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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Enjoying Empire, Michigan

     This is actually a small hotel just across the channel from the "Cove " restaurant in Leland.  It is part of an historic fishing village on the shore of Lake Michigan.  The next picture shows a strange watercraft.  The boat is used for gill-netting.  The Indian tribe here has maintained its traditional fishing rights and are the only folks allowed to use gill-nets.
     The area has dozens of wineries, several craft breweries and no end of fresh produce with an emphasis on cherries.  At a surprisingly large institution known as the "Cherry Republic" in Glen Arbor I bought an assortment of jars of cherry products.  Don't think "dessert"; this stuff includes salsas, spicy jellies, barbecue sauces, etc.  Expect to see some at the Maine happy hours next month.  One of the interesting crops necessary to support those micro-breweries is hops.  The next shot is of a hop farm.  I asked Durelle to get in the picture so that you would believe how tall those plants are.
     Empire was founded at the end of the nineteenth century as a lumber mill that initially provided firewood for the steam boilers of the fleet of Great Lakes ships that used these waters.  Later they expanded to lumber that was shipped mostly to Chicago.  In front of the Empire Museum is an unusual conveyance for hauling logs.  It consisted of a two-wheeled, horse drawn carriage that suspended logs below it.  Its uniqueness comes from the ten to twelve foot diameter of the wheels. 

     When it comes to unusual vehicles, have you ever seen a hearse on sleigh runners?  You have now.
     This is a very pleasant small town.  The proprietor of the only local grocery makes his own bratwurst of several varieties.  I stocked up on some of those as well.  I doubt that I would be inclined to spend the winter here, but this is obviously a close-knit community that represents the best of what we are all about.  On a closing note, I have a picture taken from the door of the bus as Durelle, Dick, Jeanette, daughter Kathy and grandson Charlie sit around our fire bowl after supper.

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