Friday, July 15, 2016

Vacation Day 4: There's Good Food in Alpena, MI

Today, we got up, breakfasted at our hotel, and then drove up to Alpena, Michigan.  Once we got there we ate at this amazing diner, Take 5 Deli, and if you ever find yourself in downtown Alpena, EAT THERE. They make the sauerkraut daily. And the guy running the register gave me a Caramel Apple Cookie for free on my way out the door. So good.

We went to Alpena because we wanted to go on a shipwreck tour.  We booked our tickets ahead of time, but when we arrived, we were told that it was cancelled because of the weather. It was super windy here today, so no tour for us.  We rebooked for tomorrow morning (FINGERS CROSSED the weather cooperates) and toured the attached museum, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

The museum was wonderful. There were interactive exhibits, a scavenger hunt (which I think was meant for kids, but mom and I had a blast doing it), a theater with three excellent films on a repeating playlist, and excellent photographs of shipwrecks.  The whole thing could have been kind of gruesome (I mean lots of sailors died on the Great Lakes), but it walked a line between over romanticizing and explaining how important these wrecks are for understanding the maritime history of the US.  The Great Lakes have super well preserved shipwrecks because of the cold freshwater and the photographs really did take my breath away.
Once we got outside the museum, we were at the Heritage Trail, which we promptly began walking on. It was a lovely walk punctuated with signs explaining the history of the area.  It was seamlessly integrated with the information from the museum and I'm actually glad we spent the time doing this and I think it will make our tour tomorrow (FINGERS CROSSED) much better since we now have all this background.

So I bought some postcards at the gift shop and we headed out to find the Alpena Breakwater Light. Let me tell you, because this seems to be hard information to come by, if you want to see this "lighthouse," you need to go to Bay View Park in Alpena and then walk the municipal breakwall. The entrance to the breakwall was closed because some dudes had just poured some concrete, but mom and I jumped the fence. MY MOM JUMPED THE FENCE WITH ME.  It's a beautiful park, but not much of a lighthouse. 
But I would walk this again even if the end result is a silly looking Sputnik thing, you know what I mean?
At this point, we were stumped for things to do in Alpena, so I dug out the scavenger hunt sheet from the Heritage Center and noticed I had written the note "wildlife sanctuary?" in the margins. I also wrote notes on words I needed to look up from the displays (oxbow - a U-shaped bend in the course of a river) and questions I still have (why were there so very many horseshoes on the doomed ship Regina?).  Anyway, we headed off to Duck Park and Island Park because that was apparently the thing to do.

I would have stayed there all day if I had the chance. There was a section of pine forest, dunes, prairie, and of course there was water all around.  I also walked the whole thing in flip flops, so it wasn't challenging at all. There's even a handicap accessible path through the majority of the park.  If you ever find yourself in Alpena, come here right after you eat at Take 5 Deli.
Last, but certainly not least, we ate at Burgies on the  sole  basis of Yelp reviews and it was so delicious I almost cried when I was done with my bleu cheeseburger. Alpena sure has good food game.

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