June 27, 2022
Nearly five minutes of tranquility (with traffic) along Fleming Creek in Parker Mill County Park, with guest appearances by an eastern comma and some barely discernible ebony jewelwings.
June 25, 2022, third full day in Ann Arbor
I woke up with a charley horse in my right calf. Then I put weight on my straightened right leg and quickly took it off. When that nerve isn’t happy, I’m not happy — or able to stand or walk. I settled in with Stacy Schiff’s The Witches and tried to baby my leg for a few hours. Then for a few hours more.
That didn’t work, and my inactivity made me feel guilty.
Finally I dragged myself out. After a brief rest in the campus park a block away (yes, that’s sad) I decided I was up to walking to Nickels Arcade.
On the way I passed the State Theatre. I like the old-school tile although I’m not tall enough to capture the entire name. It looked like the theatre had been taken over by a Target store, but I found out later Target had replaced another retailer in the building, Urban Outfitters.
Coming attractions for the Michigan Theater (note ”er” vs. ”re”) down the street (Liberty):
I reached Nickels Arcade and thought I’d check out the Peace Corps medallion Roadside America claims is nearby. That required walking several more blocks south on State Street (hint, Roadside America: No, it’s not near University). I found the building but didn’t have the steam left to go around it to find the medallion. I’ll regret that, I’m sure. Well, here’s a Nickels Arcade marker instead:
I did spot this other Roadside America attraction across the street — it’s hard to miss. Whimsically called “See No Evil” by Roadside America, it seems especially appropriate for the times.
Another sculpture dominated the museum’s lawn.
Finally I limped back to Nickels Arcade for iced coffee and a cookie at Comet Coffee, to Sava’s for a drink and dinner, and to the park area for a bit of shaded rest before limping back to my room.
I don’t think I ever posted this marker before. It’s across Huron from the bed and breakfast.
5,171 steps so far at 20:24. I would have sworn it was at least 7,500. Each painful.
Ben & Jerry’s and Michigan Creamery are next to each other. Pick your poison.
Nickels Arcade because I like Nickels Arcade.
Finally, a drinking fountain I’ve not noticed before.
Not long ago I found a message in Facebook Messenger I hadn’t noticed earlier because it was from a stranger. He’d sent a screenshot of a photo, asking if it was mine and where it had been taken.
It was my photo, so I sent back a screenshot from Apple Maps based on the location data, which included “Old Hickory Lanes.” Later I found out there is a bowling alley next to the subject of this post, a house fondly known as “Old Hickory [Tavern],” or now more formally as F. W. Knox Villa.
The question roused my curiosity. Located in downtown Coudersport, Pennsylvania, Old Hickory when I photographed it in May 2015 was a moldering shell of a building whose open windows invited pigeons and no doubt bats in to roost. Fixed up some, but not too much, it would have been the perfect setting for a 1960s horror film. But you could imagine how grand it must have been in its late 1800s prime. It was a shame to see it slowly rotting.
I looked up Old Hickory (thank you, internet) and found out it had been purchased and is being slowly restored. The new owner commented people are disappointed to learn Old Hickory is not on a big lot in the countryside. On one side, it bumps up against the bowling alley, while the other is separated by a bit of yard from the Allegheny River, which in Coudersport looks like a canal.
The new owner mentioned a surprising lack of photos to help guide the interior restoration, then said someone sent a box of interior photos, a treasure trove. It sounds like the owner wants it to look as much like it did in its heyday vs. a modern makeover.
I don’t know what the owner’s intention is. Someone speculated it could become a bed and breakfast, which would draw me back to Coudersport (close to Cherry Springs State Park, an International Dark Sky Park). Whatever Old Hickory will be used for, finally the local pigeons and bats have had to move on.
August 29, 2021
J found out Smith Bros. Coffee in Port Washington, Wisconsin, would be closed permanently after Labor Day weekend. On Sunday we took a quick trip to stop there and a few other places.
It was a good day for me to be in an air-conditioned car — the car thermometer read 97ºF at the Lake Forest Oasis, where the sky was sunny and the atmosphere heavy and oppressive with heat and humidity.
As we progressed northward I noticed enough dark clouds gathering to obscure the sun. Near Milwaukee the skies opened up, accompanied by some lightning and thunder. I’m not sure how long the bad spell lasted — maybe 20 minutes. By the end of it, the temperature had dipped to about 78ºF — that’s more like it.
I found a slightly different route into town that took us past Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. It’s now on my list.
Our first stop was Bernie’s Fine Meats, which is the source not only of deliciously addictive but unhealthful garlic summer sausage, but also many unhealthful European sweets. I spent well over $100 there. It’s showing in the waistline I no longer have.
Smith Bros. is across the street, part of the Duluth Trading store, which will expand into the Smith Bros. space when it closes. I ordered an iced coffee and sandwiches to go, and picked up coffee beans and an insulated travel mug. Of course I posed with the fisherman sculpture which was installed in 2020. It more or less replicates the sign on the roof, down to the fish on the man’s back, but without the man’s pipe. Our health-conscious times!
Reservations at Twisted Willow were not to be had, so we ordered food and drove around until it was ready to be picked up, about 40 minutes. We re-found the light station, but more important we found Port Washington has extensive lakefront parks. This was a good time to find them because sky was still dramatic from the on-and-off thunderstorms in the area. We decided to return with dinner and use one of the many picnic tables.
After we ate the salad portion of dinner in a strong breeze, during which another rainbow appeared, J took a brief detour toward Belgium and Harrington Beach State Park, home to one of my favorite views on County Road D — a single tree by the side of the road that leads to a stop sign and Lake Michigan. Fail to stop at your peril.
On the way back to the interstate I noticed the sky that had produced drama and rainbows earlier now gave a fire-breathing dragon cloud. What a great way to end a great day.
While returning from Indiana Dunes today, I looked for the Interstate Inn off the I-90 on ramp. A quick glimpse left me with the impression it was gone. I was not wrong. It was demolished in June.
There’s some background about the inn at Lost Indiana.
Added July 12, 2020: The sign remains, much worse for the wear of the past two years.
May 21–23, 2013, with a gap
The first and third place I stayed at in the eastern portion of Shawnee National Forest was Willowbrook Cabins, first in the Outdoorsman and then in the Hiker (separated by a night in Elizabethtown). I booked the Outdoorsman while at the Post Oak rest area. Planning is for other people!
My friend and I arrived after 10 p.m. and found ourselves in a pickle. The code for the door didn’t work, the owners preferred not to be called after 10, and I didn’t have AT&T service anyway. After we drove several miles away, I was able to get enough coverage to call and find out that we should have tried 0 to 9 for the last digit. The code we had was off by only one or two steps.
Both cabins were large, rustic, and basic, but had everything you could want for a few days in the forest — including a washer and dryer that came in handy.
With the decor, I could almost imagine myself in Minnesota . . . just needed more boreal trees and lakes.
Down on the farm, May 20 and 21, 2015
When passing through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I stayed at Shady Oaks Farm Bed and Breakfast, which I think may have been for sale.
The house was large with an impressive dining room fireplace, but what I loved most were the rooms. To get to one of them, you went down a few steps, then up a few steps into the next room, all connected, set up for children. I can’t get enough of houses with oddities like this — multiple levels on one floor, attic rooms, mysterious little slanted doors or floors that sort of thing.1
As a farm, Shady Oaks featured horses, with two or three in a pasture and a pony in the stable. The B&B could accommodate travelers with horses too. On their website, they warned fussier visitors that theirs was a working farm, so there might be equipment, hay, etc., about the place. People had complained. Between the horses and the comfortable porch overlooking the pasture and the long drive ahead, I found Shady Oaks very hard to leave.
1 My favorite was my aunt’s second floor apartment in Altoona, Pennsylvania. When you walked through her bedroom and maybe down a step or two (memory fails), you found yourself in another bedroom — in another house. Those houses have since been torn down, and I doubt their like will be seen again in our present-day bland, cookie-cutter modern housing.
Standing tall on Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois, the Gemini Giant welcomes you to the Launching Pad. The giant is one of the Muffler Men listed at Roadside America (many with photos). You can learn “How to Identify Muffler Men.” Accept nothing less than the real deal.
I’m devastated — DEVASTATED — to find out only now there are Muffler Men variations in Springfield (here’s one and here’s the other), Peoria (Vanna Whitewall!), and Metropolis. I missed them all on visits to those towns.
But I’ll always have the Gemini Giant in Wilmington.
Not a Muffler Man, but I saw Superman in Metropolis.
And even Clark Kent, who’s more two dimensional than I expected.