Saturday, March 31, 2012

Michigan's Thumb

When considering a visit to Michigan think about the Thumb and taking a trip there. With all it has to offer, great lakes,Beaches, State parks, Large farms,small towns and  really good food you won't be disappointed. I grew up in Michigan and never really knew about the thumb. I guess because there are no amusement parks and such there is less attention paid to the area.
  Each year I come back home to Michigan.The primary reason for returning each year is my family and spending time with them. My husband and I normally just stay in Pontiac getting one of the fine hotels in what I call corporate alley( our favorite being  The Staybridge hotel). Lately we have been spreading our wings and trying new things when we travel,like the B&B  this past Oct in PA.
  On this visit to Michigan I decided to shake things up a bit and let Bill see that there is more to Michigan then a city that is unfortunately dying a slow death and is being sold off piece by piece.
  If you live in Michigan when you go on vacation in the summer you go up north.Well I have a brother that lives in Gagetown MI which is located close to the center of the thumb,I am not sure this is considered up north or not but it is north and I had never really been there before(maybe when I was real young for the day) so this seemed like the perfect spot to spread our wings and fly.Just like the Bald American Eagle we were lucky enough to see while in the thumb.
   In unseasonable temperatures of 80 degrees and above  Bill and I spent the middle of March doing the tourist thing. In March most of the Parks and Attractions are closed but that really didn't matter to us. We like the lack of crowds and the polite friendly service you get when places aren't busy.  With my families recommendations and our own instincts we spent our days traveling around the thumb doing everything and nothing all at once.

 The coastal tour of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron is a delightful 6 hr ride that takes you around the tip of the thumb offering sight after sight to see.We traveled on a single lane highway that weaved its way back and forth along the coast giving us plenty of views of the great lake itself,the homes that surround it as well as the state parks that invite you to stop and walk along the beaches edge or swim and frolic in the lapping waves if it is not a fake summer in mid March and the water freezing .
While traveling along this historic route we are well entertained in between the sights by the local radio station, it does indeed play music but what type I couldn't tell you because we only had ears for the news.The format of the news program is old fashion and personal.Full of information and local tidbits we couldn't help but smile and even laugh as we listened to the news caster describe how Mrs X had hit a deer with the right front corner of her car and the side view mirror was knocked off and into the car causing lacerations to Mr X face in the passenger seat. The jaws of life were needed to free Mr X  but he was just fine. If you were lucky enough to ever see the Hee Haw show and watched the news skit then you know just how this news program sounded. 
We enjoy fine dinning and gourmet menus quite often but we enjoy a good dinner as well.I just have to say we did not have one bad meal the entire time we were in the thumb.On our first day as we drove around looking at our surroundings we were a little Leary as we saw what looked like hole in the wall  after hole in the wall joints,after a closer look we found clean,friendly environments with  very very good home style cooking.Each restaurant had its own character and style from a luncheon type dinner with barbed wire garland  decorating the ceiling  to the cute Swiss style restaurant  with flower boxes on the windows and hummingbirds painted along the trim. The one thing  all the restaurants had in common plain or fancy was good food plenty of it and reasonable prices. Making dinning out fun and almost guilt free.....Well guilt free if you don't count the calories.
As I said earlier Most of the attractions are closed. That didn't stop us from stopping and looking any way.At the one and only lighthouse we were able to find we stopped and walked around the closed park.I didn't think they would mind my taking a picture or two,after all I didn't really want to use the picnic tables and swing sets along the waters edge under big beautiful trees of all types.I just wanted a few pictures,I took my pictures got back in the car and traveled on leaving the park almost exactly as it was except for my foot print on the ground. The well worn paths from the keepers house to the lighthouse and all  around the grounds tell the story of how often this lone light house is visited.The pristine white buildings and well kept grounds tell the story of how well it is respected.So very old and still working , surviving the fires of 1881 it is I believe the only one left in the thumb of Michigan. Well at least the only one we found . 

  Open all year long is Frankenmuth a small town in the thumb that displays it German heritage with a great deal of pride and style.This little village of a town is known for 2 things All you can eat chicken dinners and Christmas. Frankenmuth sports the largest Christmas stores in the world called Bronner's. The town also sports 2 very famous family style restaurants that serve the same all you can eat chicken dinner.The restaurants are directly across the street from each other,they are both owned by the same family and are always full. Even out of season the restaurants are busy.
Bavarian Inn  
    Frankenmuth is a tourist town with the Cass river running through it,main street is lined with quaint little shoppes and art work by local artist, even a sculptured May Pole dance. The bushes have been artfully trimmed into the shape of cute animal characters. I opted to stay out side and tour main street enjoying the warm and sunny weather that is so unusual for this time of year.The town was all dressed up for Easter and with all the trees and flowers in full bloom there was just so much to see.There is not enough time this trip to visit Bronners Christmas store, the store is at least another 2 hrs to see the entire thing.We eat out chicken dinner and it is time to go.

Suntanned happy and very tired we head back to our motel. Another great pleasure of our trip.We stayed in Caro MI at the Woody'zzz motel on highway M81. I highly recommend this motel for your stay in the thumb.From the log cabin motif to the spacious clean quiet rooms this motel can't be beat.We enjoyed the time spent at the motel as much as we enjoyed touring around,it always felt like we were coming home when   we returned each evening.I took great advantage of the inviting sitting area out back with its old fashion porch swing,to sit and watch the world go by.Sleeping like a log was very easy in the big comfortable bed. Like I said one of our many pleasures on this trip.



All to soon the week is over and it is time to head home,but not before we have one big bash with the family.So we pack it up take one last sad look around say good bye and head on down to Pontiac.
  In Pontiac we check into the Staybridge  our favorite hotel in the city. They have really nice rooms friendly staff  and they tend to make you feel like royalty while staying there. As we drive the familiar roads of Pontiac to my nieces house we look around us and smile at one another happy with the choice we made to see something new.

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