Category Archives: Local Fun & Food

The Best Burger In the Thumb


[Ed Note: This pub has not been visited in several years. I’m uncertain where Julz is these days. But the Hitching Post is an Oasis during the high crowds at Cheeseburger Festival]

I’m a cheeseburger hound. I’m one of those who never seem to turn down going to some pub to grab a cheeseburger and a beer. At my age the waistline seems to have come more front and center. So I find myself getting more fussy about where I’m going to indulge on one of my favorite peasant foods.

You would think that the annual Cheeseburger festival in Caseville would turn out some of the finest burger on bun concoctions in the area. However the event has swelled to such a size that the rule is quantity not quality and cook it until it resembles a hockey puck. I haven’t had a burger in Caseville in several years.

When the party is in high gear during Cheeseburger festival in Caseville we find ourselves in the little town of Elkton about ten minutes away. There you will find the Hitching Post Inn. The Post is located in a historical hotel that was also once a church. (The stained glass still is place). This is a great Bar Burger joint. The owners are working to establish a solid business and have won over the locals. In 2011 they put in a new bar so updating is constant. This is a great place to come when the crowds in nearby Caseville get on your nerves.

It’s the best cheeseburger in the Thumb…period. Is it up with Michigan’s best? No. My designation of a great bar burger goes to the Shamrock in Utica Michigan.  However the Hitching Post uses fresh local beef and all the staff pitch in and cook. Even the head bartender, Jelzs, can really cook up a bit of paradise on a bun.  The establishment has their own Facebook Page and a loyal group of subscribers. I’m one of them. Menu choice…Blue Cheese Burger.

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Turnip Rock – Movie Set


Our favorite paddling spot near Port Austin was the set of a 2014 movie. Jinn is a action-horror-thriller film. Turnip Rock  can bee seen in the trailer. 2014 was when the lakes hit an historic low water level. Thus the caves at Pointe Aux Barques could be used.

Jinn was was shot in many Michigan locations, including Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Novi, Monroe, Commerce Township, Warren, Highland Park, and Port Austin.

Featured Photo: Ricardo Diaz via Flickr

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Upper Thumb Cottage Road Signs


M25_SignIf you’re diving along M-25 along the coast of Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay in the Upper Thumb you may start to notice a version of “cottage art” that typically gets over looked. These little gems of folksy art signal of what lays beyond and out of reach for those who are not invited guests. Yet these symbols of “welcome here” are colorful enjoyment to the passing eye hurtling down the ribbon of pavement at 60 MPH.

Here is a small sample between Caseville and Sleeper State Park.


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Ice Cream Wars in Grindstone City


It isn’t often that two shop’s offering the same fare open in a small town at the same time. But that is what is happening in Grindstone City. The Grindstone General Store is one of the oldest Grindstone General Storeproprietorship’s in the Thumb. Its well known for its huge ice cream cones served up for kids of all ages. The store also offers items produced by local artists.  What is less known is a relative new comer; Rybak’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop just down the street operating in a historic building, built by Aaron Peer in 1881. Rybak’s offers high end ice cream, homemade candy and assorted gifts from local artists.The shop once Bybak's Ice Creamheadquartered the Grindstone operations which the town is famous. The building has been beautifully restored.

A Great Lakes shipper, Captain Aaron Peer, sought shelter in the area’s natural harbor in 1834. As his crew explored the dense forest and rocky beach for shelter and firewood, the men came across huge flat rocks lying about the shore and forests. Taking samples south to Detroit, they found the stone (part of the Marshall Sandstone Formation) to Rybak's Candy Counterbe impeccably suited for paving streets, replacing Ohio flagstone as the preferred medium. Within a couple years, Captain Peer and his crew took advantage of the stone to sharpen their tools, and began shaping them into grindstones shortly thereafter. A small port grew here as industry took hold in the forest.

In 1836,  Peer purchased 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone Rybak's Ice Cream Shopquarrying and manufacturing operation. The outcropping of Marshall Sandstone that Peer discovered was an abrasive stone with a very fine grit unique to Grindstone City and perfect for grindstones, scythe stones and hones. Worldwide demand soon earned the town the nickname of Grindstone Capital of the World.

RybecsThe town became largely a company-built town, with homes, a grist mill, wharfs, and a booming industry with two quarries. A salt mining operation produced 125 barrels of salt each day during the 1870s, and the first railroad built into Grindstone City.

So next time you get a taste for ice cream, or are sick of Cheeseburgers in Caseville  make the effort to get to Grindstone City. The choices are awesome.


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