Bay City to Detroit 5/31/12

Lake Huron - Saginaw Bay added an important perspective to our Great Lakes observations. This Bay is a large indentation that juts out from the main lake causing currents, wind and waves to isolate the waters in the bay from the primary waters of the big lake. Consequently more pollution concentrates here. Algal growth caused by all forms of run off from the land take a toll quickly here.  We have all heard about Lake Erie and its problems, but this Bay - which is larger than the majority of the world's lakes is something most of us know nothing about.

At Bay City Recreation Area State Park there is a good stretch of beach, a lagoon, and a forest that is protected. The Visitor Center has an excellent display describing the natural and human history of the Bay. For example the native game fish that were once abundant have disappeared and walleye - which can thrive at a certain level of murky - cloudy water were put in. Walleye is a great tasting fish, but this should be whitefish and trout water.

Bay City seems worn out.  We found a wonderful Inn that has achieved national awards - the Webster House.  There is a very nice looking Planetarium in town and the Saginaw River front is worth visiting.

In Saginaw, where we stayed, is the Hoyt Library, It has long been one of my favorites.  On this trip we were pleased to discover the library in Charlevoix - a massive building with great landscaping, and delighted to think that libraries might still be valued in Michigan, as they should be.

Our favorite observation in Saginaw as an old abandoned gas station that had also served as a drive up grocery - according to a driver who paused to talk as I took photos.  This old building was allowed to stand and become a piece of urban art.

Clarkston is a small community that has a wonderful little main street with field stone storefronts and old wooden structures - like the church that has become a sanctuary for food and beer lovers - the Union General.

I tried the beer sampler and recommend the Right Brain Hawk Owl - a red from Traverse City and B R Racer Five - a really hoppy, but well balanced IPA from Healdsburg, CA. The food was terrific and the people at the next tables - only a foot away, so of course I met them - loved and raved about the mac and cheese.  One man said the Reuben sandwich will make your head explode (we assume that was a compliment).  Kate had a meatloaf (notice this is a comfort food made very well place) and I had a ground beef/gorgonzola cheese patty with carrots and mashed red potatoes.  All the food was superb and the atmosphere was fun.

We drove to Novi for our room and then finished the day in downtown Detroit - after finding a way around the closed freeways and neighborhoods that were underwater from a broken water main - what a mess.

Our destination was two Coney Island Restaurants - side by side - and dating back to 1914.  They began as one restaurant owned by two brothers, but a family feud arose almost immediately and the joint venture became competing ventures.  The storefront was divided in two and the American Coney Island and the Lafayette Coney Island restaurants began their long co-existence.  So how do you choose?  We didn't.  We went to American with its red, white and blue decor and spacious dining area (they must have bought out another store to expand.  They even have Coney Island kits with onions, chili, hotdogs, mustard and buns that you can mail to starving relatives.  They ship every Monday.  Kate had the traditional hotdog with all the fixings, but I am allergic to hot dogs so I chose the loose burger version - all the same ingredients and presentation, but with a scoop of browned hamburger.

The Lafayette next door has none of the shine or glitz of the American - it seems to look much like it did back in the 40s or 50s.  The menu is almost identical to its twin next door, but some people we'd talked to had told us they preferred this establishment over the other. Besides we didn't want to show favorites and Kate said she could eat another one.  She honestly couldn't say one was better than the other, but liked them both.  I had fries with chili (an American Version of the Canadian Poutine!) I liked the chili topping at the Lafayette a little more.  We would always recommend that you eat at both when you get downtown.


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