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Friday, September 18, 2009

September in Michigan

Each new place I visit brings a sense of the beauty of the state. The trees are stately and magnificent. Just a hint of color tinges the countryside. We've been blessed with sunshine every day.

We arrived in Traverse City this afternoon. Enjoyed a fantastic dinner at North Peak Brewing Company. Judging from the crowd and the waiting line, it's the in place to eat. Looking forward to a whole day of activities tomorrow.

I'll be posting photos soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Historic towns and lighthouses decorate Western Michigan










Today we drove along Michigan's western boundary, Lake Michigan. Quaint little towns border the harbors filled with sailboats, yachts and fishing boats. Fresh, blue water stretches from the sandy beaches to the horizon. The lake is beautiful.

We first stopped at Warren Sand Dunes State Park. The dunes are much taller than I anticipated. The fine sand creates spacious beaches. Lots of walking and biking through all the state parks we visited.

Tall, magnificent trees line the highway and city streets. I marveled at some of the most beautiful weeping willows I've ever seen. It's mid-September and small patches of color dot the landscape as a few leaves begin to trade their green for their fall colors.

In Saugatuck, we visited several art galleries and neat little shops, walked along the waterfront at the Singapore Yacht Club and ate lunch at a picnic table with a great view. We took photos of buildings erected in the early 1800s. Visions of another time and lifestyle contrasted with the reality of today.

We searched long and hard before we finally asked directions to the lighthouse in Holland. I now know why the man grinned so broadly when he said "Just go to the end of the road, park your car and walk around the corner, and you'll see the lighthouse." The road winds around much farther than we thought and that "walk around the corner" is about a mile away from the parking lot.

It was a beautiful walk - lake shore on one side and unique homes on the other. After many "around the corners" I saw it. There's something about a lighthouse that creates emotion, a sense of adventure and a connection with history. Each one offers a glimpse back to the days of sailing ships loaded with their cargo and fishermen coming home after weeks at sea.

I took loads of photos.

Next we headed north to Grand Haven. The afternoon sun made it impossible to photograph the lighthouse at the Grand Haven State Park without walking the full length of the pier and looking back at it. Once again many boats traveled up and down the lake, or sat patiently in the water as fishermen offered tantalizing treats to the fish.

It wasn't crowded but a steady stream of people walked to and from the end of the pier. Some carried fishing poles, some rode bikes, some simply strolled along enjoying the scenery and pleasant weather.

Night time came fast. We decided to stay in Grand Haven and start with the Muskegon lighthouse tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Hamner-Barber Show in Branson







Flamboyant magic, exotic birds and zany comedy! That's the recipe the Hamners and Jim Barber whip up and dish out to their audiences.

Dave and Denise Hamner's routines range from sleight-of-hand to full-stage illusions to beautiful birds flying through the theater. No matter how many times I see the show, I just never figure out how they do it.

Every illusionist creates his own distinctive acts. Dave's are impressive and unique.

Jim Barber is by far the zaniest ventriloquist I've ever seen. His friends (from Seville to the baby to the monkey) display their own personalities and give Jim the opportunity to display his multi-faceted comedic talent.

Trace, the three-year-old boy in the picture with Jim and Dave, attended the show to see Jim's baby (one of Jim's great characters). Last year, at the age of two, the baby captured his imagination. When they came to Branson again, Trace wanted to see the baby again.

At one point in the show Jim volunteered Deric Johnson and another person from the audience to join him onstage for a special performance. Deric Johnson is shown in the photo with his son, Kendall, and Jim and Dave. Let's just say that Deric, who is from Cranberry, PA, should probably keep his day job - or at least not try to make it as a girl singer.

The last act transitions the show from comedy and illusions to an outstanding tribute to all veterans. Based on interviews with three Iwo Jima survivors, the salute is a well-done moving salute to all who have served their country. It is an outstanding example of Branson's commitment and sincere effort to honor our veterans.

"It's important for young people to see what their grandparents did to preserve our freedom," Jim commented.

Dave added: "They were an extraordinary generation that saved America and the world from tyranny. Without their sacrifice, we wouldn't be standing here today."

For more information on their show, visit https://www.hamnerbarber.com/.