Eleven Members of our club participated in a one-week Journey to Western Michigan led by Journey Coordinator, Linda Supakoff from October 1-7, 2019.  Those participating were:  Linda Supakoff, Joanne & Richard Collins, Ginny Dooley, Bev Harmon, Kev Janiak, Joanne MacPeak, Michelle Kemps, Luvvy Kovacik and Sue Linehan.

Joanne Collins report is as follows:

Southwest Michigan was a quick plane trip away on Allegiant Airlines from Punta Gorda.  Off we went on a hot day in September to visit the Michigan Friendship Force (FF) Club who had traveled here about 2 years ago.  A few of us decided on a pre-trip courtesy of Marcie Ellis.  After landing in Grand Rapids we picked up a small van and headed for our first stop, Charlevioux.  

We checked into a neat B&B and headed downtown, where we found a cute little restaurant with Michigan Whitefish on the menu.  We marveled at the fall leaves that were appearing in some of the trees.  It's been a long time since we felt chilly and our jeans and sweaters kept us warm.                                                                                We checked into a neat B&B and headed downtown, where we found a cute little restaurant with Michigan Whitefish on the menu.  We marveled at the fall leaves that were appearing in some of the trees.  It's been a long time since we felt chilly and our jeans and sweaters kept us warm.  

Next morning we indulged in lemon blueberry pancakes and then went exploring.  Mushroom houses dotted the town built by Earl Young that looked straight out of a Hobbit House book or movie!  We met a nice lady hiker who directed us properly and even told us about salmon coming through the lake.  Just a lovely morning!  

All checked out and along the way we stopped for late lunch/early dinner at Legg's, quite a different sort of restaurant complete with wood beams and interesting stuff everywhere.  Polish food was on the menu and we all indulged!  We checked out the back garden with lovely landscaping and views. We also stopped at Petosky, a cute place on the lake to hunt the ancient spotted rocks.  Lots of fun! More driving and before we knew it, we were at the Shepler's ferry stop to Mackinac Island.  No cars are allowed so we parked and boarded and walked off into our next hotel, the lovely Bicycle Inn, just steps from the ferry.  It was cool and raining slightly, but that didn't dampen our spirits.  We met for wine & cheese in the hotel lobby and marveled at the lovely horse drawn carriages and beauty around us.

Next morning after a nice hotel breakfast, it was bicycle riding time!  We rented great bikes and headed off for an 8-1/2 mile circumnavigation of the island.  It was cool with rain threatening, but all was well.  We had a great ride, stopping to admire the views, signs and historical markers and Lake Huron (with fresh water and no sharks!) along the pathway.  Next was lunch at the Grand Hotel, quite a gourmet experience!  We self-toured the hotel, checked out the blue starry decorated drink bar on the top floor, and then enjoyed a LARGE lunch.  Tables went on and on full of breads, salads, appetizers, veggies, and main dishes.  Everyone ate until they were full - and then some.  Oh, let's not forget the dessert tables.  Yum!  We staggered out in time to catch a lovely horse & buggy ride in the rain.  We all agreed Mackinac is a wonderful destination and many wanted to come back and spend more time there in the future.

We caught the late ferry and headed for Traverse City.  Here, our hotel was on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Next morning we headed for the start of our Michigan FF Experience.  

Us with Stan and Pam, wonderful hosts!

Our hosts were Pam & Stan Sackett, a lovely couple with a very nice home in Kalamazoo.  We had the entire bottom floor of their home with extremely comfortable accommodations, complete with a Tempur-Pedic mattress.  We slept like a dream - and they fed us lovely breakfasts - we loved Pam's banana & blueberry pancakes!

The club had a week's worth of activities planned for us.  It began with a Welcome Brunch at Walden Woods followed by afternoon at the Air Zoo.  This place is a magnificent plane & space museum.  The highlight was recognition of one of our members, Kev Janiak, for his contribution of a superb plane.  We also enjoyed the simulations of flying a plane.  Lots of fun!

Our member, Kev, donated his home-made plane to Air Zoo in Kalamazoo!  
From Left to Right - Sue, Kev, Bev, Michelle, Linda, Ginny, Richard & Joanne with blue plane

Thursday was the Meyer May House, an authentic "Frank Lloyd Wright" home with an excellent tour.  Later that day we traveled to Meijer Gardens for lunch and a very enjoyable time strolling through the sculpture gardens and admiring the landscaping.

Magnificent Horse Sculpture in Meijer Gardens with our whole group - Stan is holding up a hoof!

Friday was Amish Day.  We had a magnificent lunch by Martha and her family in her Amish homestead.  We also toured the Menno-Hof Museum which gave us information on the history and beliefs of this culture.  On the way home, we stopped at a member (Sheila)'s home to check out a homemade trimaran, antique cars and a huge train set in the basement.

Joanne & Sue at Dunes

Saturday was our "free" day and we spent it in Kalamazoo checking out the Halloween activities, library and sights.  Sunday we visited the Fenn Valley Winery for some lunch and wine tasting.  The highlight was a Dune Buggy Ride on the Michigan sand dunes.  Lots of fun!  

Monday was our Farewell Brunch at the Kellogg Manor followed by a tour.  Next day was another "free" day spent in Grand Rapids touring the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum and enjoying an afternoon stroll to the Fish Ladder, a lovely park.

                                   Sunset over beautiful Lake Michigan

Friendship Force has certainly opened up not only the International sites to us, but also sites in our own country.  There is no better way to travel and learn about the area you are visiting and the people who live there than to go with Friendship Force!