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!

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.