Sunday, May 31, 2009

Frankenmuth- May 31

We have a beautiful sunny day here in Frankenmuth, but there is a cool wind with it. Seems like John and I are doing something wrong. We decided on this lifestyle because we never wanted to feel cold again. So here we sit on the last day of May, not venturing out(we already did that this morning attending church), and sitting inside with sweaters on! I am ready to head back to Florida. Speaking of church,we went to St.Lorenz for Pentecost services. They did something which was novel (at least this was a first for me), and this was in keeping with the story of the Gospel going out to all nations. St.Lorenz had all the music for the service with origins from around the world. So we heard and sang songs from Mexico, Africa, and Germany- to name a few of the countries represented. And I also want to mention something here, which I forgot in my blog on the Thumb of Michigan. For members of my family who may be interested, our trip to the Thumb area also included the city of Port Hope. Two of our uncles, Pastor K.Lohrmann and Pastor E.Sanders served at the Lutheran church there. The church is St.Johns and I will post a picture of it here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thumb of Michigan- May 29

Yesterday,Friday, we toured the Thumb of Michigan. Started our day at the Octagonal Farm and Agricultural Museum located near Gagetown Michigan. Mr.Purdy, a banker in the 1920s, built this rather ostentatious barn with the idea that one big building could serve many purposes and then other small sheds (as buildings for farm machinery and tools) would not be needed. To the tip of its weather vane it is 70 feet tall. Mr.Purdy then built an extravagant twelve room house with seven bedrooms, best described as a craftsman type bungalow. He also built a powerhouse for a generator to provide electricity for the house as there was no electrical company in Gagetown at the time. I would also like to add one more interesting note about Mr.Purdy; he and some other Michigan bankers are recognized as the originators of the F.D.I.C. concept. We spent way more time than we had planned for that stop. We then headed for the coastline of Port Huron. Toured the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse and walked a long pier to get a glimpse of the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse(only accessible by boat). Then it was on to Grindstone city. In the 1930s it was discovered that the area had the type of rock needed for grindstones. A quarry was started and this city became the grindstone capital of the world. Many grindstones dot the landscape of the area, but there are very few originals still around. The pictures posted here are of the farm and Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frankenmuth Michigan- May 28

We left the Toledo area this morning and are now parked in Frankenmuth, next to my brother Wayne and his wife Mary Jo. It certainly is a much cooler day than we have experienced in quite some time. We are within walking distance of Bronner's Christmas Store, one of the well-known must see sights in the area. The town is also famous for its 35-bell automatic carillon in the Bavarian Inn's Glockenspiel Tower. The carillon plays selected melodies followed by a presentation of carved wooden figures depicting the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. I have been to this area many times over the years as my parents grew up near the city of Saginaw. I also still have many relatives living around here. It is always good to come back. And tasty German food can always be found in the markets and restaurants in this town. We just found out that the world has another Lohrmann today-- our nephew Martin and Carrie his wife had a baby boy today. Welcome to the world, baby Jonah Martin!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fairy Doors- May 27

We headed to Ann Arbor today, Kerrytown being our first stop there. In the May 24 issue of the Toledo Blade Christopher Borelli remarks that "Ann Arbor after Disney World is the second happiest place on earth". That remark seems to be relating to the many good culinary delights he found in Ann Arbor. A year ago I had a delicious fish sandwich at Monahan's Seafood Market and today at Zingermann's delicatessen I enjoyed a smoked trout and spinach sandwich. My little culinary experience in Ann Arbor has also been a pleasant one. After lunch we walked around Kerrytown and were pleased to discover that this was the day of the Farmer's Market. There we were greeted with a sign that read: "buy local or bye-bye local". Much as we were tempted to buy up plants and produce, that was not in our plans for the day. We went on to the Visitor's Center of Ann Arbor where I noticed a poster on the wall there showing a variety of fairy doors. After asking the clerk in the center as to where these doors were located, I found to my delight that they were located in various buildings around the city. We would never have guessed that we would be spending most of our afternoon in Ann Arbor looking for fairy doors! Apparently a fairy (Jonathan B.Wright) started in 2005 to pick various buildings in which he would place the fairy doors. I posted a picture here of one of those doors,located at the Selo-Shevel Gallery. Possibly you may see the gifts on the door step, like one froot loop,a stick of gum and some stones. Children like to place these little gifts in front of the fairy doors. Mr.Wright then removes them and places the gifts inside the little doll house which he built behind the fairy door located at the shop called the Peaceable Kingdom on Main Street. We found about four of these doors when oops- we realized we had run out of time with our parking meter! We were only a couple of blocks from the next fairy door but decided that we did not want to pay a parking fine. Sure enough, shortly after we arrived at the parking lot a police officer was making his round of the meters. One would think there would be some leniency there for tourists- especially considering how much we were already paying for the meter,which was a quarter for every fifteen minutes! All in all, we did have a pleasant day in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monroe Mi- May 26

Today was a cool, rainy day. However, we still felt the need to get out and we knew that Monroe Mi. was an historical area. Hard to believe that the war of 1812 came this far. The British wanted to hold onto Michigan and the Great Lakes consequently they and Native Americans fought our American troops in one of the largest engagements of the War of 1812. Of the 934 American troops who fought here, only 34 escaped death or capture. It was a rout for the British. The River Raisin flows through this area (see photo posted here), so the rallying cry of the War of 1812 was "remember the River Raisin". Also, I did not know that in 1835 a battle was fought here called " Battle of Toledo". In this battle Michigan lost Toledo and a potential civil war was averted. To our disappointment all the museums were closed, but we still found enough to do in touring the 1812 battlefield and reading historical markers. A statue of General Custer is also in this town as he had grown up in this area (I have also posted a picture of that here}. We enjoyed walking into some little shops near Custer's statue, and what realy capped off our afternoon in Monroe was finding the "Rendezvous" sweet shop.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Toledo Ohio, May 24

Actually, we are in a campground which is north of Toledo, a few miles into Michigan. We are here visiting my brother Marcus, his wife Heidi and daughter Rebecca (recently graduated from college and now home to stay for the next year while she attends graduate school). It is about our fourth Spring, well, it is coming to an end here. I helped my brother with his Spring planting yesterday. I do miss gardening, but can usually find somebody who is willing for me to work in their yard. After planting we went to the Toledo Botanical Garden, which is as beautiful as the Missouri Botanical Garden, just on a smaller scale. As we were leaving the garden some women encouraged us to enter one of the buildings on the ground. What a treasure we found in that building! It was the Blair Museum of Lithophanes. Lithophanes are three-dimensional translucent porcelain plaques which when backlit reveal detailed magical images. They were first created in the 1820s in Europe. Lithophanes can be found on lampshades, dishes, candle holders, jewelry boxes, and also framed pictures. The images on them were replicas of some paintings, scenes of the Alps, portraits of people,and famous places as the Eiffel tower- to mention a few. John has a stein with a picture of a picnic scene at the bottom (which only can be seen when held up to the light). He found that at an antique shop in Germany when he was in the service. We never realized that there were so many other lithophanes out there. What we saw at the Blair Museum is the world's largest collection of them-- a must see if you are ever in the Toledo area.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicago- May 20

For a change we did not do museums, city or farm tours today. Instead we drove into Chicago and rode our bikes along the shores of Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful sunny day with a bit of a strong breeze. The temperature was 87 degrees, the warmest day of the year so far for Chicago. There were a lot of people out in this area, but we were still able to navigate our bikes on the paths along the shoreline. Our folding bikes do attract looks and comments from people- I will post a picture of John with his bike on this blog. We went a total of about six miles on our bikes, which was about all we could do because of the warm sun and wind. After that we met our son Mike for supper at the Berghoff restaurant. It is an over 100 year old German-American dining place with lots of ambiance and good food.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Valparaiso Graduation, May 17

I have had some questions regarding the Valparaiso graduation, which we attended Sunday. I was surprised to find out that what I had written on that did not get posted, so I will try again. It was a wonderful week-end in that John and I got to see many family members, twenty-two to be exact. I have nine brothers and sisters, of which three of the brothers had children graduating. I will post a picture of the graduates on this blog. Growing up with that many sisters and brothers was not easy because to survive as a family we had to learn to share everything, even our parent's love for us. But as the years have passed I am very grateful for every one of my siblings. We have seen each other through many of the joys and sorrows of life. And that was somewhat the theme of Professor Wangerin's message to the graduates. He said that when we look at our economy, military and infrastructure what matters is parents and children and how they care for each other. President Heckler had a similar message in the Baccalaureate service. He commented to the graduates that amassing a large fortune or climbing the corporate ladder is not as important as caring for one's fellow man. And to my thinking such caring first begins in the family.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Amish Country-- May 19

Okay, so we are still touring Indiana ( I have been teased about that). Today we visited the towns of Wakarus and Nappanee. John wanted to find the Dime Store first of all in the town of Wakarus. And, yes, that was the name of the store. It is famous for its jumbo jelly beans and various other sweets. We spent a wad of dough there for various sweets as the jumbo jelly beans (actually they did not look good to me at all, I could only cringe at the idea of all that pure sugar). Anyway, we did help the economy of that town! We then walked into the town hardware store to purchase a small item. As we were checking out the clerk urged us to pick up a copy of the Amish Country magazine of northern Indiana and to look at page 23. There we found his picture, and the note with it said that he was the proprietor of a hardware store famous for its 1,000 drawers of nuts and bolts and its tin ceiling. We then checked out a few more stores in town and before we knew it most of the afternoon had gone. We then drove to Nappanee. Through out much of this area we had been seeing Amish folk. Northern Indian has the second largest population of Amish people. And we saw them everywhere on the roads in their bikes and buggies. We also saw them out working in their fields. We saw one particular farmer plowing his field with a tiller drawn by four horses. Also on the tiller with him was two young bonneted girls ( I have posted here what that plow looks like). We then visited Amish Acres- a restored old order Amish farm. There on the guided tour we learned that it takes 100 hours for an Amish farmer to till, plant and harvest one acre of grain. Another farmer, who uses modern equipment, will only need a total of three hours to plant and harvest the same acre. Amish Acres had many interesting buildings to tour. One that intrigued me was the mint still. At the turn of the twentieth century Indiana was the largest producer of mint. After it was processed it was sent on to the Wriggley Gum company in Chicago. Before I close here, does anyone have a desire to see Indiana this summer? We were encouraged to come back for the Quilt Garden tour. It will run from May 25 until Oct. 1. There will be 16 gigantic gardens recreating traditional or contemporary quilt patterns. They willl grace seven communities in northern Indiana. If you are interested go to Quilt Gardens I wish we could be back here to see it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This and That- May 16

It has rained here all day yesterday and most of the night- sky now is overcast. The lake at this campground has gone over the banks and an exit road is under water. The good news is that we are on high ground and it is not presently raining. Wanted to share with you a few road signs which we saw on our trip here. At a rest stop we noticed a sign that warned against unloading livestock. Don't believe I have ever noticed goats or cows grazing at a rest stop. Would be a first for me. One other sign I saw that made me shudder: " Thugs will not attack if teacher has a gun" for more information on that go to guns save I cannot imagine a teacher pulling out a gun in her classroom when students get out of hand. And a sign that is needed: "cell phone usage lane". John and I got in a lane on the highway in which the traffic was moving very slowly. We could not see in, in the distance ahead, what could be causing the slowdown. As we drove out of that lane and passed up the slower moving traffic we counted four cell phone users in a row in that lane.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hana, Indiana- May 15

We left St.Louis Mo. yesterday about 3PM, and arrived here about 10PM. The weather was nice so we decided to keep going. Not a bad decision, as today it is cool and rainy. We had a late start yesterday because our motor home was in the repair shop until about noon. The mechanic at the repair shop helped us to finally understand why we seem to have so many little things coming loose or disconnecting in our home. He explained that when we are traveling on the road what is happening with our home is that it is going through little earthquakes, depending on how bad the road is. I thought of what he said yesterday as we were driving here and coming over some pretty rough roads. And, yes, we now have some new rattles which we may need to check out! After we left highway fifty-seven( through Illinois) we traveled through many small towns, which I did enjoy. But every little town seems to have railroad tracks, which only adds to our home's frequent bouncing and shaking. And the trains seem to startle our cat a bit. He is pretty much ensconced on our dash most of the time now; even after a train whistle jolted him from his nap yesterday, he quickly settled back down to snoozing. A well-traveled cat! As the rain is now coming down on our home at present, I can not help but commiserate with the farmers. Seeing the farmlands under water, as we drove here yesterday, makes me think that it will be awhile before planting can begin.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Trivial information- May 11

The city park here -Ecopark of St.Charles- has signs along its trail explaining historical events that happened in this area. The Wabash Railroad Bridge, which can be seen from the trail, was first built in 1871. Just as I did not know that toll roads existed before that time, so also I did not know that before bridges were built, ferries were used to get trains across rivers. The historical note regarding the Wabash Railroad Bridge was that the ship Montana hit the bridge and sunk several years after the bridge was built. One other item of note is that signs of Spring are now evident in Missouri. I was able to purchase fresh strawberries at Thies' farm today- and they are delicious. Also, in Farmington, I saw blue birds and my first sighting of a humming bird. Weather has been on the cool side, but still quite pleasant. And to satisfy my urge to dig in the dirt, I was able to work in my sister Julia's flower garden this past week-end.

Friday, May 8, 2009

April 8- trying out our new bikes

Did not think that I would have too much to write about while sitting here in St.Charles. Actually, the last several days we have been in Farmington visiting John's sister Carolyn and her husband Jim. We could not leave when we wanted today because of a very dark sky and tornado warnings (actually were up late last night because there were tornado warnings then also). We spent some time in the basement this noon because that time around we decided to take the warnings seriously. Before heading to the basement, however, we found it fascinating to watch the storm clouds roll in and the wind build in strength. Fortunately the storm did not cause major damage in the immediate area we were in. Other areas in Farmington did not fare as well, as some buildings had structural damages, and power outages occured because of trees being topppled. Creeks and rivers are all ready filled so there was also flash flooding. We did make it out of town, however. By the time we reached home the sun was out and it was hard to believe what we had experienced earlier in the day. So we hauled out our new bikes and tried them on the Katy trail. We bought the bikes earlier this week. They are quite different than the bikes we use to own. We wanted our new bikes to be foldable, to easily fit in our Honda. And the only ones in stock at the bike shop we went to were electric. To make a long story short, we discarded the battery packs for the bikes ( they were way to heavy to travel with). Amazingly enough, we enjoyed our short trip on the Katy trail tonight with those bikes. And yes, they do require a bit of leg power. But the sheer ease of getting them out of the car and unfolded so they can can be ridden makes them great little bicycles. Quite comfortable,too. Before I close I want to share with you all something I read today: "may you always be overwhelmed by the Grace of God rather than the cares of life".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2- St.Charles Mo.

Postings may slow up awhile we are sitting here in St. Charles. However, we are keeping busy visiting family and friends. Last evening we were privileged to hear The St.Louis Philharmonic Orchestra (our nephew David Austerberry plays the cello in the orchestra). As per usual, they had a fantastic performance. Today my husband John and I and all three of my sisters went to see the movie The Soloist ( starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Fox). We were all in agreement that that was one out-standing movie. It made it very understandable why both schizophrenia and homelessness ( which quite often go hand in hand) are societal issues which have no easy answer. The most powerful statement for me, in the movie, was the comment that friendship may change one's brain chemistry. Sorry if this sounds like an arts and entertainment review, and not a travel blog. And on that subject, we discovered there are two nice walking paths over the fence from us. One path is part of a St.Charles city park, and the other running parallel to it is the Mo. Katy trail ( which use to be an old railroad line that runs across the state). It has been redone so it can be used for hiking and biking. The Missouri river come close to it here in St.Charles. Currently it is up over its banks in some areas- flowing hard and fast. We may slow up on our blogging for awhile now, but we hope all of our readers stay in touch as we will be continuing our travels in a couple of weeks. Heading back East, however with a more northernly route.