What I Did on My Summer Vacation – Marquette

 

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

The first destination on our trip was Marquette. Marquette is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula. Named after French, Jesuit missionary, Jacques Marquette, the town was developed due to large deposits of iron ore found in the 1840s. The area was well known, however, due to French missionaries in the 1600s and fur trappers. Marquette’s location on a natural harbor on Lake Superior, natural beauty, and favorable weather made it a vacation destination for some of the more well-heeled industrialists (Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, among many others). Presently, Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University who play their home football games in the world’s largest wooden domed stadium (the Superior Dome – affectionately known as the YooperDome).

 

We had chosen the Blueberry Ridge Bed & Breakfast (http://blueberryridgebedandbreakfast.com) as our place to stay for our three days in that part of the UP. We’d chosen it due to excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.com. I have to admit I was a bit surprised that this was not what I’d come to expect in B&Bs. It was a “normal” home in a regular subdivision. Our preconceived idea of B&Bs involves being either a little more out in the country, being a unique/historic house or lodge, or a little of both. This house was neither. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice home. It just wasn’t what we were used to.

 

Dining Room @ Blueberry Ridge (from the website)

Daphne, our hostess, however was definitely unique! A former schoolteacher and world traveler, Daphne knows her area. She had all the answers when it comes to where to visit, what to see, where to eat, and what to do. She gave us invaluable instruction on the ins and outs of Marquette, Michigan.

Sailboat Past Breakwater
Presque Isle Park

Since we’d been travelling since early morning, we decided to keep our first day simple. We went to Presque Isle Park which is on an “almost” island right in the Marquette area. Really it’s a roughly 300 acre, peninsula that juts into Lake Superior. Very, very little of the area has been developed. As a matter of fact, Frederick Law Olmsted – the famous naturalist who had developed Central Park, the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, and Detroit’s Belle Isle – was commissioned to “design” Presque Isle Park. After touring the peninsula, he declared that it should be left exactly as nature had designed it. Later a one-way drive was built which goes around the perimeter. It’s a gorgeous park teeming with wildlife (birds and mammals) that has many pull-off areas from which you can look out onto Lake Superior. While there, we saw no fewer than three wedding parties having receptions. I can understand why. An additional item of note (there are really too many to mention them all) is the largest , glacier-shaped, hunk of pure copper ore known to man. It is positioned near the log and stone lodge at the end of the drive.

 

Glacier-shaped Copper
(Looks a Little Like LP)

We had known, for certain, that we would want to eat at a restaurant called “Lagniappe” (http://www.marquettecajun.com/content.asp?PageName=Index). We both adore Cajun and Creole cuisine. We were thrilled to find that in Marquette! (We’ve learned that college towns have some of the most eclectic restaurants. I’ll tell you about our near neighbor, Ann Arbor, in future posts.) We’re so glad that we went in for lunch as we found out that they had changed their open/closed days. This was to be the last day (Saturday) that they were open during our time in the area. Therefore, we had both lunch and dinner there. Lunch (po boys and Cajun Popcorn) was terrific. The bread for the po boys had a delightful crispy crust, yet the interior was soft and delicious. Dinner was a mixed bag. Jim’s meal was as delicious as expected; mine was a failure. I was shocked. I spent many years in the restaurant business, and I know that this can happen. A dish that is tried and true and, normally, delicious can fail. Sadly, it was my turn with the “crab chops.” They did, however, do the exact right thing. First they offered a replacement, but Jim was well into his meal and I didn’t want to start eating as he was finishing. Consequently, they removed the charge from our bill and gave us free desserts (amazing crème brulee and bread pudding). If any of your reading this blog are restaurateurs, take note! We left satisfied and content that we would definitely come back to Lagniappe the next time we get back to Marquette.

 

Up Next: Big Bay – Birding, A Lighthouse B&B, and “Made for the Movies”

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) If you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page, go to the bottom left hand portion of the page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. That’s okay, we’ll wait! At the top of the blog, you should see a button with “Follow” next to it. If you click that button, a checkmark should show up. At that point, you should be subscribed. (WordPress is one of the easiest blogs to work with, and I’m still frequently befuddled with how it works!)

Advertisements

Mackinaw City and Going Over The Bridge

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

Our first stop on our trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP) was in Mackinaw City. We had left home at 0-dark-30 (otherwise known as 5:00 a.m.), so by 9 a.m., we were wanting some breakfast. I’m going to “plug” a travel site. It’s “Trip Advisor.” I had downloaded the app (don’t you just LOVE all this new lingo?) into my new “smart” phone. We were looking for somewhere to get a good breakfast before heading over the big bridge (more on that in just a bit).

Photo from ‘Yelp’ website

We opted for Darrow’s. It had many good-to-excellent reviews and was known for homemade hash. Jim’s a sucker for good, home-made hash. We arrived just in time to be seated right away before the Saturday-morning rush. The service was quick and friendly with little wasted motion. I had biscuits and gravy which was good. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good. From my experience, it’s a lot easier to mess gravy up than it is to make it great. Jim was very pleased with his hash and eggs (and a whole lot more – it’s a big meal).

Darrow’s Hash (from TripAdvisor website)

We decided a walk was required after that meal and with a long ride to Marquette as our day’s destination. As an aside, I know just about the whole country was experiencing epic heat in early July. Mackinaw City was no exception. It was early in the day, but the heat was already building. We decided to just walk around the waterfront where there were good breezes and then head on with our journey.

History Lesson Alert! Fort Mackinac and Colonial Michilimackinac are right near the water. The Fort was first occupied by the French guarding the straits between the mainland and Mackinac Island. As you might remember from American History lessons, French trappers and priests were the first ‘known’ Europeans to settle in Michigan. The area was full of game and the English were establishing themselves in Ontario, Canada which is just to the East. There were also native Americans who could sometimes take issue with the new kids on the block. It made sense to build a fort. This fort was Fort Mackinac. The village of Michilimackinac grew up around the fort.

So why are the Fort, the Island, and the bridge all Mackinac, and the City is Mackinaw? They are both pronounced exactly the same. (Mack in awe) The spelling with a w is used only in Mackinaw City. (from the English occupation). The spelling with a c is used on the island and for the fort and for the bridge (French occupation). 

Lakes Freighter under Mackinac Bridge

We walked up to the edge of the water and were lucky enough to catch a Lakes Freighter going under the bridge. It’s quite a sight! We also walked up to where the lighthouse stands. There is a nice, paved, tree-shaded path. We stopped in the gift shop (how could I not?) and bought some nice things. (It’s amazing the level of merchandise in state-run, gift shops in Michigan!) 

Lighthouse @Mackinaw City

On the way out, we heard Black-throated Green Warblers and Pine Warblers singing in the trees around the Fort. What a pleasant way to start our vacation! We were serenaded all the way back to the car. Then it was off for our trip over the bridge to a completely different world – the Upper Peninsula.

Mackinac Bridge

If you know me at all, you know I don’t like heights. Now, I can sit on a mountainside and be perfectly happy. I can even be inside a tall building with no trepidation. However, climbing steep steps or going across tall bridges make me woozy! One would have thought that I would have no problem with bridges – especially suspension bridges – as I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida (home of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge). Know what? I still cringe all the way across the top span of that sucker, too!

Here is a YouTube link of my video. I hope it works properly without a bunch of bunk at the bottom of this page!

 
 

So it was with the Mackinac Bridge. Luckily, there were two of the hydrofoils that ferry people to and from Mackinac Island “racing” each other across the strait. (There are no powered vehicles allowed on the Island. UPS even delivers by horse-drawn cart.) I could amuse myself (and take my mind off the bridge) by video-taping the ferries and their “rooster tails.” Almost before I knew it, we were on the other side of the bridge. Phew!

We stopped just after the toll plaza at the UP Welcome Center to pick up all the requisite fliers and folders advertising things to do and see in the areas we were going. We knew, darned well, that there was no way we could see it all, but we wanted to be able to choose the areas that interested us most. Then, it was off to our first destination – Marquette!

Up Next: Marquette

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) If you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page, go to the bottom left hand portion of the page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. That’s okay, we’ll wait! At the top of the blog, you should see a button with “Follow” next to it. If you click that button, a checkmark should show up. At that point, you should be subscribed. (WordPress is one of the easiest blogs to work with, and I’m still frequently befuddled with how it works!)

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Prologue)

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

I know! I haven’t blogged in too long. Hope I didn’t lose to many subscribers. I seem to either go full speed ahead or not at all when it comes to blogging. I’m going to try (mind you, not promising anything) to post more regularly. If it works out the way I hope, there will be two posts a week. If I were smart (again, I’m not saying…), I’d write bunches of blogs at a time and post them twice a week so I could get ahead and have some “in the can” for when I reach my fallow periods.

 

Jim and I actually took a summer vacation this year (GASP!!!) It’s hard to believe that the last real vacation was when our adorable niece, Caitlin, graduated from high school. That was two years ago. We’d planned a trip last summer for our 25th anniversary, but we cancelled them when friends asked about visiting. We also had really hoped to get to our nephew, Allen William’s (named after my dad), graduation this year, but it was on a Thursday (odd) and at a time we were going through a major inspection at work.

 

As we could only take a week off from work, we decided to explore Michigan. We took the week including July 4 so that we only had to take four work-days. Jim was born and raised here, but his family never got to go explore the state much. As y’all know, I’m a southern girl who only moved here nine years ago. NINE YEARS AGO???!!! Anyway, we decided to visit parts of this beautiful state that were new to us both. The obvious answer was the Upper Peninsula (UP).

 

To all my non-Michigan friends, the state of Michigan is actually two completely disparate peninsulas. This goes back to an argument with Ohio (and they still go at it – hammer and tongs – especially in football season). Way back when (1830s), both Michigan and Ohio were laying claim to a strip of real estate that contained the port city of Toledo. This actually came to a head with shots fired and the U.S. government had to intercede. An agreement was struck. Ohio got Toledo and the border with Michigan was drawn just north of that city. Michigan got the Upper Peninsula (which – if you look at a map – is really more akin to Wisconsin). Ohio got the port, but Michigan got a natural treasure with shoreline on four of the five Great Lakes. The abundance of trees for lumber, copper and other minerals made it a long-term, great trade-off for Michigan.

Map showing “Toledo Strip” shamelessly “borrowed” from Wikipedia

 

Over the next several weeks, I’ll tell you about our travels in the UP. I’ll tell you about the places we stayed, the restaurants we found, and the sites we saw. It truly was a great trip and we trolls (that’s what Yoopers – Upper Peninsula residents – call those of us who live “under the bridge”) had a wonderful time. I hope I can entertain you and help you see what a fabulously beautiful state Michigan really is. Maybe you’ll even want to plan a trip to Michigan.

 

Up Next: Mackinaw City and Going Over the Bridge

Would you like to subscribe to my blog? (Oh, yes, it’s free!) If you have already clicked on the title and are now directly in my blog page, go to the bottom left hand portion of the page. If you have not gotten to the blog page, click on the title of the Posting and it will take you to the blog. That’s okay, we’ll wait! Below the “Leave a Reply” area, you will see two checkboxes. The “Notify me of new posts via email” will take you through the steps to subscribe.