Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free Friday Night Concerts in the Band Shell

One great thing that comes with summer is outdoor concerts. St. Joseph has some wonderful free concerts in it's John E. N. Howard Bandshell on the St. Joseph River. The "Brownbag Concert Series" features concerts at noon on Wednesdays, and at 7:30pm on Fridays, June 3-September 2.

These concerts are presented by St. Joseph Today and are sponsored by Flagstar Bank and the Indiana Michigan Power Company.

Here's a "moment" from a concert D and I attended on June 5th, 2009 featuring Keith Scott.

Here's a list of the remaining concerts for the 2009 season:

Wed 6/24: David Youngman (folk/jazz solo guitar)
Fri 6/26: Kevin McDaniel & the House Band (classic rock)
Wed 7/01: John Tolhuizen (tenor folksinger)
Fri 7/03: Tim Velez (70's folk/rock)
Wed 7/08: Fiddlers Congress (traditional/folk)
Fri 7/10: Mike Talbot (adult classics & originals)
Wed 7/15: Venetia Sekema (blues/folk)
Fri 7/17: No Concert (Venetian Festival)
Wed 7/22: Tim Velez (70's folk/rock)
Fri 7/24: Jimmy Fastiggi (blues)
Wed 7/29: Voice of Choice Singers (Christian vocals)
Fri 7/31: Lake Effect Jazz (20pc. contemporary jazz)
Wed 8/05: Richard Schwartz (60's/70's/80's)
Fri 8/07: John & Paul (rock to swing plus more!)
Wed 8/12: Leonardo (interactive family show)
Fri 8/14: Carl Payne (multi-instrumental, many genres)
Wed 8/19: All God's Children (community choir)
Fri 8/21: Venetia Kekema (blues/folk)
Wed 8/26: Keith Scott (electric & acoustic blues)
Fri 8/28: Sheila Landis Trio (jazz/blues)
Wed 9/02: Josh Davis (lively & rockin' roots music)
Fri 9/04: Marcus Robinson & the Big Idea (rhythm & blues)

We enjoyed Keith Scott who was a very engaging entertainer. We also enjoyed "Living Soul" (island/Jimmy Buffett genre) who we saw at the band shell on June 12th.

With a light breeze off the lake, a beautiful sunset as a backdrop to the entertainers on stage, a variety of very talented musicians... well, outdoor concerts just don't get any better than these!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lest We Forget 2009, St. Joseph, MI

Patriotism. For most of us, it runs high when our county or countrymen are harmed or threatened but it fades into the background of our lives the rest of the time. Some of us will attend a parade on Memorial Day and perhaps a fireworks display on Independence Day. Others will stand and sing the National Anthem at baseball games and graduation ceremonies. But for the vast majority of us, patriotism is merely moments of time here and there when we reflect on the greatness of our country, our democratic way of life, and the brave men and women who have fought to make the United States of America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But there's another group of folks out there who have taken patriotism to a whole new level. These folks live and breathe patriotism. With the same passion that some of us have for researching our family history, these folks put on uniforms and re-enact our nation's history. They are dedicated to showing us live, in real time, what an amphibious landing in the Pacific theater was like during World War 2. They put on the 1940s era United States Army uniforms, grab their rifles, and re-enact the D-Day landing on the beach at Normandy. They storm a local airport by parachute so that we can see with our own eyes the sights and sounds of World War 2 without the terror and horror of actually having been there. These are the men and women of Lest We Forget.

It's hard to put into words what it was like to witness an amphibious landing of hundreds of uniformed soldiers on a Lake Michigan beach with St. Joseph's lighthouses in the background. As my eyes scanned the scene I was able to take in a crowd of thousands who had come to see the re-enactment, the military battle itself with gunfire erupting all around me, and a nearby beach crowded with sunbathers, beach volley ball games, and children building sand castles. Very surreal.

You could feel the anticipation and excitement in the crowd as the first amphibious vehicles approached the shore.
As the troop carriers touched the shore the soldiers jumped into the water and ran for the beach.
In a matter of moments they were hunkered down in the hot sand and firing away at the German troops embedded in the knee-high grass that grows abundantly along Lake Michigan's sandy shores.
The sounds of rapid fire filled the air much as the haze of gun smoke did.
The crowd was mesmerized by what they were seeing in front of them. Those with press passes caught the action on cameras with foot long lenses from the best vantage points while the rest of the crowd caught what action they could between the heads of people standing in front of them behind the caution tape using point-and-shoot and home video cameras.
It wasn't long, just a matter of moments, until the battlefield was strewn with dead soldiers, reminding us that the fate our our loved ones was often determined by the bullet fired from the gun of soldier positioned just a few feet further up the sand dune. Just another guy who was as scared and just as determined that he was fighting for what was right.
And then it was over. This simulated battle had ended. No one was really hurt. The soldiers all got up and walked away. So unlike the fate of many of our loved ones. The German officers sat at a picnic table and had a bite of lunch in the shadow of a Japanese flag that had been planted earlier in the day when a similar battle re-enactment from the Pacific theater had been performed.
The soldiers too took a welcomed break from the action.
It was a day for remembering. A day for patriotism. It was brought to us by, Lest We Forget, an organization dedicated to promoting patriotism. It was a day I won't soon forget. My heartfelt thanks go out to the organizers and participants who fought in the lake shore and airport battles in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan on June 20, 2009. You put on a helluva show!

My thoughts, of course, went to my uncle, Edward Lasky, who fought in the D-Day battle at Normandy. I couldn't help but wonder what he would have thought of this re-enactment. Would he have snickered at these actor's portrayal of that horrific day? Or would he have smiled at the crowd of thousands who were feeling the patriotism? Would he have felt pride in remembering what he had fought for? Or would he have been haunted by his army buddies that died on the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944?

I leave you with one last image. This one is from the Healing Field of Flags, 1000 American flags on display at the entrance to the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport in Benton Harbor. These flags are displayed to honor departed, former and current veterans. This is the price we have paid for our independence.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Storm Watching on Silver Beach

Mother Nature put on the most awesome light show last night and and again today. The thunderstorms we had at 4am and again at 7am were not like any I remember seeing. The lightning was so constant and for so long it made it impossible to sleep. And the thunder! Yikes! Deafening!!!

We had more storms during the day today and again at 9pm this evening with this evening's being another tremendous light show!

When I was a child I used to be terrified of thunderstorms. I used to cry and hide under the bed and beg my mom to hide under there with me. She never did. My fear of storms lasted throughout my grade school years, my teen years, and even through my college years. While I didn't hide under the bed all those years I did refuse to go far from home if there were severe weather watches or warnings. And I always made sure I knew where the basement was when visiting a friend's house in case I needed to head down there.

It wasn't until I gave birth to my daughter that my fear of storms dissipated. Just like that when I became a mommy the protective instinct kicked in and I lost my fear of storms. Oh I still have a weather radio by my side and I keep tuned to the TV for radar and satellite pictures but I no longer feel the fear. Now I'm concerned rather than anxious. And sometimes I can even sit and admire a good thunderstorm, something I never thought I'd be able to do. This evening was one of those times.

I knew another thunderstorm was approaching St. Joseph from Lake Michigan. I headed down to Silver Beach to watch the storm approach and to see if I could catch a picture of a lightning bolt with the lighthouses in it. I've tried to capture lightning in a photo a couple of times before but never had any luck. But tonight was my lucky night! HA! Look at this!

And this isn't the only lightning photo I was able to capture. I have a couple of others too. :-)

I think St. Joseph and Lake Michigan will provide a wonderful backdrop for even more lightning photos. I look forward to more of Mother Nature's light shows!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Antiques on the Bluff, St Joseph, MI

I'm not an antique collector. I don't know much about antiques at all. But I do know I need some furniture pieces for my condo and I like the concept of "reduce, reuse, recycle". So with that in mind, D and I went to the "Antiques on the Bluff" (AOTB) antique dealers show on Sunday, June 7th in St. Joseph.

AOTB is held the first Sunday of every month from May till October in Lake Bluff Park. The hours are 10am to 3pm. There is no admission fee.

After seeing so few vendors at the Farmer's Market the day before, I didn't know what to expect when we pulled into town for the antique show. I was mildly surprised to find just the opposite in this case. Lake Bluff Park was packed from one end to the other with antique dealers!

D and I and K strolled from one end to the other and had a wonderful time browsing. Prices were all over the place. Some seemed like good deals, others not so much. But that's the essence of the game of shopping these sorts of sales, isn't it?

The one thing that was consistent among the vendors was their friendliness, their willingness to make conversation about the weather (which wasn't so nice, cool and drizzly), the lovely view of Lake Michigan, and of course the goods they were selling. It makes for so much nicer a shopping experience when people are friendly!

I saw a trunk I really liked ($100) but someone had already bought it :-(

I was tempted by some nested Busia dolls for $8 and $5 but the lady selling them said they were made in Russia. I have nothing against Russian made goods (except nuclear war heads ;-) but I collect Polish made folk art.

I did find a nice piece I could use in our bedroom. It used to be the hutch part of a desk or dresser and once had doors. But I liked the color and don't care about the doors so we bought it ($25).

And from the same dealer, I found a cute little table I could use in my dining room. The pale shade of green paint is a bit lighter than the color on my walls (not the accent wall seen here but the other walls in the dining room). I'm undecided if I will paint it our not. In any event, I like it and it works for now ($40).

I also bought a lined rain slicker type jacket that I liked but I forgot to take a photo of it ($29).

It was definitely a fun and worthwhile shopping trip for us and I'm sure we'll go back again next month. But this time we'll try to get there a bit earlier... just in case there's another one of those trunks to be had. Don't you always regret the one that got away? ;-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Schu's of St Joseph

The first restaurant we ate at the very first time we visited St Joseph was Schu's on Pleasant Street at Lake Blvd (August 2007). Why Schu's? It was the obvious choice. It was right there across the street from Lake Bluff Park with a perfect view of Silver Beach and Lake Michigan.

We were there on a hot summer day and the cool air conditioned air provided welcomed relief. I can still remember looking out at the scenery and thinking what a lovely city St Joseph was. I also remember the binoculars we used (provided by Schu's) to look for boats on the lake. But the food was memorable too... especially desert! D and I shared a "Summerberry Stack" that was out of this world. It was described as, "Bright berries strewn across citrus-flecked cake aswirl with cool tart key lime and creamy white chocolate cheese. So cool, times two, on a butter crunch layered with vibrant raspberry. A look that plays across the seasons." Great description, even better taste!

Boy oh boy am I hoping they'll feature this luscious desert again this year!

Fast forward to January of 2009... When we came back to St Joseph to look for a condo to buy, where did we dine? The one place we remembered that had good food, Schu's, of course! D and I have eaten at Schu's more than any other restaurant since we first became residents of St Joseph. And when we have guests over, we always take them to Schu's. We can count on a great view, great service, and great food. (Although it looks like the great view may be somewhat obscured now that the new carousel us going up.)

Just last week we had dinner at Schu's on Friday evening before going to the concert at the band shell. I had the Salmon Roma, served with fresh asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes, and it was outstanding!

D had a steak and was equally as pleased with his dinner.

The wait staff has always been friendly and when I've had occasion to speak with the chef/manager, he was equally as friendly. This is an establishment that strives to make their customers happy.

More interested in lunch? I can recommend the Strawberry Chicken Salad! YUM! (I thought I took a picture of it but evidently I didn't, sorry.)

If you're looking for outdoor cafe seating, Schu's has it. If it's a drink at the bar and catching the weather forecast on a TV that you're looking for, Schu's has that too. Heck, Schu's even has it's own place right down on Silver Beach! (I haven't tried it yet but I'm looking forward to it!)

Can you tell I'm a Schu's enthusiast? And no, I'm not being compensated by them ;-)

Stop by and enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Michigan Strawberries

Luscious. That's the word of the day. Why? Because that word perfectly describes this year's crop of Michigan strawberries!
I just got back from buying some of these luscious red beauties from Scott's Produce stand which is in the parking lot of Ace Hardware on Niles Rd.

Noticed the rain, did ya? Yes, it's a rainy day. We've been having a lot of them lately. I'm told the slightly cooler and wetter spring we've experienced is the reason for the wonderful crop of strawberries being harvested this year. I guess this is the cloud's silver lining for us :-)

I just had a handful of berries and I can attest that these berries are superb. Unlike the crunchy, semi-sweet California berries that have been sold in markets around Michigan for months now, these are super sweet and the flesh is soft but firm. Perfect. Lucious. YUM!

Michigan strawberries... just another reason to love St. Joseph and southwest Michigan!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

St. Joseph Farmers Market

Last Saturday, June 6th, was the first Farmers Market of the season in St. Joseph. I've personally not been to many farmers markets, in fact, the only farmers market I recall shopping at is the Eastern Market in Detroit. That is one huge market that has plants and produce from all around the country and the world. There's some locally grown produce there as well but it isn't promoted as a locally grown market. The Farmers Market in St. Joseph, however, is promoted as one featuring only locally grown produce :-)

The Farmers Market is held on Saturdays from June 6 - October 10th (except for July 18th which is the weekend of the Venetian Festival), 9am-2pm. Located at Lake Bluff Park and Broad Street in downtown St. Joseph, it has beautiful Lake Michigan for a scenic backdrop. Ya can't find that in a grocery store!

D and I got to the Farmers Market about 11am. The weather was sunny but cool, perfect for a stroll on the bluff. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I saw how few vendors there were (6-8) but then I remembered that it's still very early in the growing season. I'm sure there will be more as more produce gets ready for picking.

Since this is the beginning of strawberry season here in Michigan we were hoping to pick up some fresh-from-the-vine strawberries. But we soon found out we were too late! Evidently only one vendor was selling strawberries and they had already sold out. That's what we get for not arriving sooner :-7

Our first stop was at a merchant selling honey and maple syrup. I was immediately taken with the variety of cute bottles of syrup. My eye found a bottle in the shape of a violin right away and I just had to have it. And then there was the bottle with the St. Joseph lighthouse etched into it... well I just had to have that too, along with a "bear" of honey. (That's Lake Michigan in the distance.)

I forgot to take closeup shots of the syrup bottles but you can get the idea from this one.

Then we walked on down and found this vendor selling plants. I'm not in the market for any plants right now so we didn't linger there.

We found a couple different vendors selling baked goods. One featured home made breads and this one featured pies, cookies, and big cinnamon buns with thick icing... the stuff we used to call "gook".

D picked out a mixed berry pie and it was delicious!

The last vendor we stopped at was a sweet little old couple selling kitchen towels. These are the kind that are crocheted on top so you can hang them from your oven or cabinet hardware. They were just darling, the couple and the towels! We chatted for a bit and I bought 3 towels (gotta help support Michigan's economy ;-) .

We turned around to see if we'd covered all the vendors and what did we see? A sailing regatta out on The Lake!
It was a wonderful morning spent at the Farmers Market and I look forward to shopping there throughout the summer and fall as Michigan's bountiful harvest becomes available.

Monday, June 8, 2009

"Pure Michigan" Campaign Could Be Cut, OH NO!

"Pure Michigan" campaign could be cut

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Synopsis of Our Weekend

Well, so much for my idea of blogging more on the weekends. I can see now that I'm not likely to be doing much of that in the near future. I gave in and got DSL service at the condo but didn't get around to writing even one blog post. Here's a synopsis of my weekend, details to come later in the week.

We arrived late Thursday evening, too late to do anything but read a couple chapters of Hot Six (Stephanie Plum, No. 6) by Janet Evanovich. (I re-read all of Janet's Stephanie Plum series each year before her new novel comes out in late June.)

Friday morning D and I grabbed a couple of breakfast sandwiches from Burger King and headed over to one of the two scenic outlooks on Lakeshore Drive south of downtown St. Joseph. We thoroughly enjoy breakfast by The Lake! (see photo below) Then we headed into town and bought our annual parking passes for Silver Beach and Tiscornia Beach. Back to the condo by 10am to meet with the window/glass repairman. He'll be replacing 3 of our windows hopefully sometime in the not too distant future.

I spent the rest of the morning planting flowers on the back deck while D installed the DSL. The maintenance crew has finished installing the new deck railing and it looks very nice. Then we were off to lunch at the Broad Street Cafe in St. Joseph and a bit of shopping at a couple of my favorite stores, G&M Variety and Edgewater Gifts. The weather was just lovely, blues skies, sunshine, and temp of 75F. Sounded like a good time for our first trip to lay out at the beach... so that's what we did next :-) (see Silver Beach below) We only had about 45 minutes of sun time before we had to head back to the condo to meet with the electrician at 4pm about running a line for the microwave oven...

Dinner time! We headed into town to dine at Schu's on the The Lake, then we went over to the band shell on the St. Joseph river to catch a free concert by Keith Scott, a Chicago blues singer and guitarist. Wonderful! The concert ended just before sunset. We ran back to the condo (it's so great to live so close!) and grabbed K and our cameras and brought them back to Lake Bluff Park with us for a stroll and some fantastic sunset shots.

After the sun went down we made a quick stop at Cabanas for an ice cream sundae and then called it a night. Whew! And that was only Friday!

Saturday we had breakfast at Schu's (they've just started serving breakfast so we thought we'd check it out) and then walked down Lake Bluff Park to the Farmer's Market. It wasn't too impressive but it's the first of the season and I expect there will be more vendors in the weeks to come. Did a little more shopping in downtown St. Joseph at Eve's and Moxie's and then had to get back to the condo by 1pm to let the electrician in to work on the electrical line. I was going to take in a creative writing workshop at the St. Joseph public library but then I discovered it was focusing on poetry and short stories so I opted to clean up the deck a bit and hang a few art pieces at the condo.

Our Realtor, Jan Richards of Attila Real Estate, who helped us find our condo, came over to see the progress we've made so far on our redo. She was very complimentary and enthusiastic which made us feel very good. She's one of the few people who knew what it looked like "before". Then she left and we got dressed for dinner. We met JR and some new friends at Clementine's on the St. Joseph river. Had a great time and were home by 8pm to catch the Red Wings playoff game. We enjoyed a bottle of wine (red of course!) from our visit to Karma Vista while we cheered the team on. Yeah Wings! They won over Pittsburgh making the series 3-2 in favor of the Wings. :-)

Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast at Sohia's in Benton Harbor and then drove over to Lake Bluff Park for the monthly Antiques on the Bluff. We spent a good couple hours strolling by all the vendors, bought a few things, and then headed back to the condo. D threw a couple hot dogs on the grill (I'll bet you were wondering if we ever cook at home, LOL!) and then we spent the afternoon hanging more artwork. By dinner time we packed up and headed on back to Detroit.

It was a wonderful weekend but didn't allow me any time for blogging. :-( Maybe on a rainy day... stop right there! There will be no rainy weekends this summer! Summer is too short as it is. We want only hot, sunny days through September! Oh OK, it can rain over night so the farmers will have bountiful crops ;-)

I'll be wrting more about some of the places and events I've mentioned here in future posts. Stay tuned for the details!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Michigan's Beach Towns

This is just exactly what it's all about for me...

Thank you Tim Allen!

Friday, June 5, 2009

South Haven, Michigan... First Impressions

Although I've lived in Michigan all my life, I haven't spent a lot of time visiting the west side of the state. I'm much more familiar with the beach towns in Ontario on the east coast of Lake Huron than I am with beach towns of Lake Michigan. I've been to Holland once when the kids were small, and I've been to Traverse City. If you count winter trips across the state I've been to Muskegon too. But that's it. So when it comes to evaluating Lake Michigan's beach towns, I don't have a lot of knowledge and experiences to draw on. At this point the town I'm most familiar with is St. Joseph, and I'm not very familiar with it!

The suburbs of Detroit each have their own personality and one could certainly say the same for western Michigan's beach towns. St. Joseph, for example, is a slice of small town Americana set on one of the most beautiful beaches Lake Michigan has to offer. One gets the impression that the residents tolerate the influx of summer tourists, appreciating the revenue they bring to the area, then breathe a sigh of relief when the fall comes and they can go back to the slower small-town pace of life they enjoy most of the year. Very family oriented. Charming in a quaint, historic sort of way.

South Haven, on the other hand, strikes me as a town that more than tolerates tourists. It seems like it's defined by them. The atmosphere feels a bit more commercial, more geared towards affluent boaters and the 30-something Yuppie party crowd. The beach is lined with multi-million dollar beach homes giving it a bit of a California-esque feel. It's hard not to like this town with it's large harbor, tree-lined streets, and enticing downtown shopping area. It beckons to you to stroll through its shops, stop in for an ice cream cone, and people watch from one of the many park benches placed around town. Still small town charming, but with a bit more cache.

South Haven is about a 30 minute drive from St. Joseph, an easy trip for an afternoon or evening visit. We left St. Joseph just after an early dinner, about 6pm, and returned just after sunset, about 10pm. Here's what we did during our time in South Haven.

We drove into town and were immediately struck by how many people were out and about town, walking, biking, and sitting on park benches. This isn't a town that rolls up the welcome mat early on Saturday evenings.

We noticed the tree-lined streets and antique lamp posts on our way down to the harbor/beach.

The lighthouse sits out on the south pier.

The north pier has something that resembles a lighthouse but isn't quite.
From the end of the pier, we were able to get a good view of the area. The beach houses...

And a wedding on the beach...

Then we headed back into town. We had an ice cream sundae (which I'll write about in another post) and then took a ride in a horse drawn carriage. The carriage driver was born and raised in South Haven so he had a lot of interesting stories to tell. Unfortunately, he wasn't using a microphone and didn't speak loudly so we had to strain to hear him. The carriage ride was nice though and we saw the Old Harbor area. That's an area we'll want to explore more when we visit South Haven again.

As you can see from the picture above, the sun was starting to get low in the sky. So when the carriage ride was over we headed along the beach to find a good place to take sunset pictures. Just a few blocks over from Phoenix Street (the "main drag"), on Monroe Blvd, sits St. Basil Catholic Church. It's a lovely old church that looks out over Lake Michigan.

Right across the street from the church is very pretty and convenient look-out point just at the top of the bluff.

We grabbed a park bench and took in yet another lovely Lake Michigan sunset...

There was a low layer of clouds on the horizon. We weren't sure if the sun would reappear once it set behind them.

But it did!

And then mother nature's show was over and it was time to head back home to St. Joseph.
We had a lovely evening in South Haven and I look forward to visiting again one of these days!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

St. Joseph, Michigan... My First Impression

I thought it would be appropriate to re-post here an article I wrote about my very first visit to St. Joseph, Michigan on August 4th, 2007. This article appeared on my Creative Gene blog...

I spent yesterday visiting the beautiful city of St. Joseph. It's known as the "most romantic city in Michigan", and it lives up to it's reputation. It's absolutely charming. I wish I could have stayed longer... one day was not enough. But there are plenty of reasons to return and I can hardly wait to do so again.

I took a couple hundred photos just a few of which are shown below. My one disappointment of the day was the weather. When I left Detroit in the late morning the forecast was for a mostly sunny day and a high near 90 degrees. Sounds like a great beach day to me! However, as I drove west, the blue sky became more and more clouded (it's a 3 hour drive from Detroit). By the time I got to St. Joseph the sky was filled with dense gray clouds and threatened rain at any moment. Lucky for me, it didn't actually rain until just as I was leaving about 9pm. However, the gray, cloud-laden sky that persisted all day made for less than striking photos :-( But I wasn't planning to enter my photos in a contest anyway, these are just memory photos... moments of my life captured by the camera.

I started the day off at Shu's Grill and Bar because I had quite an appetite going by the time I got to St. Joe. I was lucky enough to get seated by the large front windows that look out over the bluff to Lake Michigan's beach below. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich (on croissant) and cream of mushroom soup, and it was scrumptious! Even better was the dessert, Summerberry Stack, which was out of this world. (I would go back to St. Joe just for this dessert.) After lunch I took a stroll across the street to check out the Maids of the Mist fountain and walk along the park. Lovely.

Then I made my way down to the beautiful beach, kicked my shoes off and took a nice long walk in the cooling Lake Michigan water (had to work off that dessert!). Along the way I took lots of photos and enjoyed the large art sculptures at the top of the beach along Lake Street. Also along Lake Street are many beach "cottages", several of which were for sale. The asking price for the one pictured above was $1.2 million dollars. People who live along the Atlantic or Pacific coasts probably wouldn't bat an eye at that price but here in the Midwest it's top dollar. (Unfortunately that means I won't be buying a cozy cottage in St. Joe this summer :-( But oh the view! Sitting on the porch of this cottage and looking out at the lake, well, I have to say the view is worth the asking price. Sigh. The realtor told me that when the atmospheric conditions are just right you can see the skyline of Chicago at night from this beach (Chicago is about 90 miles by car from St. Joseph, I don't know how far it is in a straight line across the water.) Then I stopped to read about the immigrants that settled in the area, Germans from Russia, as it turns out (so now this post qualifies as a genealogy-topic article, right? ;-)

After the beach I headed up town to stroll through the streets of St. Joe. I bought a hand painted Christmas ornament and some jewelry (of course ;-), and then set off taking pictures of the art cars on display all over town. My favorite... the Univ. of Michigan car. Go Blue!

By this time it was after 7pm and I knew I didn't have much daylight left. I wanted to get out to the lighthouse so that was my next destination. It's quite a walk along the pier to get from the beach to the lighthouse. It was made more challenging by all the fishermen and fishing poles along the way, but it was worth the walk. There's something timeless about lighthouses. They are a beacon for sailors, a popular subject for artists and photographers, and a reminder to the rest of us about the dangers that exist for those who take to the water. I snapped a few pictures and headed back to town to grab a quick bite to eat before heading home.

The city of St. Joseph doesn't roll up it's welcome mat when the sun goes down. On the contrary, the beach goers head to one of the many restaurants in town for dinner after a long day in the sun (or under the clouds as the case may be). Generally at this time of year the sun sets about 9pm and I'm told it's just breathtaking to see. But I would not see the sunset over the lake on this trip to St. Joe. Evening came early due to the dense cloud cover and the town turned its lights on in welcome.

I wandered in to Cafe Tosi for dinner. It's a quaint little cafe that serves a variety of beverages, sandwiches, and tantalizing desserts. I ordered Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry which was served with a field greens salad. It was as good as it sounds, yum! I ate my dinner at an outdoor table and people watched. After dinner I went next door to the Chocolate Cafe. I bought a selection of chocolate candies to take with me and indulged in an extravagant ice cream sundae before I left. Luscious!

Just as I finished up my ice cream it started to rain. That was my cue to make a run for the car and head on home. I wished I could have gotten a room in town and stayed the night. Perhaps next time.

I'd like to thank Cheryl for writing her blog post about the town she calls home. I've lived in the state of Michigan my whole life but never realized the gem we have in the city of St. Joseph. This is yet another good reason to read genealogy blogs... you can learn so much more than just genealogy from them. And I do, almost every day. I learn about life, and love, and history, and so much more. Thanks to all my fellow genea-bloggers who add a little color to the world of genealogy with their personal posts. These are usually the ones that touch me the most.

So... When are you going to check out St. Joseph, the most romantic city in Michigan?