Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thumb Trippin'

Awesome name for a vacation post, isn't it?  Last year we traveled around the Traverse City region (tip of the pinky finger of the Mitten), year before that we went from Hell to Paradise.  So this year our Michigan explorations took us into the Thumb. 

We left Thursday morning and got home last night.  We didn't have any actual destination in mind - most of the things we had planned were things to stop in & see, then leave.  Lighthouses, & parks, etc. 

First stop - Brandenburg Park to play in Lake St. Clair.  Angel has done her dance stuff in 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, so this was a not-so-great lake.

So like 10 minutes there, then off to the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse where the St. Clair River dumps into Lake Huron.  

I told Randy I wanted this for a birthday present - she's FABULOUS!!
Next was lunch at Wimpy's burgers in Lexington.  It's one of those places where the service is supposedly intentionally bad but we were the only ones in there, so it was actually fine. 

Next we planned on going to see Turnip Rock - here's a pic grabbed off Google.... this is at the very tip of the Thumb and we thought it would be neat to see. 
We clearly didn't find it since Randy & I both were using different map apps on our phones and they both said the only way to get there was thru a private gated community.  Luckily, the gate was open and no guard in the shack, so we drove out to the coast and still did not see it!
 Saw some pretty views, tho. 
We got a funny look from the guard who was back in his shack and had to open the gate to let us out!

edit: I emailed the Thumb Tourism Council and they confirmed that there is no public access to Turnip Rock, unless you kayak from Port Austin.
Next we drove all the way around Saginaw Bay to our hotel in Tawas City.  I know a lot of people who go there all the time, but there really isn't much to do around there if you're not a camping / boating nut.

We got there around 10 pm and the 3 of us spent a leisurely hour in the pool & hot tub before turning in for the night. 

Friday morning (Happy Birthday to me!!) was cool, cloudy & overcast.  We did have hit or miss rain most of the morning.  

My birthday Google Doodle!
Lake Huron was really choppy!
They had the weirdest stuff in this park!

Our first stop of the day was at the Lumbermen's Monument.  
This had been a major lumbering area back in the day. 
 A high-accuracy (geodetic) survey marker  - one of only a handful in the US.  Randy had to compare his GPS to the listed coordinates. 
 Next stop was Tawas Point & lighthouse - the "Cape Cod" of Michigan. 
We saw a lot of trees changing color.  This little oak had a ladybug on it. 
At the end of a 3/4 mile hike thru swarms of mosquitoes to the end of the point. 
We had lunch at the little grille on the beach and then got to the Wurtsmith Air Museum an hour or so before they closed.  It was pretty small, mainly artifacts from when the base was active and 2 hangars with a couple homemade planes and one old USAF fighter and a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter.  That was pretty sweet! 
The one guy attached himself to us after he saw the amateur radio plates on my car.  He was also a ham!  He asked Angel is she wanted to sit in the Huey & she was all over that! 
Next stop was Sturgeon Point lighthouse. 
  There was an old one-room schoolhouse there, too. 
 Looking up at the lighthouse. 
Randy ringing the bell.
 After the lighthouse, we had been invited to a friend's 'up north' house for dinner.  Him & his wife went all out making us a steak dinner & all the scrumptious fixins - and his wife even made me a birthday cake with a "29" candle on it!  She was telling me (I knew Jim already, but had never met his wife, Lee) that when she got the candles for the cake -  Jim argued with her, saying he thought I was in my 30s (I could have hugged him for that!) - she said no.  She just knew that I was 29.  Jim apparently doesn't understand that women don't get any older than 29! 

We got back to the hotel fairly late again.  We didn't bother with the pool this time, altho it looked pretty empty from what we could see. 

Saturday we packed up and went on a quest to find Angel a Tawas City keychain (she collects them).  Then we started in the general direction of home.  But first a stop in Bay City to see the USS Edson DD946 museum ship!  

If I had stayed in the Navy, I would have been stationed on a DDG - which is a slightly larger, more modern type of destroyer.  Either way - this is a lot smaller than either of the other 2 ships I'd been stationed on.  The Canopus AS-34 was almost 700 feet long and the Lincoln CVN-72 - well you know how big a carrier is!  This was barely 415 feet long. 
The foc'sle
Randy in the pilothouse. 
Angel was checking out some Coast Guard guys on a boat that had just gone by. 
I found one of the chatty volunteers on board as soon as we got there - and we had a nice chat about ships.  He managed to keep finding us and doing things like bringing me a broom and asking me to do sweepers and stuff like that.  It was pretty hilarious!  Angel couldn't figure out how he kept finding us.  

This is the post office - there was a mail drop box on the other side of the mess decks.  Guess they didn't need much room to sort mail!  
All the ship's awards on the bridge wing.  That door leads into the bridge. 
The emblem for the destroyer squadron it belonged to. 
Next we went to Midland to the Tridge.  Here's a screen shot of the map from my phone. This is where the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers meet to go to Saginaw Bay. 


We left there and made our way to Frankenmuth so I could stop in Bronner's - the huge Christmas store that's there.  They humored me since neither of them like to browse for fun in stores.  We got a couple ornaments and Randy was happy that we didn't stay there all day (like the rest of my family would have!)  I can walk thru a store and not stop unless something catches my attention or I'm looking for something in particular.

I've been wanting this one for a couple years, since I saw it on their FB page! year.  Randy told the 'penner' we were good every year!

 Finally found a hiphop ornament for Angel!

After Bronner's we stopped in Zehnder's and had a chicken dinner (they're famous for their chicken dinners)  and then finally got home around 10:30 pm.  Whew!     

We also stopped in a couple cemeteries here & there since that's what I like to do.  2 of them were Maple Grove Cemeteries - the same name as my Halloween display!  My goal is to eventually visit all 32 of them in Michigan. 

It's always so nice to use your own shower / bathroom when you've been gone for a while!