Our 20th Anniversary Celebration Day 2 of 4

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After a relaxing morning of room-service breakfast we headed toward Saugatuck. I swung by Biggby Coffee and tried one of their “skinny” Teddy Bear coffee drinks and it was superb! That fueled me for the drive west and about an hour and half later we drove into Saugatuck and were greeted by one of their more notable landmarks the “Peterson Mill.” I snapped a few shots off of the mill and the surrounding frozen water. 

Blue Star Antique Pavilion 

We drove through the small water town and since it was only 11 a.m. we decided to seek out some antique shops I had looked up online. Fortunately for us, we started with the best the area had to offer in our opinion – Blue Star Antique Pavilion located at 2945 Blue Star Highway Douglas, MI. Their website is http://www.bluestarantiquepavilion.com/ 

This place is so filled with treasures, the hardest part about shopping here is knowing where to begin and how to fit it all in. We shopped for 2 ½ hours and spent about $130. We purchased a silver chafing dish, several Zane Grey books, a 1969 Farmer’s Almanac, a small jewelry dish, and a set of (4) 24kt. gold leafed bowls, and (2) plates to match. The best treasure of all was stainless steel Sunbeam Coffee Percolator for $20! This was a treasure for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that it was made in America, coffee strength selector dial, and extremely quiet percolation. This little pot buries the “made in China” models I’ve had in the past for quality, speed, and yes, price. Judging by the cord configuration this model is circa 1970…hmmm not bad for 40 years old! 

We will definitely make this a regular place to visit if we are ever in the area. For any antique enthusiast, this store is a MUST! The staff were friendly and accommodating and overall we felt the pricing was within reason. 5 out of 5 ‘Stars’ for us! 

Uncommon Grounds Coffee Roasters 

Another Saugatuck MUST for coffee lovers (and tea) is Uncommon Grounds Coffee Roasters. You are greeted by the intoxicating aroma of not just fresh ground coffee, but fresh ROASTED coffee! Roasts varying from their House Roast, to Guatemalan, Columbian, Kenyan, Fog Cutter, and their Coffee Lover’s which after being given a complimentary taste I had to buy a pound! 

Land Sharks of Saugatuck 

We hit the 50% Off Winter Sale at Saugatuck’s Land Sharks. I bought a pair of Keen’s, my favorite shoe maker of all time. And a pair of Patagonia’s which made me feel guilty for cheating on my Keen’s! For less than $150 I upgraded my casual/outdoor shoes. I even got the approval of my cousin Matt Bowen who also is a Keen Enthusiast! 

  

Kilwin’s of Saugatuck 

No anniversary celebration is complete with CHOCOLATE! Kilwin’s more than fits the bill here. At first we were disappointed as we drove into town to see their former location boarded up. As we drove further into town we were relieved to find their new location just before the 4-way light. Shan picked out a few of her fav’s as did I. I had a hard time making up my mind, but came up with quite an assortment including several truffles of dark and milk chocolate. 

Pizza Mambo 

After settling into our suite for the night, the last thing we felt like was heading back out into the cold. We googled pizza places in Saugatuck and were pleasantly surprised by Pizza Mambo’s. We ordered 2 salads; 1 Caprese and 1 Antipasto. For pizza we ordered a 12” medium with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and green peppers. 

Awesome is a way overly used word to describe things, but in terms of pizza and salad this raised the bar. The pizza was thin-crusted and used provolone instead of mozzarella. What a change from the blasé typical pizzas. The show stoppers were the European-style Caprese and Antipasto. Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Sliced Tomato, drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar adorned the Caprese. Prosciutto, Salami, Sausage, Smoked Provolone, Parmegiano Reggiano, House Marinated Olives & Giardiniera on a bed of Romaine. Served with Grilled Italian Bread was enough to share for the Antipasto! Is your mouth-watering yet? Definitely a ‘do-again’ is in order for this place. Delivered for $38, but gourmet all the way. Incidentally, delivery is the only way to go with this place as it is entirely too small to eat-in. 

I will be doing a separate blog entry for our suite at the Bayside Inn of Saugatuck.

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.

July 3, 2008 – Pigeon Forge, TN

After prayer to ensure a safe journey, we departed Sterling Heights at 5:00 a.m. sharp. Katelyn, bless her heart, was so excited she woke up at 2 and couldn’t go back to sleep. We stopped at Bob Evans in Ohio and had breakfast. We stopped for gas 2 times our first fuel up at Meijer in Ohio was for $3.99 and then again in Kentucky for $4.05 a gallon. Real deals considering Michigan prices are almost $4.20 as of this post.

We arrived in Pigeon Forge at roughly 4:00. We made relatively good time adhering to the speed limits not only to prevent getting a ticket, but for the added benefit of saving on fuel.

Dinner
We had dinner at Calhoun’s. This has been a Tennessee favorite of mine for a long time. They’re famous for anything from their steaks, seafood, and my personal favorite – Ribs! They were as always terrific. Shannon and Katelyn shared chicken tenders. Nathan had the special which was a Pork Chop with broccoli and a side of mashed potatoes. Our bill came to roughly $55.00 for all of us. Considering this was our main meal of the day I didn’t figure that was all that bad.

Traffic Surprise
To our dismay, on the way into Pigeon Forge, starting almost from the point we got off of Hwy. 640, onto Hwy. 40, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic. When we arrived at Calhoun’s we enquired about the traffic, and according to them, Gatlinburg, which is just up the road from where we were at, is known for being one of the first places in the United States to celebrate the birth of our country, by having a parade that starts at the stroke of midnight. People were lined up trying to pile into the small town before the streets get blocked off. Even as patriotic as I am, we decided to forego those festivities in favor of a quiet evening here in Pigeon Forge.

Accommodations
After almost 11 hours travel, we were ready to huddle into our room. I had some anxiety about checking in. I had previously booked a room here and had to cancel it when we decided to arrive a day early and needed a room for 2 days rather than just the one. The cancellation went through without incident, but I just wasn’t sure by cancelling and booking another reservation was going to work out. I could just imagine, someone thinking I intended to cancel the reservation and cancelling both of them. To my relief, the room was in fact ready.

Econo Lodge Riverside Review
Now, I’m not a connoisseur of hotels, but I have stayed in my share of good and bad, and there are certain things we MUST have in order to enjoy our stay at a hotel. Econo Lodge Riverside at 2440 N. Parkway Pigeon Forge TN 37868 is in a great location. It’s billed from a 2 to 3 star hotel but several sites. Incidentally, I located this hotel at Kayak.com for a rate of $79.99 (Thu.) and $99.99 (Fri.). This rate includes a non-smoking room with 2-queens with a AAA discount. Below is a description of my rating system and my review of the room.  

My Rating System

  • Cost – This is a very important factor in all of our decisions. In the past we have paid dearly for a room only to be disappointed. Budgeting for rooms for us typically falls in to the $75 – $100/night, depending on the area.
  • Cleanliness – We don’t mind paying an extra $10 or $15/night, if we can be assured the room is going to be clean. We have had bugs, hairs, soiled sheets, mold, mildew, rooms in disrepair and swore off ever staying at not only that particular hotel, but sometimes going as far as never wanting to stay at the chain. Best Westerns and Days Inns are 2 names that we have seen go down the tubes in terms of quality.
  • Closeness – Being in close proximity is important. This saves time and fuel, and enables us to absorb ourselves in the surroundings of the tourist attraction, but not be so close that we are dealing with crowds.
  • Quietness – Seldom, if ever, can you avoid noise, or predict it happening. The quieter the better though. We’ve stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels only to be totally disappointed with the stay due to loud and rambunctious hockey or softball teams and even grown-up reunions or retreats.
  • These are my ratings from lowest quality to highest: Awful –  Bad – OK – Good – Fair – Moderate – Excellent – Superb

So with these things in mind, let me just say, it’s been roughly 2 hours since we checked in trouble-free with this Econo Lodge in Pigeon Forge and here are my immediate reactions.

  • Check-in: This went relatively well. The lady at the front desk was polite enough and was helpful. I would suggest here that if you require a room on the first floor due to medical problems (like I currently have) you book this in advance and let them know. We were assigned to the third floor. When I requested a lower level, I was quickly cut-off and told there were none available. Here would have been a good chance for her to at least have offered to check for cancellations, and to offer at least a second floor. She did neither. I immediately asked if there was an elevator. She said yes, but it’s proximity to our room was prohibitive. I may as well take the stairs, although slowly and with a great deal of discomfort. The walk to the elevator would have been roughly double in length.
  • The Room: Very clean. A bit cramped, but with good reason. There are (2) queen beds, an small kitchenette style area with a small fridge, coffee pot, and microwave, 26″ TV, 2 closets with doors, a table with (2) chairs, a full dresser, a luggage table, and the standard night stand.
    • The decor was tasteful and up-to-date. It appears this is their original state, as no signs of paint or new wallpaper are evident. The carpet is a bit worn in high traffic areas, as is to be expected, but there are snags, perhaps from children or luggage.
    • The linens were all clean and in good supply. Enough for all (4) of us.
    • The soap products seem a bit stingy, but do-able. I did notice while we were checking in, a gentleman that must have been here for a couple of days had to come and get a bar of soap from the hostess, as his room attendant apparently forgot to leave a fresh bar. We had a bar on the sink and on in the tub, so apparently, the room attendant forgot to leave (2) bars of soap.
    • The pool is smaller than in the pictures, but clean. Being on the smaller side, the pool was quickly crowded, with a lot of screaming kids and non-existent adults.
  • The Breakfast: This was nothing short of disappointing. Definitely do NOT take this into consideration when factoring the price. With (2) Cracker Barrels, Bob Evans, IHOP, and scads of pancake restaurants to pick from, they actually do you a favor by not serving a decent breakfast.
  • The Beds: Not the most supportive, and they were probably due for a change-out soon, but they served their purpose.
  • Overall: My impression of this room is MODERATE
  • Would I stay here again? Yes
  • Would I recommend it? Yes
  • Recommend to who? Family on budget, business, or budget-minded couple on a get-away.

Celebrating 18 Years of Marriage – Weekend Getaway Day 4

Sunday February 10, 2008 

Officially our anniversary date. 18 years ago this day I married the absolute love of my life! We had a great time while away. It was a good thing we got that massage the night before we left. We woke up to sub-zero wind-chills and winds gusting at 30-40 mph. It was down-right bitter to say the least. The drive home was treacherous. We had a rental car that the body shop had given us due to Shannon’s car being repaired (long story). It was a Ford Focus, which is small and as it turns out, not very good in high winds and slick conditions. I was WK (white-knuckling) all the way home. We made it safely, but I sure could ahve used another massage after that drive!

I enjoy taking Shannon to the yarn stores. I like plugging in the addresses into my GPS and just heading out. Plus, knowing that Shannon enjoys it so much adds a thrill for me too. God had certainly blessed us over the past 18 years. Our children are both saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, I have a great job, we have a great little home, we help pastor a world-class Apostolic church, and we have a great big wonderful God looking out for us ever step of the way.

I have been invited as the guest speaker at a marriage retreat in a couple of weeks. God has granted us widsom through-out not only our marriage but our ministry. I look forward to encouraging other couples to pursue a happy marriage. It’s one of the most rewarding investments a person will ever make; investing in a relationship of a husband and wife.