July 19, 2012

Huron Lightship

location-Port Huron, MI
active beacon-no
stamp- yes
players-Jen, Lincoln, Spencer, Jackson and Grandpa

"Lightships were like floating lighthouses anchored in areas where it was too deep, expensive or impractical to construct a lighthouse. Lightships displayed a light at the top of a mast and in areas of fog also sounded a fog signal and radio beacon. The fog signals used over the years consisted of bells, whistles, trumpets, sirens, and horns. Fog horns were powered by steam in the early days and later by air compressors. The Huron Lightship sounded her fog horn signal in a 3 second blast every 30 seconds and was known locally as "Old B.O." because of the familiar sound her horn made." This is a direct quote from the Huron Lightship web page.  Check out their page for more details.

Thomas Alva Edison memorial boulder

This was actually our first stop of the day, but when we arrived there was a school field trip in progress. So, we then changed plans and went to the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Thomas Edison Depot Museum.  It was perfect.  By the time we returned, we were the only ones on board and got a personal tour.

passing frieghter

The Huron Lightship was officially retired in 1970, after 50 hard working years.  She was the last of the lightships at that time.  In 1990, she became a National Historic Landmark.  She is the only Great Lakes lightship to have that honor.  She is now permanently moored in the sand on the banks of the St. Clair River.  It's a fun visit with kids.  My kids love lighthouses and boats, so to have a combo was pretty cool!


getting our passports stamped

After getting our passports signed, our private tour began.  It was really detailed.  He explained what all of the artifacts were, how the ship worked, the duties of the sailors and more.   He was great with the kids.  They got to ask questions, see things up close and even ring the bell.

captain's quarters
captain's office

getting our private tour

the boys got to take turns ringing the bell

on board the Lightship Huron

eating area-the sailors used to place their plates
 on wet towels, so they wouldn't slide off the table
Seaman Robert Gullickson memorial

July 16, 2012

Port Huron Museum

Our last stop of the day, after visiting the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, and the Huron Lightship, was the Port Huron Museum.  The building itself it a really cool historic building, built in 1904.  It used to house the Carnegie Library.  The museum opened in 1968 and started out with an all volunteer staff.  They now have quite a few employees, it's nice to see efforts like this that end up thriving!  They have some fine arts, but most displays teach about local history in the Bluewater area and the Great Lakes.  They have an entire floor dedicated to maritime history.  That is the part the boys loved.  Obviously, we didn't delve to deeply into history lessons with two four year olds and a big baby, but they had a lot of fun checking out all the displays.  The lady working at the desk said the boys could even ring the bell!  Definitely a highlight.

ringing the bell

replica of the Huron Lightship

this is an entire room built to look like the inside of a ship

ringing the bells
peek a boo--I see you behind the wheel

Lincoln loves to pose with
 Abraham Lincoln whenever he see him

mock up of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse compound

July 13, 2012

Tulip Time

Ahh, Tulip Time in Holland, MI.  A sure sign of spring.  The whole family decided our house would be a great place to gather for Mother's Day this year.  None of them live all that close, so that means they were coming for the weekend.  I think they would all like to live in West Michigan, so they visit often.  The weather was beautiful the whole weekend, so we all headed to Holland to enjoy some Tulip Time festivities on Saturday.  We did not make it to the lighthouse on this visit, but we did have some lighthouse activity, so stay with me.

Holland has deep roots in Dutch culture and they are very proud of it.  Every May, they celebrate it with Tulip Time.  Back in 1927, " Miss Lida Rogers, a biology teacher at Holland High School, suggested that Holland adopt the tulip as its official flower and celebrate it with a festival."  (That is a direct quote from the "holland michigan page".

If you've never been and you love small town festivals, then Tulip Time is a must.  They have a good size art show (with really cool handmade items), Dutch dancing in the streets (the kids were mesmerized), lots of kids activities, parades and more.  Of course, you have to make time to peruse all the cool downtown shops while you're there.  You won't have a hard time finding a good place to eat, either.  We've been to Holland many times and never tire of it.

Ok, so Tulip Time is fun and all that, but let's get back to our priorities.  We've visited the Holland Harbor Lighthouse (aka, Big Red) twice so far.  Once up close, in the summer and once in the winter, from across the Holland channel in Holland State Park.  You can check it out here and here.  However, we have never gotten our passport stamped.  In fact, we never knew that had one.  Which is fine, if lighthouses don't have stamps available you can put in a picture of the lighthouse, according to the United States Lighthouse Society website.  But a reader left me a comment in my first Big Red post telling me all the details about the unknown stamp.  (Thank you anonymous commenter, whoever you are!)  I already had the picture glued in our passports, so there was no removing it, but we were on a mission to get that stamp! 

Holland Museum

The very first place we headed was the Holland Museum with our passports in hand.  The museum looked like a fun place to visit. I'm sure we'll be back to check it out, but for today, since it was so beautiful outside, we were just after the stamp.  You just walk in the entrance and the stamp is right at the counter. Easy breezy.
we squeezed the stamp next to the picture that was already glued in
So, now that our official lighthouse business is taken care of, we're off the enjoy Tulip Time.  The first thing the kids want to do is watch the dancing in the streets.  After that, the boys are with the kids and the girls hit the art show.  According to what Grandpa taught the boys to say, "women be shoppin'".  To them, that saying NEVER gets old, even though, it so rarely actually happens.
watching the dancers

Manya--the Arabian Mystery
the boys and Chloe

the boys with the Dutch dancers

so stinkin' cute
Spencer with the copper man

the girls

water fountain




our art festival finds

hoo hoo

Now, we're ready to relax, sit down, and eat.  We're off to our old favorite, New Holland Brewing.  The first time we went there was on August 2, 2010, the official start of "Stewart Family Lighthouse Explorations"! (check it out here)  We also enjoyed it during our winter visit to Big Red. (check it out here) John, Kristen, Michael and Joy haven't been yet, so they were excited!  (Kristen posted about it here)

New Holland Brewing
hmmm....what do I feel like tonight?
three cheers for Tulip Time
Just when you thought we we're done, the day gets even better.  Manya & Grandpa were kind enough to take the kids & Chloe home, and the rest of us got to walk around and enjoy ourselves.  We don't get out without the kids very often, so this was a special treat.  We found a cute little store called, Model Drug Store Apothecary Gift Shop.  Don't let the "drug store" part of the name fool you.  It is one cool store.  Kristen's eyes immediately went to the Pandora section.  She just got a bracelet for her birthday.  Joy and I knew we would be getting them soon enough.  So, we all bought the super cute tulip charm to commemorate our day.  Turns out, I didn't have to wait very long to wear my new charm.  John surprised me the next day, Mother's Day, with a bracelet and three birth stone charms (for each of the three kids)!  What a guy!!!

Tulip Bead