Wednesday, October 29, 2014

michigan and me

This past weekend I went to Michigan. Because I had to be in Ann Arbor on Monday for on-campus interviews and because I'd never really been to the state, I figured I'd take myself on a road trip and see the sights. Although I passively tried to find a travel companion, the fact that I'd be taking this trip alone was exciting.  I've got my heart set on going to Thailand in February- for most of which I'll be by myself. Thus, taking a few days to see Michigan solo would be practice.

Fortunately, my dear friend and entrepreneur, Anna Lauri, hails from the great state and oh-so-kindly sent me over a perfect agenda. I would have missed out on all the best stuff if it hadn't been for her.

On Saturday I left Chicago, driving through Gary, Indiana, and up into Michigan.  I took the scenic route a few times, cruising through Michigan City, New Buffalo, and back on i-94. Despite Anna's advice, because I was famished, and needed a break from the road, I stopped in South Haven around 2:45pm.  I totally felt like a pioneer; my pace quickened at the sight of the lake.

wind surfers on the beach in South Haven
lighthouse in South Haven
My next stop was Saugatuck, whose adorable shops and fall beauty completely surpassed my expectations.  Some of the best fall colors I've ever seen.

I dined at The Butler on the lake, where Anna spent many past summer waiting tables.  Although she told me to sit by the window, the Texas game was on the TVs by the bar, and I had to indulge (shoulda sat by the window).  After my burger, I walked around town, catching the annual Halloween parade, and savoring some Kilwins ice cream.

man's best friend
That night, I drove to Holland where I stayed at the Best Western Plus Holland Inn and Suites. An unfortunate implication of planning my trip so last minute was that the two hotels in downtown Holland were sold out for Saturday night.  So I dealt with staying 3-4 miles away from downtown.  But, before retiring to my very affordable room, I swung through downtown Holland for window-shopping and craft beer drinking.  I spent the hour before the Royals game enjoying a New Holland beer flight while plotting out my Sunday. Picked up a $2.50 NH pint glass as a souvenir from the trip, and drove home to watch the Royals crumble to the Giants in game 4.
beers and baseball

kayak on a van in downtown Holland
Sunday morning I woke up leisurely to pack up, stop by the continental breakfast, and embark on day two of the adventure.  Which included:
  • Hiking mount Pisgah (a ginormous sand dune)
  • Walking along the sand to the Big Red lighthouse at Holland State Park
  • Finding the windmills in downtown Holland
  • Completing the visitor's bureau art walk through downtown and the Hope College campus
  • Having just enough time for lunch and a beer flight at 84 East before hitting the road to Ann Arbor
pics or it didn't happen:
entrance to the Mount Pisgah Hike

hiking in the leaves on a Sunday morning
the stairs I'm about to ascend
view of Lake Macatawa from Mt. Pisgah
view of Big Red from Mt. Pisgah
the last set of stairs up the dune
looks much more like sand from this angle
this pic tries to capture the slippery leaves on the side of this cliff. It was pretty steep, but I managed.
self timer selfie on top of Mt. Pisgah
So many leaves everywhere. Just beautiful.
"Big Red" at Holland State Park
every time I'm at the beach I have this song in my head.
me with Big Red. In my Royal's sweat-shirt
spotted the windmill in downtown Holland
Hope College campus
flute player statue
downtown Holland
my lunchtime beer flight.
In Ann Arbor, Morningstar put me up at the Bell Tower Hotel. It was conveniently located right off campus, a block from State Street. On Sunday night I wandered campus, snap-chatted fall leaves pictures, and drove to Detroit to pick up my colleague from the airport. 
Michigan's Bell Tower
all the colors of the wind
fall everywhere
ants marching in Ann Arbor

I made it back to campus just in time to grab dinner from Mezes and hunker into bed for another night of falling asleep while watching the World Series. On Monday it was back to work, for a full day of interviews with Michigan students. We had a nice lunch break at Red Hawk and a five star airport dinner at TGI Fridays. One of the best parts of this trip was only having to drive one way. My colleague and I flew back to Chicago together on Monday night, summing up a pretty perfect weekend getaway.
Thanks for being beautiful, Michigan!