Our 20th Anniversary Celebration Day 3 of 4 – Breaking the Ice

We started our day off with a small breakfast as provided by Bayside Inn. It was comprised of a variey homemade coffee cake, banana bread, a variety of fruit, cereals, and a breakfast quiche. I broke in my antique coffee pot with some coffee I bought the other day from Uncommon Grounds Roasters here in Saugatuck. I would certainly not stay at Bayside Inn for the breakfast.

After breakfast I spent sometime catching up on my blog and Shannon spent time knitting, and re-knitting a shrug she’s making for her sister. I know, not much of an adventure, but when you’re used to going all the time, doing leisurely things like this are a luxury. I’ve kept up with some of my emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. but being away physically has been just what we’ve needed to re-spark, refresh, and rejuvenate.

The Carol Ann Ice Breaker in Action

Carol Ann Ice Cutter - Holland, MI (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The wasn’t a total wash however, because during our relaxation time a drama on the river outside our suite began to unfold. To our delight and amazement, a couple of ice-cutters were docked just next door to our inn. The Carol Ann (Holland, MI) began cutting through the ice flows like butter until she reached a fairly large flow that required several full-steam stabs to get it to break. Below is a video account of one of the stabs.

Honestly, I can’t think of a cooler (no pun intended) way to spend the morning than watching these guys trudge head long into huge ice flows. Even Shannon was having a blast watching the drama unfold. This may be a common occurance here in Saugatuck, but for us it was a real treat.

Our 20th Anniversary Celebration Day 2 of 4 – Bayside Inn Suite Nine

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE - NOTE Our Suite Location

After our marathon day, it was nice to settle into our cozy and comfortable room at the Bayside Inn of Saugatuck. For a detail of the layout of our suite click the LINK.

A Brief Review

This suite is also a bed and breakfast. We got an extremely competitive rate on the room due to the season. Granted, there wasn’t much going on around Saugatuck, Douglas, and even Holland, but that’s part of the reason we came up here. There was just enough stores and restaurants open to make it a relaxing weekend.

Our Suite (No. 9) was huge being more long than wide roughly 16′ x 40′. Overall the decor was fairly modern, but the kitchen was dates as was the bathroom. The bedroom was on the small side, but the large living, sitting, and dining area more than made up for the lack of bedroom size.

Cleanliness was decent. We weren’t thrilled about finding a baby’s diaper in the bathroom trash. Fortunately, it was just a wet diaper. The linens were clean, but could have been more generous in the quantity. The kitchen was clean, but the cupboards were a bit dated. There was not a dishwasher or garbage disposal, but it did include a full-sized fridge and microwave. There was a hair dryer, ironing board w/iron, a 27″ flat screen TV with DVD and cable, and the best part, a gas fireplace that added warmth and ambiance.

The big question? Would we ever stay here again – A resounding YES! Our particular suite was great for a couple, but a family would have a difficult time managing with one bathroom, one bedroom, no dishwasher, etc. While the couch does fold out to a queen size bed making it possible for a small family to stay here, I’d still spring for a 2-room suite for the overall enjoyment of everyone…especially Mom and Dad!

Our 20th Anniversary Weekend Getaway Day 1 of 4

Thursday February 11, 2010Day 1 of 4

As promised here are the details of day number 1 of 4 of our anniversary. Fortunately for me, my work day was cut short so i was able to slip out and get some much needed prep work done on one of my favorite travel tactics called the “boondoggle.” This is my attempt at adding a bonus day to weekend getaways or vacations. Basically, an unexpected bonus day of travel in which to lengthen the experience as much as possible.

Lexington – Lansing

When I found out we were cutting out of work early I began to scour the internet for a cool place to spend the night before our official weekend was to begin. My favorite travel site is Kayak.com the best for comparing prices of various websites – be it for hotels, car rentals, or flights, it saves time, and if you’re saavy money too! Now, don’t be fooled however. There are times, more often than not, if you call the hotels directly you can actually get a better deal – in my case this was a move with exponential benefits. With Lansing being on the way to our final destination of Saugatuck, I searched for hotels in the area and stumbled upon a recently updated hotel Lexington Lansing. Originally, their price was the same as what was listed on the internet. I inquired about an upgrade which would have been one of two suites they have available. The price was $150 without the suite. With the suite, it was $280! I started back-peddling and said I would stick to the $150 room, which was nice enough. It was a king, non-smoking, and included continental breakfast. As the woman starting putting my information in, she asked what my occassion for traveling was. I indicated to her this was for my 20th anniversary and she said there may be a special. Sure enough there was!

For $165/nt. I was upgraded to the Empress Suite. This included a full breakfast voucher, a 2 room/bathroom suite with king-sized bed, 2 flat screen TV’s, cookies and milk before bed, and chocolate covered strawberries, and a bottle of sparkling grape juice! As you can see, calling the hotel directly brought great dividends. See a personalized video tour by Shannon and myself below…

Thread Bear Fiber Studio and Yarn Shop

A passion for Shannon is knitting. A past time for me is finding these knitting and yarn stores. Our weekend getaways often include trips to yarn stores and coffee shops. If the 2 ever meet in the middle, surely the planets must be aligned and a lottery win somewhere in the near future…just kidding. I don’t believe in either! But knowing how much Shannon enjoys knitting, I find it rewarding to locate these shops online and take her to them.  Many of the shops are located in the heart of the towns and cities we enjoy traveling in, so in addition to yarn stores, coffee shops surface as do shoe stores (a personal favorite of mine…more like an obsession I guess). Lansing coffee shops and shoe stores didn’t surface this time, but getting around the outskirts of the city was fun especially in this college town.

Thread Bear is located at 319 S. Waverly Rd. in Lansing. Be warned however, if you plug the address into your GPS, you may still have to pay close attention to where the store is located. We drove right past the store without realizing it. The plaza’s sign indicating what stores it contained was missing several panels including Thread Bear’s sign. We did find it, much to Shannon’s delight, and my relief!

Shannon’s Ratings are as follows on 5 Knitting Needle Scale (1 = BAD and 5 = EXCELLENT)

  • Yarn Selection = 5
  • Accessories/Notions = 2
  • Patterns/Books = 5
  • Service = 5
  • Organization = 4
  • Location = 2
  • Would Shannon Return = YES

Rae’s Yarn Boutique

We should have stopped at Rae’s Yarn Boutique before going to Thread Bear as it was right on the way. This shop is what my Italian friend calls a “patuzzo.” Which being translated is a speck or a small place. We would call it a hole in the wall. While small in size, they did not lack substance.

Shannon was a little shocked that the owner, Renee or Rae was so young and so introverted. Yarn stores are specialty shops by nature and usually the owners typify some flamboyance and are outgoing. Shannon was pleased overall with the store.

  • Yarn Selection = 3
  • Accessories/Notions = 4
  • Patterns/Books = 2
  • Service = 4
  • Organization = 2
  • Location = 4
  • Would Shannon Return = YES

Rae’s Yarn Boutique is located at 2004 E. Michigan Ave. Lansing. Don’t blink otherwise you’ll miss it. 

 

Sleep Inn Charleston Review – July 19, 2008

Well, it was bye-bye Hilton Head; hello Charleston. The sad day finally arrived after a very event-filled week; we had to check out. We made room reservations at the Sleep Inn of Charleston, SC. Only about 100 miles away, we decided to make a day-trip out of it.

Sleep Inn of Charleston – Hotel Review 1524 Savannah Hwy (US 17 S)
Charleston, SC, US, 29407
Phone: (843) 556-6959
Fax: (843) 556-1187
Website: Click Here

Address:

Booking: I booked this hotel online at Hotels.com. This worked out alright, but we aware, they take the money immediately, rather than waiting for you to pay after your stay. My rate was $115/night and my in-laws were able to get theirs for $112/night. The hotel’s website is HERE.

Check-in: I found the lady at the front desk very pleasant and informative. She asked if we had plans for the evening in Charleston and if she could make recommendations. We welcomed her input and found her info helpful. In addition, she gave us coupons for some restaurants in the area. We informed her we planned on doing a ghost tour in Charleston and if she recommended one. She said she never goes on those tours, “I have enough spooks at my house,” she said.

Since my in-laws made reservations just the day before, rather than when I made mine earlier this month, we weren’t guaranteed that their room would be near ours. The lady made arrangements for us to be almost right across each other.

The Room: Our immediate impression was that it was clean, but had seen some wear in its short life of what looked like about 2 years old. There was a overpowering smell of a “hotel” that maybe at one time allowed smoking, but now no longer does. The smell was readily apparent, but once it cooled off, the smell tended to fade. The beds and linens were clean and comfortable. Interestingly, they had no tub, but one huge shower that sprayed copious amounts of water. For a pool, they shared the pool with the Best Western next door.

Only complaint I really have was not relative to the hotel itself. The guests in the room above us were quite loud and obnoxious at 3 a.m. After enduring what sounded like a 400 lb. man and an annoying idiot bouncing on the squeaking bed non-stop, I made a phone call to the front desk. The clerk was very, very helpful and understanding. She said she would do what she could. A few moments later all the noise stopped and I returned to peaceful sleep.

Breakfast: Was about a 3-star out of 5. They had doughnuts, waffles, cereal, and all the other customary ingredients of a continental style breakfast.

Overall Impression: I would certainly stay here again, but hope in the mean time I can arrange it to do so minus the annoying occupants we endured. Hopefully too, they do something about the pre-mature wear on their walls and carpet. The rating I give this out of 5 stars is about a 3.5, especially for $115 price I paid.

Charleston’s Highlights
I’ll write about Charleston’s highlights in another posting. There are definitely a couple of things you won’t want to miss when going there.

Celebrating 18 Years of Marriage – Weekend Getaway Day 3

Saturday February 9, 2007

Day 3 – Traverse City
We started our day with breakfast at Mabel’s Restaurant. This was without a doubt one of the best breakfasts we had the entire weekend. I had the Irish Omelette and Shannon had the Denver with egg-subsitute. We also bought a loaf of their homemade cheddar bread. Delish!

We had every intention of just chilling out and relaxing the entire weekend but that didn’t work out quite that way. Well, the chilling part was certainly a factor with sub-zero temps and windchills, but the relaxing part only came after we ran our legs off from store to store.

Before heading out to the yarn stores and outlets we booked a room for our final night at Grand Traverse Bay Resort and Spa. We were able to get a room for $199/night with a beautiful view of the bay in the “tower.” Our room included a hot tub (for 2), King sized bed, kitchenette, and wi-fi access. This may sound like a lot of money, but this was to be our last night away and we wanted to end our weekend on a high-note. We also booked a massage at the resort’s spa . This included a 1-hour massage. It was fabulous! I didn’t know they could do those things to your body. FYI: I had a man and Shannon had a lady…no hanky panky here!

Lost Art Yarn Shoppe – Traverse City, MI
We headed to a couple more yarn stores today as well as some shoe shopping (my favorite). Our first yarn store was “Lost Art Yarn Shoppe,” in downtown Traverse City. As most yarn stores are, this was quaint and offered some patterns that Shannon was surprised to find, like hair-pin lace patterns. The lady that tended the store was “snippy.” Shannon mentioned that she was pleased to find the hair-pin lace patterns to which the lady quipped, “well you know that’s for crocheting.” Shannon was well-aware of this fact. Another thing that turned Shannon off was when a customer asked about another local yarn store, Yarn Quest (see below), the lady “acted” like she never heard of the store. That’s bad business not pointing customers to your competitors. That says you’re paranoid and that your competitors are likely better than you.

Plamadon Shoes – Traverse City, MI
Across the street from Lost Art Yarn, I stumbled on a nicely staffed shoe store called, “Plamadon Shoes.” We were waited on hand and “foot” by a swee young lady named, of all things, “Winter.” She was very attentive to my concerns and tastes and we wound up purchasing 3 pairs of shoes and (2) bags. I purchased a couple pairs of “Keen” brand shoes and (1) pair of Merrell’s for Nathan. My shoes were Keen Bostons and Briggs. Nathan’s Merrells were Barcelona’s. The bags were by Keen as well called Alameda 15, made completely of recycled material. Hats off (or shoes as it were) to this team. They were top-notch in service, friendliness, and variety of merchandise.

Yarn Quest – Traverse City, MI
By far one of Shannon’s highlights was this store. Yarn Quest on Garfield, in Traverse City, was a good find. Shannon was able to get authentic Irish Yarn along with some patterns. She was very pleased with the staff. Shannon said she felt like she could just sit there and knit for hours. We returned for some more yarn for Shannon’s knitting partner, Pam. The ladies nearly hugged Shannon and were genuinely happy to see her. Now I know why Lost Art Yarn Shoppe was so hesitant about recommending them. They were awesome.

Irish Knits – Cedar, MI
Usually when you shop at yarn stores you’re greeted by ladies that average in age from 50 and up. This store was different. The staff was around 35 and under. Irish Knits was another nugget on Shannon’s yarn travels. They were located about 15 miles from Traverse City in a sleepy little town called Cedar. A very pleasant experience for Shannon.

Thistledown Shoppe, Sutton’s Bay, MI
Maybe it was just the time of year. The dead of winter can wreak havoc on small shops in the north. There is little or no tourism and to survive, the stores often have to skimp on inventory and variety. The Thistledown Shoppe appears to have fallen prey to the winter lull in business. They were certainly not worth the drive this time of year. Shannon was very disappointed, although the drive to it was beautiful even with all of the snow.

Dinner
Once we finished our massage we headed to a restaurant, I think it was called City, but can’t find information or links on the web to it. Suffice it to say, I know why. It was lousy. Not a very good ending to our day. We headed back to our hotel and relaxed for the evening.

There is a severe weather front that blew in over the evening. It didn’t bode well for our travel the next morning home.

Celebrating 18 Years of Marriage – Weekend Getaway Day 2

Friday February 8, 2008 

Day 2 – Ludington to Traverse City
Shannon’s really into knitting. In fact, I’ve tried to talk her into blogging about her knitting thoughts and ideas and to even blog about the many knitting stores I’ve taken her to. We visited Nautical Yarn at 108 S. Rath Ave. in downtown Ludington. It was a quaint store that Shannon was able to purchase some leather purse handles for a project she was working on. 

The Yarn Market – Beaulah, MI
On our way to Traverse City we visited another quaint yarn store in Beulah, MI called The Yarn Market at 254 Benzie Blvd. in downtown Beulah, just minutes away from beautiful Crystal Lake. The store was at one time the bank for Beulah. In fact, the office of the store is located in the large vault of the former bank. Shannon purchased a magnetic pattern holder and some patterns.

Holiday Inn – Traverse City, MI 
From there we headed into Traverse City. We spent several hours turned around despite having a GPS. My GPS (Delphi Nav200), nicknamed Betty (it has a female voice), did an excellent job of getting us where we input the addresses, but when we wanted to get a general feel for some of the area, we got turned around. Eventually we settled for the night at Holiday Inn in downtown Traverse City.

If you are on a budget I recommend this hotel although the rate was cheap enough ($80/night). It is an older hotel, and clean enough, but the linens and decor were a bit dated. We even had a corner of our room with a view of Grand Traverse Bay. As another note, I did not sleep well in this hotel due to a convention of loud kids, with dogs, running the hall ways until almost 2 a.m. I called and complained. The staff immediately sent security up to squelch the noise, but right after the guard left, the noise picked back up with a vengeance. I think once the group found out they were getting to us, they relished in that fact and were that much more malicious. I yelled out the door once in a feeble attempt to quiet them to which the adults (yes they were bad as well) said, “now we know who complained!” I was greeted by their 2 poorly groomed Schnauzers. I quickly shut the door and stuffed earplugs deep in my ears.

Blue Tractor Cook-shop – Traverse City, MI
We had dinner before settling in for the night at the Blue Tractor Cook-shop in downtown Traverse City. I had fish and chips (cod, whitefish, and one other fish) and Shannon had a stuffed chicken breast. The meals came to about $35 with beverages. Overall we had a great meal in a rustic, but clean setting.