I Made It – the Fiftieth State!

IMG_0699.jpg

Not only is Hawaii the fiftieth state, it was also my fiftieth and final state. I have now been in all the states! The first thing I noticed is that Hawaii has a spicy, flowery smell. On doing some research, I read that part of it is because there is no industry pollution floating around. The other part is that there is a lot of puakenikeni, plumeria, and ginger perfuming the air.

I arrived in Oahu, Hawaii about seven at night and immediately Tom and Marti gave me a new experience … we went to a conclave of food trucks, ordered dinner … and then ate a new-to-me dessert – malasadas (Portuguese doughnut). Malasada specifically means “poorly or undercooked” which refers to the crispy coating and the soft, doughy insides (but you don’t think of them as undercooked). I would compare them to beignets.

Malasadas are thought to come from Sao Miquel, an island in the Azores settled by the Portuguese in 1427. When the Hawaii sugar and pineapple industry needed more workers, they hired many of them from other Pacific Islands, most often from Madeira and the Azores because those people already knew about harvesting sugar cane. They brought the Portuguese malasada with them. The doughnuts are egg-shaped and often filled with a creamy custard, chocolate or coconut filling.

Leonards is the most famous bakery on Oahu for malasadas … and we purchased ours at Leonard’s Malasadamobile.

Yum!

And how I missed taking a picture considering how many hundreds of pictures I’ve taken the past few weeks, I have NO idea.

 

DSC_0498
At the food truck – shelves full of malasadas, ready to fry.

DSC_0497 2

Another new food I had the very  next morning was an apple banana. They are from the Philippines and are sweeter, shorter and have a thicker skin than the bananas we are used to. They also have three times the Vitamin C that we’re used to and 1 1/2 times the amount of Vitamin A. A great start to a great trip.IMG_0700.jpg

Bay Port

Driving along the shore of Lake Huron, we came to the town of Bay Port.

First we simply walked around and enjoyed the beautiful summer afternoon, listening to the soft breath of the water and losing ourselves in the view.DSC_0133 2.jpgDSC_0131.jpgDSC_0140.jpgThen across the inlet I saw a place called Bay Port Fish Company. Something about it intrigued me and I said to Barb, “Can we go in there?” We didn’t know, but we thought we’d try. We drove out and around to the parking lot.

DSC_0128 2.jpgDSC_0154.jpg

I walked in and asked if I could take pictures for my blog and the lady asked the filleters if they would mind. They were so intent on their work, that they didn’t even look up!DSC_0146.jpgDSC_0150.jpgDSC_0151.jpgDSC_0155.jpgDSC_0142.jpgJust a fun visit.

Cheeseburger Fest

The day Barb and I rode up to the tip of the Thumb to see Lake Huron, we found ourselves in the middle of the annual Caseville Cheeseburger Fest which had something to do with Jimmy Buffet, flamingos and a lot of people.

I have not been to a Cheeseburger Fest before and can’t say it was ever on my to-do list, however, just looking at the stuffed flamingoes thrown over the light poles was rather entertaining. I could see no pattern to them – but rather it looked like some little kids were playing and tossed their stuffed birds into the air.

We did eat at one of the main diners in town: Walt’s and to get into the spirit of the day, I ordered a cheeseburger which I can’t even remember the last time I ordered a cheeseburger at a diner. Wow! Truly a good burger. Obviously freshly made.

At that point, we kind of ran out of things to do that were cheeseburgerish and so continued on our way.

DSC_0120
The flamingoes tossed over the light poles made me laugh.

DSC_0121.jpg

DSC_0122
Everyone had flamingoes in their yards and on their porches.
DSC_0127
And in their store windows.
IMG_0429
Best cheeseburger ever!

 

Lake Huron

I’ve lived a lot of my life by Lake Michigan and a little of my life near Lake Huron.

Last week when I was in Michigan, Barb (great friend) and I headed up to the tip of the thumb. (The lower peninsula of Michigan is in the shape of a mitten and we lived in the thumb. Yes, that’s what it’s called – the Thumb Area.)

On the way we passed the Octagon Barn. You can take tours and Barb said it it’s fascinating inside, but unfortunately it was closed. As we walked along the fence line, a lady from inside (maybe owner) came and talked to us and gave us some suggestions about what days we could come back, but alas …

DSC_0097.jpg

DSC_0096.jpg

So we continued on our journey until we reached the lake in the town of Caseville. The afternoon was warm, but the lake breeze was refreshing.  Pretend you’re there. Pretend you can feel the soft wind blowing your hair. Pretend you can hear the waves against the shore and plop, plop, plop of the boats as they sped across the water. And enjoy.DSC_0109.jpg

DSC_0110.jpg

DSC_0114.jpg

A Chocolate Garden

Last time I drove home from Michigan, I was with a friend; a friend who likes chocolate. So when we saw signs advertising The Chocolate Garden, we were intrigued. We got off the exit and headed down a country road. The place wasn’t too far off the highway, but the rural atmosphere of the location made us think we were in the wrong location.

Then we saw the house with the Chocolate Garden sign. So this time, knowing where I was going, I drove right to it.  Also, there was a lot more activity on the road, with people picking fruit at the neighboring apple orchard.DSC_0060.jpgDSC_0056.jpgThis isn’t just any chocolate shop – they only sell truffles (and a few home decor-type items). The truffles, however, are so good, they’ve been featured on Food Network, and the Chicago Tribune.

To discover which truffles you’d like to buy –  for $2.99, they will allow you to taste test three different kinds. You read what’s in them and then list the three you’d like to try. IMG_0381.jpgIMG_0386.jpgDSC_0059.jpgSo if you’re heading up #94 through Michigan, here’s another place to stop.

Historic Bridges Off of 94

I knew before I left to travel north through Michigan earlier in the week, that I would have some extra time before meeting friends. So before I left,  I checked out the web for some place I could hang out for awhile and take some pictures. I found the Historic Bridges County Park which highlighted  — ahhh … historic bridges.

I knew it was off 94 near Battle Creek, but that’s all. My GPS led me down miles of bumpy roads greatly in need of repair. I thought about turning around, but kept thinking I had to come to the park behind the next bend or the next bend or maybe the next bend –

And then I was there – at a beautiful landscaped area next to the Kalamazoo River. The parking lot was full. People were there mostly to canoe and kayak  down the river. The river itself was so clear, you could distinctly make out every rock on the bottom.

A boardwalk snaked off from the picnic area through fields of flowers and cattails. The afternoon was bright with sunshine enhancing the summer day.

I saw trails going back into the woods, but I stayed near the park area where four of the bridges were located.

If you’re traveling north on 94, and you want a place to hike, or picnic, or just sit and watch the lazy river go by, here’s your stop. And, I think there’s a playground area, too. I didn’t go in the restroom, but other reviewers say they are large and clean. I was glad I took the time to stop.

DSC_0068
The glass-like clear Kalamazoo River.
DSC_0069.jpg
Another view of the river.

DSC_0081.jpgDSC_0076.jpg

DSC_0077
As I was coming back from viewing the bushes, I was standing here on the boardwalk – when all of a sudden two HUGE branches cracked away from a tree. I don’t know if there was a storm the night before or what, but they were big and then just hanging there.

DSC_0082.jpgDSC_0085.jpgDSC_0083.jpgDSC_0079.jpgDSC_0078.jpgDSC_0087.jpgDSC_0075 2.jpg

DSC_0090
This sign almost made the entire stop worth while!

Graue Mill

DSC_0978

What do you do when the week has been hot and humid and suddenly you have a beautiful, breezy day before you?

You put aside the deadlines that are ticking and get in the car and head out for an adventure.

I had read about Graue Mill, but had not seen it and wasn’t sure what it was all about (other than a mill). Not super close, but not miles away, I went to discover a new place. (After all, I had done well with the Lizzadro Museum and the American Writers Museum – what could go wrong?)

The Graue Mill and Museum is in a park in Oak Brook. The mill is the only working water grist mill in the United States, in Illinois or maybe it’s one of only two in Illinois. Wait, the only working grist mill in the Chicago area. (Sorry, that’s what I’ve read in different places – so not sure what’s what  not being super up on working mills.)- However, their brochure does say that they are  listed on the Illinois HIstoric Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, the only gristmill so designated on a national or local level.  So I do know that.

The mill was opened in 1852 by Frederik Graue, using water from nearby Salt Creek. One of the draws of the museum is that you can see the milling process in the process of milling … however, I did not see that. I’m sure it’s because I was there on a weekday and not that many people were around.. I did get an explanation of how it works. And I could’ve bought a bag of cornmeal or flour, but wasn’t sure I’d use it right away, so I didn’t. But it’s kind of great that you can.

The tour starts on the third floor where a lady explained the making-yarn-from-wool process which was very detailed and very interesting. I’ve seen demonstrations like this many times before, but she’s been doing it since 1992 (or something) and knew a lot of unique, informative details that I hadn’t heard before.

On the second floor, another lady showed me the loom which again, I’ve seen before, but the detail was interesting.

The basement of the building was an Underground Railroad stop.  Hideaways would stay at the mill until it was safe, then they would leave by boat down the creek – a tributary on the Des Plaines River – and eventually make it to the Great Lakes and cross to safety in Canada.

Visting the mill costs a few dollars. The grounds are pretty and contain a bridge to get across the creek and to the other side of the road to Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center. For somewhere to go on a beautiful afternoon – I would recommend it.

DSC_1029
The mill on a couldn’t-be-more-beautiful summer morning.

DSC_1019

DSC_0980.jpg

DSC_0984
Carding the wool

 

DSC_0995
The loom.
DSC_1002
Me – showing how they “ironed” ruffles into material.

DSC_0989

DSC_0992
A very cool alphabet game.

DSC_1009

 

Goldfield – Part 2

Here are more photos from Goldfield, Colorado (for more information, see my post from a few days ago.)

DSC_0333
Evening primrose (I think – please let me know if I’m wrong.)

DSC_0334DSC_0338DSC_0339DSC_0349DSC_0354DSC_0360

DSC_0359
One of the large trucks on top of the current area where they’re mining. You can see the size by comparing it to the trees down below.

DSC_0357DSC_0363

DSC_0366
Goldfield city hall from the 1800s

Garden of the Gods – Part 3

We didn’t see any rattlesnakes as we were wandering through the park, but we did see a mule deer, and a mountain bluebird and a spotted towhee and a family of pigeons that lived inside one of the formations. We all laughed as we watched them crawl (wait, I don’t think pigeons crawl) out of the split in the rock – they just kept coming.

DSC_0201Anyhow, I think my favorite was the spotted towhee because as I was standing on the path taking pictures, a tiny little girl walked up and stood next to me. Quietly she watched me take pictures for awhile and then she turned to her father, “What’s she looking at, Dad?”

I told her there was a spotted towhee in the tree and her father lifted her up so she could see it. She reacted with quiet reverence. The dad then repeated the name to her and she giggled. Later the father asked me what another bird was  – a pigeon/rock dove. (I didn’t even have to ask my brother to identify that one.) I don’t think the man was from the U.S. or maybe he just hadn’t been around a lot of birds, but he was friendly and inquisitive and his daughter was cute as she hopped along next to me waiting to see what other pictures I would take.

DSC_0208
Roger got its picture jumping over the fence, but I wasn’t quick enough.
DSC_0207
A mountain bluebird.
DSC_0162
A columbine – but not a good one – it’s on its way to wilting which I guess all flowers are – but this one was a few steps closer than some.
DSC_0203
a southwestern prickly poppy

SaveSave

BACK FROM DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS

I’ve been gone for several days – was down in San Antonio doing a conference on Saturday and then took a couple extra days to hang around town with my brother (who went with me to the conference). As much as I fly, I still marvel at the quickness of air travel. I took this picture about eleven this morning at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.