2023 Michigan Road Trip
Odawa Fish Hatchery &
Fort Michilimackinac

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Mackinac Bridge - Mackinaw City, Michigan
Mackinac Bridge from the Riviera Motel

Tuesday - Day 6 (July 18, 2023)

Tuesday was lower key, with the highlight being a visit to a fisheries enhancement facility which has been operated near Levering, Michigan for about 10 years by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. The facility has three primary focuses:
Research, Restoration, and Education. The research targets fisheries management problems, to gain a better understanding of how to protect and restore native fish populations

Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Fish Hatchery
Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Levering Fisheries Enhancement Facility

The hatchery manager, Kris Dey took an hour and a half to give us a tour and the research they are doing. They are primarily raising whitefish, sturgeon, cisco and walleye. Much of what they are doing is learning how to raise specific species, so that larger, government hatcheries might start raising them in quantities. Education is an important part of their mission and they even give Nme (Lake Sturgeon) fingerlings to several area schools to be raised through the school year by the students and released into the wild in the spring.

The facility is different from other hatcheries I have visited. They do have two outdoor rearing ponds, but the operation is mostly indoors where they have much more control over conditions. They also use less water than other hatcheries I have visited - filtering, oxygenating and reusing water.

Dennie, Lynn and I were enthralled with our visit. If you are interested in a tour, call the hatchery at (419) 460-5747.

Tanks for raising young fish


Kris Dey - Levering Odawa Fish Hatchery Manager
Kris Dey with tanks holding Sturgeon Fry (very young fish)

Young sturgeon
Fry in the tank above

Year old sturgeon used in education programs

In the afternoon we visited Colonial Fort Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City, a couple of blocks from our motel. I worked in costume, firing muskets & cannons, giving tours and filling in at the blacksmith shop during summers in college and I love seeing the new exhibits and checking on the progress of the longest running archeological dig in North America. It was also a chance to visit with Jim Evans, a childhood friend who worked with me at the fort in the 1970s and stayed there for his entire career. He retired a few years ago, but after one year off, now returns as a volunteer two days a week.

While waiting on the cannon firing, Linda ran into Peggy Rose, a friend from Kansas City who works summers for a camp in nearby Cheboygan.

Colonial Fort Michilimackinac - Mackinaw City, Michigan
Colonial Fort Michilimackinac

Archeology at Fort Michilimackinac

Kim Evans at Fort Michilimackinac
Jim Evans

Linda Stokes and Peggy Rose with the Mackinac Bridge
Linda and Peggy

Today's lunch was at Darrow's Family Restaurant where I had my first Darrow's hamburger in decades (I usually get fish). The Darrow's restaurant began as a drive-in the 1950s and I loved their burgers and onion rings. I already knew that the onion rings are still great, but I was just as pleased with my burger. The "Mackinaw Style Cheeseburger" was topped with grilled diced onion, ketchup, mustard, sweet relish and dill pickle slices. If Darrow's was in Kansas, they would be on my Kansas Best Burger List.

Dennie had rhubarb pie before his meal (his second slice of the trip) and I had pecan pie after mine.

Mackinaw Style Cheeseburger at Darrow's Family Restaurant, Mackinaw City
Mackinaw Style Cheeseburger

Pecan Pie at Darrow's Family Restuarant
Pecan Pie

For supper, Linda and I returned to St. Ignace to Buoys By The Bay. It took about a half hour to get a table, but we walked the nearby boardwalk as we waited for their text. We had a table on the deck, with a bit of a view of the water across the street and a parking lot away. I had Bayou Pasta (andouille sausage, chicken or shrimp, peppers, onions & creamy Cajun sauce) and Linda had Lobster Mac-kinac. My pasta was also good for a reheated breakfast the next morning.

Buoys By The Bay - St. Ignace, Michigan
Buoys By The Bay

View from Buoys By The Bay

Bayou Pasta and Lobster Mac-kinac at Buoys By The Bay
Bayou Pasta and Lobster Mac-kinac

Mackinac Bridge from Riviera Motel in Mackinaw City
The Mighty Mac at dusk from our room

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