Neehee's Indian Street Food Restaurant in Canton

If your family has adventurous eaters then make a plan to go to Neehee’s Restaurant in Canton.

This restaurant specializing in Indian Street Food recently re-opened from an extensive remodeling project, which provided a welcome doubling of the seating.

We went on a recent weekday for lunch and were impressed by the new design-open, bright, and in a great feature-seating for large groups.

We have often noticed that large families or multiple families and co-workers go to Neehee’s and often had to push multiple tables together or just sit in the general vicinity of each other-not anymore. There are now tables that comfortably sit eight or more people. This vibe just adds to the fun at Neehees

While I usually deplore the large screen televisions ubiquitous at casual dining establishments- it actually adds to the experience as they often highlight cricket matches and the Indian version of cable news. Much to my embarrassment, I know very little about the domestic politics of India, but glancing at the news at Neehees, I am led to believe it is not too dissimilar from our own.

Did I mention the food is great?

I do admit to menu paralysis when I go to Neehee’s as there are so many options that I am totally unfamiliar with, so we tend to stand around for five minutes reading the menu and asking questions. The staff is always patient and helpful, even when they are busy.

It is great that it is all vegetarian and features many vegan and dairy free options as well.

Some of our favorites are Papdi Chaat and the Dosa Sandwich wraps. While the Sandwich Wraps are a bit pricey at $12.99, we find that splitting them between 2 people is quite satisfying. The Papdi Chaat is a northern Indian staple that features small bits of deep fried crackers, chickpeas, potatoes in a wonderful chutney and yogurt sauce. Even the mild is spicy to our taste, but not excessively so.

There is a Neehee’s location, but we have only been to the Canton location.

For flavorful, fun food in an appealing setting, check out Neehee’s Indian Street food.

Sleepy Hollow State Park in Spring

This week we had the great fortune to make a quick stop at Sleepy Hollow State Park near Lansing, Michigan.

It was early Spring, the weather a brisk 42 degrees with a strong and gusty wind cutting through our fleece jackets. The sun was warm though and we have been touched with a bit of Spring fever, so we were glad to get out to somewhere we haven’t been.

We weren’t alone!

I was a bit surprised that the campground was open for camping already, but there were perhaps a half dozen trailers parked in the ample campground lots, with their pavement pads, perfect for trailer parking. Talk about perfect- you had the sensation that you were in some secluded wilderness in the far reaches of up north, rather than less than an hour from a highly populated metropolitan area.

There was even a small group of tent campers! Several sites were occupied by a group of dedicated families who like us were itching to get outside. The campfire smell is one that captures the imagination from the scantest scent and one can’t think of the many happy memories of camping trips past.

We took a brief walk along the hiking path, a bit soft in early April, but not bad, and the lack of leaves on the trees made the vistas expansive and compelling. We headed over to the fishing pier, which while not yet open, looks either new or to have had major upgrades-great to see!

Lake Ovid is a good size inland lake with minimal development which is very impressive in this part of the state.

There are several new camping cabins right on the lake and they seem to be perfectly situated for families to enjoy some quality time in nature. Their tranquility is only marred by a vast expanse of parking lot with broken up concrete. It looks like it may have been a parking lot for a previous beach or something of the sort. It mars the aesthetics of an otherwise perfect setting.

With miles of trails, hundreds of campsites, fishing, mountain biking and easy access to Lansing, Flint, Saginaw and metro-Detroit, Sleepy Hollow State Park is high on the list of places to check out for a quick overnight get-away later this spring or summer.

See you there!

Travel Dreams

As the stillness of Winter gives way to not quite Spring, it is a good time to dream.

The snow in the Lower Peninsula has mostly melted. The ice on the lakes thinning, cracking. But the hiking trails are a mushy mess and the stiff wind makes hiking unpleasant for much more than a half hour at a time for most families with younger children.

While of course there is an abundance of wonderful cultural events and happenings to occupy your family, but most of us are yearning for the later Spring and Summer when we can bask in the warm air and put away the hats and mittens.

So, where is your family going this summer?

Have you booked your campsite at Ludington State Park?

Have you gotten tickets for any minor league baseball or the Tigers?

Have you circled Labor Day on your calendar and made plans to finally walk the bridge?

I hope you include your children in the planning process and give them some choices in either destination or activities.

I hope you enjoy making memories by traveling in Michigan.

When we travel together, we grow together.

Happy travels!

Watching the Bees- A Michigan Summer Meditation

Watching, waiting, savoring. 

Watching, waiting, savoring. 

One of the luxuries of summer in Michigan is taking the time to slow down. To rest, to refresh, to play and to watch. 

Whether it is standing along the Detroit River watching the freighters sail by, guessing which country it is from by the flag fluttering in the breeze; sitting beneath a tree watching the dappled shade play and dance on the green leaves; or watching a bee busy buzzing along the petals of a flower- watching, savoring, and appreciating are qualities that make family travel in Michigan so inviting. 

Enjoy!

 

Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda Michigan-Family Friendly Fun

Lumberman's Monument-Oscoda, Michigan

If you are looking for an enjoyable place to encounter nature and history while visiting the northeast part of the lower peninsula, then Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda, Michigan will surely satisfy.

Lumberman's Monument is part of the U.S. Forest Service and is located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. Located a quick jaunt (about a fifteen minute drive) from downtown Oscoda, Lumberman's Monument is located at 5401 Monument Road, just off River Road. 

You will first enter the gate and discover ample parking with spaces in a lot to your left or to your right. We have been at various times of day and different seasons and we have rarely had any difficulty finding parking to the right, which is closest to the visitor center. Around the 4th of July and through mid-August it gets busy on the weekends, but generally you will encounter no difficulty parking. However, if you are starting your trip to Lumberman's Monument with a picnic beneath the majestic pine trees and are seeking some space for your children to stretch their legs and run a bit, then parking to the left as you drive in will likely offer more space. It is a reasonable walk to the visitor's center, so either way you will be fine. 

The visitor's center at Lumberman's Monument is small and contains primarily a gift shop, rest rooms, and a ranger's desk. The ranger's are extremely helpful and informative, but unless you have specific questions, or are seeking campground reservations, I would save a trip to the inside of the visitor's center for last and allow the children to enjoy the gift shop after you have enjoyed the other areas of the monument area. 

Outside the visitor's center, check the whiteboard to see if any ranger talks are available during your time. These ranger talks usually are 30-60 minutes in length and are often geared for children aged 5-12. We attended one on proper camp safety, especially learning how the rangers work to prevent forest fires and how they fight the fires when they occur. It was engaging and interesting and definitely developed a greater appreciation for what the rangers in the Forest Service do. 

There is a paved walkway outside the ranger station with information kiosks and displays providing information on the role that lumber played in Michigan's History. Needless to say, our growth and development through the 19th and early 20th century, especially in Northern Michigan was dependent upon the amazing efforts of the lumberman who primarily lumbered the White Pine. 

There is often a brief video showing in the pavillion behind the ranger station-it is worth spending the time watching to get a better sense of what it would have been like to have been a lumberman over a 100 years ago. 

Then, proceed on to the large pile of concrete logs set in a timber fall to demonstrate the size and massive scale of these trees. 

Continue on for several yards and get a photo of the namesake sculpture- The Lumberman's Monument- a tribute to all of those who toiled with their bodies and souls to earn a living for their family and to build our country. It is a great photo opportunity!

Then spend some time standing along the rails and looking out over the Au Sable River, widening here, almost to a lake, yet still serpentine-sliding along the sandy earth. It is a great view and careful observers scan the skies for a wide variety of birds. 

View at Lumberman's Monument in OScoda on an overcast day

View at Lumberman's Monument in OScoda on an overcast day

If you are up the challenge of descending hundreds of steps to the river below you will be rewarded at the bottom by a replica cooking boat. We often enjoyed playing down here, early mornings, before the crowds descend- cooking up the meals with real "lumberjack" names- your kids will enjoy reading what the lumberjacks called eggs and bacon. 

Cook's  Raft at Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda, Michigan

Cook's  Raft at Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda, Michigan

From this lower vantage point you will appreciate the difficulty in getting the logs down to the river and imagine the almost incomprehensible site of this part of the Au Sable River being "log-jammed." 

A word of warning- going back up is not as much fun, but there are platforms for you to rest. If you just take your time and are in reasonably good health, you should be fine. 

There are several short  hiking loops to the dunes and through the forest that are worth spending time on, as each view helps you appreciate the natural wonder of northern Michigan and the amazing efforts of the lumberman who worked so hard to build our great state. 

Natural Beauty at Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda, Michigan

Natural Beauty at Lumberman's Monument in Oscoda, Michigan

A quick tour of Lumberman's Monument could be accomplished in approximately one hour. But for our Michigan Family Travellers,  each return trip adds a deeper appreciation for our state's history and heritage. 

Be sure to extend your travels in this region to include a trip to Iargo Springs- a natural spring system that flows into the Au Sable. Also, there are several towns nearby for ice cream, coffee, and the like- Oscoda, East Tawas, Glennie, and the Victorian Cafe in Hale are all worth a stop if you have time. 

Family Questions for Discussion

1. During what time period was this area primarily logged?

2. Where did the lumberman live while they were logging?

3. How heavy was a typical "log"?

4. How did they transport the logs from this area and where did they go?

5. There are the same number of steps descending to the river as ascending-what natural factor makes ascending more strenuous?

6. What are the names for eggs and pancakes that the lumberman used?

 

Eastern Market: Shed 5 Saturdays for Families

Detroit's Eastern Market is gearing up for the Spring Season when all shed's open and market-goers from all over Michigan and northern Ohio flock to one of the gems of the midwest-Saturday at Eastern Market.

But Eastern Market is open year round and Shed 5 is where it is happening-especially for families.

Shed 5 at Detroit's  Eastern Market

Shed 5 at Detroit's  Eastern Market

Shed 5 during the winter contains everything you love about the Eastern Market experience-the fresh fruit and vegetables, the small batch jams and scones, the locally roasted coffee, the candles, the t-shirts, the live music, the fun, lively atmosphere-but on a smaller scale. 

In some ways, for families, the Shed 5 experience on an early morning on a Saturday in March, might be the best introduction to the market. 

The parking is easier.  I pulled right into a spot on the street just north of the shed off of Orleans and had an easy one block walk to the entrance. 

The crowds are smaller too. Sometimes, the sheer size of the summer Saturday experience can overwhelm younger children. 

One of the other benefits of the smaller crowds (at least in the early morning) is that you have more time to talk to the vendors without feeling rushed.  It was great to spend a few minutes learning more about Jen's Dressing and the great work done by the Detroit Food Academy and their delicious Mitten Bites. The student I spoke to has already earned several scholarship through the Detroit Food Academies, excellent blend of small batch baking and entrepreneurship-congratulations!

We always like to encourage our kids to ask questions to learn about the products or the owners. It is a great way to practice social skills and language skills-and it just makes it more fun! 

I was able to get over to the Dequindre Cut, just about two blocks from where I parked and was amazed by the Mirror Mosaic Building. It's worth a trip down just to see it. I can imagine it becoming a great photo op for the wedding party going for an urban feel or for the artistic senior pictures. 

Mirror Mosaic Building near Detroit's Eastern Market at the Dequindre Cut

Mirror Mosaic Building near Detroit's Eastern Market at the Dequindre Cut

Try to get over to Shed 5 early Saturday over the next few weeks and enjoy a wonderful family friendly experience in Detroit's Eastern Market. 

Family Questions for Discussion

1. What is the importance of Detroit's Eastern Market to metro-Detroit?

2. What are your favorite fruits and vegetables to get at Eastern Market?

3. Why is it important to eat healthy foods and how does Eastern Market promote that?

4. What are some of your favorite stalls at Eastern Market?

5. Take a look at the architecture and artwork nearby- what do you notice? 

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Ubuhle Beadwork at the Flint Institute of Arts

Don't read this post!

GO NOW TO THE UBUHLE WOMEN: BEADWORK AND THE ART OF INDEPENDENCE exhibit at the Flint Institute of Arts. It only runs through March 31, 2018. Then, after you've seen the exhibit, please come back and read this post and the others on our website!

Don't make the same mistake we did.

We had never been to the Flint Institute of Arts. Flint, I am sorry to say was a place we  have not visited in many years. 

After spending a delightful Sunday afternoon at the Flint Institute of Arts we have committed ourselves to returning not only to the Flint Institute of Arts, but to the other attractions in the Flint Cultural Center-the Sloan Museum, the Institute for Music, the Planetarium, etc.

We didn't go specifically for the exhibit. In fact, we didn't really even know it was there, we were just looking for something different to do on President's Day weekend. 

The Ubuhle Women exhibit is a travelling exhibit created by the Smithsonian Anacostia. Quite simply, the exhibit is a testament to the power of art and creation to heal the pain of our world. It is a wonderful example of how hope can triumph over despair. 

Each of the women in the exhibit have a story to tell-missing husbands, families devastated by AIds, the death of a child, poverty-but through this art work have learned not only to express themselves, but to tell their story to the world and to earn a livelihood that can help pull them out of the ravages of poverty.

In many ways, the exhibit is the perfect metaphor for the work that the Flint Institute of Arts is doing in the Flint community and in Michigan in general. 

I don't want to over-hype the exhibit, but the collected tapestries of African Crucifxion,  is worth the trip alone. It's collection of individual tapestries assembled to create a compelling narrative, each individual bead, patiently sewn-insignificant on its own, but essential to the larger story-one of hope and redemption. The center piece, The Crucified Christ:The Tree of Sacrifice, was completed by artist Thembani Ntobela and completed shortly before she died of Aids related illness. She re-worked the beadwork of the face relentlessly, meticulously, to ensure that it was perfect- a face of peace. 

In a perfect world, some benefactor would ensure that every school child in Michigan would be able to take a field trip to the Flint Institute of Arts fort the Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence exhibit. In the meantime, do yourself and your family a favor and go. Now!

 

 

 

North Country Trail-Happy Anniversary!

North Country Trail- Happy Annivesary

North Country Trail- Happy Annivesary

In 1980 the congress enacted legislation to create the system of trails which would be the North Country Trail, and on March 28, 1981 a group of volunteers created the non-profit group that would become the North Country Trail.

From humble beginnings, the trail has grown, evolved and in so doing improved numerous lives.

The North Country Trail is an impressive network of trails extending from New York through to North Dakota. 

Michigan has over 1,000 miles of trails in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, the most of the North Country Trail. 

Our family our proud to be members of this association. Although, we have only hiked a few dozen or so miles on the trail, it has captured our hearts and imaginations. 

Jenny and I first encountered the trail while camping in the U.P near St. Ignace. We stumbled over thick roots as we kept an eye out for the wildcats that the ranger told us were recently spotted in the trees.

We have taken our kids for a hike out of the North Country Trail headquarters in Lowell, Michigan. The gentle uphill climb, leading to an expansive view was wonderful soul sustenance and exercise before we returned to the car to continue on our journey. 

A favorite was a recent hike in the northern Lower Peninsula, outside of Petoskey. This hilly, well marked trail was challenging for a trail in Michigan, yet very walkable. 

If you are thinking about getting in some serious hiking this summer consider working towards one of the two badges- the 50 mile or the 100 mile. They don't have to be all from one hike or time frame, but they are a great reminder of the many wonderful memories you will create from walking on the North Country Trail. 

Happy Anniversary North Country Trail!

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Go! Sy Thai-Detroit : Family Friendly Thai Food

Go Sy Thai-Detroit is one of the best Thai restaurants in Metro Detroit. With two locations in Detroit, Go Sy Thai is a convenient restaurant for many of your downtown Detroit family activities.

Our go to place when spending time at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the shops in Midtown, and other activities around the Wayne State campus is the Go Sy Thai midtown location at 4240 Cass.

Go SY THAI MIDTOWN DETROIT at 4240 Cass Avenue

Go SY THAI MIDTOWN DETROIT at 4240 Cass Avenue

 

The food is amazing and reasonably priced, but the decor and service are just "okay." The interior is very much like any modern small cafe-cramped seating, with the counter morphing into the seating area. It is redeemed by being mostly windows which allow for natural light to flow in. And the cool Thai movie posters on the back wall.  The service is okay- seemingly mostly Wayne State and College for Creative Studies students, neither particularly friendly, nor surly-just perfunctory.

But the food at Sy Thai is wonderful- neither too saucy or sticky, each dish we have eaten there has been enjoyable. The mild is perfect for our taste buds-a bit of zip, but never overpowering. We usually split several dishes and add an a la carte item such as a Veggie Roll or Tom Yum soup and are always satisfied-this cuts down on the calories and the cost!

Be sure to try to time your stop at Sy Thai Detroit to avoid the lunch rush. We don't mind eating at 11 am or having a granola bar in the morning or stopping there after 1pm for lunch. The times we have been stuck in the lunch rush, we have waited over 20 minutes for our meal, which is a bit much when you are crammed next to other diners. 

Still, Go SY THAI Detroit in midtown continues to be a satisfying lunch destination when our family is in midtown. Hope you enjoy too!

Looking for more great food ideas for your Michigan Family Travels? Check out our Food page dedicated to celebrating Michigan's abundance of family friendly eateries?


 

 

 

March 2018 Things to Do

March is a great month in Michigan. Here are things you might want to add to your Michigan Family Travel calendar  (in no particular order)

1. Go to the Flint Institute of Arts and  see the Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence exhibit. It is only through the end of March- so go now!

2. Go to Greenfield Village, okay, technically it is at the Henry Ford and see the Science Behind Pixar exhibit-only through March 18th. It is really enjoyable. Our son saw it twice and enjoyed it both time! 

3. Go see Robin Hood at the Thunder Bay Theatre. Now through March 25. The award winning theatre is back with another family friendly production.

4. Go to the Ypsilanti District Library-Whitaker Road branch for a University of Michigan Scientist Spotlight featuring several research sharing their cutting edge research with visitors. Inspire your children to pursue great questions through meeting a working scientist. You won't want to miss this!

5. Ski through the night at the two mile snowshoe/ski trek capped by a bonfire and hot chocolate March 3 at Mackinac Island State Park with the Mackinac Island Turtle Trek.

Wizard of Oz Ballet at River Raisin Centre for the Arts in Monroe

Wizard of Oz Ballet at River Raisin Centre for the Arts in Monroe

6. Go see the Wizard of Oz ballet at the River Raisin Centre for the Arts March 23-March 25. This classic story as told in the "language of dance" will be sure to satisfy all family members.

7. Hike on the North Country Trail. Now that Spring is coming and the snow is melting-there are no more excuses!

8. Subscribe to our newsletter for more travel ideas, Michigan Trivia and more! Issue #1 online and Issue #2 is available now. Michigan Trivia: What was Aretha Franklin's first top ten hit? 

 

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Winter in Michigan

Winter in Michigan is a reflective time. A time to slow down and watch the snow fall across the evergreen tree in the back yard, drifting up against the white fence. To smile at the bold squirrel perched on the snow bank as I drove by, a nut gripped tight in its forepaws.

footprints in the snow

footprints in the snow

 

It is a time for ice fishing in the U.P in the brief Sturgeon season or ice skating downtown at Campus Martius.  It is a time for counting down to Opening Day at Tiger Stadium and Greenfield Village.

It is a time to walk in the woods along the North Country Trail or bike with your fat tires along Huron River Drive past North Campus in Ann Arbor, leaving the crowded cafes and busy parking structures behind as the wind stings your face. 

It is a time to work on puzzles, organize your travel photos, get out your campground guide, and reserve  your spot at Wilderness State Park. 

It is a time to spend all Saturday morning at the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum or walk around the still, silent grounds of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, or admire the outdoor sculptures at the Solanus Casey Center. 

Cross in the Woods Indian River photo courtesy A. Chromicz

Cross in the Woods Indian River photo courtesy A. Chromicz

 

It is a time to be still and let the  power of nature once again pull you in and heal your heart that the world insists on breaking. Again. 

Winter in Michigan 

Winter in Michigan