Saturday, February 21, 2009

It's a Detroit thing, everybody.

Detroit Skyline from Belle Isle Michigan.

The Motor City, home of Motown, the Automobile, even the ice cream float-- what a city of so much diversity! But first, we've got to work our way there from Harsens Island. Continuing on from our last post, we had started the day in Port Huron Michigan, working our way down the St. Clair river to Lake St. Clair and ending on the Detroit River in Detroit.

We had our sights set on making it to the ferry over to Harsens Island to see The St. Clair Flats South Channel Range Lights after leaving Port Huron. Getting hungry we grabbed a pizza and headed over to the ferry docks in Algonac.

Guess what we pizza we haven't had in a while?

For our Jeep it was $7.00, not too shabby for a round trip! But to show you what type of day I was having, I forgot to get cash at an ATM on the mainland. So here we are, counting out CHANGE to go across! You should have seen us scrounging in the coin cup. When we got to the island, we drove to the furthest point you can drive on the island and got a couple of distant photos of the lights.

The St. Clair Flats South Channel Range Lights offshore of Harsens Island.

With the reflection of the sun, the photo isn't as good as I'd wish, maybe next visit we can find someone who wouldn't mind taking us on a boat ride out to get a closer photo? Know anyone?

After stopping at the community park on the island to eat our pizza, we headed back to the mainland to finish up our journey. Next stop, The St. Clair Lake Lighthouse.

Well...there is a light out there, not much else. As we were coming Lake St. Clair Shores and Grosse Point Shores, we found the park I had wrote down from my google map, Lakefront park. Unfortunately, I didn't look into this park any further than it's location. When we arrived, we found the park is a "private" park for residents of this very, very well-to-do community. We were very fortunate that the guard understood what our mission was, and after we surrendered our driver's licenses, she allowed us to drive back and snap a photo or two of the off-shore light out in the middle of the lake.

Lake St. Clair Lake Lighthouse....yeah, its out there!

Ugh, what in the world? We were doing so well, but now it seems like we were striking out getting good shots of these lights. Nonetheless, we continued on to find the Windmill Point Lighthouse. Heading south on E. Jefferson Avenue, we turned into a residential area towards the junction of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. You could tell we crossed the tracks (if you know what I mean). We literally went from multi-million dollar homes to run-down apartment buildings and duplexes. All the same, we weren't there to look for a home, just see the lighthouse.

Windmill Point Lighthouse at the mouth of the Detroit River.

One last stop before sunset, we headed over to Belle Isle to see the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse. Now this park was interesting! With so much to do, you could hardly believe you were in downtown Detroit. To see more about the "beautiful Island" please visit The Friends of Belle Isle Website.

I got some good shots, but with every passing second it was harder for me to get any shots without camera jitters (it would've helped if Matt had stopped the jeep too).

The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse on Belle Isle in Detroit Michigan.

You guessed it, another add to our Need to return list. We're planning another trip this spring/summer sometime when the weather starts to get nice again.

Until next time...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here we go again!

With our last visit to Port Huron, we arrived right at dusk, so this time we wanted to come back during the daylight. It was even more beautiful during the day than at night, definitely a good call on our part. Today we were driving up to Port Huron and migrating south along the St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair, ending in Detroit.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse...during the day.

We loved walking along this beach, there is so many interesting things to look at. The water, it is simply breath-taking! The water is very clear and blue, you are mesmerized by its motion through the rapid current. The beach is not only made of "clean" sand, but pebbles and river rock are washed up as well. We carried home two bags full of interesting rocks and fossils. Taylor wanted to take home every rock she found, another new hobby I guess.

Taylor picking up rocks on the beach at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.

While leaving the park I noticed the lighthouse was open for visitors today, but we were trying get Taylor away from the beach and rocks (we literally had to pull her away or she would never leave). Matt and I thought it was best to skip the tour this time and make it less stressful for us.

Taylor taking a moment to pose with the flowers.

Our second stop was the Huron Lightship. They too were open for tours, but the price was a bit steep for the three of us. Usually children under a certain age are free, according to the signage out front this was not the case. The sign stated our 3 year old was $5.00 and adults were $6.00! Instead we opted for some shots of the boat from the outside. None the less, it was an interesting ship with lots of history.

The Huron Lightship permanently docked on the shores of the St. Clair River.

For more information about the Museums of Port Huron, please check out their website HERE!

It was such a beautiful day. We happened to stumble onto an event taking place, the Port Huron Museum's Cemetery Walk at Lakeside Cemetery. It was such a nice day, and the locals were very courteous-- we felt very welcome.

While strolling along the riverfront and in the park, we viewed boats of all sizes cruising up the St. Clair River. None though could compare to this, a large ship heading right for us! We stood and watched as it cleverly maneuvered its way into the river. You could tell they've done this a time or two. I really wish I had purchased the book Know your ships; Guide to boats & boat watching--Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway. Maybe now I'll wait til April when the new 50Th Anniversary Collector's Edition becomes available.

Ship coming into the St. Clair River under the Blue Water Bridge.

Leaving Port Huron, we drove southward following the St. Clair River to the small village of Marine City. I have to admit, I was talking on the phone as we were going through and almost missed this lighthouse completely! As the story goes, I had handwritten the directions in -ahem- order before we left home. I had placed this light at it's original location on Peche Island.

The Peche Island Lighthouse located in Marine City Michigan.

The Peche Island Lighthouse was relocated in 1983 here in Marine City. I had this information before we left, but misplaced it sometime on our trip. Luckily for me, I happened to look over as we were passing the downtown park area. I saw a quick glimpse of the light as we were passing a side street. Matt turned around for me, and while still chatting on the phone I stood in the middle of the road and snapped. If anyone had seen me I must have really looked like a tourist. It wasn't til about an hour later when I found my directions again that I realized this WAS a light on my list. I apologize for not taking this light more serious at that time, and I vow never to let it happen again--lol!

Now were off to Harsens Island!

Stay tuned, there's more to Come...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks! Cleveland Rocks!

(Hee Hee Hee....couldn't help it!)

Downtown Cleveland Ohio viewed from Voinovich Bicentennial Park.

Leaving Fairport Harbor and heading west, we stopped at the always rocking Cleveland Ohio! While downtown, we seen the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Stadium, but our main objective was to see the Cleveland Lighthouses. In downtown Cleveland there are three lights; the Cleveland East Pierhead Light, the Cleveland West Pierhead Light, and the Cleveland East Entrance Light.

Both the Cleveland West and Cleveland East Pierhead Lighhouses.

The weather was very typical Ohio weather. It was nice to start the day, then turned windy and cold as the day went on. Matt and I went to Voinovich Bicentennial Park in downtown Cleveland to see some pretty good views of the city. From here we could see two of the three lighthouses downtown and a beautiful view of the city skyline.

Voinovich Bicentennial Park
A parcel of land perched on the shore of Lake Erie, Voinovich Bicentennial Park provides some of the most spectacular views of the city's skyline and unadulterated looks at the lake. The park was named for former Cleveland mayor and current U.S. senator George Voinovich, the man under which so many of the city and lakefront revitalization efforts were commissioned in the late '80s and early '90s. Located behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and part of North Coast Harbor, the park is the site of many of Cleveland's major events including the Pride Festival, Rock & Boom (July 4 fireworks) and Gravity Games. Voinovich Park also is the home for the Goodtime III, a local cruise line. When it's not attracting hundreds of thousands for marquee events, it's a nice, and often quiet respite for a jog, bike ride or place to simply sit on a bench and enjoy the view. While finding parking can be difficult for some of the bigger events, the park is easily accessible by bus and Rapid. -- Daniel Rivkin

Cleveland West Pierhead Lighthouse from Voinovich Bicentennial Park.

Cleveland East Pierhead Lighthouse from Voinovich Bicentennial Park.

Because the weather wasn't cooperating, we decided on our next trip to Cleveland we would stop by and see the lights again. At least today we became familiarized with the position of these lights, and found some good information about the dinner cruises available for next summer. That would be a nice treat! Today, it was just too bitterly cool and windy to stay out any length of time. For now, we crossed off a couple more lights off of our list.

Now, it's time to go shopping!

Until next time...

Monday, February 16, 2009

On the Road, Again.

...I can almost hear Willie singing it right now, can you?

After our "Tour de Thumb", we took off a couple of weekends in October. Our daughter, Taylor, was turning 3 and we wanted to have family and friends over for a little celebration.

Taylor turns 3...your my big girl now!

Of course we weren't going to sit around for long, we were checking off lighthouses now at an alarming rate and couldn't wait to get back out again. Autumn is my favorite season; the leaves turning, the crisp air, and that distinct smell...ahhh. I can't help it, I want to be outdoors as much as possible. Put my two absolute favorite things together (lighthouses and autumn) and I'm in heaven!

Taylor was lucky, she got to spend the day with her grandma baking. This trip was a first for mommy and daddy out venturing alone. We wanted to revisit the Fairport Harbor Lights as well as a couple of lights in Cleveland Ohio that we missed the first time.

Taylor baking cookies with her grandma.

After we dropped Taylor off, we were on our way. We got a pretty good jump on the day and by 10 am we were on the Ohio Turnpike. We love having Taylor with us, but the break for the afternoon was also a nice breather. Matt and I talked about taking advantage of our "freedom" and getting some needed Christmas shopping done as well.

Our first stop was at the Headlands Beach State Park in Fairport Harbor/ Mentor on-the-Lake. We had already visited the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse a couple of months prior (see the post Road Trip Part Deux!) but it was already dark when we arrived. When we were there that night, the Fairport Harbor Light out on the breakwall was not visible, so we really didn't know what we were in for.

If you'd like more information about the Headlands Beach State Park, please Check out their website HERE.

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse from the breakwall.

A view of the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse across the harbor.

Walking the beach was a nice change of pace for us, this beach was long and unobstructed, we could see exactly where we were headed. At best guess I would say we walked a mile or so out to the light, catching some pretty impressive views. In addition to the Breakwater light, from this vantage point we also caught a view of the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse across the harbor.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse from Headlands Beach State Park.

After Matt and I finished our stroll, we headed across the Grand River to the Old Fairport Harbor Lighthouse. This was a very different lighthouse during the day than it appeared on our last visit. While walking to the light, we meet a couple who were also there visiting. They even took our picture together in front of the lighthouse, something Matt and I rarely do. We showed them the photos we just took from the beach, and they were very impressed. They didn't know they could get that close. We gave them directions and tips on where the best vantage points were to see the same views. Talking with the other couple, we discovered not only have we visited many of the same places, but we also live only about 40 minutes away from each other! What odds, having to travel across the state to meet your neighbor!

Old Fairport Lighthouse.

When we parted, the older gentleman offered the best words of encouragement I've heard in a long time. He said he hoped to see our guide on his coffee table someday. Wow, maybe we can really do it! Our goal is to someday publish a guide book or journal of our adventures. I do hope someday we don't let him down. Matt and I stuck around a little bit longer and took more photos of the Fairport Harbor light. It was really nice meeting others just as obsessed as we are. I hope to meet more light buffs like them out on our journeys.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse across the Harbor.

Now off to Cleveland, we've got lights to see and shopping to do!

More to come...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

To everyone out in Blogger-land...Happy Valentine's Day! Today I'm taking a break from my usual posts to share with you a few quotes about love to celebrate this "Lovers" holiday.
Looking for a quote, go see my friends at
The Quote Garden!

Feel free to leave a comment, tell me which is your favorite quote, or leave your own!


To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.
~David Viscott.

Loving is not just looking at each other, it's looking
in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

Love, and a cough, cannot be hid.
~George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 1651


You know when you have found your prince because you not only have a smile on your face but in your heart as well.
~Author Unknown


I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, I'll be back on Monday!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Coming Home.

Continuing on from our last post, we were finishing up the "thumb" of Michigan. After we left the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, we continued to travel south on Lakeshore Drive (or route 25) to the town of Harbor Beach. From their very unique (and well built) pier, we viewed the Harbor Beach Lighthouse. As I was walking up to the long pier, I couldn't help but get a picture. It really was a striking view how everything seemed to line up.

The pier @ Harbor Beach.

At the end of the pier, a distant view of the lighthouse could be seen across the harbor. I went alone to the end of the pier, Matt and Taylor were not up to the walk, so they stayed in the car for this one. At the end I met three fishermen trying to nab the catch of the day. They said," the summer time the beach is packed with people lookin' at that thing." I didn't stay long since I was alone, it really isn't much fun looking at a lighthouse without sharing it with someone. The brisk walk back helped my body loosen up again from the days long car ride.

The Harbor Beach Lighthouse from the end of the pier.

When I got back to the car, Taylor was having a normal tantrum. She had enough of the long car ride and wanted to get out and stretch her legs too. We convinced her to wait a few more miles until we got to the Port Sanilac Lighthouse. Maybe there they would have a playground she could jump around on. Playgrounds or ice cream usually helps, either one and she is content for a while longer.

Port Sanilac Lighthouse was hidden at the end of a residential area, and we almost missed it! When we arrived at the light, Matt and Taylor stayed in the parking lot and walked around looking at the trees and leaves (a new hobby she was starting--collecting leaves). I started the walk out onto a heavily overgrown breakwall/trail. It was pretty thick, but not nearly as bad as Ashtabula was (see Road Trip Part Deux! post). I couldn't see exactly where the lighthouse was, so I thought the further I walked out, the easier I would see it along the coast. So when I got out aways I just happened to turn around--voila!--there it was right behind me! Oh, but that's not the best part!

Port Sanilac Lighthouse from the breakwall.

Apparently, we parked right next to the lighthouse and no one noticed! When I returned to the Jeep, Matt asked me if I got any good photos of it and how far down the coast it was. I could hardly contain my laughter while I pointed over to an ivy covered brick building next to the parking lot! At least we both got a good laugh. Here I am thrashing through the jungle when all I had to do was turn and look next to us!

Port Sanilac Lighthouse from!

Taylor got her much needed stretch, and mom and dad had a good laugh. We were now refreshed and ready to go...last stop for the day, Port Huron Michigan.

When we arrived in Port Huron there was limiting sunlight. I hurried quickly through the park and over the sand dunes to get a couple photos of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse as well as the Huron Lightship. My body really got a workout trying to hustle through the soft sand, it was a race against the nature. My legs felt like two ton bricks when I finally made it back to flat land.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse @ dusk.

Huron Lightship permanently docked in Port Huron @ dusk.

The water, what we could see of it, was very clear, very blue, and very turbulent! Port Huron is the southern most point of Lake Huron, the point where Lake Huron flows into the narrow St. Clair River. The water really gets pushed through this area and its amazing how fast it moves! Because it was now dark, we decided to put this on our list of places to return as well. We talked it over, when we finish the lights of Southeast Michigan, we will start from Port Huron and work our way down the St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair. We really wanted to see Port Huron during the day, guess we'll have to wait now.

Til next time...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thumbs Up!

I wanted to take a moment and thank all of our new followers-- welcome everyone to our blog! I hope everyone can come back again and stay a while!

Now, on with our journeys...
This fall our family was given a few extra days of play than originally anticipated. Our family, working with the automotive industry for years, has felt the wrath of our weakened economy. We were hit by intermittent days off and lack of work lay-offs. So, to make our days a little brighter we planned another day trip to visit "the thumb" of Michigan. We left early on a Friday morning heading north to Bay City Michigan. It was another long car drive, but we were packed and ready to go. Boy was this going to be a long day!

Our first stop was the Saginaw River Rear Range Light. I called the day before our trip to inquire about visiting the lighthouse, but my call was never returned. What to do? With only two major highways going north into the thumb, we were going to be in the vicinity of the light anyhow. Matt and I talked it over and decided to see if we could view it from afar. Without any clear cut directions to the light, we had to use our detective skills once again. Unfortunately, there is not much to see, and we did the best we could. Access to the light is only available when the Historical Society is working on restoration. Next time we're up this way I'm going to call further in advance to see if they will be working at the light.

Our view of the Saginaw River Rear Range Light through an old factory yard.

After this disappointment, we had our sites set on traveling the coast up to the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse. Driving up the coast was very beautiful. The bright blue waters were a gorgeous backdrop for all of the beautiful cottages along the bay. With the light being offshore, it is viewable for miles along the coast. At every clearing we would peer out to see if we had a good shot yet. We lucked out when we came across a park just outside of Port Austin. Here we could walk out a long boardwalk/pier that took you offshore approximately 1/4 mile. From this we got a few pretty decent distance shots.

Port Austin Reef Lighthouse from a distance.

Taylor really didn't care for the catwalk, especially because she could see through it. So to keep her moving and make it not so scary for her, she got a ride from daddy.

Taylor & Daddy--the best seat in the house!

On our walk out we met a very nice couple constructing some sort of rock formation. They told us they had been working on this for a couple of hours or so, and were contemplating every move fearing it may topple. They didn't mind that we stopped and admired it for a while with them.

Here is their creation--almost 5 feet tall!

We had to let Taylor get some of her energy out from our long car ride, so a stop at the playground was mandatory. She played on the jungle gym and swings while mommy and daddy enjoyed the view. But as the saying goes...all good things must come to an end! So we hopped back in the jeep and headed off to our next stop, the Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.

The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse is off the beaten path between the villages of Port Hope and Port Huron Michigan. Located in Lighthouse County Park, the light isn't the only attraction we encountered. There were deer were everywhere! We really needed to stay focused on our driving so a deer didn't wander out on the road. Taylor had a blast watching all of the deer standing right outside her window!

Three deer wandering around the park area.

The lighthouse itself was very picturesque. I wish I wasn't rushed. I'd love to have spent more time here and maybe take in a tour as well. (the tours were done for the day by the time we got there--what luck!)

The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.

Matt and I agreed with so many deer we didn't want to travel too much at dark. If we had seen this many deer now, imagine those same deer traveling at night. So we wanted to continue on before dark. We had four more lighthouses on our agenda for the day, and the daylight hours were slipping away.

The Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse from different angles.

So we continued on...

More to come...