Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday: Cheap Thrills

We lazed around this morning, not getting out of the cabin before 9. Mr. GT was chomping at his bit. Well, we were busy having a big fancy breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and toast, the latter made especially for you by Sunshine. He was so cute on a little stool, dutifully putting new toast in and delivering the finished toast to a plate! The toaster is just the appliance for him!

After breakfast (“This is GOOD, Mom! You should make this more often!” shrieked Banana Boy), we had to work on the 500-piece puzzle begun last night. And get dressed. And brush teeth. And put on sunscreen. And put away laundry.

So it was 9 before we left. We headed west for Manistique and its surrounding attractions.

First up was Big Springs, or Kitch-iti-kipi. Ok. Wow. We were going to see a big spring. Cost: (keep track here!) $8 for daily state park admission.
Ooh.  Ahh.  Big deal.
We hiked out to the spring, which is 300 ft. long by 175 ft. wide by 45 ft. deep. Big. The first thing we noticed was that it was incredibly clear. Along the edge you could see the fallen tree logs through the water which was a beautiful teal color. Cool.

Out we went onto the covered dock, perched out over the spring. Under the roof was an open area through which you could look down into the spring. Cool.

Two older couples joined us on the dock, just as we wondered about the big wheel and the locked gates and the giant lever. And the steel cable across the spring. Wha???

Then we figured it out! This was not a dock! It was a RAFT, locked to the dock. The big wheel moved the raft out across the spring via the steel cable. Oh. WOW. Way cool!

So we followed the directions to unhitch our raft from the dock and propel ourselves out across the spring. The kids fought for who would power us with the big wheel, while the adults oohed and ahhed over the magnificent spring beneath us. You could see the waters bubbling through the sand 45 feet below through the crystal clear water. It was the neatest thing ever!
OOH!!!  AHHH!  This is very cool!
Fortunately, our traveling companions were good sports and didn’t mind a very slow ride and very enthusiastic fellow passengers. They’d been here before and weren’t quite as impressed as we were.

We bought some maple syrup for $10 at the gift shop, to use for tomorrow’s French toast.

Next we doubled back and hit the fish hatchery on the way back to Manistique. The kids hated the fishy smell of the fish pellets they feed the fry, but they loved the computer simulation where you raise one of 4 kinds of fish from egg to release in the wild. They also were thrilled by the raceways of fingerlings swarming over each other trying to stay in the shadowiest place. They had fun finding the full-grown fish in the finishing pond and exploring the nearby stream and marsh. Cost: Free.

Now they were hungry, so we headed back to Manistique for lunch. Everyone agreed we were hungry for pizza, so Pizza Hut, it was. Their special today was any size pizza, any number of toppings, $10. What? Seriously? Yep. Any pizza, any number of toppings. Our cheapest lunch yet: A chicken taco pizza and pepperoni with green and black olives and onions. Oh, and free wi-fi. Can you say paradise? I got the blog all uploaded with tons of pictures from yesterday and even read the local news from home.

Oh, and next door was a winery. I told Mr. GT we ought to get some blueberry wine and he said no one made blueberry wine. Ok. Whatever. He said we’d stop on the way home (ie: back to the cabin) for wine tasting. Fun! Fun!

After lunch we headed west once more to Fayette State Park and their historic townsite. The town of Fayette was a company town of the Jackson Iron Company, which smelted iron ore for 24 years during the 1800s. We learned about smelting, charcoal kilns, life in a company town, life of immigrants in the late 1800s and archeology. Cost: Free if you count the $8 state park fee toward the big spring we’d already been to.
Trying to pick up pig iron

T-levers on the pig iron
We spent about 4 hours here, the kids running to and fro among the buildings. They put on a play in the town music hall, dressed up in period clothes, went to the town school, cooked a meal and did dishes in a laborer’s cabin. Rose Bud challenged Mr. GT to a long game of checkers, something she’d never played before (yes, we are bad parents). They also wailed about not being able to keep a piece of the slag rock covering the beach. Poor Pepper and Daisy!
Presenting the Daisy-Pepper-Banana Boy-Sunshine Show!

Checker Challenge

In the laborers' cabin

They don't look all THAT sad that they can't bring this piece of slag home...

At the gift shop, I bought a children’s historical fiction novel about two boys who live in Fayette during the time the town was alive. Daisy is devouring it on the way home.

We didn’t finish the townsite until almost 5pm! On the way back through Manistique, we stopped at the winery, left the kids in the car like dogs with the windows cracked and had ourselves a wine-tasting! Mmmm! Blueberry wine! I told you so! We also got cranberry, North Shore White and a Big Red.

For supper, spaghetti was on the menu with hamburgers for tomorrow, but after much discussion and a vote, we decided to put the hamburger in the spaghetti and eat leftovers tomorrow before we leave, then hamburgers at home.

Mr. GT and Sunshine went off to town in search of ice cream (and had their own adventure). At the first shop, there was only vanilla, so they went to the next grocery store but they couldn’t get in because the owners were moving a cooler out the front door, so they couldn’t go inside. Then they tried the gas station, but they only had ice cream bars, so back to the first grocery store for the vanilla. Then back to the gas station for candy bars to go with it.

Meanwhile, I got the whole supper made—hamburger fried, noodles boiled, beans snapped and cooked and zucchini fried. Wondered by the zucchini where the boys had gotten to!

So after supper (which we ate at 8:00!) we had ice cream. The girls had begun a new 1000 piece puzzle on the floor in the sunroom and after supper, we put the boys and the little girls right to bed but Rose Bud and Mr. GT and I stayed up to work on it awhile. Rose Bud faded at 9:30, but we stayed at it until the mosquitoes were dive-bombing us at 11 (not sure why all of a sudden the place filled with moskies at 11pm…..)

We were so busy with our puzzle, we never got to drink our wine!

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