Exploring Manistee Co., Mich.
By the lack of scheduled blog posts, you could probably guess Caitlyn and I were — surprise! — traveling the past week-and-a-half.
Perhaps also unsurprising, it was another trip to northern Michigan. But unlike previous trips, this one was all about fun and not full of seven consecutive 16-hour workdays at The Frankfort House.
We spent some of our time in lovely Manistee County, first at the annual arts-and-crafts show at the Arcadia Daze festival, where Caitlyn was busy selling her jewelry. Caitlyn loves this festival because she always nets good sales there. I love it because they have soft pretzels for a dollar, something that hasn’t changed in the six or so years I’ve been going there. The Lions Club also puts on a pancake breakfast and there’s even a parade in this sleepy town, home to 676 people. It’s a good, affordable way to spend a day with the family and I recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area the last weekend of July.
Not everyone thought it was a good way to spend the day. Our beagle-whippet, Bailey, came out to the show this year but apparently didn’t like another dog or the drum and fife band, as she pulled out of her collar (and, thereby, leash), taking her grandma down to the ground and ran stark-naked back to Caitlyn’s tent and trembled in fear. At least she ran back to the tent and didn’t run into the nearby forest or down to the public beach to become a dog shark.
No trip to Manistee County is complete without a stop in, obviously, Mainstee. The “Port City” still retains its Victorian charm in the buildings that line River Street. Some of the staples have been there for decades, like Snyder’s Shoes, while others are newer to the area, including one selling offensive T-shirts in the former Glik’s spot. Stay classy, Manistee. Tragic side story about Snyder’s: Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in recorded history (measuring 8’11”), was invited in 1940 by a St. Louis shoe company — which then outfitted Snyder’s — to come to the Manistee National Forest Festival. While at the festival, a faulty brace irritated his ankle, leading to a parasitic infection and ultimately, his death at the age of 22. A tall wooden statue of Wadlow sits in the corner of Snyder’s in Mainistee.
If you’re not into shopping, Manistee is also home to Little River Casino, which plays host to national acts and, luckily for us, polka bands on Mondays. Caitlyn’s Grandpa Stypa, who lives in an assisted-care facility in town, likes himself some polka, so we dialed-a-ride and headed over together to the casino to take in some tunes with other polka aficionados in the casino. Caitlyn had the crazy idea that we should dance to a polka song — which had the refrain from “It’s a Small World” at Disney World — so we did and, according to one old-timer, we danced very well. It helps that we’re both still limber … and 40-50 years younger than anyone else on the dance floor.
Here’s hoping Caitlyn doesn’t ask me to break dance next …