Saturday, July 21, 2012

Leggs Inn, MI Continued from the week

Continuing from yesterday, we
found a great place to stop, a place we would want to visit again, a working inn, along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

The beautiful setting, the wonderful food is worth the wait and the trip there if one is in the area.   

Apparently this place has been mentioned in famous unique inns and has been on some episodes of Food Channels, but I was totally unfamiliar with it.  Local legends are not always as interesting . 

Jerry examines the teepee
We found Legs Inn easily right smack dab at the intersection of M-119 and what appears to be the main street of Cross Village.  This was a place we could have easily spent the day, as it was the couple hours we could spare went all too fast.  The tepee to the left was made of wooden bark hunks resembling shingles and was different from any tepee we had seen elsewhere in the country. 

As soon as I saw the sign and the Polish link I knew it would be something enjoyable and  my imagination rolled along thinking about the collaboration between a Pole and the local Indians even if it was the 1930"s.  Jan Smolak immigrated to America in 1921 and made his way to the upper peninsula of Michigan.  There were copper mines and ore mines in the upper that attracted the Polish immigrants.  He also was talented  musician and artist as we learned in the hallway art gallery. 

I could not understand why the name Legs Inn but one sign explained it was for the legs placed along the roofline.  Who but a seeker of curiosities would place legs along the roof? The photo below shows the side of the stone building, the Indian head carving over the door and the row of legs on the roofline. 

  Legs Inn is one of those  the way places that one might stumble onto unaware while out exploring the backroads.  It is the center of the village and as the bartender replied to one man who inquired if it was the only restaurant in town due to the big crowd and the wait to be served, "this is the town."   Tell me that I can have authentic Polish food and I am hooked.  Seeing it on the menu with accurate Polish spelling drew my immediate attention.  

It was a feeling of pride, when  I saw the Michigan Historical Site sign printed in Polish on the other side.  

 I have not seen this tribute to the Polish elsewhere.  So I am quite enthused about Michigan for honoring the native language of these early immigrants. 

Polish side of the sign

We walked around the back of the inn to the gorgeous outdoor seating overlooking Lake Michigan.  It was a warm balmy day which diminished the draw of the smell of real kielbasi and pierogi.  To me that is food for the cooler weather so despite the thrill of the original, we did not indulge.  There would have been a one hour minimum wait for appetizers at the bar so we passed.
Lake Michigan off  alongside the outdoor dining

Some primitive stone art
We made our way inside to the bar....a 100 year old hemlock tree trunk
is the bar, very shining  finish allowing natural grain and knots to be appreciated
as one sits there enjoying any number of brews and vodkas
true to the Polish heritage, no cheap booze,  Premium pours, Belvedere and Chopin vodkas.
to this day I know my heritage because I neither  drink nor serve
cheap wine, vodka, etc.  If you are having a drink make it count.
Sto lat naz drowie
Talked to a man from New York who was sitting at the bar next to us, waiting for a table.
Some were eating at the bar and as I mentioned there was a long wait, but we were
quickly served beers on tap.  The NY'er said, he had been in every bar in Manhattan and many all over the country but never the likes of this and he never had a bear staring at him.  Usually I am squeamish with too many heads and taxidermy but there is so much of it inside Legs that it takes on an aura of a museum and was fascinating.   
I called this Jabba the Hut from the Starwars character, but
it is something more remarkable and one of the hundreds of
wood carvings.  This postcard captured the detail better than my photo
Polish beer on tap  Hooray
Look at the wood above the shelf, carved and  finished to a glow

One of many totems inside this one closest
to the bar where a customer downs a tall
cool one. Notice the legs on the totem. 

A short trip to the gift shop took us past the art gallery.   I purchased  a couple hand decorated Polish Easter eggs and a  book, Bootleg Buggy by a local author about her Polish immigrant roots to the area.  And we had to be on our way.  This is a place to return next visit to the area. 

Portrait of Chief White Cloud as the Indians
called Smolak

We would exit out this front door, again
notice the woodcarving, inside the workmanship
captured Jerry"s attention. 

Off back along the tunnel of trees M119 to Bay Harbor and Petoskey. 

Blogger is again protesting so I am off here for today....sometimes I think I should migrate the blog....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Con't from Tuesday more up north

On travels and at home we see panhandlers alongside roads with their signs  to attract donations, I admit I used to donate occasionally out of a benevolence or Christian duty, but I overcame that as I noticed the proliferation of the same compounded by the fact that when local business owners offered them a job they scattered.  Panhandlers often station themselves at  stoplight controlled intersections where there is massive traffic but this guy as a living bronzed statue in Mackinaw City outdid himself.  People could place tips in his bike basket and take their photo with him.  This attracted many tourists and children ad is either a unique way to panhandle or is an addition to the tourist draws.  Several times as we walked by I thought that is a tough way to make a living standing immobile in the warm sun; he would move ever  slowly when a donation entered the basket.  I anticipated  when he would walk away for a break but  never caught that.  I am not sure if he was an attraction from one of the shops or not but he was at the same place several days in a row, BTW the dog is a bronzed statue.

One shop where we  indulged in ice cream  had an exhibit of the local Lion's club fundraiser, a different sort of barbque grill.  .  Not my taste but Jerry got a kick out of it.  

A local woman told us about the  wonderful drive along Michigan Road M-119, known as the Tunnel of Trees 27miles between Harbor Springs and Cross Village and an alternate route to Petoskey.  We are thankful she did because it was magnificent, very much a two lane twister that treated us to sights we'd have missed.   I'd noticed the multitude of polished rocks being sold as Petoskey stones as decorative or pendants so I was curious about Petoskey.    This Heritage route is a stunning display of northern hardwoods located close alongside the roadway, with no visible light above, creating the feeling of actually travelling through a tunnel.  The route is a favorite of Northern Michigan visitors because of its rolling terrain, stunning vistas, and dramatic turns and curves; this would have been prohibitive in the motor home.  There were many great glimpses of Lake Michigan along the way but no  place to pull over to photograph safely .  Although the traffic was sparse, there were ever so many motorcyclists along the way, a bikers dream despite names like Devil"s Elbow that was a  crooked mile where the crooked man could have built the crooked footstep if I've ever seen one.    
Just one of the many curves on M 119

Thick hardwood trees along the road

 Our first stop was at Cross Village also recommended by the local woman
 to visit Legs Inn which was a delight. 

Turns out Legs Inn was founded by Jan Smolak, a Polish emigrant in the 1930"s collaborating with local Indians..... to be continued next blog post because I am having difficulty posting photos here now and the photos are how I will tell the rest of the story

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Mackinac con't from yesterday

I did not take this photo of the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge at night, but it is just that spectacular.  The bridge was begun in the spring of 1954 and opened November 1, 1957 and is designated as the number one civil engineering project for Michigan of the 20th century.   It is currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world.  For other data such as shown in the poster yesterday, you can go to this website link

We watched 4th of July  fireworks from the American Legion, on the mainland, Mackinaw City. Being Legion members gave us the advantage of staying right at the bar inside where we could people watch for a break from being out amongst them.  Besides the bartender, a local gave us tips on where to eat, avoiding the  multitude of touristy places.  It is always a benefit to get acquainted with locals.

They  did show off with the best fireworks I have seen live  since Calgary, Canada. We knew we were above the 45h parallel which is exactly half way between the equator and the north pole, up north as the say, but we were oblivious to  how far north that is until we noticed day light lasts until 10 o'clock PM so fireworks could not start until 10:15PM or so making for some mighty cranky tots if their parents had not napped them earlier in the day. Many many years ago, when we spent summers in Prince George, British Columbia and Steve was a boy he refused to go to bed until midnight, because it was still light.  We recalled that.  And also when talking to the locals they mentioned the light is great now but oh those long dark winters. 

Before this trip, I could not get straight whether nac or naw or Lake Huron or Lake Michigan but now that we have been there, I've  got it. The mix up with the nac and naw is traced back through the history of the area way back to the Indians, the French, the British as explained by this clipping which you should be able to enlarge by clicking on in your browser.  Fort Mackinac itself is very interesting and the re-enactments and docents in period dress travel and transport visitors back into history of the fur trades.  The beauty of the area enhances the reality of the experience.
The following page said that the British never did
develop a friendly relationship with the Indians and suffered for that

Another carriage on tour.  Some walked, some rode bikes, some
rode horseback.  To me the carriage was the best way to see
the island.  Our guide, Dave knew all the local history.  He also told us how
his job entails caring for the carriage horse teams too,
washing and feeding and gearing them up and down.
Here we stopped to switch carriage horses mid tour

Douds founded in 1884, on Main Street is the oldestAmerican family
owned  grocery market  Their website is

Although the lilacs were not blooming, beautiful hanging
flower baskets are everywhere.  Reminiscent of Victoria
British Columbia

Atop the island, the Fort lies down the hill.  This is Turkey Hill,
during the carriage ride we did see some wild turkeys.

Hearse and fire carriages at the Island museum.  The carriage
stops here so passengers can use necessary rooms and
grab a bite to eat. 
Arch rock looking down to the Lake is awesome
Seeing the Arch rock made me wonder yet again, why people who have never seen half of what there is to see in this country rave about traveling elsewhere in the world.  The water there is as beautiful as the Carribean anytime.  Of course we are flying adverse refusing to spend good money to be herded into a flying bus crammed with hundreds of others, packed like sardines and not even pickled.  Nope, we prefer driving our 2nd home. I have another spectacular photo of this arch but Blogger will not post it correctly.
A Girl Scout on duty working as a docent; summer jobs for youth abound
for the industrious, willing to work and learn the history
We got well acquainted with Dave, our carriage driver whom you met yesterday.  When he saw me taking the following photo he asked if I knew his dad.  I replied  I did not, but that there was something about this sight that reminded me of some people.  I asked Dave if he ever got tired of the view afront, what's that old saying, unless you are the head dog in the sled the view never changes...look on, recognize anyone?

Dave explained when he told his family he was returning to the island for another year for this summer job, Dad said, "uh huh so you are going to spend the day looking at yourself..."  We learned that the horses are
transported off the island to the upper peninsula where they winter. 

To be continued with our trip on the mainland along the magnificent tunnel of trees and to the Legs Inn.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Retreat from the heat and wish we were there

Yooper Ruthie famous lady of the Michigan
Upper Peninsula, aka UP

 It is to be 100 degrees today which is not our MN weather, but puleeze nobody tell the global warming alarmists.    I walked early this morning and even then, by 8:00AM on the return I was sweaty; the high school track which I often have to myself for 1/4 mile laps was invaded by our Lancer football team and not wanting to mix it up amongst  the boys twice my size and 1/4 my age, I departed the track for the 'hoods and woods.  So its a good day to catch up and post some of the vacation photos.  We have been home a little more than a week now and downloading, editing and dealing with the photos takes time.  In old days, a simpler time, we just took the film out of the camera and dropped it off taking our chances with printed results a week or so later. 

This 2+ weeks motor home trip to the Fleetwood Rally in Goshen Indiana followed by a swing up north to Michigan's upper peninsula and all the lake lore was a great time.  Trip details, we  added only 1376 total motor home miles,  26.5 hours actual driving time, consumed 163.7 gallons of diesel including the 3/4  tankful we brought back home, and appreciated the declining cost of diesel, spending only $587 on fuel.  Altogether not an overly costly trip, $526 for RV sites including our rally gathering that had been prepaid in February, $93 for tours, $19 for tolls,  $217 restaurants, $45 groceries, and a  whopping $458 shopping for other items including my RV purse at the Indiana quilt shop, more microfiber mops and cloths at the RV rally from my favorite vendor, a new carved wooden sign for the RV which Jerry is now staining and shellacking to protect it (there never is a piece of wood that he can just leave as is) and other miscellany and finally a special rally deal to extend Good Sam coverage for a couple more years at $99.  All total only  $2044 spent.  Further poof to those who doubt the economical side to RV travel and we never have to worry about bed bugs from hotels having our own home on wheels.  

Now  the first series of photos of Mackinac Island and departure to it, here I am at the dock mainland and it is  a windy cool day, I was not ready to have my photo taken but in a rare moment Jerry had control of the camera, so here, do I look a bit like Ruthie?  Do not answer!  Ahhhh wish  I were back in the cool lake with the wind.  There was no need to comb hair because it would tousle around.  Fortunately I have a simple  cut that doesn't demand staying in place.   

Rest stop sign about Bridge
The previous day, on our drive to the area a rest stop along the American Legion Highway displayed a nice sign and photo of the bridge.  We were a bit early for our RV site arrival so we dallied at the rest stop outside of Grayling Michigan. It is one of the few we saw amidst the plentiful forests of hardwoods of the area which reminded us of western Canada and British Columbia, an area Jerry especially loves. 

We took a Ferry to the  Island along with the multitudes of others touring that day.  Although locals said that the numbers of tourists were down, we could not tell. To us if there was a downside to this trip it was too many people,  more people than w see in a year here in our town.  I especially dislike crowds so it was a bit of a stretch to have to be amongst so many of them the entire time both  on the island and mainland.  If we ever return to this area it would be September when the crowds disperse.  Tourism is a key if not the key industry of the area.

Our Cadillac arrives at the dock

Jerry took many magnificent shots of the world famous
Macinac Island  bridge from our ferry 

We learned too late that had we stayed across the bridge at
St Ignace, the ferry would have taken us under the bridge
Lite house and Ft Mackinac left, up the hill

The ferry takes about 25-30 minutes to the island;
Here we approach as does another ferry

No kidding about the people and the bikes
We arrive at the dock as others too come and go

Breakfast dockside
Main street on the island.  Bikes,  walkers, or those riding either
horseback or carriages.  We had a carriage ride and tour.
It was a good choice which took us all around and over the island.  

The Island is famous for fudge and lilacs.  This is one of the oldest lilac trees
on the island at 100 years old.  Bloom was done

Meet Dave, handsome, personable MI guy and
 our carriage driver and tour guide for the day.  This was his
second year working there.  He is a college Senior at Northwestern.
Grand hotel carriages were empty
To be continued later around the island and more....I have been sitting here long enough.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrate the Freedom on the Fourth

Mackinac Island Porch
Today, we eat hot dogs,beans, potato salad and watermelon but my tradition is to read aloud the Declaration of Independence.  It used to cause Steve to roll his eyes, "oh Mom" maybe he still does from his soul at peace beyond this earth.  
Today we celebrate our nation's history and acknowledge our freedom, a magnificent gift  from our founding fathers.  We will celebrate here on Michigan's peninsula, Mackinac City and watch fireworks over Lake Huron.  
The following column written in 2000 by Jeff Jacoby for the Globe is  worth saving and rereading at least once a year. It is mindful of one's responsibility as a citizen of our heritage or a time before responsibility became a dirty word.  A time when we had pride in work and success.  A time before people went on the dole, and we are not talking pineapples; a time when a government handout was temporary if at all, before the masses became lazy, willing to draw out unlimited unemployment, unwilling to work for a lower paying job, but willing to wallow.  On our travels, we meet hard working people who move around following construction when necessary rather than sit and whine, or young families who live in motor homes and fifth wheels, while making a living.  Those who are not envious of  successful people,  those who still know responsibility. 

Our Founding Fathers Paid The Price For The USA
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted 12-0 -- New York abstained -- in favor of Richard Henry Lee's resolution "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
On July 4, the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson -- heavily edited by Congress -- was adopted without dissent. On July 8, the Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Philadelphia. On July 15, Congress learned that the New York Legislature had decided to endorse the Declaration. On Aug. 2, a parchment copy was presented to the Congress for signature. Most of the 56 men who put their name to the document did so that day.     And then?

We tend to forget that to sign the Declaration of Independence was to commit an act of treason -- and the punishment for treason was death. To publicly accuse George III of "repeated injuries and usurpations," to announce that Americans were therefore "Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown," was a move fraught with danger -- so much so that the names of the signers were kept secret for six months.  They were risking everything, and they knew it. That is the meaning of the Declaration's soaring last sentence:  "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
Most of the signers survived the war; several went on to illustrious careers.
Two of them became presidents of the United States, and among the others were future vice presidents, senators, and governors. But not all were so fortunate.
Nine of the 56 died during the Revolution, and never tasted American independence.
Five were captured by the British.
Eighteen had their homes -- great estates, some of them - looted or burnt by the enemy.
Some lost everything they owned.
Two were wounded in battle.
Two others were the fathers of sons killed or captured during the war.
"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." It was not just a rhetorical flourish.  We all recognize John Hancock's signature, but who ever notices the names beneath his? William Ellery, Thomas Nelson, Richard Stockton, Button Gwinnett, Francis Lewis -- to most of us, these are names without meaning.

But each represents a real human being, some of whom paid dearly "for the support of this Declaration" and American independence.
Lewis Morris of New York, for example, must have known when he signed the Declaration that he was signing away his fortune. Within weeks, the British ravaged his estate, destroyed his vast woodlands, butchered his cattle, and sent his family fleeing for their lives.
Another New Yorker, William Floyd, was also forced to flee when the British plundered his property. He and his family lived as refugees for seven years without income. The strain told on his wife; she died two years before the war ended.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, an aristocratic planter who had invested heavily in shipping, saw most of his vessels captured by the British navy. His estates were largely ruined, and by the end of his life he was a pauper.
The home of William Ellery, a Rhode Island delegate, was burned to the ground during the occupation of Newport.
Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton, three members of the South Carolina delegation, all suffered the destruction or vandalizing of their homes at the hands of enemy troops. All three were captured when Charleston fell in 1780, and spent a year in a British prison.
Thomas Nelson Jr. of Virginia raised $2 million for the patriots' cause on his own personal credit. The government never reimbursed him, and repaying the loans wiped out his entire estate. During the battle of Yorktown, his house, which had been seized by the British, was occupied by General Cornwallis. Nelson quietly urged the gunners to fire on his own home. They did so, destroying it. He was never again a man of wealth. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave. 
Richard Stockton, a judge on New Jersey's supreme court, was betrayed by loyalist neighbors. He was dragged from his bed and thrown in prison, where he was brutally beaten and starved. His lands were devastated, his horses stolen, his library burnt. He was freed in 1777, but his health had so deteriorated that he died within five years. His family lived on charity for the rest of their lives.
In the British assault on New York, Francis Lewis's home and property were pillaged. His wife was captured and imprisoned; so harshly was she treated that she died soon after her release. Lewis spent the remainder of his days in relative poverty. 
And then there was John Hart. The speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, he was forced to flee in the winter of 1776, at the age of 65, from his dying wife's bedside. While he hid in forests and caves, his home was demolished, his fields and mill laid waste, and his 13 children put to flight. When it was finally safe for him to return, he found his wife dead, his children missing, and his property decimated. He never saw any of his family again and died, a shattered man, in 1779.
The men who signed that piece of parchment in 1776 were the elite of their colonies. They were men of means and social standing, but for the sake of liberty, they pledged it all -- their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.   We are in their debt to this day