My Visit To Midland Michigan – In Black and White

Couple weeks ago my girlfriend said she wanted to get away for a weekend in two weeks.  So we started looking up different places in Michigan, including Traverse City, Ludington, Glen Haven, all those places.  Sadly most of the hotel rooms are booked with outrageous prices.  Most of them you need to book them two nights in a row.  So, I started looking at random places in Michigan. Finally found a nice hotel room for a decent price, but its in Midland Michigan.  Now what do we know about Midland?  Never been there.  But because of that, I got curious.  I vaguely remember Midland because its the headquarters of the DOW Company.  So i decided to start searching online.  I found Midland’s Tourist Bureau’s website.  That website is well designed.  I saw there is a Tridge, a nice little downtown area, Dow Gardens and couple other odds and ends.  The weekend we were going is when they’re having their city wide garage sale.  I thought to myself, “Ok, Midland it is.”

We booked the hotel room at Hampton Inn, Midland.  I only printed a Map on how to get to Midland, other than that, no maps.  We left West Michigan by 8:15am, arrived midland at around 10:30am. What was the first thing we did?  Well, we started following the garage sale signs.  Went to a quite a few of them, i picked up 3 old cameras for cheap, and 2 of them still had film in there yet.  One of them had a roll of fully exposed 130 film inside. If you don’t know what it is, its about 60 years old at least.  My girlfriend decided that she had to fill up the whole car with garage sale stuff, that was fun.  The people in Midland are very polite and nice.

We got to the hotel about 2:30pm. We checked in, set the computer up, and tried to decide where to eat.  Finally we figured we’re going to have dinner at a place called Cafe Zinc, downtown.  But before we have dinner, we decided to go downtown to have a look.  Now, remember, we do not have maps of midland?  No worries, apparently there is a superb sign system in Midland.  Just about every 2 blocks it has signs pointing you to major attractions in town.  So we just followed the signs, and got to Downtown Midland.

First thing we did was a quick drive-by of the whole downtown. The downtown area isn’t really that big, we quickly located the Tridge, the restaurant and the courthouse.  We were sitting at  traffic light by the courthouse, we saw something really strange.  Seemed like we were surrounded by guys that looks like Santa Clause.  I just laughed if off and thought it was a coincidence.  We saw a Tourist Information Kiosk up the road, so we stopped. Just when we stopped at the Kiosk, we noticed there is a strange house on the left of us, and all the Santa Clauses were going in there.  It sort of made sense now, there is a sign outside the house, “The Santa School”.  After talking to a lady outside the building, i found out that’s where Santa goes to school to learn about the business, law, and ethics of being a santa claus.  Very Interesting indeed.  I took a couple photos with my Yashica 230AF ( as you can see from my previous blog post)

Is it Midland, Or North Pole? We’ve been ambushed by Santa

Outside the Santa School

Yashica 230 AF Tri X @ 1600 CP Y2

After getting a map of downtown from the kiosk. I found out there is a camera shop right around the corner.  Well, knowing me, I have to stop in there and get something.  And, i was low on 120 b&w film. So I went to the MEIER CAMERA SHOP , 122 W Main, Midland, MI.  I walked inside the camera shop asking for 120 b/w film. Sadly they didn’t have any, which I don’t really blame them, because less and less people buy them now, even though the quality exceeds a Hasselblad H4D. Anyway, staying on the subject, I start making small talk with the owner of that place, he asked me, “black and white 120 right?” “Yes sir”. He went to his back room and managed to find 3 rolls of expired T-MAX 400 TMY for me on the house. He showed me around a little bit. There were display of photos from artist of the month at the back room, next to it his film camera collection. Very interesting collection, I can’t help by smile he had a Petri 7S inside his case, which, mine is sitting right in front of me as we speak.  Anyway, I felt bad for their hospitality, I gave him a roll of Kodak Color II 620 Roll (unopened) that i got from a garage sale earlier, for his camera collection. Very nice people, they know what they’re talking about, and he mentioned about classes and such. So if you’re near Midland area , I highly recommend this camera shop to you.

After scoring 3 roll of 120, its time to take some photos. But i still have to finish the ones in my Yashica 35mm yet. So we stopped by the Tridge by the rivers. If you don’t know what a Tridge is, basically its 3 bridges connected in the middle above the water. At all 3 ends of the bridge are trails or parks. Very nice place indeed if you’re looking for someplace sorta quiet. There were 2  guys playing guitar in the center of the Tridge, now why didn’t I bring mine?

The Tridge

A bench in the park overlooking the Tridge

Looking at other side of the river on a trail

Couple Laying On the Grass

Fishing Under The Tridge

Yashica 230 AF Tri X @ 1600 CP Y2

Times goes by pretty fast, we got the Cafe Zinc at around 6:30. Don’t let the name fool you, its definitely not Cafe Prices, if anything its a fine dining cafe.  I looked at the menu online earlier in the hotel room, looks promising. The interior is nice and modern. The servers were nice and proper.  I ordered French Onion Soup, Chicken Liver Pete, their daily special, Grilled Sword Fish and Fried rice. My girlfriend ordered the same soup, and Duck with Risotto.  The soup was tasteful, sadly its very hard to eat the cheese once its melted in a ball sitting at the bottom of the bowl once you stirred it. But nonetheless , the cheese was really fresh.  The Chicken Liver Pete was great also, even though my girlfriend would not agree.  Then comes the main dish, Grilled sword fish, and the duck with risotto. The fish was fresh, and it was grilled properly with great skill.  A lot of times when I go out and eat, I like to complain that I can cook better at home myself. Not this time, I admit the defeat. I can’t grill the fish to such perfection (yet).  The Duck was also nice, so was the risotto. We had dessert also, but i can’t remember what we had.  I’m not a big dessert guy, so i wasn’t impressed.  Anyways, $110 later, we were full and happy.  We walked around downtown a little more after dark, and the mall, and we went back to the hotel room.  I might get more photos up of the restaurant if I ever finish the roll in my Olympus Pen EE.

Outside the Cafe Zinc – Downtown Midland

Afterdark – Midland County Court House – A very unique building

Downtown Midland At Night

Yashica 230 AF Tri X @ 1600 CP Y2

Next day I woke up, I did something very unusual. I went down to the lobby of the Hampton to eat their breakfast. I never have the free breakfast at hotels, usually.  First i like to sleep.  Second, they usually have nothing good or a very limited selection.  My girlfriend told me there were going be a lot of selections for breakfast, and I decided to go check it out.  Oh my god, Waffles, scramble eggs, sausage patties, fried potatoes, juice, different kinds of coffee and such, never had a hotel breakfast that good.  Anyway, when we checked out, we asked the hotel clerk what else is there to do in midland. She suggested the Dow Gardens. She had free passes for us if we wished. Free passes? Why not!

Once again, we followed the signs to Dow Gardens. Didn’t have a problem getting there at all.  I was thinking about how we have Van Andel this and Meijer that ainGrand Rapids, lets see what you got in the Dow Gardens.  I decided to bring my Mamiya 645 PRO with my 55mm in there.  Got in with our free pass with no problem, as long as you tell them you got that from the hotel, its supposed to be one person per pass card.  It was early in the morning, the grass was wet yet, trees were red yellow and orange with flowers along the path.  What a lovely place in the fall. There are steams and ponds inside the garden, with a green house and 2 different houses in there. Well, if you wish to call one of them a house.  The first one I think is the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow estate. Funny, there are people living inside that house.  My girlfriend and I almost walked inside, till i saw the cat behind the screen door.  The second one would be The Alden B. Dow Home & Studio. This “structure” is definitely something else.  I found out they have daily tours inside the house, sadly time did not permit.  Let me tell you this, from what I read, part of the structure is actually under water!  Next time I’ll go on that tour and get some nice photos.  I put up another blog post about the Alden B Dow home and studio couple days ago, and the director of the place happened to comment on my post and tell me about the tour hours.  Well, I look at that as an invitation to go back to Midland.

Alden B Dow Home and Studio

Dow Gardens

In the Rose Garden at Dow Gardens

Mamiya 645 / Kodak Plus X /
With the 645 and my spot meter, i can exercise the zone system more efficiently

The Mini Water Fall

Stream and Walkway -Dow Gardens

Yashica 230 AF y2 CP / Kodak Tri X @ 1600

After the Dow Garden, I looked at the back of the pass, it said its also good for Whiting Forest. Since we didn’t have any better idea, “Why not?”  The whiting forest is part of the Dow Gardens basically. When we arrived there were only 2 cars in the parking lot. I thought they were closed, but nope, they were open.  We went inside the entrance building and my smart mouth decided to ask the lady behind the desk “So , what you got in here?”  She answered, “Basically what you’re seeing through the window right there”.  We laughed, and she explained a little more, its basically just woods and trails.  Well, once again, we got the pass, why not, we went in there.  I had fun walking on the trails inside, it was peaceful, surrounded by autumn foliage.  My girlfriend on the other hand, doesn’t think its all that great, especially when they charge you $5 if you don’t have a pass like we do.  Well, the way I look at it, somebody gotta pay somebody to take care of the place you know.  But, if you’re smart, you can go get a seasonal pass at Dow Garden for 10 dollars and go to both places!  As far as I remember.  Anyway, it was a nice walk, we were in there for about 45 mins, more people showed up, and I managed to get some pretty good shots in there.  Right, they also have different signs through-out the trails you can learn about the plants and stuff. But personally, i really love the benches in there.  When there are not so many people in there, its kinda like your own heaven, and its private property, so you don’t have to worry about silly people.  Here are some photos inside the Whiting forest. For more info about Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest, please visit

Whiting Forest

Whiting Forest

Whiting Forest

On the trail

Mamiya 645 Pro / Kodak PX125 / D76

Well after the whiting forest, we returned the pass back to the hotel and we went back downtown to visit the candy shop. They actually have a huge variety of chocolate in there, freshly made.  We picked up a little bit of this and that with the little money we had left, and it was well worth it. After that, we said goodbye to Midland.

I’ll strongly recommend to anyone, stay a night or two in Midland and especially at the Hampton Inn (right across from the mall). Its a quiet town filled with nice people everywhere you go, and relaxing stuff to do.

Oct 2010 – Derek W

The roll of Tri X is kinda under par this time. Partly because of constantly changing temperature in my developer. However, I monitored the temp in the middle of the development for my Plus X, that’s why it turned out perfect.

5 thoughts on “My Visit To Midland Michigan – In Black and White

  1. This is epic. I see the push problems now…and SANTA SCHOOL! This is a very complete and well blogged photo trip. I look foreward to reading more of this type of stuff in the future.

    • Yeah the PX looks sweet comparing to the Tri X aint it? Besides the development, thats why I like my 120 better.

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