Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beautiful Michigan: Wilderness State Park

On our way back home, we stopped at Wilderness State Park, which is at the northwestern tip of the lower peninsula. It has miles and miles of untouched Lake Michigan shoreline. The key word is "wilderness." No manufactured sandy beaches... the beaches are rocky and the indigenous plants are allowed to thrive. Pristine... gorgeous. I love Michigan. You don't find this in New Jersey.

Frances had a wonderful time throwing rocks into the water and watching the splash.
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Beautiful Michigan: The Straits of Mackinac

The Straits of Mackinac is the body of water between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The two peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. In the first three pictures, we are in the upper peninsula, on the Lake Michigan side of the straits, looking to the southeast.
You can see the Mackinac Bridge in the distance. Many Michiganders are very proud of that bridge--but many "yoopers" (people who are native to the "U.P." or Upper Peninsula) wish it had never been built because it brings all the dratted tourists. Up until the 1960s, the only way for trolls and fudgies ("trolls" is "yooper" speak for people who live "below the bridge" in northern lower Michigan. Grandpa and Grandma Weimer are trolls. Suzanne and I are "fudgies" which is yooper-speak for people from southern lower Michigan, who come up to the Upper Peninsula on vacation, and often buy fudge from the tourist shops on Mackinac Island and in the Upper Peninsula... I've also heard this group referred to as "fudge suckers") to access the upper peninsula was by boat.
Here are Grandma and Grandpa Weimer. They are trolls because they live in northern lower Michigan. They don't find the term "troll" offensive in the slightest.
Two trolls, and two fudgies.
Fudgies, all...
This picture of the bridge (often referred to as "the Big Mack")was taken from the Straits State Park, which is on the Lake Huron side of the bridge. This is the bridge viewed from the upper peninsula, looking to the southwest.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beautiful Michigan: Taquamenon Falls, pt. 1

Frances's Great Grandma Weimer is sure a trooper. She walked all the way up to the falls, and pushed Frances in her stroller as she went. Grandpa said she hadn't walked that far in years.
I was the only one who walked the 94 steps down to the brink of the falls, and it was just amazing. They are so powerful.
The browns and gold in the water is due to the tanins in the water from the tree roots...

There's a view of the Taquemon River, as it flows away from the falls.
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Beautiful Michigan: Taquamenon Falls pt. 2

On the path to the falls, Grandpa spotted this interesting root sticking up from the ground.
Frances and Great Grandma had a good chance to get acquainted as they waited for me to come back up from the brink.
Look at that adorable baby... love the bunny hat.
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Here is a view of the falls from farther away...

Beautiful Michigan: Autumn in the Upper Peninsula

We had the most gorgeous color last weekend as we drove through the U.P. I took these pictures along the road up to Whitefish Point and Taquammenon Falls, while Grandpa told me where to drive. This is what most of the Upper Peninsula looks like--little two-lane roads going through miles of forests and wilderness, and tiny little towns.

We lucked out and got to see some absolutely gorgeous color... it just went on for miles and miles and miles of beautiful reds and yellows and oranges and browns, with the greens of the pine trees mixed in. The area is very isolated, sparsely populated, and absolutely gorgeous.



I took this picture in Paradise, near Whitefish Point. I did a double take when I saw gas below $2 a gallon, until Grandpa pointed out that the station was closed down.
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Beautiful Michigan: Whitefish Point on Lake Superior

We got a hotel in St. Ignace, which is in the Upper Peninsula, just over the bridge. Suzanne's grandparents met us in St. Ignace, and we headed north to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. It was the second time in my life that I'd seen Lake Superior--the only other time I saw Lake Superior was on a family vacation in 1984 or 1985, when my parents dared me to swim in it. (You can almost never swim in Lake Superior because its so cold, even in August)

Lake Superior is the northern border of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Canada is on the other side of the lake. Lake Superior is the largest great lake, and its also the cleanest and coldest.
Here are Suzanne and Frances with Suzanne's grandparents.
Here is a shot of the Whitefish Bay Lighthouse, near the Great Lakes Ship Wreck Museum. The town where this is all located is called Paradise, and we went into town, so we'd be able to say we had a cheeseburger in Paradise...the restaurant was very... casual. Yes, thats the word... casual.
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beautiful Michigan: Going "Up North"

I tell non-Michigan people that I live "100 miles north of flyoverland" and thats in Grand Rapids. This weekend, however, we're going on a trip. We're heading "Up North" and by that, we mean 200 miles north of Grand Rapids in the lower peninsula, and then maybe up to the top of the upper peninsula, as well. Our hotel is in St. Ignace, which is the first town over the bridge. But these pictures are taken in northern lower Michigan--about 300 miles north of flyoverland. This weekend we are going on a "color tour" (visiting pretty areas to see the colorful autumn foliage--in Michigan, the trick is to get your color tour taken late enough in October that the leaves have turned, but are still on the trees, but before snow flies). The above picture was taken at one of those scenic drive-offs on US 131 near Boyne City. The place is called "Dead Man's Hill."
Here I am with that baby of ours who is a blessing in so many ways that fills my heart with gratitude. I forgot to mention that before we left on our color tour, we had our 12 month appointment with our social worker, which should complete our required adoption paperwork with China.
And lastly, here are Suzanne and Frances, with the City of Petoskey in the background. Suzanne was born in Petoskey, which I think is kind of cool. Petoskey is what we trolls (those who live south of the Mackinac Bridge) call "way up North" because it is at the northern tip of the lower peninsula, which is above the 45th parallel. Petoskey has a unique personality, and it also has a bit of an exotic reputation because Madonna, Tom Seleck and Tim Allen all have summer homes in Petoskey. Petoskey gets respect because its winters are extreme, even by west Michigan standards. Petoskey also gets respect, because its popular and its resorty and rather expensive. Anyway, in this picture, you can also see the steeple of the church where Suzanne was baptized, and where her parents were married, in the background behind her.
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