Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bridge

Well, I have to admit that Michigan has been a bit of a disappointment.  It's okay, but I don't like it nearly as much as Wisconsin.  I don't find Michigan nearly as pretty or interesting as Wisconsin.  The Lake Michigan Circle Drive (or whatever it's called) signs in Michigan are almost nonexistent.  In Wisconsin, we never even used a map because the signs were so easy to follow.  Also, after days of googling, I still haven't found any good Michigan birding sites or listservs.  Oh, well.

We spent most of Saturday driving north.  Most of the non-moving water north of Grand Rapids was frozen and the farther north we drove, the more snow was on the ground.  We stopped at a Big Boy restaurant in Gaylord for lunch and none of us were too impressed.  It wasn't terrible, but it reminded me of IHOP in that we way overpaid for mediocre food.  Next was one of our major stops of the trip- the Chillermania! book store near Indian River.  It's just a dinky store that only sells Johnathan Rand's books, but it was something Logan REALLY wanted to see.  Rand's series "American Chillers" is what got my son to start reading.  Each book is about a specific, real town in each state that is being invaded by some kind of monster.  They are quick and easy to read, just scary enough to maybe cause a nightmare, but not scar a child for life and interesting enough to keep kids wanting to read more.  I've read a couple of them and while I normally LOVE children's books, these are not for me.  I do like that while the books are aimed mostly at boys, they all have strong girl characters who are just as brave and smart and important as the boys.  Anyway, Logan went through a phase earlier this school year where he was almost never without a book.  He finished all of the American Chillers available at the school and public libraries and the ones I could still find on Amazon and then tried to move on to a series by Rick Riordan that is MUCH more advanced reading than the Chillers.  He got bored and frustrated and stopped reading fiction.  Chillermania! had a bunch of out of print books, along with the earlier Michigan Chillers series that isn't available in Illinois.  We bought him a bunch of new books and now I need to find him some other authors more on his level before he completes these.  I love you, Johnathan Rand, for proving to my son that reading can be fun!

Hahaha, that was quite a long paragraph for a fifteen minute stop...  The Mackinac Bridge was less than an hour north of Chillermania!  Let's just say that Gene was not disappointed and that it was totally worth $8 to drive over twice.  It definitely made his day.  We stopped at the visitor center on the other side of the bridge and when I told the man at the counter I had no idea where we were headed, he loaded me up on Michigan brochures and told us we need to come back in the summer.  We ended up driving to Sault Ste. Marie and checking out the locks.  The kids were beyond excited to look across the water and see Canada.  It really was disappointing that we could have driven 5 minutes and been in Canada if we had passports, but oh, well.  Next time.  It was cold and ugly and starting to spit rain.  Four inches of snow were predicted for the Soo area and rain all day today for northern lower Michigan.  We drove back down to Gaylord and found a Hampton Inn with a pool.  The kids swam for probably two hours and had a good time.  By MapQuest, it's a 5 hour drive back to the Indiana Dunes.  It's supposed to be in the mid-50s and only a small chance of rain today, so I think we'll head that way and spend this afternoon and tomorrow morning in that area before heading home.  That's where we all had the most fun.  It was also the best birding.  It seems that all of the cool winter hawks and owls have already migrated, but the spring birds haven't come this far north yet because of all the ice.  We might as well go where the birds are!  (And the fun beaches for those of us who aren't as into birding...)

Oh yeah, one last thing- It took me a couple of days to identify an amazing bird I saw right around the border of Indiana and Michigan.  It was a huge, hawk-like bird, soaring high in the sky, but its markings were very distinct.  It had a dark silhouette with round, white markings on the wings.  It really couldn't have been more distinctive, but I had no idea what it was.  My good, thorough bird book was buried in the back of the van under all kinds of winter gear.  When I finally dug it out and searched for my bird, I was beyond thrilled to find it was a golden eagle!  A lifer and so far my favorite bird of the trip.

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