Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4/26 Maumee Bay State Park & Crazy Cardinals

I've been spending the past few days at one of my favorite Ohio State Parks: Maumee Bay.  I like it because sites are very well spread out and it tends to be quiet, especially in the spring during the week.  It also has a lot of paved bike trails and a laundromat with three washers and dryers!  That saves me a lot of trips if I have more than one load to wash. 

This week started out really cold, but sunny.  I stopped at a Blue Beacon truck wash on my way here, so I also have a very nice and shiny motorhome.  However, that seems to have attracted a bunch of female cardinals who are not too bright.  They spent the entire first day flinging themselves at the windows and side of my motorhome, apparently attempting to cause themselves brain damage.  Apparently, they did not like the looks of the birdy intruders they kept seeing in their reflections, so WHAM, into the image they went!  

This one is sitting on a branch on the small tree next door, trying to decide what to do next.

Bam!  Got that strange bird in the window!  

This one is hanging onto the tiny window sill on the small top bunk window.  

They did that over and over--about once every five minutes all day Monday.  When that became boring, they pecked at my hub caps.  Finally, around noon and getting tired of the constant thunks against the side of my vehicle, I got the idea to tape some ribbon on my windows to try to scare them away.  Mostly it has worked because the wind has done a good job of keeping the ribbons moving constantly. 

This extremely large state park used to be farmland, but has turned into meadow over the years.  And the meadow has grown a lot of small trees and large shrubs, as you can see by the ones next to my motorhome that have acted as birdy launching pads.  
This is really excellent bird habitat, as you can see from the next few photos.  Lots of ponds, meadows, and woodsy areas for birds.  In addition, this state park is on Lake Erie and one of the major Atlantic bird flyways.  Birds coming from Ontario and the Arctic fly over Lake Erie and land along the south shore of the lake, which is exactly where this park is located. 

You can see the campground map on the left of this photo, but the park also has a large day use area along the lake, shown in the middle, and a hotel and golf course shown on the middle-right.  I really like that the roads in the campground are curved because it means that you can see only a very few campsites to the left and right of you. 

This is the hotel on Lake Erie. It has a restaurant, indoor pool, larger outdoor pool, and children's indoor play area.  It is open all year. 

This is the Nature Center.  Behind it is a two-mile boardwalk, which I was too tired today to bother with. 

A view of the beach and a corner of the hotel.

More beach, looking towards the day use area. 

The hiking/bike path headed back to the campground.


4/25 Foods Made in Michigan

A couple of days ago, I pointed out that Detroit is a great food city because of its ethnic heritage.  When I visit the Detroit area, I also stock up on some of the food items I cannot get elsewhere. So what do I personally stock up on when I am in Detroit?  Here is my list:
  • Awrey’s Long John coffeecake – Awrey’s is a bakery that began in Detroit in 1910.  It has had some rough years, much like the city, closing its retail stores.  Many of its products still exist, however, and are sold in a few grocery stores and from its factory outlet store.  My favorite is the Long John coffee cake.  It is a long dense coffee cake filled with walnuts and cinnamon, and topped with frosting.  Yum.  (Can someone tell me why it is so hard to get coffeecakes with nuts in other parts of the country?)
  • Sanders "bumpy" cake - This is a chocolate cake with a fudge frosting and "bumps" of cream filling.  It is very moist and chocolaty.  I bought one of these and shared it with friends.  It does not keep well, but I did freeze a couple of pieces for later.

  • Faygo Redpop – Faygo is a soft drink company that began in Detroit in 1907.  They sell a wide range of flavors and everyone has their favorites.  I like their crème soda, but I really get a craving occasionally for Redpop!  So I have stuffed a couple of dozen bottles into my storage compartments in my motorhome.  Here is a link to interesting information about Faygo: 
  • Vernors Ginger Ale – Vernors is a very old Detroit company and it's sole product is considered to be the very first "ginger beer" sold in the U.S.  It was created in 1866. The story is that James Vernors went off to fight in the Civil War and left a barrel of flavorings he had been experimenting with.  When he got back from the war, he found the flavor had been improved.  Vernors has a unique taste and is available in many places now because it was purchased by Pepsi.  People who grew up in Detroit remember going to the Vernors store and having a “Boston Cooler” which is vanilla ice cream blended into Vernors like a milk shake.  An interesting tidbit is that when I was growing up, parents gave us kids Vernors when we had an upset stomach!  Here’s an article describing the “medical benefits” of Vernors:

  • Fresh kielbasa In other parts of the country, you can get smoked kielbasa, but not the garlicky fresh stuff that is common in Michigan.  It looks a lot like bratwurst, but has a lot more flavor because of all the garlic. I found some of what they call "holiday" kielbasa and have some of it frozen.  The holiday version is a little more spicy and slightly more hot. You cook it just like you would cook bratwurst. 

There are more things I could buy, like Sanders fudge sauce, but I have not had time for much shopping and do not have a lot of extra storage room.

If you are from Detroit, let us know in a comment what your favorite food products are.


Monday, April 24, 2017

4/23 Delicious Detroit

I know that every part of the country has its favorite foods, but having been born in Detroit and having spent nearly all my life living nearby, I cannot help but be partial to Detroit and Michigan foods. Most people think of Detroit as a decayed city and one without much of a future and hardly a place to spend a vacation, especially a culinary vacation.  However, recently a couple of articles have given this area praise for its restaurants.

I have been coming “home” to the Detroit area only about once a year, but when I do, I stock up my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with as much Detroit food as I can stuff in.  It is the one time of year I wish I had a bigger refrigerator.

Because Detroit was one of the biggest and most important industrial cities for most of the 20Th Century, it has been attracting immigrants from other parts of the U.S. and from the world in general.  The result are the communities of Irish Corktown, Greektown, Polish Hamtramck, and Dearborn, where you can get fantastic Middle-Eastern food.  (Check out one of the summer ethnic festivals in downtown at Hart Plaza, also.)

If you ever decide to come to Detroit and are looking for some good places to eat, here are a couple of lists.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about some of my favorite grocery items I stock up on when I come to Detroit for a visit. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

4/12 Annie Oakley Museum, Darst, OH

I have not posted lately because I have been visiting various relatives as I travel northward. And, in fact, I won't be posting much over the next three weeks while I spend more time in my old home state, visiting doctors and friends.  I'll be doing more posting after May 9 as I head westward for the next year. 

However, one place I did stop at on my way north was the museum in the area of Ohio where Annie Oakley grew up.  This is "Darke County," northwest of Cincinnati.  A lot of memorabilia are on display at the Darst Museum.  I had read a book about her and was interested in seeing some of the things she owned.

First, you have to forget everything you thought you knew about Annie Oakley.  She was played in the Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun by a 45-year-old Ethyl Merman. In reality, at that period of her life, she was barely 20.  And Ethyl Merman plays a tough, uneducated woman from the west who spoke a form of western "hillbilly."  In reality, Annie may not have had much education, but she spoke and wrote like the gentile lady she was.  She grew up as the oldest of seven children and learned how to shoot to help support her family after her father became ill and eventually died, leaving her mother destitute.  She not only provided her family with meat, but she also sold skins and meat to bring in money to pay off her mother's home. 

At the age of fifteen, Annie entered a shooting contest with a man named Frank Butler. She beat him. He was not only shocked to be beaten by this very small, young woman, but fell in love with her and married her a year later.  So Annie Oakley, really did "get a man with a gun"!!  He became her manager, and they stayed happily married for over 50 years. 
Annie soon joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and traveled with Frank for most of her life. However, her home during those travels was a very well-furnished tent. Notice in this photo that she has taken along a real bed and numerous dressers and other things.  There is even a full rug on the tent floor, so they traveled in style and comfort.

This chest shows some of her personal belongings she traveled with. 

The museum has several of her guns and other belongings.  I have seen some other things of hers in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming.  (If you get out there, it is definitely worth several hours as it actually contains several museums in one.) 

Annie and Frank never had children, but this display talks about the many children she helped support over her lifetime.
The next few slides show some of her belongings.  Some of these may have traveled with her, but others may have come from the several homes she and Frank bought in the east.  She never lived in any of them very long, however, as she became bored in that settled life. 

Some of her jewelry.

And lace items.

This shows her as an older woman and one of the houses she and Frank owned.

This is a portrait of her as a young girl.
I spent about an hour in the museum and bought a copy of a compilation of her journals and letters where she described her childhood.  Have not had time to read it, but am looking forward to it. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

4/1 Old Federal Campground, Lake Lanier, GA

This is one of my favorite places to go to in Georgia, for obvious reasons, as you will see from my photos.  Not only is this a U.S. Corps of Engineers campground, meaning it is well-kept, but I also get a senior discount, so it is inexpensive.  Lake Lanier is one of the biggest lakes in Georgia and was formed by building a large dam and then allowing the large area behind it to fill.  Because the land was hilly, there are lots of narrow coves and pleasant shoreline area for marinas and homes.  

I went for a bike ride yesterday to the day use area, which is about half a mile away from the campground area.  First, you can tell it is spring in this part of Georgia.  The leaves on the trees are just coming out and I found a tiny violet. 

This is part of the day use area.  There is also a boat launch area and picnic area.  
 The lake level is lower than usual, so the beach is bigger.

Nice view of the marina across the bay.  There are quite a few marinas on this big lake.  This one seems to have mostly sailboats, and it was a perfect day for sailing with winds about 10 MPH and temps in low 70s. 

In some parts of the lake, there are some beautiful homes along the water. I would certainly hate to clean some of these big places! 

The campground consists mostly of three long, narrow peninsulas.  This is the first one with maybe 15 campsites, all of which are directly on the water. 

This is the second peninsula. Most of the sites are at the end of this peninsula, but you can see the water on both sides. 

Some very nice sites at the very end of this peninsula, but a few too many trees for my satellite reception.  The ones at the end of great views. 

I like this peninsula because it is more open and I can get better satellite.  My rig is just behind the cars on the right.  

There is also a tent area, so I took some photos there.  You have to climb down some stairs to this tent site, but it has a terrific view and a nice, level tent pad.  There were several similar sites in this area, all with nice tent pads and views.  
Actually, there were also some non-electric sites down at this end of the campground that could be used for RVs, but as you can see, they were not occupied.  This one would have been a bit scary to back into.  It had curbs, but BIG dropoffs on the side and rear.   
 Anyway, it is hard to go wrong in picking a site at this place!