MILFORD: Fun In The Sun

19 May

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Michiganders are a tough breed; a 30 degree temperature change in twelve hours is hardly worth noteworthy, our tank tops hang next to wool sweaters and our sandals are parked next to our insulated boots in the closet. We stock up on sunscreen before the last remnants of snow have disappeared. When those first warm days arrive we burst from our cocoons and head outdoors to play in the sunshine! Surrounded by lakes and rivers, our recreational opportunities are endless. Southeast Michigan is home to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA), a regional park district that encompasses Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston counties. Thirteen metroparks cover nearly 25,000 acres of parkland along the Huron and Clinton Rivers providing year-round activities; hike/bike trails, beaches, swimming, boating, cross-country skiing, golf and of course, picnicking.

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Today we are visiting Kensington Metropark in Milford, one of the largest of the HCMA, it has 4,481 acres of wooded, hilly terrain surrounding Kent Lake. First stop, the Farm Center; here we meet farm animals and experience rural life through a 150-year old barn, exhibits, field crops and poultry house. The first pen we approach is filled with goats; moms with youngsters and newborns are drawing aaawwws from visitors, adorable in black and white coats they seem to enjoy themselves as they climb on rocks and chase each other around, the littlest ones stick close to mom. Around the corner sheep graze, babies call after their mothers, adventurous ones come right up to the fence and enjoy a good scratch from friendly humans. The brown Swiss Cows are so pretty with their dense fur and fluffy eyelashes; they come right over for a pet on the head. Pink pigs are laying in the dirt, one is pressed against the side of the pen seeking shade on this extraordinarily warm May day. Horses graze in the fields, geese wander freely, miniature donkey’s are adorable; they too appear gentle and like interacting with people, I wonder if they make a good pet…….A covered area is home to a variety of goats and lambs, it is lunchtime; while the bigger ones are satisfied with a bale of straw, little ones are seeking out their mothers. We pop into the barn and are delighted by the sight of a pile of tiny piglets; just a few days old they are snuggled close together under a light to keep them warm as mom watches over them nearby. Upstairs we find exhibits featuring farm equipment and tools, placards explain what everything is and how it is used.

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We drive over to the Nature Center and park the Jeep, many of the hiking trails start from here. We begin on the Deer Run Trail, clumps of bright yellow wild flowers bloom alongside the gravel trail, many of the trees remain leafless. A boardwalk takes us over a marsh, the path continues through both field and forest, puddles are leftover from the recent heavy rain. A Cardinal serenades us, Kris spots him in a tree and snaps a picture, wildflowers with pale blue petals are lovely.

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We switch from one trail to another; the Aspen leads us to the Wildwing, which encircles Wildwing lake. There is a great deal of activity on this trail, here folks hold birdseed steadily in the palm of their hand, tiny birds flutter from trees to the food, thrilling the feeder and onlookers alike. This trail is quite hilly, Trillium are beginning to bloom; for most of the way we have a nice view of the lake, there is a look-out on one side. As we near the far end we take notice of an island covered in tall trees; the trees themselves are filled with nesting Herons, a rookery. I have never seen so many herons nested this closely together; Kris uses the camera to get a better look. The large birds are two distinct varieties; one is white, the other, almost black, parents take turns leaving the nest to gather food, it is an awesome sight. We near the park road, the trail ends and a boardwalk begins; wispy clouds dot the blue sky, birds chirp from weeds in the lake, here and there we spot box turtles. We reach the end, time to get some lunch!

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Kris drives us into downtown Milford, we are famished; on the right side of the street a sign duplicating a hamburger sticks out from a building, there is parking right in front, how can we resist? The place is called The Burger Joint; inside, a menu is posted on the wall near the counter, we make our selections, pay the cashier and take a seat. The dining area is filled with round tables grouped around a fireplace; decorated in bright red, gold, green and stainless, it has a casual feel. Our food arrives, everything looks good; our 1/4 lb burger is cooked perfectly, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup and mustard served on a brioche bun, it is delicious. The Southwest Chili Cheese dog is tasty; a black Angus all beef frank is split, grilled and smothered with black bean chili, cheddar cheese sauce, onions and deep fried jalapenos–yum! Everybody knows french fries are a hamburger’s best friend; hand-cut and twice fried in canola oil, these are outstanding.

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The Village of Milford is quite charming, there is an old section and a new; making our way down Main Street toward the newer area,we notice The Milford House has a take-out window serving ice cream. We did walk for a couple of hours today………Both of us order malts, double chocolate for me and caramel, made with caribou ice cream for Kris. Guernsey ice cream, and flavorful  add-ins make for a decadent treat. Sipping as we walk, we cross the street, stroll over to the waterfall and sit and finish our malts. The heat of the sun feels good, the faint scent of flowering trees is carried on the breeze; these are the kinds of days we live for.

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