely evening of jazz one night too!

Sand Dunes at Ludington State Park MI
North Breakwater Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, Ludington MI

Ludington State Park, Lake Michigan MI

Ludington State Park, Lake Michigan MI

One of the surprises I have gotten in our driving, is that even though the map shows that the road is right along the lake, you really don't see it!  You don't see it, because there are hundred of tall trees between you and the lake!  You may be 100' or a mile from it, but no matter, because most of the time all you can see are trees!  As the road bends in and out, sometimes we can get a peek, here and there, but sometimes for miles and miles, no view at all!  Without the toad, taking long day trips - to the lake itself - you could travel this whole area and almost never see Lake Michigan for sure, and many parts of Lake Superior!  Even with the toad, we've had to drive long distances to go see lighthouses (lots of them around here, many more you either have to hike miles to or have to go by boat to see tho) or other attractions.  All in all, no complaints, we are really enjoying our adventure here...learning new things, new ways, new foods and even new words every day!

...on the road in Michigan,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: