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A Memorable Trip
August 19, 2019

I do this sometimes.

Instead of writing on nature, or gardens, I am choosing to share some of our whirlwind trip to parts of Northern Michigan.

There were memories made and a few life happens moments.

(Gray Wolf at the zoo.)

After all, the main reason for
taking kids with us was to make memories and show parts of our state they may otherwise not see (at least anytime soon).

We saw a Cross In The Woods, Visited a Historical Fort, and crossed the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

We Visited a Haunted Lighthouse (so legend has it), A Historic Ghost Town, and a Family Zoo.

All wrapped within 900 plus miles of road time, (from home to home again).

We left Tuesday morning and returned home Mid afternoon on Friday.

My head is still spinning.


First we had to take care of business at the pet hotel and meet our daughter and grand kids at her home where she would follow us.

After a pit stop and gas fill up, we made our way to the small town of Indian River where the majestic 'Cross In The Woods' Sits.

When we arrived, the sky was overcast and a few drops were falling, which made for poor picture taking (this is the best I could get).

The largest crucifix in the world  is 55 feet tall and 22 feet wide, and is carved from a single redwood tree and stands as the centerpiece of this Catholic shrine in the woods of northern Michigan.

The bronze figure of Jesus Christ that is attached to the cross weighs about 14,000 pounds.

A rather awe inspiring site to see, for sure.

Next we were off to Mackinaw City.

I took the boys (ages 16, 11, and 4.5) to Fort Michilimackinac.

A replica of a French built fort from the early 1700's.

Later it became a British fort and later on the British burned it down so it could be used again.

Still some burnt remains are on display and archaeologist work the site every year.

An all around educational and fun experience for the older boys.

My 4 year old great grand son was getting tired and started to act up quite a bit.

A crabby child become a challenge.

While we were at the fort, the girls do what girls do.

They shopped and shopped some more.

After finding a place to eat, we crossed what was once the longest suspension bridge in the world, The Mighty Mac.

She is now the fifth longest bridge in the world, yet still the longest in the Western Hemisphere at an impressive 5 miles long

The overcast day too away from some of the beauty of crossing her.

No matter, I never tire of seeing this monolith and get a thrill driving across some 200 plus feet above the straights. 

It is a joy to see the kids eyes open so wide.

We got registered into our motel on the north side of the bridge in the town of St. Ignace (motels are less expensive north of the bridge).

It's true, a majority of Michiganders never cross the bridge for one reason, or another (finances, fear, etc.).

Unload the car.

Kids bags, HBA, Grab a shirt and top to wear for tomorrow. Munchies.

All set.


"Where is the suitcase", Karen asks.

What suitcase?

Short story, we are so concerned making sure all the small details are taken care of. 

Bags for the two little ones that will share our room.

Builders were still at the house when we left.

The suitcase is still sitting on the bedroom floor.

No where near the door or where we can remember it.

Karen's extra shoes, (a pair for every outfit).

Shorts, socks, and underwear.

Yep, things happen.

The following morning we made a quick stop at a 'Dollar General', to find some affordable necessities.

Wouldn't you know, Karen bumped into a gentleman that was there for the same reason.

About all we could do was laugh.

Onto one of Michigan's prettiest lighthouse (at least I think it is).

Seul Choix (pronounced Sis-shwa) Point Lighthouse.

Stories are told about this house being haunted by good ghosts of past care takers.

On the side road to the lighthouse, we were blessed with a flyover of two Bald Eagles, (we were told that 5 of them live on the small peninsula).

The Lake Michigan shoreline is covered with Milkweed, which made for a wonderful display of Monarch butterflies.

I'm always looking for some nature.

Onto 'Fayette State Park' and the 'Ghost Town of Fayette'.

Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations.

This 'Company Town' grew up around two blast furnaces, a large dock, and several charcoal kilns, following the post-Civil War need for iron.

Nearly 500 residents (many immigrating from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe), lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron.

During 24 years of operation Fayette's blast furnaces produced a total of 229,288 tons of iron, using local hardwood forests for fuel and quarrying limestone from the bluffs to purify the iron ore.

After the company closed the town, it became a fishing village, and a summer resort town.

The state bought the land in 1959 and turned the historic site into a 'State Park'.

Many of the buildings are well preserved, while some have had a few repairs.

The whole peninsula is worth the history lesson, and natural landscapes are a wonder.

Our daughter and older grand sons were impressed.

An eight and six year old girls , well......

My little great grandson, ...

Never again on a trip of any length.

Our fault, I know.

(Fort Wall.)

Onto Menominee where we spend the second night.

First we have dinner at one of the few Perkins restaurants left.

After that, a quick drive across the Menominee River,  into Marinette, Wisconsin.

This way all the kids can say they were in Wisconsin.

A lot of responsibility falls on a Grandpa's shoulders, a quick drive into another state is one of them.

Thursday morning, onto the DeYoung Family Zoo.

Now here is where kids of all ages can have some fun.

Karen and I were a bit disappointed that the lions were gone (passed away), and nothing there that we saw.

Bud DeYoung, the owner knows how to play to the crowd and get kids involved.

Along with several other kids, my boy got involved by throwing marshmallows to the black bears.

Not before he ate one for himself, however.

All fell in love with Wallace the Hippo.

This is the same Hippo that Bud DeYoung took time to assist Yolanda in feeding Wallace as a baby 10 years ago.

My favorite at the zoo is the majestic, yet beautiful Siberian tigers.

A large pen is filled with various barnyard animals plus an Emu.

So many had bought feed and were tossing it on the ground for the animals to stretch their necks and try to lick the ground this side of the fence.

I quickly went back and bought two buckets of animal food.

I showed our little ones how to place the feed in their hand, lay it open and flat, and the animals will lick it all off your hand.

Now don't say 'How Gross', or anything like that.

This is how it's done.

Before I knew, our 4 year old boy, six and eight year old girls had their hands extended.

Wouldn't you know it, the rest of the crowd started doing the same thing.

For me, this is a true memory maker for a bunch of city kids that otherwise haven't a clue.

Besides, there were giant bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the zoo.

Interactions with a three week old white fawn.

Other interactions that make this zoo a must for anyone with small kids.

Time to leave the zoo.

We are running out of time as we head back to St. Ignace for one last night.

I was hoping to visit Kitch-iti-kipi ( a massive spring), and possibly Castle Rock.

We simply ran out of time.

We stopped in the city of Escanaba, MI for a late lunch.

Sitting at the table of the local Wendy's, we were sitting down to eat.

In the blink of an eye, little boy reached across the table and I am instantly wearing my whole glass of Root Beer.

My shirt, my Dollar General shorts and underwear.

My right sock and shoe has a puddle of root beer in it.

By now Karen and I can only laugh, as life happens.

We eat, and stop at the new "Marshall's' to grab me some more clothes.

I do a quick change in the car (parking lot).

Thankfully my sandals are on the back floor.

Onto St. Ignace.

Friday morning, we are homeward bound.

A lot of memories were made this past week.

Some I know Karen and I will look back on.

Thank you for letting me share these moments with you.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“I don't think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it. I think if you are determined enough and willing to pay the price, you can get it done."

- Mike Ditka

From The word of God

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You believe in God; believe also in me.

John 14:1

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,

believe that you have received it, and it will be yours".

Mark 11:24

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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