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.

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.