Monday, July 28, 2014

Falls of the Ohio State Park

Just had to post one final parting shot of the wildflowers which we enjoyed East Harbor State Park.  Besides the coneflowers pictured above we also saw lots of beebalm and chicory.
Last Thursday we were parked near another body of water, the north shore of the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana.  And Clarksville is north, or across the river from Lexington, Kentucky.  We have been on Eastern Standard Time, but now we are getting use to Central Standard again.  It has all been confusing, I just try not to dwell on it too seriously.  The falls of the Ohio River are pictured above- they really are not like Niagara Falls as you can see.  They use to be a series of rapids caused by water flowing over ledges of hard limestone.composed of large numbers of fossils.  A dam was built in the 1920s and the flow of water was restricted, now most of the rapids are covered with water.
The Falls of the Ohio River State Park has historical significance.  Pictured above is a statue of Lewis and Clark.  A plaque under their figures notes "When they shook hands the Lewis and Clark expedition began".  The two men met at the home of George Rogers Clark, the older brother of William who founded and licved in Clarksville.  Saturday morning we moved further into Kentucky, near Mammouth Cave National Park, where my family, the Lohrmanns, are having a family reunion.  I think that this year we are having close to about 80 in attendance, it is the largest reunion for us so far!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Put-in-Bay and South Brass Island

One of the reasons that we are parked on Lake Erie is to visit Put-in-Bay and see the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial.  Yesterday we took our bikes and boarded a ferry which brought us to South Brass Island and the village of Put-in-Bay.  We got around the island fairly easy all day as there are bike paths, and usually when we have to share the road with motorized  vehicles the majority of them are golf carts.  In the background of the picture is the granite column of the memorial which has a copper urn on top.
Flags along the road to the memorial are that of Canada, Great Britain, America, and Ohio.  The memorial also celebrates the peace which we share with Great Britain and Canada.  Between us is the longest undefended border in the world.  At the 1931 dedication of the memorial it was noted that our relationship with Great Britain and Canada should be an inspiration for world peace.
At the visitor's center we learned more about the decisive battle of the War of 1812 which took place  on September 10, 1813.  Winning that battle gave America control of Lake Erie as well as the Northwestern territory.   We watched a movie in the museum which gave all the details of that battle.  It told how Captain Perry left his wooden ship the U.S.Brig Lawrence, after its' sails were shredded with many soldiers killed or wounded, and boarded the U.S.Niagara with his "Don't Give Up The Ship" flag in hand.  It was an important moment in the battle leading up to our victory.  At the end of the day Captain Perry wrote in his famous summary of the day's events: " we have met the enemy and they are ours.."
Put-in-Bay village has the usual tourist shops and restaurants.  After an early supper of fish (of course) we continued our tour of the island on our bikes, and found the "oldest church on the island" (the quotation was taken from the church sign).  I learned later that the church, St.Paul's Episcopal, was built in 1864 and financed partly with the assistance of Jay Cooke.   I wrote of him in my previous posting.
Our last stop of the day, before boarding the ferry for our return trip home, was the South Brass Island Light.  The lighthouse is in a Queen Anne style brick building which has a 60 foot tower attached to the keeper's home.  It is no longer in operation, the lighthouse was closed in 1962 when the U.S. Coast Guard replaced it with an automated light tower.

Sandusky, Ohio

Sunday afternoon we decided to see how close we could get to Cedar Point amusement park and see some of the rides which we have been noticing from across Lake Erie.  We drove on the causeway which took us directly into the park, however we were immediately prevented from going any further because of the presence of a ticket booth.  What a difference from the late 1800s when a ferry transported people over to that island and there were only white sandy beaches, picnic tables and a dancing pavilion!  From Cedar Point we drove to the waterfront of Sandusky for a fish supper.  Perch and walleye are the common fish of Lake Erie, we have hardly missed a day since we have arrived here to partake of a fish meal.  After supper we walked across the street to a park with an interesting statue.  It is of an African American couple with a baby.  The sculpture was created with chains.
The park had interpretive signs regarding the Underground Railroad.  Sandusky was a major stop for run-away slaves on the Underground Railway.  Harriet Beecher Stowe used the city as the gate to freedom for the fugitives in her book Uncle Tom's Cabin.  In this park we also learned that the Union during the Civil War was financed partly by the local banker Jay Cooke.  From the waterfront we drove to downtown Sandusky and Washington Park which features tropical plants and gardens with ornate designs.
Here we found the Boy with a Boot sculpture.  It is a replica of the original one created in 1895, and is the city symbol for Sandusky.
  I tried searching the net for more information on that, found nothing except some fascinating about the street pattern of the city.  It is the only city in the world with the streets overlaid with the symbols of the Freemasons.  While walking around Washington park I also saw a few small lighthouses.
Some towns are decorated with a variety of cows and horses, in Sandusky it is lighthouses.  I found one near Zion Lutheran and then saw an  historical marker across the street from that church at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.  Notre Dame Head Football Coach Knute Rockne was married in the rectory of that church in 1914.  The priest and Knute's best man had both worked with him at Cedar Point.  We started out thinking that there was not much to see in Sandusky, but instead discovered it to be a fascinating town having beautiful sights as well as an interesting past.  To find out what the town had to offer we just needed to get out of the car and do a bit of walking.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Schedel Arboretum and Garden- Part Two

I do believe my readers know me by now, that I cannot write on any botanical gardens or arboretums in one posting!  And now back to subject of the Dawn Redwoods.  
This grove of “living fossils”, with their shaggy auburn bark, was started in the 1950s.  They were once believed to be extinct, however in 1941 a 1,000 of them were found in remote areas of China.  Scientists from Harvard University sponsored an expedition to collect seeds from the trees and soon the first trees were planted in America.  Another interesting tree is the Bristlecone pine, which John has been looking for since he first read about them.  This species, in its native environs, can live for millennia, and there are specimens over 4,700 years old in existence.  We found one in the Schedel gardens, upon examination of the tiny cones on the tree we discovered they had bristles on their surface.
In my previous posting you may have noticed the thousands of annuals planted along the mansion’s driveway, and also a smaller amount of begonias and other plants around the Los Bailadores Flamenco marble sculpture, pictured above.  The beds of the gardens are planted with nearly 20,000 annuals each year.  To plant and maintain so many meticulously manicured beds of plants looks like a lot of work to me!  Schedel Gardens has a staff of 15-20 full and part-time staff.  They also are helped by nearly 100 volunteers, student interns and master gardeners.
As you may notice from the above last two pictures, art has become an important feature of the gardens.   The sculpture pictured above is called The Sower.  I liked it the best, it gave the impression that the little girl was holding a bouquet of lilies.  As a garden brochure has explained it so well, it is an example of “how art enhances the beauty of the gardens as well as how gardens can enhance the beauty of art”.  In closing, pictured below are the flowers of a rose of Sharon bush, I have not seen one before with blue flowers!

Schedel Arboretum and Gardens

For more than 50 years this Victorian Mansion was the home of Marie and Joseph Schedel, it was built in 1888.   The house, located outside of Elmore, Ohio, was occupied by the Schedels from 1930 to 1989.  It sits on a bluff overlooking the Portage River and the property’s two adjacent lakes.  There is a total of 17 acres of land on the estate.  Pictured below is a path winding its way down toward river. In the background of the picture is the Schedel’s summer cottage called the “shack”.
The couple spent most of their time there as the mansion was too much like a museum for them. The Schedels had traveled to more than 100 countries and brought back ideas of nature and art to use in their home and gardens.  They had a special passion for the orient and far eastern cultures, as evidenced in the Japanese section of their gardens.
In the Japanese garden there is a large red Torii, as well as lanterns and pagodas, waterfalls and a small pond.  Here the cremated remains Dr. Schedel and his wife lie under a pagoda.  In the Japanese Garden, as well as throughout the grounds, are twenty different varieties of Japanese maples.  They provide a beautiful splash of color with their reddish colored leaves.  We found a small Japanese maple located in the bonsai shelter of the gardens.  The structure houses a collection of miniaturized pruned trees known as bonsai, the oldest one being 70 years of age.  The practice of expertly shaping the small trees was started in ancient China, but was perfected by the Japanese.  Some of the bonsai are pictured below.  Here we also found a dawn redwood, we had just seen a grove of those trees in another part of the gardens.  More on that tree in my next posting.

On The Shores of Lake Erie

We are back in Ohio, parked in East Harbor State Park.  Too bad we don't fish,  the western basin of Lake Erie has the best fishing of all the Great Lakes combined.  East Harbor Park is situated on a peninsula of land stretching into the waters of Lake Erie.   The history of Lake Erie, as well as all the Great Lakes, goes back to the Pleistocene Ice Age when glaciers came grinding down from the north.  In the area of Ohio massive sheets of ice gouged and scoured the bedrock of the land in East Harbor park (and other areas on the shores of Lake Erie) where there is evidence of  glacial grooves or striations.    
In the first two days we have been here we have hiked Middle Harbor, which is near our campground.  It is a game sanctuary where black-crowned night herons, egrets, great blue herons and other shorebirds find refuge.  We have seen many of those shore birds,feeding in the shallow waters of Lake Erie.  Yesterday, Friday, we drove to the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes.
The lighthouse was built in 1821.  Currently it has an LED green light which flashes every 6 seconds and can be seen for 11 nautical miles.  Over the years the lighthouse has used oil, lard, coal and kerosene lamps to incandescent electric and LED light.  We climbed all 72 steps to the top of the lighthouse where we looked over the waters of Lake Erie to the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Put In  Bay, as well as the keeper’s house which was directly below us.  It was built at the same time as the lighthouse.

From Marblehead we drove to Johnson Island, the site of a Civil War prison camp for Confederate Officers.  The Island in recent years has seen lots of development, and we found only a couple of makers noting the island's historic importance.  The prison’s cemetery, however, is still present on the island, preserved by the Federal government in 1932.   In 1890 206 marble markers replaced the hand carved wooden grave markers, courtesy of the citizens of Georgia.  Reportedly 9,000 men passed through the gates of the prison during the Civil War.  Some resources indicate that more than 300 died while imprisoned on the island.   The cemetery is pictured below, a brass figure of a soldier stands guard over it- he is the “Lookout”.
The cemetery is only a short distance from the shores of Lake Erie

Saginaw County's Castle Museum

Pictured above is the Castle Museum, which we visited when we toured downtown Saginaw two years ago.  And pictured below is also the Castle Museum, constructed by Lego blocks. 
We returned there Wednesday mainly because the Castle Museum currently has an “Inspired by Bricks” exhibition, which is the area’s largest Lego brick architectural display.   It was constructed by Scot Thompson, a registered nurse from Bay City who started working on the display in 2008.  He built with Lego bricks actual structures which are located in Bay City, Saginaw and Midland.  We have seen the landmarks of those three cities and Thompson has done a good job in reconstructing them.  Also located in this exhibit area is a movie running continuously on how the Lego Company started in 1932 from what was once a wooden toy company in Denmark, a very fascinating story!

 When we had visited the museum before it was near closing time two years ago so we just had seen a few displays of Saginaw County’s history on the first floor.   This time we made it to the basement of the building where there is a very large HO scale model train exhibit, The Castle Express.   We saw three trains running, each having about 20-30 cars.  The large layout has over 1000 feet of track.  The volunteer running the train commented to us that the Saginaw Area Module Modelers are very happy to have found a permanent home for their trains in the Castle museum.
 And for members of my family who perhaps may be reading this, I found in the museum a small display pertaining to the Lufkin Rule Company where our mother worked for about 7 years before her marriage to Dad.  The Company first started manufacturing board and log rules for the logging industry in 1869.  During the time my Mother worked there, roughly from 1931-37, the company had diversified into manufacturing an extensive line of measuring devices.    Lufkin Rule closed its’ doors in 1946.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Heidelberg Project

The Detroit Institute of Arts certainly has many expensive prestigious works of art on display, which we should have stopped to see while in Detroit.  We have become well aware of that fact as the institute has been in the news while the bankrupt city has been reviewing its' assets.  We also had learned about another display of art in The Saginaw News travel section a couple of weeks ago, which is the Heidelberg Project.
In 1967 many parts of Detroit burned because of race riots.  Communities became segregated and what with poverty and despair also taking over, urban ghettos sprang up.  In 1986 Tyree Guyton took a stand against what was happening to his city.  Using vacant lots and abandoned houses as his canvas, he transformed an entire city block into an outdoor art environment.  As time has passed, the residents on Heidelberg street also became involved and helped to protect the art work.  Twice the city has tried to destroy the art community but the project has continued to grow, gaining supporters from around the city as well as the nation and the world. 
This was our last stop of the day in Detroit, and, because of the heat of the day, John chose to sit in the car while I wandered down Heidelberg street.  An artist standing near the sculpture pictured above was explaining to several people how he created it from artifacts of historic buildings downtown.  I stopped to listen for awhile.  Amazing that he saved the decorative artwork just before the wrecking ball hit the building!  I also entered one of the homes on the block that had an open door.  Inside the house the walls were covered with decorative contemporary art similar to what I had seen outside.  A lady I met there explained the Heidelberg Project to me and encouraged me to check out the polka dotted house next door. 
Tyree Guyton's Grandpa Sam liked jellybeans and, gazing a them one day, Tyree got the idea that people were jellybeans- all similar and yet different.  The candy inspired him to start painting dots everywhere until the Dotty Wotty House was created.  The street  also became polka dotted- a veritable "celebration of color, diversity and harmony" (as explained by the Project's brochure).
 A lot of the art work features shoes, clocks, vinyl records, and stuffed animals.  As a sign along the street explains: "it symbolizes what can happen when people color a bleak urban landscape with their own history and personalities".  I liked the whole aura of joy and hope which HP speaks to, and it was a perfect ending to our day in Detroit.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Detroit, Michigan- Part Two

On our walk to Detroit's water front we passed by the sculpture of a large iron fist, pictured above.  It is called, appropriately enough, The Fist.  The sculpture is a tribute to Joe Lewis who fought Jim Crow laws inside and outside the ring.  It is symbolically aimed against racial injustice.
We finally made it to the riverfront!  The cityscape is that of Windsor, Canada.  Seeing the boats on the Detroit River reminded me of the boat rides which my family took over to Boblo Island amusement park.
That park is now closed and the island is being redeveloped.  I think we must have traveled over to Canada several times in my youth- I do remember also traveling the Detroit-Windsor underground tunnel.
Along the river walk is a tribute to the Underground Railroad.  Until the Emancipation Act it served as a gateway to freedom for thousands of American escaping from slavery.  Detroit was one of the largest terminals of the United States for the railroad.  Detroit's code name was "midnight".  You may notice three symbols on each side of the sculpture at the feet of the figures.  Those were the clues along the paths leading to Canada, pointing the fugitives toward the correct direction of their destination.  Under the statue is also a map of America showing routes throughout our country of the Underground Railroad.
The sun was hot overhead as we hiked along the river.  It was time to move on, maybe take a break at the Chase building.  What a welcoming ambiance downtown Detroit has, as evidenced by the picture below.

Detroit, Michigan

This city is about eighty miles from where we are presently parked and it seemed a bit nuts to travel that distance for one day.  However, I was adamant that we visit the motor city mainly for the fact that for several years of my youth I had lived there, and I also just felt that it was a major city which we should not pass up in our travels.  After seeing it we could also claim that not only had we looked across the Rio Grand River in Texas, but also had looked across the Detroit River and had seen Canada.  On the other hand, we have been reading The Detroit News and were quite aware that the city is bankrupt and, according to that paper, Detroit has more people living under the poverty line- 42 per cent than any major city in America.  How safe were we traveling into that city?  Well, details like that never stopped John and I before, why now?  We headed out for the city Saturday.  The highway we were traveling on into the city was having road repairs  so, whether we liked it or not, we ended up driving through the city.  We drove by many closed shops and abandoned buildings.  Our first stop of the day was the church and school where my Dad taught.
St.John Lutheran church is to the left of the school in the picture above.  The school closed five years ago, and now Head Start is using the building, which also houses a food pantry for the neighborhood.  We were most fortunate that Willie Marie Henry, who lives nearby and probably keeps a very close eye on the church, came over to greet us as we drove up.  When we told her what my connection was with the church she offered to open it up for us and give us a tour.  What a flood of memories came over me when I saw the altar where I was confirmed in my faith, the organ which my father had played, and also the classrooms where I had attended school!  True, it all could use a coat of paint, but the grounds outside have been lovingly cared for.  Around the flagpole a Girl Scout troop, who also uses the building, had planted flowers.After seeing our old home on Ohio street we then drove toward downtown Detroit.
 We parked our car near the Campus Maritus Park, the classic downtown square where the historic streets of Woodward and Michigan converge.   During the winter it is the home of the city's Christmas tree.  The bright orange you see in the picture above are umbrella- covered tables, which presently offers the summer holiday feeling of a day at the beach.  There is also a boardwalk through the park by which are located piles of sand.  We enjoyed our walk around the vibrant downtown area, many people were out and enjoying the warm summer day.  On our walk toward the waterfront we saw a large sculpture entitled " Transcending" .
The sign near the sculpture notes that it is "Labor's Legacy", a gift to Detroit honoring those who build and serve the city.  It brought to my mind how Detroit is all about car manufacturing and the labor unions which played a big part of that industry.  General Motors has its headquarters in Detroit, it is the tall round building  in the picture below.  There will be more on the city and the Detroit Riverwalk in my next posting.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brewing Beer in Frankenmuth

Today we spent most of our time in two Frankenmuth museums.  Both of them are operated by the Frankenmuth Historical Society.  The first one we visited is the Frankenmuth Lager Mill Beer Store and Brewing Museum.  I am not sure, but I do not believe we have ever run across any historical society which profits from the sale of beer, but that is the case in this town.  The beer museum was placed in an old antique flour mill so the history of brewing in Frankenmuth, shown through photos, artifacts and text, is set amid flour milling equipment.  Pictured below is a flour filter, next to it are shelves of beer glasses.
 The clerk in the beer store was kind enough to tell me how over 2,500 pieces of authentic German glassware found a home in the Lager Museum.  A man from New York had collected them on his trips to German over his lifetime.  Because of health issues he needed to find a museum for them so he began investigating American towns with German names, which was how he found Frankenmuth.  At the time the town was just organizing its' brewery museum and willingly accepted the collection.  The donor of the glasses died the same day he received a picture of his glasses safely esconced in locked cupboards of the museum.
The first brewing company in Frankenmuth was Geyers Brewery founded in 1862.  Another brewer, Frankenmuth Brewing Company, was organized in 1899.  With the Prohibition Enactment of 1930 the town was quite unhappy.  The Frankenmuth Brewing Company changed its' name to the Frankenmuth Products Company and started making malt extract.  Supposedly that substance was made for women to use in their baking.  It came in five gallon containers (pictured above) and more than likely was used in homes for brewing beer.  Frankenmuth Brewery was bought out by Carling Brewery in 1956- it was bought out by G.Heileman who went bankrupt and the large Frankenmuth plant was demolished in 2000. The site of that brewery now hosts a Bavarian-themed shopping plaza. One microbrewery now resides in Frankenmuth, - the Frankenmuth Brewery (a new company took the old name).  That brewery sits on the site of the Geyers Brewery and uses its' old 19th century cellars.  The history of beer brewing in Frankenmuth does have a rather convoluted history!  The microbrewery and restaurant is pictured below.

Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing

It seems strange to me that over the years, when we have made many trips to Michigan because it is my parent's home state, that we have never visited the state capitol.  It is about 70 miles from where we are now parked, but despite the distance we had to travel it was a worth the trip.
When it was dedicated in 1879 the building was the third capitol of the state.  Detroit was selected as the capitol city when Michigan was admitted to the union in 1837,  but the city borders Canada and it was decided that the Detroit was an unsafe place for a state capitol (in the mid 1800s the war of 1812 was a bit too fresh in the memories of many).  The third capitol of Michigan was designed to resemble the U.S. Capitol.  The statue in front of is that of Austin Blair, the war governor during the Civil War.  We had a small window of time to check out the gardens of the capitol before our guided tour started so we went back outside to look at the Victorian Gardens on the capitol grounds.
In 1992, after three years of restoration, the Michigan Capitol was recognized as one of the best examples of Victorian art and architecture.  Consequently the gardens on Capitol Square were also created to reflect that era.  Common to the practice of that time, low-growing flower varieties are used to create patterned garden beds (called carpet bedding).  The rainbow of colors flows in a pattern of bright oranges and reds at the Capitol's front entrance to the cooler color spectrum of blues and lavenders at the end of the building.
Our first stop on the tour of the Capitol was the Governor's office and parlor, one of the more beautiful rooms in the Capitol.  In the parlor a very beautifully carved cupboard caught my eye, pictured above.  Many of the original furnishings of the room are a tribute to Michigan's furniture-making heritage. In fact, one of my Mother's ancestors had a furniture manufacturing company in Saginaw, Michigan.
Pictured above is the House of Representatives.  Walls and ceilings of the capitol are beautifully decorated with elaborately hand-painted designs, as well as the rotunda and dome.  Our guide informed us that every room has a different motif, each one done by a different artist.  The cost of the building when it was constructed was $1,500,000- I would venture to say that it is more costly today and much of its elaborate art work is irreplaceable.  Before closing I want to mention one other fascinating feature of the Capitol.  The floor of the rotunda consists of glass and cast iron lattice work and its design creates an optical illusion.  Seen from several stories up it appears that the center of the floor sinks to form a bowl.