THE BIKE MYSTERY

The next morning we headed north around the thumb. (Michigan is a mitten, you know.)

The day was cloudy. The sky was gray. The lake was gray. The pier was gray. (The outhouse was spidery.)

And it was here we had the mystery of the bikes. Why was a perfectly good kids’ bike lying in the water?

Why was a perfectly good tricycle even further out in the water?

They were a distance from shore – but not so far out, someone couldn’t get them?

Barb decided that a dad got upset with his whiny kids and tossed them.

Or maybe they floated up from a shipwreck?

Though it could be they fell off a boat?

I guess we’ll never know. In the distance, you can see the Harbor Beach Lighthouse, but we couldn’t get close to it because it wasn’t Saturday and you can only get close to it on Saturdays when they have boat tours. The lighthouse is a mile out in the lake.

ACROSS THE DRAWBRIDGE

We waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

And headed for our hotel which was a free night with points earned.

As I checked in I asked the clerk if he would recommend any good places to eat for supper. (I am always looking for “indigenous” restaurants – just ask anyone who has ever traveled with me.) At the same time I knew we had already had a unique experience at lunch, so was doubting anything else would pop up!  But the clerk told me about two – and one sounded interesting, so we headed back downtown.

We waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

Seeing we were close to the lighthouse, we decided to stop and get some pictures from the land side of it – however, it was surrounded by an ugly, wire fence because they were revamping it. Got as close as I could and then we headed back to the road to search for the restaurant.

And we waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down.

Seriously, Racine has a drawbridge right downtown, but I don’t think I waited for it more than a few times in 13 years. This one was like a teeter-tooter.

We found the restaurant and what a treat!

Originally built in the 1800s, it’s been a grocery store, a drug store, a farmer’s market and a butcher shop – then the current owners bought it in 2008 and created the Atrium Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor. They also own the antique shop next door and the restaurant is filled with antiques – many of the chairs are theater seats, windows are from churches and a giant (paper mache?) bird named Miss Ruby sat over Barb’s head. A Christmas tree and lights added to the atmosphere.

I ordered a vegetable-stuffed baked potato which was delicious and we split a piece of carrot cake because the guy at the hotel told us “you have to have their carrot cake.” And of course, we always listen to hotel clerks.

As we were eating, the owner himself stopped by and answered some of the questions we had about the decor and then went to another table and serenaded a little boy who was celebrating his birthday.  When I got home, I looked it up online and saw that the owner greets just about everyone who eats there — and that just about everyone who eats there enjoys the experience.

So two restaurants if you go to Port Huron: The Raven and The Atrium.

Could not believe we found two unique places in one day.

And we waited for the drawbridge which was up to come down – and headed back to our hotel.

SUMMER DAY

Take a day when the sky is bluer than blue (sky blue, that is) and the river/lake is bluer than blue since it is reflecting the bluer than blue sky and what do you do?

You get on a boat.

We took the Huron Lady Boat Trip which goes south down the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway) and then north again past the starting point, under the Blue Water Bridge and out into Lake Huron. The price is fairly inexpensive (about $16.00) and the ride fairly long (2 hours).

However, the ride doesn’t begin auspiciously – because on the Canadian side you pass an area known as Chemical Valley which certainly is a clue you aren’t on the scenic route.  Forty percent of Canada’s chemical plants were in the valley and something like 50% of the country’s petroleum refineries were there, too, but in recent years many of the industries have cleaned up their acts – still not necessary a scenic lake view.

But most of the boat trip was pretty with many huge ships either going by (in their slow, cargo-heavy way) or pleasure boats speeding along three times as fast.  We sailed under the Blue Water Bridge which was backed up with traffic attempting to get to Canada and pass the Gratiot Lighthouse  which is at the meeting point of Lake Huron and the river. We also saw the government building with homeland security cameras on top because a good swimmer WOULD be able to get across the river to Canada.

Oh, and we saw some Canadian Canada geese.

DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE

After lunch we headed back down to the St. Clair River which is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway and eventually connects Lake Huron with Lake Erie. Port Huron is a swim across the river from Sarnia, Canada.

The town is exceptionally clean with many old, Victorian houses which are newly remodeled is soft, but varied colors.  Many lakeside parks dot the river and further up – Lake Huron. The downtown also is busier than a lot of downtowns – probably because of the proximity to the river and the Blue Water Bridge which is one of the busiest entryways to Canada (The other being Detroit.)

Port Huron is the hometown of Thomas Edison. He lived here from the time he was seven until he went out on his own in his late teens. His first job was selling newspapers and candy each morning on the train between P.H. and Detroit.

The railroad bridge is rather unusable!  But no one wants to dismantle it because it would cost too much money – so it sits there like a tower! I just hope I’m standing under it during a windstorm!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

My friend and I didn’t stay in town but headed for Port Huron and a word-inspiring restaurant – The Raven.

As their website says: “real brick, lavish hardwoods, unique golden faux paint art deco walls, retro poster prints and counter, wall-panel human interest illustrations, stained glass windows, tiffany lighting and a library of over 8000 antique and contemporary books.”

Of course, you can’t go wrong eating among books.

The building dates back to the Civil War and the books and literary memorabilia are crammed in every corner. Our table had a portrait of Tennessee Williams.

We bought two appetizers: bruschetta and a veggie tray – both were very good and a great not-too-filling lunch.

Fun experience. I would recommend it highly if you ever get to Port Huron – it’s about two blocks from the marina.

HEADING BACK WHERE WE STARTED

So, I headed north to Michigan this week – back where we moved when the kids were little and we weren’t all that old ourselves.

Back to the white-steepled church at the end of the road. Back to the corner store (where you can now get yummy ice cream), back to the ballpark with the nightly games, back to the cemetery and the Cass River.

Back to friends who were friends then and are still friends.