All posts by ThumbWind

Author of a fun loving and event blog covering topics of the Upper Thumb of Michigan , the wind energy capital of the Great Lakes. Offering great trove of information on Wind Energy, Cheeseburger in Caseville, Saginaw Bay, Sailing,

Hollywood Found Michigan’s Thumb


This Must Be the Place is a 2011 drama film directed by Paolo Sorrentino, written by Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello and released in the U.S. in 2012.It stars Sean Penn and Frances McDormand. The film deals with a middle-aged wealthy rock star who becomes bored in his retirement and takes on the quest of finding his father’s tormentor, a Nazi war criminal who is a refugee in the United States.


This Must Be The Place

The film was an Italian-majority production with co-producers in France and Ireland. Principal photography began in August 2010. Filming took place in Ireland and Italy, as well as the Thumb area of  Michigan, New Mexico and New York. The film was in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.


This Must Be The Place


In September 2012 the production moved to Michigan where filming took place in Bad Axe, Ubly, Kinde and Sterling Heights. Some of what are thought to be shots from the Thumb area have been captured here from the YouTube Trailers. Anyone know where exactly these shots are from?


ThisMustBeThePlace2 ThisMustBeThePlace3

Material quoted from various web sources.

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Michigan M-25 Fall Color Tour


Port Huron – Our Fall color tour starts at the gateway to the thumb. In the 1800’s, stage coaches plied their way north to lumber camps along ancient trails on the Lake Huron shoreline. Schooners and steamships passed on their way to the upper Great Lakes. Today you will travel north along M-25. This is considered one of Michigan’s earliest scenic highways as most of it closely hugs the shore all the way around the thumb. Our first stop is to see if we can catch a glimpse of one of the big freighters moving up the St. Clair River.


A1 - Maritime
Maritime Center at Vantage Point – This venue is a great place to watch the freighter and boat traffic on the St. Clair River. It’s free to visit with indoor and outdoor seating available. The Maritime Center holds artifacts from the history of shipping in the river. There is also a snack bar and food vendors outside seasonally. Talk a walk along the mile long boardwalk and natural pathway. On Sundays shipping history presentations are conducted. The farmers market is open from 8am until 2 pm on Tuesday and Saturday in season. Plenty of parking and free Wi-Fi is available.


Lexington – Our first stop is only a little over a ½ hour from Port Huron. This town was first settled in the 1830’s supporting lumbering and early farmers with blacksmith, shoemaker and fishing. Today it’s considered “on the edge” of suburbia for Metro Detroit.


A1- Lexington store


Lexington General Store – This store was built in the late 1800’s and is a great example of what was in just about every country village and town in Michigan. Known for their large candy selection including the old fashioned penny candy. Walk along old squeaky wood floors, and browse gifts, lake signs, candles, kitchenware, jellies and souvenirs. Listen for the “cha-ching” from their pull handle register from every sale. This is a neat step back in time.


Port Hope – This is our long jaunt north. We pass by the historic site of White Rock. A scared native site and a treaty marker that ceded all land south of it to the early European settlers. Past Harbor Beach with this large harbor and lighthouse. We continue to head just north of Port Hope to get to Lighthouse Park.


Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse


Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse -The original Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse was constructed of stone taken from the shore of Lake Huron in 1848. The keeper’s house and separate tower were located on a three acre clearing hacked out of the dense wilderness.
By 1857, the ravages of shoreline weather and a fire in the interior of the house created the need for a new structure. The new keeper’s house and attached 89-foot tower were built of the finest brick available. The light is still an active aid to navigation, making Pointe aux Barques one of the oldest continuously operating Lights on the Great Lakes.


Grindstone City is only 10 minutes away from the lighthouse. But unless you’re a local it could be tough to find. If you are looking for a treat head to Grindstone General Store for a large ice cream cone. 


White Church Gallery


White Church Gallery – Shows over 25 fine artists from all over Michigan in a renovated 1880’s Methodist Church. They carry fine art, wood, glass, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, and more. White Church Gallery is the first true dedicated art gallery in the Thumb. The uniqueness of the restored church and remoteness of location makes it an amazing place. The center piece of this renovated church is a beautifully restored qua-trefoil stained glass window at the front of the gallery crafted by Tom Newton. You can sit on the pews of the old church at across the street at Rybak’s Ice Cream on the front porch.


Shelly's Bar & Grill


Shelly’s Bar & Grill – Its lunch time. Shelly’s is one of those hidden gems that no one talks about. They don’t advertise much because they don’t need to. A favorite with the locals and bike clubs touring the shoreline. It’s one of our go-to places when we want to get away from the crowds and tourists of Port Austin. Make no mistake, its tavern food. But they have large portions, and if you’re lucky enough to find they have walleye available – get it. Don’t let the exterior put you off. It’s super clean and they have the coldest beer at the tip of the Thumb.


Port Austin – After lunch you can keep hugging the shoreline or cut through the back roads through Port Austin. Keep heading east out of town.


Port Crescent State Park
Port Crescent State Park – This state park is one of the largest state parks in southern Michigan. Located at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, the park offers excellent fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities. However a little known aspect of this park is that it sits on the location of a ghost town. Port Crescent prospered as a lumber town from about 1864 to 1881. One sawmill became so busy salvaging thousands of trees felled in one of the infamous fires experienced by the Midwest in 1871 that it added a 120-foot brick chimney to help power the plant. The remains of this chimney can be seen in the camp ground area.


Bay Port – From Port Crescent State Park continue to head west on M-25 through Caseville. You will pass Sand Point. This spike of land extends over a mile into Saginaw Bay and has some of the neatest cottages in the area. Continue west along Wild Fowl Bay until you reach the town of Bay Port. Watch for the big fish sign and turn right toward the docks.


bay-port-fish


Bay Port Fish Company – Bay Port Fish Company has been a commercial fishery in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay since 1895. The company operates between spring and fall, depending upon the weather and has four boats: the Osprey, the Argo, the Patsy, and the Sunflower. You can see the Osprey and the Argo tied up in Caseville harbor at the fish house just south of the break wall. They are open seven days a week. Be aware “it smells like fish”.


Sebewaing – This is one of the oldest settlements in the Thumb. First established as a mission among the Native Americans who lived in the area for generations. Headquarters of Michigan Sugar, you will be able to see large mounds of locally grown sugar beets that are being prepared for processing. Here the tour concluded. You have a choice of continuing on M-25 toward Bay City and I-75 or heading East on Owendale Road until you head on M-53 south toward Utica and Detroit.


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Michigan’s Port Crescent State Park In Late Fall


Wild Beauty

Michigan’s Port Crescent State Park is one of the wildest and largest parks on Saginaw Bay. From its beaches you don’t see a single cottage or sign of civilization. These shots where taken in 2003. We fired up an old computer and found many cools shots we will post in the times ahead. Enjoy.

Port Cresent SP Michigan Port Cresent State Park


Many folks are amazed to learn that this vast park was once a thriving lumber town. Much of the  campgrounds was build on the site of the village of Port Crescent. 


Port Cresent State Park River Bank Port Cresent State Park Beach North Port Cresent State Park Beach South Port Cresent State Park Beach South II Port Cresent State Park Sea Oat Port Cresent State Park Bones Port Cresent State Park Shore Port Cresent State Park Shore II


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A Look Back – 2012 Marina’s Scramble as Water Levels Dropped


We tend to focus on the here and now. However its great to step back and take a look at the recent past. Five years ago the entire Great Lakes was witness to low water levels not seen since 1964. Marina’s were dredging, boats were being damaged on shallow reefs not seen a generation and lake shipping was facing hard times.  There was serious concern on how far it would go and what would happen next.  Some credit the winter of 2014 with turning things around. With the lakes frozen over evaporation was minimized and the levels rebounded.  Here is a post from September 2012.


I got a voice mail early Monday morning from Hoy’s Saginaw Bay Marina in Caseville, “Mike, the wind was really blowing last night and we would like to get your sailboat out. It’s bouncing on the bottom.”  It was the last week in September and we usually try to squeeze one or two of the last day-sails in early October. However I had been monitoring the MichiganHuron lake levels an knew that we had a good chance of seeing a record low last seen in 1964. With a four foot draft we had already settled in the thick muck in our slip in August. I imagined our Catalina 27 hung fast and listing in the shallows. I called back, and Pete told me that they were looking to get all the sailboats out. I told him to go ahead and pull her out. I would see him on the weekend.

Caseville Harbor

Pulling into the marina Melissa and I were shocked to see the boat yard full of boats on hard dock in late September. Over the week the Hoy’s crew managed to get all of the big Trawlers out and most of the “Sticks”. (Sailboats)  When we rolled in, there were two boats idling in what was left of the narrow channel waiting to be hauled out. We took a walk up toward the break wall of Caseville harbor and noticed the inner most red can channel buoy hard aground just outside the Huron Yacht Club. This is the mark where I drop our speed in order to not make a wake as we enter the inner harbor. We took shots around the break wall and back just outside the HYC which you can see here.


Channel Bouy Aground at Caseville Harbor
Channel Bouy Aground at Caseville Harbor

Caseville Harbor


The Official Account

The US Army Corps of Engineers noted that Lake Michigan-Huron is 12 inches lower than its level of a year ago. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are down 14, 15, and 10 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecast to drop another 1 inch from its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall another 2 inches. The Corps noted that as of now Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. They are in record low territory. At this point we are wondering if we will be able to get “Trillium” back into the water next Spring.


Low Water Make Narrow Channel At Caseville Harbor
Low Water Make Narrow Channel At Caseville Harbor

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