Monday, October 25, 2010

Frankenmuth, Part Deux

So, we continue with our trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan.  We walked up and down the street, visiting many shops.  The Visitor's Center / Chamber of Commerce is about a block away from the Bavarian Inn.  The fountain featuring children dancing around the maypole was beautiful.

The Visitor's Center is centrally located, with plenty of information and clean public restrooms.

There was a Scarecrow Festival this weekend, and the there were many scarecrows in the commons area in front of the Visitor's Center.  They also featured a giant bride and groom made from round bails.
The Frankenmuth Historical Museum is just across the street.

It featured a description of the founding of Frankenmuth and a photograph in the front window.  The reflection makes it a bit difficult to see, but if you look closely, you can read what the sign says.
There are an abundance of unique shops.

This sign was outside a boutique called It's Raining Cats and Dogs, which featured things for pets.

There was a Cheese Shop...

that was trying to make a point.

There were several candy, taffy, and fudge shops.
We watched some turtle fudge being made, and bought a little to bring home. I bought some tea...
but none of these flavors. I got maple and blackberry instead. I had a cup at school this morning, and it is delicious.
We visited two Woolen Mills.
This shop specialized in wool batted quilts.

It had a pretty Bo Peep mural.

And... I've lost my sheep... as well as my marbles, apparently.
We had a fantastic tour of the Zeilinger Wool Company mill.  I bought a half pound of gorgeous 70 alpaca/30 wool combed top in a royal blue and black mix.
It was pouring rain when we were there, so I didn't get any pictures.
With a quick stop in the rain to check out the River Place shops

we decided it was time to head north once again.  Get it?  Clock? TIME to head north?
Pun intended.

We took our time heading toward home.  We drove around Mackinac City, which is the town you pass through just before going back over the Mackinac Bridge.  There is an old fort where they have recreations.  There are cute shops with a lighthouse theme.

And a couple of real lighthouses to visit.

This is the McGulpin Point lighthouse.
This is the view of the Mackinac Bridge and Lake Michigan from the beach behind the McGulpin Lighthouse.

This is the Mackinac Point Lighthouse.
It is located at the foot of the bridge.

I really like this shot that I took out of the car window in the rain.  I love the trees framing the buoy in front of the bridge.  The colors are muted to black and gray by the rain.

I had read about a cute little Mom and Pop type of motel in Munising, Michigan that got great reviews.  We drove on into night to get there.  Our room was literally on the shore of Lake Superior.  It had a cabin feeling, with a kitchenette, sofa, separate bedroom, and bathroom  It was cozy while it was cold and raining outside.  We ordered a delivery pizza and watched a ballgame on TV.

We were in 104.

And this was the view to the east from our room.

And the view to the west, toward home.  I'd definitely stay here again.

In spite of thick fog, rain, 46 degrees and wind; we had to stop in Ishpeming to visit Da Yoopers Tourist Trap.  Some of you may be familiar with Da Yoopers from their "Thirdy Point Buck" song and others.  Their Tourist Trap is full of pure corn type humor. 

This big gun "Big Ernie" is in the Guinness Book of World Records,
as is "Big Gus" the world's largest operational chain saw.

If you would prefer a more manual chainsaw, they have that, too.

Of course, they have a snowplow.  Christine on steroids.

This is a snowblower to be used only by the manliest of Yoopers.  If you don't believe me, just read this sign.
There are a few months of the year when Yoopers need a lawn mower.  Check out this rig.

And if a Yooper wants to bag a nice squirrel or rabbit for dinner, try this weapon on for size.

It's a double barreled Yooper slingshot.  I've got to believe the under wire gives it a little extra pop.

All told, we traveled 1,400 miles in four days; and saw an awful lot.  We had a terrific time. 

As long as I have my "travel necessities" of a lovely Pumpkin Spice cappuccino and some nice wool to knit; I'm always ready to go!

Hope you enjoyed our mini-vacay!

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guten tag, Frankenmuth!

After a three-day work week filled with teaching and parent/teacher conferences, Minnesota teachers had a four day weekend.  Since we had not taken any sort of vacation during the summer, HubBub and I decided to take a mini-vacay.  I placed my request that we visit Frankenmuth, Michigan.  Frankenmuth is a town that was settled by 15 German immigrants who wanted to bring their religion to this country.  Frankenmuth is called the Little Bavaria of Michigan.  The entire town is decorated like a giant cuckoo clock, and as sweet as Bavarian creme frosting.

To get to Frankenmuth, we needed to drive across northern Wisconsin, then across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The weather turned craptastic on us, and we drove through chunky rain and mixed snow.  We were going to make my first trip across the famous Mackinac Bridge.  The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere and the third longest in the world.  It is just under five miles long and crosses the Straits of Michigan of Lake Michigan.
This was my first glimpse of the bridge.  You can see the two suspension towers behind the trees on the left side of the picture. 
The Mackinac is a toll bridge.  This is how much it cost us to go across.

It was a bit tricky to get a good picture with freezing rain and the wipers going, but I managed to get a decent shot as we started under the first upright.  You can see the second upright through the arch. I read that the bridge is designed to withstand high winds.  The center of the bridge is capable of moving left and right 35 feet if needed due to high wind.
This is the view of Lake Michigan taken from the bridge.  I was looking west and the sun was setting.
When we got to Frankenmuth, the first place we visited was Bronner's, the world's largest Christmas store.  It is the size of 1 1/2 football fields.  It was really fun shopping there.  The store is fantastic, with animated vignettes over all the displays. 
This big polar bear was one of three in the first vignette we came to.  Intricate animated scenes worthy of rivaling anything at Disney were in every corner and on every wall of the huge store.  It was amazing!
Although the main theme of Bronner's is Christmas, they had other seasonal and home decor items.  I thought this little guy was kind of cute.  I thought my kids could do some fun stuff with Chef DiLightful, however I left him at the store.
We were hungry after all that shopping, and headed back into downtown for a famous Bavarian Inn chicken lunch. 
You can tell they are famous for their chicken, because there is a giant chicken on the side of the building.

This is how the Bavarian Inn looked as we were approaching.  The clock tower is really interesting. 
The four rows of bells chime on every quarter hour, and play a series of complete songs on the hour.  After the songs are done, there is a recorded story that plays and figures come out of those black doors and rotate across the front of the clock. It is like the figures that pass across the fronts of some cuckoo clocks.
If you look closely, you can see the little figures here. They are the little children who were following the Pied Piper of Hamline. I thought it was pretty cool that this was the story we heard, since the kids went to Hamline University.

This sign talks about the history of the Bavarian Inn and its All You Can Eat chicken dinners.

This is a Bavarian Inn chicken lunch.  A quarter of a chicken breast, a leg, coleslaw, and potato cakes.  The potato cakes were mashed potatoes, mixed with cheese and parsley, and deep fried like tater tots.  You can see my iced tea in the upper part of the picture. It was delicious!

This was Bob's Wonderbar ham and cheese sandwich which was served on pretzel bread with honey mustard.

Bob had one of their root beers in a frosted mug.

We were serenaded by a strolling accordion player as we looked over this carved sign in the restaurant lobby. 

You could tell it was a gorgeous day through the dining room skylight.  The chandeliers were lovely, as was the decorative painting.
The window box outside our table provided a view of  red geraniums blooming, the fall leaves that were still on the trees,

many truckloads of sugar beets which were being harvested,

and the chicken dinner restaurant across the street.

The windows were quaint,

and soldiers stood guard at every door.

In the shops, you could get yourself a new pair of lederhosen,

or a fancy dress.
Next to the Bavarian Inn, was a covered bridge.  It is used by cars and
horse drawn buggies.
We parked behind a very cute Leather and Handbag shop, which had many traditional details.

From the spire on the roof,

to the balconies at the windows,

and the murals on the walls; not a square inch was left undecorated.

I'll leave you at the little Leather Shop for this evening.  I'll continue our tour of Frankenmuth tomorrow. Stop back in and see what's in store on our mini-vacay!

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!