West Baden Springs Indiana

West Baden Springs Indiana
Inside of the AMAZING West Baden Springs Resort in Indiana.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Images of America: Traverse City State Hospital by Chris Miller

Another good book about the Traverse City Hospital is Chris Miller's book from the Images of America series.
You can read this book in an hour or two easily, but this book's value is in all of the great photos.  I especially love the old postcard shots.  Miller does a fun job of mentioning info about the postcards too (often noting the message written on the non-picture side ,and the date of the postmark).
This is a nice book to go along with the previously mentioned one.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beauty is Therapy by Earle Steele and Kristen M. Hains

Its kind of funny these days, I think many people think of abandoned properties and ghostly tourist attractions when they think of buildings that were formerly used as hospitals- especially if they relate to mental health.

After visiting what used to be known at the Traverse City State Hospital (see my other entry) on our recent trip, I picked up "Beauty is Therapy" by Earle Steele and Kristen M. Hains.

The book is written from Earle Steele's perspective as a long time employee of the facility.  Earl had a very long relationship with the institution, arriving on the property in 1922 when his dad got a job there, and it lasted until 1989 when the facility closed down.

The book is a quick and easy read, but it is still full of great bits of information from a very long term employee.  Earl kind of grows up on the grounds and then finds employment there, and even volunteers there after retiring.  Later as a young man, he turns down employment away from the Traverse City area to stay close by.

I particularly enjoyed and appreciated the descriptions of the former residents.  Earle seems to have an understanding of mental illness that is before his time, and very progressive.  He is sympathetic and understanding.  Though he does discuss some events you might expect (he was warned by his parents not to associate with one resident as that person had killed his son and he discusses a couple of suicides) he talks fondly and happily about most.

The book and the authors really show this old hospital to be the anti-stereotype of mental health hospitals.  They don't go on and on about tragedies that occurred there.  They discuss the benefits offered by the Traverse City State Hospital.  There are no follow up chapters about ghost investigations or any of that at the end (I did enjoy reading about the reality based museum on the property that closed when the hospital closed).

This is a sincere book, with a good and rare look at how a mental health hospital worked and evolved.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Strange & Unusual Shipwrecks on the Great Lakes by Wayne Louis Kadar

ANOTHER fun and easy to read book that i picked up on our trip around Lake Michigan is Strange & Unusual Shipwrecks by Wayne Louis Kadar.

I could read books like this all day.

This is another fun volume with many chapters- each covering a different shipwreck of the Great Lakes.  Many chapters are short but packed full of strange stories of tragedy.

One feature I really liked in this book is the small map at the start of each chapter.  The mini map shows all of the Great Lakes with an x pinpointing the location of where the disaster occurred that is mentioned.

Kadar is a good story teller, and sometimes withholds a bit of information until the end of the story to give it a little extra wallop.  For example, he doesn't mention the time period of one incident relating to alcohol found on a ship.  At the very end of the story when he brings up the fact that it happened during Prohibition gives the story an even more interesting twist.

Other "Strange and Unusual" tales involve cattle influencing the sinking of a ship.  Another involves drunk ducks (yes, you read that right).  A very unusual event involves the remains of crew from one ship being found with life jackets from another ship.

Still, this isn't a spooky or supernatural type of book.  All of the stories are factual and generally not too mysterious, but all are uncommon.

Pick this one up if you enjoy books about shipwrecks and strange stories.  Kids or adults can enjoy this one.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shipwreck Tales of the Great Lakes by Cris Kohl

Shipwreck Tales of the Great Lakes by Cris Kohl was one of those books I saw on my recent trip around Lake Michigan that I had to pick up!

The book is packed with stories about shipwrecks, how they happen, and what we know about the ships now.

As someone who grew up away from the Great Lakes, I guess I really never realized that some shipwrecks have been brought up, and restored to usable condition (and some have been sunk and restored more than once!).  I didn't know that some shipwreck sites have been found, and then that site is lost.  I didn't know that the Griffon may or may not have been found.

Also, I like Cris Kohl's writing style.  I read another book recently about shipwrecks in the Great Lakes that was difficult.  A book about shipwrecks can get technical quick.  Cris wrote this book in a way that even people with little to no knowledge of the lakes and ships can understand.

Kohl is careful to give the reader a clear, "here is what we know now" ending.  I really like knowing what became of the shipwrecks, the wreck sites, etc.  Cris even goes to Oklahoma to investigate a ship's captain who was thought to be dead!  Great fiction writers couldn't make this stuff up!

Cris Kohl did a lot of homework on this book.  I have read some other books about events and areas where I feel like the author slopped the book together over a weekend after reading a few other similar books.  This is not the case with Kohl.  As an underwater photographer and researcher, he has put MANY gorgeous color photos he took himself at the wreck sites in the book.  Old newspaper articles are included along with old postcards.  Cris uses a lot of vintage resources from his own collection, AND he has obviously done decades worth of research on his own.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Miami, FL 1939

The great top postcard shows a Miami skyline from 1939!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stone Cup Coffee House & Stone's Deil, Escanaba, Michigan

Another Great coffee shop we stopped at in Wisconsin was the Stone Cup Coffee House and Stone's Deli in Escanaba.

Cozy, clean and very casual, this place is great.  I had some perfect cherry coffee.  We also had scones.

I am not a scones person at all.  In fact, I am not sure why I ordered one here but man was it great!  Seriously, I feel comfortable saying the best scone I ever had was here.


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Traverse City Michigan

More on this site later......  But for now here are some photos we took while at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City Michigan!

Where do I start?

First, I must tip my cap to my pal JW Ocker at the GREAT blog "Odd Things I've Seen" (oddthingsiveseen.com- I have mentioned this site before).  I actually read about this location on his site JUST before our trip around Lake Michigan.

So, here is the edited version of the story.

The Traverse City State Hospital started up in the 1880s and pretty much stayed open and functioning until 1989.

I picked up a couple of books on the place (again, more on those later too- this is a fun site to visit AND to research).  From what I have read, this was a nice mental health facility.

Unlike other former psych hospitals, when you read up on the Traverse City State Hospital, you come away feeling good.  The patients were treated well, and in a respectful way.  As I read about the facility even in its early days, I felt like the staff was progressive, and way ahead of its time.

After the building stopped being used as a mental health hospital, it set around empty for some time.  Then, the locals decided that it was a nice building, and worthy of preservation.

Fast forward to now- and the building formerly known as the Traverse City State Hospital is now the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

I am SO PROUD of Traverse City for this.  The grounds and the actual buildings are all well maintained and gorgeous.  This is something very special.

AND, unlike other former psych facilities that have survived selling ghost and haunted tour tickets, this historic site is providing legitimate services to the community.  AND it is restored and safe.

Traverse City has made this building in to a very upscale shopping facility and it is a MUST SEE for any visitor to the area.  It didn't (nor has it been promoted as) old and creepy.  It is peppy and lively.

Here are just a few of the places we liked a lot-

Cuppa Joe reminded me of the cool local diners that you read about but rarely see anymore.  I found some cool postcards here after sipping on some nice coffee.  I talked to some friendly staff and other friendly regulars there who gave me a quick lesson on the building.

We are not wine people ourselves, but we did pick up a bottle at Left Foot Charley for our pal who was watching our cat while we were gone.  He says it is good stuff!

We had cheesecake at the Underground Cheesecake Company.  We loved what we had as much as we loved the name of the place!

We stopped by the Higher Grounds Trading Company for coffee and a few more gifts (yes, I had coffee twice while at the Commons.... don't judge me).  It was ANOTHER very cool independent type store with a cool vibe.  They don't use paper cups here, so when I got my coffee to go, they gave it to me in a mug!  People donate their mugs to this coffee shop just so they don't have to use paper cups!  Pretty cool!

Oh, and there is an assisted living facility as part of the buildings too.  I would love to live at a place like this one day! 

Traverse City is a cool town with lots going on.  They have minor league baseball, great scenery, and a cool place like this!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, Florida

This particular postcard was sent in 1936! The postmark encourages the purchase of Savings Bonds.

The sender tells their friend that they stopped here to have a drink.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt assasination attempt in Milwaukee Wisconsin

In October of 1912, a man named John Schrank tried to assassinate Theodore Roosevelt in Milwaukee.

In the lobby of the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee, close to where the event occurred, there is a very nice display about this moment in history. 

I took some photos of the display while I was in town.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Old City Gates, St. Augustine, Florida

All that now remains of the wall which together with the moat once protected the city on the north. Built by the Spaniards in 1743. Rebuilt in 1804.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cheeky Monkey- Portland Michigan

I have a new theory about towns named Portland.  If you are traveling and you see a town with that name, you should stop- its going to be a cool place.

I reconfirmed this theory in Portland Michigan.  We were driving less than an hour south of Grand Rapids and we noticed a sign for the "Cheeky Monkeys" coffee shop.

A town named Portland WITH a coffee shop called the Cheeky Monkeys- we would have no excuse if we drove on by!

 We drove maybe a mile or so off the exit, and we found this very cozy coffee shop in a beautiful downtown area.

The inside was roomy and warm on a cold day- the perfect setting for such a perfect coffee shop.

These guys were making up fresh pastries while we were there.  We decided to pick a few up for now....  AND a few to enjoy later down the road on our trip.

We walked out with a couple of bags of goodies, and paid pocket change for our food and two cups of coffee.  When they rang us up, we thought they were kidding.  Had they forgotten some of our purchases?

They had not.  Our total was around $10.  They could have told us our total was $20 and we would have still felt like we had gotten a good value.

You know I love coffee and cool, one of a kind coffee shops with a lot of heart.  Well, the Cheeky Monkeys gets the highest rating and recommendation from Kentucky Travels.  The place is perfect.  Chain coffee shops can't replicate this.

The staff was super friendly too and we chatted with them for a long time.  I can't wait to stop by the Cheeky Monkeys again!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mount St. Helens

This postcard is undated, and it is a bit more modern than the postcard photos I usually like to put on the blog, but I like this one a lot.

If you are familiar with this volcano, you KNOW that the photo is from sometime before May of 1982!

Mount St. Helens- Washington

I thought today would be an appropriate day to mention two legends associated with the anniversary of Mount St. Helens erupting.

Robert Landsburg took photos of the event.  He was close to the action, and must have realized that he was about to be over taken by the cloud of ash.  Knowing that he would not make it, but that his photos would be very important, he did what he could do to secure his camera.  Check out these links-



David A. Johnston was observing the eruption and famously reported it immediately before his death.  When I visited the volcano myself some time ago, I saw a film at Johnston Ridge Observatory.  The film closed with his famous last words, "Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!"  The film screen then pulled back to show the actual volcano.  It was very dramatic.


Friday, May 17, 2013

St. Augustine, FL Pelican

A pelican is shown on this postcard from St. Augustine sent to a friend in 1935!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall

The Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall is amazing!  They get an A+ from me as far as antique malls go.  The place is an antique shoppers fantasy.

I know of a lot of antique malls where there might be a few booths wort stopping at, but there are mostly junk filled sections.  That is not the case here!  The mall is very clean, and there are some reasonably priced high end items!

I can cover most antique malls pretty quickly.  Not this one.  I had to stop and carefully exam each booth.  There were some finds.

My wife went to the craft mall next door- which she said was amazing too!  I wanted to make it over there, but I ran out of time at the antique mall.

I went over my spending budget for the day while I was here (I could have gone a lot more over budget easily).

When I got back home to Kentucky, I realized that I passed up a gorgeous Milwaukee Braves baseball button, and I was regretting it!

We called the good people at the Mall, and they were able to ship it to me!  Classy!

Make sure you stop here if you make it to the Wisconsin Dells!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine, Florida

House of Flavors- Ludington and Manistee Michigan


We felt very lucky to have stumbled on to this old legend establishment in  in Michigan.  The food was great, and the vibe was authentically retro.

If you are in Ludington or Manistee you must stop here!  They serve ice cream with every meal!  Oh yeah!

The food was good AND it was a good value.  I had the huge wrap and potato salad.

Check out the photos.  We were all very happy with our meals.

The House of Flavor was decorated with cool old photos, and old toys were displayed in cases.   The walls on the inside of the restaurant were wallpapered with blown up photos of the restaurant and employees from decades earlier.  Very cool.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013

World's Largest Bandshell and Open-Air Theater, Fla

The back reads-

The majestic structure, built of beautiful coquina shell-rock, towers the Atlantic Ocean, the world's most famous beach, and borders the concrete boardwalk.
It stands at the head of the Beach Course on which all straightaway auto speed records were established from the dawn of the Automotive Era until 1937.
Late model sound devices are used for staging and broadcasting musical, dramatic, and other entertaining programs during both winter and summer seasons.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Winter Bathing at Palm Beach Florida

As delightful in January as in June, due to the warm Gulf Stream curving close to shore here, mid-winter surf bathing is daily enjoyed by thousands on the most delightful sand beach where the easy rolling waves break shoreward.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Random Thoughts On Friday

Wow, there is something in the air.  It has been an odd week.

If you have read this blog for some time (hi Mom!) you know that I spent a lot of time in Cleveland Ohio.  In fact, I lived there for almost a decade.  I have a love/hate relationship with the area.  I think of Cleveland like I think of an old friend that really screwed me over at some point.  There are lots of fun memories, but I still hold a grudge.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great things going on up there.  If you go there for a weekend, you can have a lot of fun.  But, unlike many other cities that I love and enjoy visiting often, I LIVED in Cleveland for a long stretch.  I went to fun concerts, sporting events, etc., but I also dealt with some rough moments while I was there.  Frankly, I have personal issues with the place.

Also, I KNOW Cleveland inside and out.  I think I probably know every neighborhood not only in Cleveland, but also in Akron and other areas in that northern Ohio area.  East Side, West Side, I know it all.

But, again, comparing the city to an old friend, I feel its pain when it is in pain.  I feel sad for it when something bad happens.  I also feel joy for it when something good happens.

I feel joyful for Cleveland this week.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument- Florida

"Spanish Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest complete masonry fortification remaining in continental US. Construction was started in 1672. Its 16 foot-thick walls are built of coquina, a natural shellrock quarried on nearby Anastasia Island. The Castillo withstood major English attacks in 1702 and 1740, and in its later years as a prison held many men famous in US history."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Somerset Mall

I love malls, especially ones with a retro feel (then again, these days almost all of them are).

This mall is still attractive and clean, and it looked to me like they are keeping it up nicely.  It also appeared that the locals appreciate it, as businesses looked busy.

They had a very classic looking arcade and a nice bookstore that I liked very much.  The bookstore looked to be an old Walden's that stayed open after Waldens' closed.  I don't think I have seen a similar arcade or bookstore in some time.  In fact, I would travel back to this mall just to go to the arcade and bookstore.