Earlier in the week, daughter #2 sent a note asking if Gayle and I would like to go to Frankenmuth on Friday (11/25). We said sure. I had been there once and it was at least 20 years ago. We left at sunrise and headed east down M-57 through Greenville and Carson City.

I remembered speaking at pretty much every elementary school in Montcalm Co. I did about 2,000 speeches and appearances in my 48 years here in West Michigan. I brought my slide projector and showed slides some of which were taken by me.

Church – looking north off M-57

Here’s a picture looking north off M-57 at a church with a tall spire. This field had been harvested, but we saw many corn fields that had not been harvested. I couldn’t say for sure why I field wouldn’t be harvest yet…waiting for the corn to dry a bit more…good crop this year, so no room to store it… In any case, the deer say “thank you”. They have a source of food and a place to hide out of the wind on cold winter days.

There were two fields that were full of large birds. The first field looked like sandhill cranes, but I couldn’t tell from a distance. There were perhaps several dozen of them, mostly in pairs. The second field had dozens of large white birds. Again, I was too far away to tell.

Wind turbines in Gratiot County

We passed the wind turbines in Gratiot Co. In that area, there are 133 turbines. We could see several dozen of them. We counted 4 that were not spinning for some reason or another. November and December are often the best months for wind here in Central Lower Michigan. These wind turbines (328 feet high) are a little higher than the Amway Grand Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. Each one is set into cement and it takes 40 truck of cement for each turbine. Michigan gets a little over 4% of its electricity from the wind.

There was still a little snow in the ditch by the side of the road where it had drifted. The clouds at sunrise thinned and disappeared as the air mixed, leaving us with a sunny day with a brisk west wind. Temperatures rose up through the 40s.

Carriage coming south down

Here’s a carriage coming south down Main St. It’s a nice way to see the sights. There were LOTS more people there in the afternoon than in the morning. If you go, try to get their early in the day. By mid-afternoon, the main parking lot was full and cars were parking on the street a couple blocks away. We went up one side of the street and then down on the other side looking at the shops.

The Cheese Haus

We stopped to look in the Cheese Haus. They have over 100 kinds of cheese and so much more. They have domestic cheese, imported cheese and cheese that they make themselves. You can sample the cheeses and then pick the one(s) you like the most.

Bill and Gayle resting on a bench as we waited to get a table for lunch

We went in a lot of stores. Gayle especially liked the White House Boutique. We had lunch at the Frankenmuth Brewery – one of the early Michigan craft brewers. Gayle and I split a Michigan Cherry Salad and a bratwurst. The pretzel appetizer was very good. It was about a 45-minute wait for a table, but while you are waiting for a table, you can go through the nearby stores and they will text you when your table is ready.

Bill with (plastic) Santa

There is a Christmas theme to the city. We heard carols playing and there are tens of thousands of lights to brighten the evenings.

The entire town – including downtown motels – has a Bavarian Theme

Main Street runs north/south just to the west of the Cass River. Many of the shops are on Main Street. We went back to get some cheese and sausage and a couple other things to take back to the car.

In front (south entrance) of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

Next we headed south, across the river to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland. Bronner’s is said to be the largest Christmas store in the world and I believe it. This is the front of the store, where they have parked the float that they take around to parades. It’s usually in the Coast Guard Festival Parade and the Holland Tulip Parade.

Bronner’s began in 1945. In peak season now, it has over 700 employees. It was even a “Jeopardy” question.

Inside Bronner’s CHRISTmas store

Inside the store, you’ll find over 200,000 lights. Their electric bill is approximately $1250 per day! You’ll find over 300 lighted trees and ornaments for every kind of dog.

Wind turbines in the evening twilgiht

The sun was getting low in the southwestern sky and it was time to start back to Grand Rapids. As we headed west on M-57, the sun set and the rich glows of twight spread across the sky. A crescent moon appeared in the southwest and set as the last pastel hues faded into the darkness.

This was yet another awesome adventure in this year of terrific trips. The next travel time is already being planned. Keep reading my blog to see where Bill and Gayle are headed next.