It’s been over a year since I last set foot in Michigan and to quote Irving Berlin, "That's why I wish again, to be back in Michigan."
My last visit was to the area affectionately known by Michiganders as “the thumb.” (Green Thumb) This time, I decided to visit the remaining counties in the Lower Peninsula. Though there were only 22 from which I needed to mail postcards, it involved covering a lot of territory.
Here is the “before” map which gives an idea of the place I needed to see (any counties not colored dark blue).
The drive from Ohio was wet. Collecting counties in the rain isn't much fun, but at least most of the first day involved passing through previously visited places, so stops were minimal. By the time I reached Hastings in Barry County, the rain had ended. In fact, the entire weekend was dry except for a brief shower on the drive home.
The three and a half day trip proved successful as all 22 postcards I mailed arrived within a few days of returning home. Here is my “after” map showing just two counties in the Upper Peninsula left to collect.
My stays were at the FFI Lansing West (nothing noteworthy to report), the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, and The Henry—an Autograph Collection hotel in Dearborn. The JW and Autograph properties were my first experience with those brands and I must admit, I felt a little out of place. Perhaps it’s that I’m more accustomed to Renaissance and Marriott, but whatever the reason, I enjoyed the luxury nevertheless (the lounging chair at JW was a bit more comfortable).
While in Grand Rapids, I decided to check out one of the local brewpubs (Beer-cations!). I selected Hop Cat. It’s a few blocks from the JW and worth a visit for a beer and a burger. Make sure to get their signature “Crack Fries.” Truly addictive. Check out this article from the Food Network (America's 10 Best French Fries).
As I usually do, I photographed many of the county courthouses when I stop in a county seat to mail home a postcard. Here are a couple of note (Traverse City in Grand Traverse County and Mio in Oscoda County).
During my last visit to Michigan, I stayed at the Dearborn Inn on the recommendation of jerrycoin and jakeal. This visit, I decided to try The Henry, located just a couple miles away. The Henry (named for Henry Dearborn, not Henry Ford as I had thought) used to be a Ritz Carlton until 2010 when the fallout of the economic downturn prompted RC to sell the property. A multimillion dollar upgrade by the new owners included a new Concierge Lounge and renovated rooms. Artwork lines the walls in most of the lobby and hallways. Almost hard to believe it’s a category 5 property.
Even so, were I to go back to Dearborn, I’d choose the Dearborn Inn over the Henry, though both are excellent options.
My trip to Michigan is the only true county collecting trip of the summer. I do have a couple overnight visits to places I have already collected (Cincinnati and Buffalo) but nothing further planned until fall. I will collect three counties on my late summer trip to Hawaii, but that is almost ancillary to the visit itself. Even so, I will post a blog entry about my visits to the counties of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Maui.