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. 

 

Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary in Saugatuck, MI and Beyond

The Mangolds Christmas 2009

February 10, 2010 Shannon and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary. I know what you’re all thinking, neither Shannon nor I look old enough to be celebrating such a monumental occasion, but in fact, I was 20 years old and Shannon 19 (she turned 20 March 24th). We were young by today’s standard and even then too. I’ll admit if Nathan or Katelyn came home and told me they were getting married at that age, in today’s lingo I would “freak out!”

As a teenager I was a picture framer (yes this is going somewhere) and one of my clients frequented a little west Michigan town called the funny name of Saugatuck. The pictures Bob Gaunt, my client, would bring back of the town and the art he purchased at the galleries in Saugatuck, fascinated me to no end. I vowed to one day go and see this artsy-fartsy town. Almost 25 years later my long-forgotten goal has come to pass.

As with any of my travels, I do massive amounts of research online and elsewhere. Our travel priorities are as follows…

  • Comfort and cleanliness
  • On or near the water
  • Not too far away (2-4 hrs.)
  • Local yarn, antiques, and coffee shops
  • Good eats

Saugatuck fits the bill in every way.

As a bonus, I like to do what I call a boondoggle before we get to our actual destinations – be it weekends or even summer vacations. It’s a way to feel as if you’ve been away for a longer period of time. For us our boondoggle was Lansing, which was right on the way to Saugatuck. In an effort to streamline and simplify the categorizing of subjects, I’m going to break down our travels by days ex. Day 1 of 4. Making these blog entries serves several purposes for me…

  • A log of cities and towns
  • A log of shops and businesses
  • A log of restaurants
  • And most importantly our experiences at all the above

Our’s is a simple taste, so if extravagance is what you’re looking for this may not be to your liking. However, if realistic, down-to-earth travel is your bag, read on my friend.

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.

Hilton Head Beach Mangold Family Pics – July 18, 2008

We just barely beat the storm that blew in to get some of these pictures. A lady on the beach was kind enough to snap our group pics. I thought the white shirts and blue jeans were a classy way for everyone to dress to get these shots. The colors seemed to pop against the sand and the water. The pics of us with the resorts in the background were taken in the dunes just above the beach. You can’t see them, but our feet are getting eaten alive by biting ants! And, if it looks like our eyes are closed in some of these shots, they probably are, the sun was so bright in our eyes, we squinted alot. Shortly after these pics, we had to race back to our villa to avoid getting soaked!

 

Hilton Head Island Vacation (Deep Sea Fishing) – July 18, 2008

Deep Sea Fishing
The in-laws took Nathan and Katelyn deep sea fishing today. They got up around 7 and were at the dock by 8 a.m. The captain’s name was “Chip” and he was quite reasonable. He took the 4 of them on a 4 hour fishing trip for $400.00. The kids had a blast. Katelyn mostly just took pictures, but Nathan and Don (my father-in-law) both caught a total of 7 sharks! In fact, Nathan hooked a 200 lb. Hammerhead Shark that was about 6 ft. in length. This was the first one of the season according to the captain. They were unable to fully bring the shark into the boat because the line snapped when the shark swam beneath the keel of the boat and snapped the line. They did get a good look at it though. Nathan was naturally just beaming with pride! If you’re going to do deep sea fishing we whole-heartedly recommend Captain Chip see his website here.  His number is (843) 290-0371. While the kids were away with the in-laws, Shan and I headed back to Coligny Plaza, and a few other shops around town while the kids were gone with the in-laws. This has been truly one of the more relaxing vacations we’ve ever taken.

Time to Start Packin’
As much as we hated to start to, we had to start packing our things up for the drive-out tomorrow. We have made every attempt on this trip to try and not rush the vacation away. We started out the vacation with the mindset that we were going to take it slow so that we could enjoy it, and not be able to say, “man that vacation went by fast.” So far, we’ve been able to do just that. The pace is so much slower here in the south which helped a great deal. For the first day or so, we had to check our selves to not fall into that northern mindset of rush, rush, rush!

Hilton Head Island Vacation (Savannah Day Trip) – July 17, 2008

Tybee Lighthouse behind the Palms by Rodger Mangold

Savannah, Georgia – Just 80 or so miles from the villa is Savannah, Georgia.  My in-laws went there earlier in the week and were very pleased withtheir trip. Shannon and I opted not to go with them, but today, unknowns to me, the Tybee Island Lighthouse is located just outside of Savannah, and we decided to go see it. My in-laws wanted to come along for the ride. On the way we had a lengthy discussion about our GPSwhich helped us navigate to our destination without incident. My in-laws have a Magellan that they are not happy with and I was touting all the features of my Delphi Nav200. Their son, David, has one as well and they were going to look into getting one. I say “were” for a reason…read on!

The Tybee Island Lighthouse – A very picturesque setting plays home to this stripped behemoth of a light. Black and white and almost 200′ tall and Ordered by General James Oglethorpe, Governor of the 13th colony, in 1732, the Tybee Island Light Station has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 270 years. The Tybee Island Light Station is one of America’s most intact having all of its historic support buildings on its five-acre site. Rebuilt several times the current light station displays its 1916 day-mark with 178 stairs, and a First Order Fresnel lens (nine feet tall).

Believe it or not, I was able to make it up all 178 steps to the top and what a spectacular view of the ocean, and the surrounding fort. The cost was $6.00 for adults and $5.00 for seniors. Certainly worth it considering how beautifully the grounds and the light are kept up and cared for. I didn’t make it to the houses surrounding the lighthouse (I was taking too many pictures), but Shannon said I should have, she was very intrigued with the history.


Downtown Savannah, River Street –
With being so close to downtown Savannah, we had to stop by the River Street Shops. We originally were looking for the Peanut Shop. My in-laws had purchased a huge can of some of the best peanuts I have ever had, WAY better than Planter’s ever dared to be, and we wanted to by some for ourselves. In addition to the large can of peanuts, we bought cashews, mixed nuts, and some New Orleans flavored peanuts. On our way to the Peanut Shop however, we were detoured by the smell of the Savannah Candy Kitchen where they make pecan praline and give out free samples. This was so mouth watering we had to buy some. We also bought several of their other treats including their Divinity, roasted pecans, and salt water taffy. Everything tasted so wonderful! If you are ever in Savannah, this entire strip is an absolute MUST!

Savannah Yarn Store – Wild Fibre
Of course no trip would ever be complete unless we plugged in a yarn store. We did just that and using our VZ Navigator located a store called Wild Fibre. If length of visit is any indicator here, Shannon really liked this store. She walked out with a bag chocked full of yarn, and a pattern. She is a woman on a mission now for sure. She spent about $75, and was thrilled with the store. I was content to sit in the car like I almost always do and keep the chariot ready for the Queen of Knitting! Shannon would highly recommend this store for knitters if you are in the area. There website is http://www.wildfibreyarns.com/1.html. It is located at 409 E. Liberty Street in Savannah between Habersham and Price Streets (Map HERE).

GPS in FlamesGPS Crash – Nicknamed “Betty” my GPScrashed on the way out of Savannah. After all the bragging and promoting I did for this fantastic product, the Delphi Nav200 locked up and would not provide us with directions back to Hilton Head. At one point, I was getting so frustrated (yes me), we were driving over some railroad tracks and I threatened that if she didn’t start working, I was going to toss her onto the tracks! I even went as far as to re-name what GPS stood for…GETTING PRETTY STUPID! Fortunately, I had my VZNavigator for a back-up. I am amazed and ashamed at the same time how dependent we have become on technology. I know I could have broke down and bought a map, but witha $200 unit, and a $200 phone, both with GPS, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The VZ worked just fine and we made it home, only to have Betty kick back on. The error message I was getting was, “non-sufficient memory to perform this operation.” I think she may have gotten over-heated. We used her for the rest of the our entire vacation without incident.

Hilton Head Island Vacation – July 16, 2008

Putt-Putt and Shopping – Since my injury prevents me from playing real golf, and since I have endured watching some poorly executed tee shots from our deck, I have had the itch to try my hand at golf. Unfortunately, putt-putt is as close as I’ll get for a while. We found a great place on William Hilton Parkway, near our villa called Legendary Golf. This plays unlike any putt-putt course you’ve ever been to. Each hole is set up and contoured just like a miniature golf hole. There are bunkers, water hazards, roughs, and flags at each hole. The total price for our family was $34.00, but worth every penny. Interestingly enough, each tee included a scripture about the gospel; very inspirational, educational, and recreational all in one. This will likely become one of our Hilton Head Haunts when we return.

Outlets – There are several outlets in Hilton Head, two of which are Tanger Outlets and the kids love going to them as do we. We didn’t spend a lot of money, but enjoyed walking around looking for bargains. Nate and I bought a pair of tennis shoes at the Famous Footwear Shoe Outlet, located at Hilton Head Village 1460 Fording Island Road, Suite 240, Bluffton, SC 29910 Phone: (843) 836-3304. I bought a pair of K-Swiss for me and a pair of Hurley’s for Nate. Our bill came to $60 for 2 pair of designer shoes. My shoes are so comfortable to walk in, even with the brace and my support sock.

My Reading Material – The Innocent Man by John Grisham – There was a lot of leisure time being at the villa so I took advantage of that by reading a book by John Grisham called the Innocent Man, which is a true story about a small town police force and small-time prosecuting attorney in Ada, Oklahoma, that wrongfully brought about the conviction of several innocent men, one of which was sentenced to die by lethal injection. This was a superbly written novel, that reads more like fiction and the reader will be amazed at how corrupt the judicial system can be. If you’re a supporter of the death penalty, this will make you second guess your logic.

Shipyard Plantation – Galleon Golf Course – My favorite place to read was on the deck in view of the 6th hole of our resort’s Galleon Golf Course location in the Shipyard Plantation. Here is a VIDEO of a flyover of the golf course. Interestingly enough, there were several botched tee shots that found there way on the very deck I was reading on, many others hit some of the homes across the fairway from us as well. Be very careful when reading or enjoying time on the deck. If you hear the tee shot, be watching for the ball!

The Weather – The weather was forecasted to be thunderstorms everyday. We ran into some weather off and on, but nothing that took away from our trip. One night the thunder and lightening was deafening, unlike any I had ever experienced. The next day, there were tree limbs and such blown in the roadway and bike paths, but all in all, it sounded much worse than it was. There is a tropical storm (later turned hurricane) in the middle of the Atlantic called Bertha that is causing a bit of a raucous with the beaches, but nothing that prevented us from enjoying the water. The waves were a little more rough and the weather man warned against rip currents that actually were blamed for 3 deaths on the New Jersey Coastline.