Sunday, August 05, 2007

Visiting the Great Southwest... of Michigan

At the invitation of Juliane's Granddaughter, 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 Juliane's Granddaughter 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?